‘Witness X’ sealed Briatore’s downfall

THE FATE of Flavio Briatore was sealed on the evidence of a secret whistleblower within Renault on Wednesday, codenamed ‘Witness X’.

Briatore was effectively handed a lifetime ban from motorsport for his role in the conspiracy that saw Nelson Piquet Jr deliberately crash his Renault in last year’s Singapore Grand Prix.

Following a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council, it was made clear the FIA will not sanction any event involving Briatore, nor will any driver he manages be granted a Superlicence in future should they continue to work with him.

In releasing detailed findings into one of the most explosive cases in sporting history, the FIA has confirmed another member of the Renault team came forward during the manufacturer’s own internal investigations.

However, the FIA were not made aware of the whistleblower until just five days ago, when Renault provided additional documents.

In their judgement, the FIA noted: “In those additional submissions, Renault F1 referred to the existence of another member of the Renault F1 team (Witness X) who, although not a conspirator himself, knew of the conspiracy at the time of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

“Renault F1 stated in its submissions of 17 September 2009 that Witness X had confirmed that Mr Briatore had known of the deliberate crash plan before it had been put into effect.”

Following the revelation, and after being granted the right of anonymity to protect his identity – only FIA president Max Mosley and the body’s legal advisors are aware of his real name – Witness X was then interviewed by a member of the FIA’s external counsel.

Determining his evidence was factual, Renault made a third and final set of written submissions on Saturday which was the final nail in Briatore’s coffin.

The evidence laid the blame squarely at Briatore’s door, and with the Italian choosing not to defend himself, the Council hammered him with a sanction described yesterday as “excessive” by Carlos Gracia, the head of Spain’s motorsport body.


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