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Friday, September 11, 2009

Briatore and QPR? "Crashgate Threatens Whole New Ball Game for Flavio Briatore"

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- Briatore and Renault charge blackmail and warn of libel Suit

- Standard/David Smith - Crashgate threatens whole new ball game for Flavio Briatore
- Flavio Briatore's co-ownership of Queens Park Rangers Football Club may be threatened if the London-based multi-millionaire is charged over the Renault 'crashgate' race-fixing storm that has stunned Formula One.
- It emerged today that Briatore could fall foul of the Football League's 'Fit and Proper Persons' Test' for club directors. That's if the FIA, motor racing's governing body, take direct action against the 59-year-old Italian over allegations he asked Nelson Piquet Jnr to deliberately crash during last year's Singapore Grand Prix.
- The Brazilian did, indeed, smash into a wall during the race, causing a safety car intervention that benefited team-mate Fernando Alonso to such an extent that the former world champion, on a different fuel strategy to his rivals, was able to go on and claim a surprise victory.
- At the time, Piquet insisted the crash was purely accidental. However, ahead of this weekend's Italian Grand Prix at Monza, a leaked transcript of a lengthy statement he gave to the FIA at the end of July has revealed some amazing allegations.
- Piquet claimed that Renault team principle Briatore and technical director Pat Symonds persuaded him to cheat by crashing at a moment in the Grand Prix that was advantageous to Alonso. Piquet said he was even taken to one side by Symonds and shown where was the best place to crash.
- The 24-year-old claimed he went along with the alleged plot because Briatore had put him under "intense stress" and in order to safeguard his place in the team.
- In the event, he was sacked following the Hungarian Grand Prix in July. Following his dismissal, he launched a scathing attack on Briatore in which he referred to him as his "executioner".

The Football League will not comment on Briatore's position as chairman of QPR's parent company, QPR Holdings, until after Renault appear before an extraordinary meeting of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council in Paris on Monday week.
- However, a source confirmed that the 'Fit and Proper' test might become applicable to Briatore under the rule that nobody can be a director or hold a majority interest in a club if they are "subject to a ban from a sports governing body relating to the administration of their sport".
- At the WMSC hearing, Renault, represented by Briatore and Symonds, will have to answer charges that the team conspired with Piquet to "cause a deliberate crash . . . with the aim of causing the deployment of the safety car to the advantage of Fernando Alonso".
- The charges are considered to be so serious that Renault stand to be thrown out of the world championship if they are proved. Briatore, Symonds and Piquet might also face personal sanctions including a ban from F1 which, in Briatore's case, could then lead to action by the Football League.
- Should Briatore be disqualified from office at QPR, it would inevitably leave question marks against the continued involvement of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and Indian industrialist Lakshmi Mittal, who have invested heavily in the Championship side.
- It is understood that Briatore and Symonds have denied Piquet's claims in documents submitted to the FIA. Standard

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