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Page last updated at 19:40 GMT, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Briatore wins battle against ban

Flavio Briatore with Nelson Piquet Jr in 2008
Briatore (left) and Renault dropped Piquet Jr as a driver in August

Former Renault Formula 1 team boss Flavio Briatore has had his lifetime ban from motorsport overturned.

The Italian was banned by the sport's governing body, the FIA, for his part in Nelson Piquet Jr's deliberate crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

The French high court overturned the ban and awarded Briatore £13,500 in compensation. The judge said: "The court ruled the sanction was illegal."

BBC Sport understands the FIA will launch an appeal against the decision.

Briatore had also been seeking 1m euros (£675,000) in compensation but was awarded a far smaller amount, while Renault's former director of engineering, Pat Symonds, was given 5,000 euros (£4,500).

The new FIA president, Jean Todt, has talked about setting up a new disciplinary process to deal with similar incidents.

The decision handed down restores to me the dignity and freedom certain people had arbitrarily attempted to deprive me of

Flavio Briatore

And a statement pointed out that the court did not exonerate Briatore or Symonds of conspiring to cause the crash.

"The court has rejected the claims for damages made by Mr Briatore and Mr Symonds and their claim for an annulment of the FIA's decision," the FIA statement read.

"In particular, the court did not examine the facts and has not reversed the FIA's finding that both Briatore and Symonds conspired to cause an intentional crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

"The FIA's ability to exclude those who intentionally put others' lives at risk has never before been put into doubt and the FIA is carefully considering its appeal options on this point.

"The court's decision is not enforceable until the FIA's appeal options have been exhausted. Until then, the World Motor Sport Council's decision continues to apply.

"In addition, the FIA intends to consider appropriate actions to ensure that no persons who would engage, or who have engaged, in such dangerous activities or acts of intentional cheating will be allowed to participate in Formula 1 in the future."

Briatore says he will enjoy a "moment of happiness" before deciding whether he will return to Formula 1.

However, his previous role at Renault has now been filled by Eric Boullier, as announced earlier on Tuesday.

"I would like to express my great joy with the decision handed down by the Tribunal de Grande Instance," said Briatore, 59.

"I believe it important for the FIA to play the active role it deserves in automobile competition.

BBC F1 reporter Ted Kravitz

Ban reversal 'embarrassing' for FIA - Kravitz

"As a sports person and one passionately involved in car racing for more than 20 years, the decision to apply to the civil courts to contest a decision of the FIA was a difficult one for me to take.

"The fact the World Motor Sport Council had been utilised to deal with a personal agenda aimed at pushing me out of the world of competition left me no other choice.

"The decision handed down today restores to me the dignity and freedom certain people had arbitrarily attempted to deprive me of.

"I believe justice has been done today."

Briatore's lawyers had argued at the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris that procedures adopted during the investigation were against the FIA's international sporting code.

"We have the feeling that some justice has been reinstated," Briatore's lawyer Philippe Ouakrat said after the verdict.

"I'm certain that the court was quite shocked by the way that the decision was made against Mr Briatore.

"The reputation of Flavio was tarnished but now he can recover his dignity."

Renault's former director of engineering, Pat Symonds, also had his five-year suspension quashed by the French court.

Pat Symonds
Renault's former head of engineering Symonds also saw his ban overturned

Both Briatore and Symonds left Renault in the wake of the "crash-gate" scandal which shocked Formula 1 last summer.

Following Piquet Jr's dismissal by the team, the Brazilian revealed he had been asked to deliberately crash to help his team-mate Fernando Alonso win the race.

Renault were subsequently given a two-year suspended ban for their role in the race-fixing scandal at an FIA hearing in September, while Briatore and Symonds were handed longer punishments.

Briatore launched his legal case in October, claiming his right to a free and fair defence to the charges was flouted.

In his statement following the tribunal's decision, he claimed the court agreed with him that the FIA had:

- rendered a decision it was not competent to pronounce

- infringed its own articles of association

- totally failed to respect my right to a fair defence

- finally, entrusted the tasks of investigation, prosecution and judgment to a principle player known by all to be hostile to me

The Italian had also been seeking 1m euros in compensation but was awarded damages of 20,000 euros (£13,500) with Symonds given 5,000 euros (£4,500).

The court's decision also benefits Briatore as a co-owner of QPR Football Club as he is no longer in danger of breaching the Football League's fit and proper person test.

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see also
Boullier named Briatore successor
05 Jan 10 |  Formula 1
Briatore attempts to overturn ban
24 Nov 09 |  Formula 1
Renault handed suspended F1 ban
21 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Briatore out over Renault fix row
16 Sep 09 |  Formula 1

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