The FIA may be in for a rude awakening. Flavio Briatore has started legal proceedings against the FIA in Geneva, Switzerland to recover damages from the FIA for forcing drivers to cancel their management contracts with Flavio’s company.
This is on the heels of Flavio’s successful lawsuit against the FIA for banning him from involvement from FIA sanctioned motorsport indefinitely and for declaring that no driver who held a management contract with Flavio’s company would be granted a superlicense.
The French court previously found that the FIA had acted against French law when Max Mosley presided over the FIA and the World Motorsport Council as judge, jury and executioner, violating French and international standards of separation of power.
The FIA has since announced their intent to appeal the court’s findings, but one disgruntled and unnamed WMSC member has been quoted in the London Telegraph as saying:
“The decision to appeal is a decision that should have been taken by the World Council but we haven’t had a World Council meeting.”
Further, the FIA (without WMSC agreement) reversed the WMSC’s previous stance, now allowing drivers managed by Flavio to get superlicenses, which got the unnamed FIA mole up in arms again:
“As far as I can see, is as there is an appeal in force so the decisions that were made must stay. All the decisions of the World Council must stay pending the appeal. Now, how is it possible for the FIA to change what the World Council said? They can’t. One person, whoever said that, could not do that without the approval of the World Council.”
So in simple terms, the FIA was found by the French courts to have passed judgement on this situation illegally, then the FIA lodged an appeal without the consent of the WMSC and further reversed one of their judgments against Flavio again without the consent of the WMSC.
The FIA’s justice system has worked for years now based on the value of a team’s entry into the world championship. McLaren for example could not easily defend themselves against spygate and liegate because to do so would have jeopardized their very existence on the grid. Maybe they could successfully litigate against the FIA, but the legal process could have taken years to unfold, during which time McLaren would have probably been excluded from the championship.
Now this scenario comes up and the FIA practiced the same type of justice as usual, but the situation of the case was entirely different. When the FIA totally excused Renault of wrongdoing in the matter, instead blaming the whole situation on Flavio and Pat Symonds, the FIA opened themselves up to litigation from men who no longer had any involvement with a team on the grid. This all based on the testimony of a weak willed Nelson Piquet Jr. who alleged that he intentionally crashed the car at the behest of Flavio and Pat so he could be given immunity from the FIA (and a one way ticket to NAS-Truck).
Granted, Flavio and Pat may have been guilty of this offense and fully deserved the wrath of the FIA. But now the FIA is in the sticky situation where actual courts of law are involved and they actually have to prove their reasons for handing out such harsh judgments, all the while Flavio is saying that he was never given a fair chance to present a defense against the FIA’s claims.
The damage has been done though. According to Flavio, he has lost driver contracts with Fernando Alonso, Heikki Kovalainen, Lucas Di Grassi and others. So Flavio is suing not only for the value of the management contracts, but also for the loss of reputation. This does not bode well for the FIA, especially when Flavio’s lawyer is claiming that the French court’s ruling invalidates any disciplinary decision taken by the WMSC for the last 15 years. For the FIA’s sake, they better hope that their appeal is successful.