Crashgate Could Still Affect Briatore's QPR Ownership; A Ban for Planning One of the Worst Cases of Cheating in Formula One Could Have Repercussions for the London Club. by David Smith

Article excerpt

Byline: David Smith

FLAVIO BRIATORE may have walked away from the Renault Formula One team but that doesn't mean the Londonbased millionaire has avoided further action that may affect his coownership of Queens Park Rangers.

The departure from Renault of team boss Briatore and technical chief Pat Symonds means neither will have to attend Monday's Extraordinary Meeting of the World Motor Sport Council at the FIA headquarters in Paris.

That hearing will examine the claim by Nelson Piquet jnr that he was asked by Briatore and Symonds to deliberately crash during last year's Singapore Grand Prix to help Spanish team-mate Fernando Alonso win the race.

Renault will not contest the case, which is hardly surprising given the weight of leaked evidence that an outrageous piece of cheating was perpetrated. However, the threat of an immediate ban from the championship, which would inevitably have led to Renault quitting F1, receded after Briatore and Symonds fell on their swords.

The WMSC are now likely to impose a fine, comparable with the record [pounds sterling]50million given to McLaren for their part in the 2007 Spygate scandal.

What the FIA have not yet made clear, however, is whether the matter will rest there. What will concern Briatore is the possibility of him facing a per-sonacharge and a ban from the sport. If that happens and he is subsequently found guilty of a major role in the scandal, exclusion from F1 could have huge repercussions.

The stable of drivers managed by the Italian have included Red Bull's Mark Webber and Heikki Kovalainen, Lewis Hamilton's McLaren team-mate, and Briatore might find it impossible to continue operating without access to the paddock.

An even bigger blow could be action brought against him by the Football League under their "Fit and Proper Persons' Test" governing club directors. …