Mosley defends Briatore's lifetime ban

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FIA president Max Mosley defended the lifetime ban meted out to Flavio Briatore on Monday for the Italian's part in conspiring to fix the result of last year's Singapore Grand Prix.

"It's sad because he's been in motor sport for 20 years, more actually. It's sad to see a career end like that but what else could we do?" said Mosley after the hearing into the Renault cheating scandal.

Briatore quit as team boss of Renault last week ahead of Monday's FIA hearing into Renault's ordering of Nelson Piquet Jr to crash to orchestrate a win for his teammate, Fernando Alonso.

Aside from the flamboyant Italian, FIA also handed down a ban - suspended until the end of the 2011 season - to Renault.

Motorsport's governing body also banned for five years Renault's director of engineering Pat Symonds, who like Briatore quit the team last week.

Mosley, commenting on the pair's differing fates, said: "Briatore's problems were that he denied and continued to deny it even when it had become clear that he was implicated.

"He can no longer be associated with a team, with a championship. He can no longer get into the paddock of a FIA event. He can no longer be a driver's manager," said Mosley of the flamboyant Italian who has management contracts with Fernando Alonso, Heikki Kovalainen, Mark Webber, Romain Grosjean and Piquet Jr.

Piquet, who as whistleblower was given immunity for his part in the conspiracy, fell out dramatically with Briatore who sacked the Brazilian in August.

He revealed how the man he had previously labeled his "executioner" had backed him into a corner and left him little option but to go along with the conspiracy.

"All I can tell you is that my situation at Renault turned into a nightmare," he told his website.

"By the time of the Singapore GP he had isolated me and driven me to the lowest point I had ever reached in my life.

"Now that I am out of that situation I cannot believe that I agreed to the plan, but when it was put to me I felt I was in no position to refuse.

"Listening now to Mr Briatore's reaction to my crash and hearing the comments he has made to the press over the past two weeks it is clear to me I was simply being used by him then to be discarded and left to ridicule."

Mosley believes the decision not to kick Renault out of the sport for good is the correct one.

"I think it's the right decision. I think the blame has been placed where the blame should be placed.

"The penalty we have imposed is the harshest one we can inflict, which is disqualification, and it is complete expulsion from the sport.

"However, because Renault have demonstrated they had absolutely no moral responsibility for what took place - that's to say Renault F1 the team didn't know, and still less of course the company - it would be wrong in the circumstances to impose an immediate penalty."

Renault's ban is suspended until the end of the 2011 season and will only be activated if they are found guilty of a similar offence.

"Crashgate" is the latest and arguably the most damaging of a wave of scandals to hit F1 but Mosley, who is standing down as FIA president in October, insists F1 will survive.

"It's going to continue to operate. Things will continue as they have always done.

With regard Renault's future in F1, when asked whether they would remain in the sport, as they are committed to do through to the end of 2012, Mosley issued a firm "yes".

(AFP via China Daily September 23, 2009)

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