Briatore “harshly” treated, says Ecclestone

Flavio Briatore’s expulsion from motorsport by the FIA was too harsh and draconian. That is the view of Bernie Ecclestone, FOM Chairman and business associate of the Italian, as he announced today.

“There were three people who knew what was going on and that is it. No one else was involved. Those people have been dealt with in my view quite harshly in [regards to] Flavio. I don’t think it was necessary, but I was on the commission so I am probably just as guilty as anyone else. On reflection it wasn’t necessary. It was too much. Definitely too much.”

Ecclestone, quoted by Autosport, went on to say that Briatore could have avoided the punishment by owning up in the first place instead of stating his innocence and not defending himself at the hearing.

“Firstly he [Flavio] was invited to appear [in front of the World Motor Sport Council] and his lawyers wrote and said the FIA have no jurisdiction as far as he is concerned, which was probably right.

“But it was not the right thing to say. It would have been just as easy to go to say: ‘I was caught with my hand in the till, it seemed a good idea at the time, and I am sorry.’ There is an organisation that works very, very well on that idea where the people go to a box and confess…”

“Honestly, I am a friend of Flavio’s. He has just handled the whole thing badly. He could have handled it in a completely different way, and they would have said, ‘you were a naughty boy’ and that would have been the end of it.”

Ecclestone is part-owner of Queen’s Park Rangers with Briatore, who may have to sell his stake in the club to steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal if the FA refuse to allow him to continue in the role.