The Italian Almanac

Flavio Briatore

Legal Action

Former Renault boss Flavio Briatore filed a legal action in a Paris court seeking to overturn his life ban from Formula One, judicial sources said. Briatore, 59, was banned by the International Automobile Federation (FIA) on September 21 for ordering driver Nelson Piquet Jr to crash out of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix so teammate Fernando Alonso could win.

In a statement, the Italian said ''in this case, the FIA has been used as tool to exact vengeance on behalf of one man,'' referring to FIA President Max Mosley. Briatore earlier this season was in the forefront of moves to press Mosley to resign. The FIA chief chaired the hearing that banned Briatore.

''The ruling is a juridical aberration and I have complete faith in the French courts for a return to impartial justice,'' said Briatore. He also argued that he had not been given notice of the charges before the hearing, ''a flagrant violation of defence rights''. Briatore did not appear at the FIA tribunal which cleared Alonso, confirmed immunity for whistle-blower Piquet, gave Renault a suspended two-year ban and handed engineering chief Pat Symonds a five-year ban.

Many observers thought the FIA had singled Briatore out for exemplary punishment. Mosley said after the hearing the FIA had had ''no choice'' with Briatore because he refused to admit having a part in what was one of F1's biggest-ever scandals. Briatore and Symonds resigned from Renault ahead of the hearing, at which the French team and Symonds owned up to Piquet's allegations.