Look for the FIA to seek an out of court settlement with ex-Renault F1 team boss Flavio Briatore before the controversy surrounding him threatens to overshadow the upcoming Formula One season, much as it did the final months of 2009.
Briatore had his day in French court yesterday and he won. The court said, in part, that the FIA didn’t have the authority to impose a lifetime ban against Briatore and Renault race engineer Pat Symonds and that the FIA must inform everybody in F1 that it's okay to do business with them both again.
The FIA replied that it was studying the decision (which went on, and on) and that it reserved the right to appeal. Meantime, it said, the bans remain in effect.
So you have a bit of a stalemate.
If the FIA appeals the ruling, the story – of how Briatore, Symonds and driver Nelson Piquet Jr. conspired to rig the results of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix by having Piquet deliberately crash his car – will continue to make headlines.
And Briatore will keep fanning the flames by threatening to financially ruin all sorts of people, starting with Piquet and his father who he says he will sue.
Now, it’s 2010 and nobody needs this nonsense any more. Michael Schumacher is on the comeback trail and four new teams are entered in Formula One. It’s time to move on.
But how to do it?
The FIA is lucky because it has a new leader, Jean Todt, who’s an old friend and colleague of Briatore’s. (If Max Mosley was still around, this could have gone on forever.) If Todt’s smart, he’ll call up Briatore and suggest a truce.
Sure, get the lawyers together and make it all legal. But find a way for Briatore to save some face and, most important, allow the FIA to get on with the business of running motorsport without any more of these distractions.
It's imperative that Todt's new regime start with a clean slate. Otherwise, as Yogi Berra allegedly said, it'll be deja vu all over again.