French court overturns Briatore’s suspension

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PARIS (AP) — Former Renault Formula One team boss Flavio Briatore had his lifetime suspension from motor sports overturned by a French court Tuesday.

F1’s governing body, the FIA, banned Briatore in September after it ruled that he had ordered Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr. to deliberately crash his car to help teammate Fernando Alonso win the Singapore Grand Prix in 2008.

Briatore denied a role in the scheme and took legal action to be reinstated.

The Paris court did not immediately explain its reasons for overturning Briatore’s ban, but has ordered the FIA to pay him $21,500 — far short of the $1.4 million he had sought in damages.

The Paris court also overturned a five-year FIA ban imposed on former Renault chief engineer Pat Symonds. He was awarded $7,200, also far short of the $722,000 he had sought.

FIA lawyer Jean-Francois Prat said the motor sports governing body was likely to appeal, preventing Briatore from returning to the sport until the appeals process runs its course.

“We have the feeling that some justice has been reinstated,” Briatore’s lawyer Philippe Ouakrat said. “I’m certain that the court was quite shocked by the way that the decision was made against Mr. Briatore.”

Ouakrat had argued that Briatore was suspended because of his tense relationship with then-FIA president Max Mosley, and that the FIA exceeded its authority by imposing a sanction on individuals.

“We are in a situation in which Mr. Briatore is reinstated in all his capacities to act in Formula One or motor sports,” he added.

Earlier Tuesday, Renault confirmed Eric Boullier as Briatore’s replacement as F1 team principal.

The 36-year-old Frenchman had the same role for Team France in the A1GP Series between 2007 and 2009.

Boullier said that morale has been low at Renault since he arrived, adding that “the last few weeks had been quite challenging.”