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November 14, 2009

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Briatore says secret talks led to his ban

FORMER Renault team boss Flavio Briatore accused Formula One's governing body yesterday of secret negotiations before a "sham hearing" at which he was banned for life from the sport.

The Italian was barred in September for his role to rig last year's Singapore Grand Prix by having Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet crash deliberately so that teammate Fernando Alonso could win the race.

Britain's Guardian newspaper reported on Thursday that Briatore would be seeking at least 1 million euros (US$1.49 million) in damages at an appeal hearing in Paris on November 24, as well as demanding the punishment be overturned.

The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) condemned the "selective leaking" of extracts from Briatore's case to the court but the Italian dismissed their objections.

In a statement yesterday, Briatore said his action was a public one, there was nothing confidential in the documents and he had nothing to hide.

He also rejected the FIA's position that the life ban was agreed by an "overwhelming" majority of World Motor Sport Council members attending the hearing. Former champion Renault was also given a suspended permanent ban at that hearing.

"The FIA neglects to mention that, according to declarations by one of its own vice-presidents to the media, the world council's decision was rather the outcome of secret negotiations on the eve of the sham hearing," Briatore's statement said.

It gave no further details but FIA vice-president Mohamed Ben Sulayem was quoted in Abu Dhabi's National newspaper after the September hearing as saying: "We are not here to hang teams, we did our negotiations before and everybody is happy with the result."


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