I was trying to save my team, says Briatore

Former Renault principal says that it was 'his duty' to resign over crash incident

Disgraced renault team principal Flavio Briatore lost no time working on his rehabilitation. In a public statement yesterday the flamboyant Italian said he left the Renault team to help them ahead of a hearing at the World Motor Sport Council in Paris next Monday to face charges of race fixing. "I was just trying to save the team. It's my duty. That's the reason I've finished," he said.

His long-time friend Bernie Ecclestone stepped in with words of support. "It's a pity that Flavio has ended his Formula 1 career in this way," the sport's ringmaster said. "You can't defend him at all. What he did was completely unnecessary. It's a pity that it's happened. He told me recently that he didn't want to finish up like me, playing with racing cars at my age. So at least he's been saved that embarrassment.

"The sport has recovered from so many things when people have said it was finished and it will recover from this. It was supposed to be finished when Ayrton Senna died. It was supposed to be finished when Michael Schumacher retired. People say it's been a torrid year but it always is in F1."

Renault's chief operating officer, Patrick Pelata, said that someone's head had to roll in the wake of the scandal. "I don't know all the details but there was a fault and a fault requires a sanction," he told French radio station RTL. "Nelson Piquet had already left and Pat Symonds is gone. Briatore considered he was morally responsible and has resigned.

"We will know more about the details after what will happen next Monday, with the FIA. At the moment, we have assumptions but it is clear that basically there was a fault. We don't like this, but do we not want the fault of two people to reflect upon the work of a company and the entire Formula 1 team."

The legendary world champion Niki Lauda, who cheated death after his own serious and unprovoked crash at Germany's Nurburgring in 1976, joined the condemnation of Briatore's tactics. "When I first heard the accusation that Renault had asked Nelson Piquet to crash deliberately, the question was whether it was true or not," he said. "If it was true, then it amounted to the worst thing that has happened in Formula One.

"There is only one other incident that comes near – Michael Schumacher parking his Ferrari on the racing line at Monaco in 2006 to block Fernando Alonso's last qualifying lap. But, really, even that is not comparable. This time it was about manipulating a race. There was also the obvious danger to Piquet, other drivers and spectators.

"Yes, the McLaren spying scandal two years ago was extremely serious but mechanics have always discussed technical data among themselves. This, though, is new. The biggest damage ever. Now the FIA must punish Renault heavily to restore credibility in the sport."

His fellow triple champion Sir Jackie Stewart said: "There is something fundamentally rotten and wrong at the heart of Formula One."

The 1996 champion Damon Hill, the president of the British Racing Drivers' Club, added: "It's not a very good episode. There are clearly a lot of issues, and have been in the past, and it has a lot of soul searching to do.

"I'm concerned the sport is going to suffer as a genuine challenge, which is what I always felt it should be and would like it to be, of skill and competitiveness."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map