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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bernie Ecclestone Saddened (and Surprised) Over Briatore Resignation

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Sporting Life - Bernie Ecclestone Comments - ECCLESTONE SADDENED BY BRIATORE EXIT - By Ian Parkes, Press Association Sport

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has expressed his sadness at close friend Flavio Briatore's sensational exit from the sport.

Ecclestone's comments are unsurprising given the bond forged over the years between himself and Briatore, who first stepped into F1 in 1988.

Twenty one years later and Briatore's relationship with the sport is at an end as he today left his position as team principal with Renault, along with his number two, Pat Symonds, their executive director of engineering.

The shock announcement was made by Renault, who also confirmed in a statement they "will not dispute the recent allegations made by the FIA concerning the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix."

Briatore asserted on Friday, during the course of the Italian Grand Prix weekend, there was no wrongdoing, and that he, the lawyers and Renault were confident of success in their case.

But the subsequent departure of Briatore and Symonds now raises new questions regarding the incidents that unfolded on September 28 of last year.

Ecclestone, a long-time ally of Briatore and who is a co-owner of Coca-Cola Championship side QPR with the 59-year-old, admitted to Press Association Sport his surprise at the events of 'crashgate'.

Asked for his thoughts on Briatore's demise, Ecclestone replied: "Well, I feel sorry for him actually.

"Obviously, I'm surprised at what has happened, and I'm taken by surprise today that they've decided to walk away."

Despite this latest twist in the scandal, the extraordinary meeting of the World Motor Sport Council scheduled for Monday at the FIA's headquarters in Paris will still go ahead.

As Briatore and Symonds are no longer with the team it is almost certain that will be taken into account when the WMSC decide on what sanctions to impose.

As a member of the WMSC, Ecclestone was unable to offer any insight due to his role, not wanting to be seen to influence any decision.

"I've no idea what will happen. We'll have to wait and see," added Ecclestone.

"To be honest with you, I don't want to make any comments about the World Council."

The FIA charged Renault with "conspiring with its driver, Nelson Piquet Jnr, to cause a deliberate crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix with the aim of causing the deployment of the safety car to the advantage of its other driver, Fernando Alonso."

Alonso went on to take the chequered flag at Formula One's first night race, his first victory for two years, and at a time when Renault were considering quitting the sport.

The French manufacturer will most likely plead for clemency from the FIA, hoping the actions of two men will not adversely affect the employment of nearly 700 other staff within the team.

Although the FIA have it within their power to exclude Renault from the championship, it is anticipated such a strict penalty will not be administered.

However, FIA president Max Mosley did confirm at the weekend he viewed this case as far more serious than 'spygate' when McLaren were fined a sporting record £50million two years ago.

Eddie Jordan, though, feels there must be "clear-cut evidence" of wrongdoing for Briatore and Symonds to leave, and for the team not to contest the charge.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, Jordan said: "Renault, by suggesting they're not going to contest the allegation, it is in itself an admission - or that's how I see it.

"Legally there may be a different argument of course, but as a normal person on the street I think this is a clear-cut admission, and I am surprised."

The evidence against Briatore and Symonds appeared damning in the wake of Piquet Jnr providing the FIA's investigation team with two statements with the details of what transpired in Singapore.

The 24-year-old claimed that in a meeting with Briatore and Symonds a few hours before the race, he was told to crash his car, and in a further discussion with the latter, at what point on the circuit.Piquet Jnr, fearing for his future with the team, followed through with the order on lap 14, and at turn 17 of the Singapore track, a point where no crane was on hand, so forcing the intervention of the safety car.

As Alonso had pitted two laps earlier, the safety car period played into the double world champion's hands, allowing him to claim the victory.

Although suspicions were roused at the time, the matter did not start to surface until just over a fortnight ago at the Belgian Grand Prix.

The FIA's investigations led them to offer Piquet Jnr immunity against prosecution in return for his testimony.

Telemetry data was especially significant as it showed Piquet Jnr accelerating into the crash, rather than braking as a driver would ordinarily do.

It is understood the FIA also offered Symonds immunity, however, it would now appear he declined, opting instead to follow Briatore out of the exit door.

Despite that, it is imperative the FIA are seen to act, especially given the gravity of what Piquet was asked to do, and there was no guarantee neither he, a marshal or a fan would have avoided injury.

It also remains to be seen what happens to the criminal proceedings commenced in France on Friday against Piquet Jnr and Nelson Piquet Senior concerning the making of false allegations and a related attempt to blackmail. Sporting Life

- Standard Update: "...He is also part-owner of Queens Park Rangers and although the club refused to make any comment today, his future with the West London club must now also be uncertain.
- Former Team owner Eddie Jordan said: “While he's a good guy socially and well respected, now people will look on it in a different way. Will the FA allow him to continue to run a club? The ramifications in this for Flavio are very extreme, very difficult, and he will be devastated by what he's had to do.” Standard

- The Times/Edward Gorman: 'Crashgate' scandal a disgraceful end for Flavio Briatore

Paul Warburton/London Informer - Briatore could be stripped of QPR chairmanship
- A LITTLE known clause in Football League rules could see Flavio Briatore stripped of his QPR chairmanship.
- Under the guidelines of the League's 'right and proper persons' code allowing individuals to become directors of football clubs - your favourite local paper has discovered a clause that makes it plain a ban from another sport carries over to football.
- The Rs supremo walked away from his other role as chief of Formula 1's Renault Team on Wednesday before next Monday's meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris, who are charged with finding the truth behind ‘Crashgate’.
- The 59-year-old had vehemently denied he tried to get Nelson Piquet Jr to crash his Renault car in last year’s Singapore Grand Prix to lever his team-mate Fernando Alonso into a better chance of success - but his resignation from Renault casts a massive shadow over his innocence.
- If the Council decide to ban Briatore from future involvement with F1 anyway - the League are ready to step up their interest in the millionaire whose money and influence saved Rs from bankruptcy two years ago.
- No-one at the Football League was willing to go on record, but a source close to the body confirmed the clause, and admitted interest in Briatore would be stepped up if banned from F1.
- "Within the list of disqualifying conditions the following is included," said the source.
- " ‘Anyone subject to a ban from involvement in the administration of a sport by a sports governing body or such other similar forms of disqualification as may operate from time to time’.
- "At the moment, everything is hypothetical, but the Football League are keeping an eye on the outcome of events."
- QPR suffered their first-ever postponement of a league match in September in a 127 years when the game against Crystal Palace was called off an hour before kick-off on Tuesday.
- Although Hoops had a brand new £500,000 surface laid in the summer, it couldn't cope with the deluge that still had hundreds of fans fuming at wasted trips from afar as Sussex, while Chelsea down the road completed a 1-0 home win over Porto in the Champions League. London Informer

- The Earlier Stories today

- QPR reportedly Paying a considerable part of Helguson's wages while at Watford - "...During his loan switch, QPR have agreed to contribute to a considerable proportion of the striker’s wages." QPR Paying --- Announcements of Helguson Joining Watford on Loan

[Note: Helguson has almost two years left on his QPR contract] [-- Players' Length of QPR Contracts]

- Contribute to an Article on Alec Stock
"From Ron Norris on QPRNet - "I'm working on an article about Alec Stock and I'm looking for fans who were around at the time to contribute. If you're interested in getting involved please email ron@qprnet.com and I'll send you a quick Q and A to fill in. Your comments will then be included in the article." Many thanks!" QPRnet

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