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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Richards 'not contacted' about Renault boss job
  • Ecclestone 'sorry' after Renault chief departures
  • Ghosn holding fire on 'crash-gate' reaction
  • Alonso says Ferrari move not '100 per cent'
  • Heavy consequences await departed F1 chiefs
  • Briatore departure a 'noble gesture' - Galliani
  • Piquet vows to keep fighting Briatore

Richards 'not contacted' about Renault boss job
(GMM)  David Richards has denied he is in talks with Renault about stepping in to replace the departed team boss Flavio Briatore.

Richards, the Prodrive chief and a former boss of Renault's previous guise Benetton, has been mentioned among other names including Alain Prost and GP2 team boss Frederic Vasseur as potential candidates for Briatore's job.

It was even reported on Wednesday that Briton Richards, 57, had visited Renault's Enstone headquarters for talks.

But in a newspaper article, it is reported that "Richards told The Times he had not been contacted by the French company as of last night."

The Swiss newspaper Blick said Prost, the quadruple world champion and former owner and boss of an eponymous team, is "right at the top of the list" to succeed Briatore as Renault F1 managing director.

Ecclestone 'sorry' after Renault chief departures
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has said he was "surprised" by the news and "very sorry" to see his friend and business partner Flavio Briatore leave formula one in disgrace.

"I'm very, very sorry that he's ending his association with formula one," the F1 chief executive, who frequently travelled to races with the flamboyant Italian and co-owns the football club Queens Park Rangers with him, said after hearing that Briatore had fallen on his sword over the 'crash-gate' scandal.

"I feel sorry for him.  Obviously, I'm surprised at what has happened, and I'm taken by surprise that they've decided to walk away," Ecclestone, 78, added.

Also departing Renault on Wednesday was Pat Symonds, who until the Piquet allegations was one of F1's most highly respected and regarded senior engineers and tacticians.

Ecclestone said: "I am surprised at Pat letting himself become involved."

It is speculated that the next move for the pair might be lifetime bans from FIA-sanctioned motor racing and even other forms of sport, criminal proceedings for ordering a dangerous crash, and other court actions, including by Ferrari or Felipe Massa for costing them the 2008 world championship.

The World Motor Sport Council will sit to consider possible sanctions against Renault, Briatore and Symonds next Monday.

"I've no idea what will happen.  We'll have to wait and see.  To be honest with you, I don't want to make any comments about the World Council," said Ecclestone.

He also told the Daily Mail newspaper: "You can't defend him (Briatore) at all.  What he did was completely unnecessary.  It's a pity that it's happened."

Ghosn holding fire on 'crash-gate' reaction
(GMM)  Renault SA chief executive Carlos Ghosn was reluctant to comment this week about the 'crash-gate' scandal whilst at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

So far, the affair has led to the ousting of the two leading chiefs of the French carmaker's formula one team, and done untold damage to the image of the company.

The next steps could be even more damaging, amid speculation of possible criminal recriminations, lawsuits, and the wrath of next Monday's World Motor Sport Council.

Britain's Times newspaper reports that Ghosn was "visibly irritated" when quizzed on the topic by journalists in Frankfurt, telling them to "go and see (team president) Bernard Rey".

In the French sports newspaper L'Equipe, he elaborated slightly: "The only thing that I have asked is that no reactions are taken in the heat of the moment.

"I am putting in Bernard Rey my full confidence so that, once all the facts have been settled, we can make a clear reaction," Ghosn added.

Alonso says Ferrari move not '100 per cent'
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso insists it is not '100 per cent' certain that he will be a Ferrari driver in the near future.

The Spaniard had been told by La Gazzetta dello Sport that Italian fans already see him as the next driver of a Maranello made single seater.

"We can't be sure 100 per cent about that yet," the 27-year-old answered during the recent Italian GP weekend.  "There's still work to be done."

It is believed that Ferrari is negotiating with Kimi Raikkonen's management about a financial settlement to end his contract one year early.

The situation is also complicated by the injured Felipe Massa, who after his serious head injuries is yet to return to any driving or physical activities despite aiming for a return to F1 next March.

In the meantime, Alonso chooses his words carefully but is clearly keen to finalize his switch to Ferrari.

Lewis Hamilton told Italian media at Monza that he would like to compete against a Ferrari driven by Alonso, and the Spaniard later replied: "That's fine by me, I accept."

Heavy consequences await departed F1 chiefs
(GMM)  The loss of their jobs may not be the only ramifications faced by Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds after effectively admitting to race-fixing amid the 'crash-gate' scandal.

The FIA's World Motor Sport Council meets next Monday and could impose lifetime bans on the pair.

But according to the Daily Telegraph, a guilty verdict could mean even more dramatic consequences, such as possible extradition to Singapore to face criminal charges for ordering a dangerous and violent incident take place.

The British newspaper said other lawsuits are also possible, such as on behalf of Felipe Massa or Ferrari, who arguably lost the 2008 world championship because of the events at the Singapore night race.

The F1 chiefs' employer Renault SA, meanwhile, "may want to sue its former employees for allegedly bringing the company's name into disrepute", the Telegraph added.

But specialist sports lawyer Stephen Hornsby said: "Renault are unlikely to want to keep the matter going for little reward."

Also in the spotlight are Briatore's separate roles as a leading driver manager with his own firm FFBB, and his co-ownership of the London football club Queens Park Rangers.

The Football League did not comment specifically, but the competition does not allow the involvement of "anyone subject to a ban from the involvement in the administration of a sport by a sport's governing body".

It is reported that the League is closely monitoring the situation.

The World Motor Sport Council, meanwhile, is tipped to look closely next Monday at the role played in the scandal by Briatore's apparent conflict of interest in being both Nelson Piquet's manager and his team boss.

An insider told the Guardian: "The wider implications for Flavio and others found to have put Piquet in this position, and what sanctions can be brought to prevent this happening again, are likely to be looked at by the WMSC."

Briatore departure a 'noble gesture' - Galliani
(GMM)  Adriano Galliani, the vice-president of the AC Milan football team and a close personal friend, has described Flavio Briatore's departure as Renault boss as a "noble gesture".

"I spoken with Briatore five minutes ago," Galliani told Italy's Sky Sport 24 after his countryman stepped down as Renault's F1 managing director over the 'crash-gate' affair.

The news was interpreted by the international media as Briatore, despite his former denials, effectively owning up to playing a role in the Singapore 2008 crash conspiracy.

But Galliani said: "I don't think he did anything (wrong) and that he has taken this decision in order to save the team and many jobs.

"He has done a noble gesture in order to save Renault from an avalanche of problems," he added.

Briatore himself is quoted as saying by the Mirror in Britain: "I was just trying to save the team.  It's my duty.  That's the reason I'm finished."

Piquet vows to keep fighting Briatore
(GMM)  Nelson Piquet's famous father and namesake has vowed to contest the legal action mentioned by the Renault team in a recent official media statement.

Before the French carmaker's F1 team said it will not contest the so-called 'crash-gate' allegations, it was announced from Monza that "criminal proceedings" against Piquets Jnr and Snr had been initiated by Renault and Flavio Briatore for "the making of false allegations" and "blackmail".

From Brazil, former triple world champion Piquet Snr - who drove for Briatore in the team's Benetton guise in the early 90s - said: "I have the money in order to get the best lawyers.

"And about what does he (Briatore) actually want to complain?  About the truth?" Piquet is quoted as saying by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

The magazine asked Piquet, 57, why he thought Briatore would take such a strong stance in the affair even in the face of such apparent wrongdoing.

"After a certain point people like Flavio get so much power that they believe they can walk on water.  Despite the clear evidence he actually assumed nothing could happen to him," the Brazilian added.

Piquet Snr also moved to clarify media headlines that suggested he had accused Fernando Alonso of also being involved in the crash conspiracy.

"All I said was that an intelligent driver like Alonso would ask questions if his team told him to come in to pit after 12 laps from fifteenth on the grid.

"As a driver I would have suspected something, so I can imagine only with difficulty that Fernando didn't know anything," he added.

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