Many times when this site quotes the likes of Pat Symonds and Flavio Briatore, readers quite angrily – and rightfully – question why these guys get column inches.
Symonds and Briatore emerged as villains after their role in the infamous 2008 Singapore Grand Prix ‘Crashgate, the scandal that tarnished the sport and put an end to their role with Renault.
Briatore was suspended from all Formula 1 and FIA-sanctioned events indefinitely, whilst Symonds received a five-year ban. Their bans were subsequently overturned by a French court, although they both agreed not to work in Formula 1 or FIA-sanctioned events for a specified time as part of a later settlement reached with the governing body.
It is no secret that Briatore is a close confidante of Fernando Alonso and every now and then the flambouyant Italian spouts his ‘pearls of wisdom’ which we report on, because this what our site does, namely report on everything related to Formula 1.
Symonds did his time and since returned to the sport and has had spells with Virgin Racing, then Williams and now he is FIA chief technical officer working alongside former colleague Ross Brawn.
One could liken Symonds to a modern-day hacker who is bust by a secret service and is given the options: long jail time or come over to the other side and assist in tracking down other hackers operating beyond the law. In other words: keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
The ‘crime’ they were bust for was indeed massive and perhaps, for some unforgivable, but they have ‘served their time’ and it is only fair that they are given a chance to redeem themselves, while their reach and connections in Formula 1 keep them relevant to this day.
It is no surprise that F1’s sporting chief Brawn had a close working relationship with both men during his tenure, in the nineties, with Benetton where the trio worked together with Michael Schumacher and had great success for the clothes brand that owned the F1 team that has since become Renault.
Schumacher won 19 grands prix and two F1 world titles under their watch.
Briatore is worth a quote for his views, which at times are pretty outrageous, because he still has a handle on the deep secrets of the paddock, while Symonds’ has technical expertise that is virtually unrivalled and his role in the sport now is one that can be likened as a villain turned informer.
The ‘Crashgate’ scandal is well documented, in a nutshell: Nelson Piquet junior in cahoots with Symonds and Briatore was ordered to crash his car at a specific place and point in time, during the race in Singapore, so as to provide an advantage for Alonso who went on to win the race thanks to the deployment of a safety car at that point.
Alonso denied any knowledge of the plan, to ask Piquet to deliberately crash, and told reporters at the time, “I cannot imagine these things, these situations. It’s something that never entered my mind.”
Personally, I would love to have Symonds, Briatore and Alonso to answer to a long list of related questions, ideally with a lie-detector attached to their digits.
This will never happen.
Another ‘lie-detector’ test I would love to employ on Briatore, Symonds and Rory Byrne would involve lengthy questioning with regards to the traction control software ‘they never used’ but was found to be present on the Schumacher’s 1994 Benetton B194 – a can of worms that to this day has left many unanswered questions…
Again, this will never happen. So we move on.
On another note, why quote Bernie Ecclestone? He milked Formula 1 to near death and as a result became one of the wealthiest men in Britain. For excatly the same reasons, mentioned above, he will get column inches whenever he has something relevant to say.
Love (?) them or loathe them there are a number of high-profile villians who are part and parcel of the fabric of Formula 1, what they say still pertains to what is going on now and what happens in the future.
As a F1-only news site, operating outside of the colonised racing media, not quoting these scoundrels would be a disservice to the readers of this site.
Final word to Al Capone: “A crook is a crook, and there’s something healthy about his frankness in the matter.”
Big Question: Should the likes of Briatore, Symonds, Ecclestone et al still be quoted by F1 media?