'Distraught' Briatore may go to court to overturn life ban

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The Independent Online

Flavio Briatore is devastated by his life ban from Formula One for his role in a race-fixing scandal and may take legal action against motor sport's governing body, according to reports in the Italian media yesterday.

The former Renault team principal was handed the sentence by the International Automobile Federation (FIA) on Monday for fixing last year's Singapore Grand Prix by ordering Nelson Piquet Jr to crash.

"I am distraught," the 59-year-old Italian told Gazzetta dello Sport. Reports said he was planning to bring legal action against the FIA in Paris to try to prove his innocence and win compensation for the damage to his image.

Briatore left Renault last week along with engineering head Pat Symonds, who was banned for five years on Monday. The former world champion team did not contest the accusations and were handed a suspended permanent ban that will last until the end of the 2011 season.

Renault's Spanish double world champion Fernando Alonso, who won the Singapore race after Piquet's crash forced the deployment of the safety car, was cleared of any involvement. Piquet, from Brazil, was given immunity from prosecution in return for testifying.

Carlos Gracia, head of the Spanish motor sport federation and a member of the FIA's world motor sport council, was also shocked by the life ban. "Briatore's [penalty] seems to me excessive, there was no clear proof against him and he was not able to defend himself either," he said.

"Moreover, I wouldn't rule out him going to ordinary justice because he has been left without his means of earning a living."