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'F1 worse than Italian football'
September 11, 2006 09:51 IST
Renault team boss Flavio Briatore stepped back on Sunday from comments comparing Formula One to Italian football's match-fixing scandal and suggesting the championship had been decided "around a table".
Briatore's said in a statement that his words on Italian television, which followed Renault's world champion Fernando Alonso declaring that Formula One was "no longer a sport", had been taken out of context.
Stewards at the Italian Grand Prix demoted Alonso five places on the starting grid after he was ruled to have impeded Ferrari's Felipe Massa during Saturday's qualifying.
Ferrari's Michael Schumacher won Sunday's race after Alonso withdrew 10 laps from the end with a blown engine.
"What happened on Sunday isn't the problem," Briatore had told RAI television. "It is what happened before the race which is strange. This is a world championship which has already been decided at the table.
"We have understood how things go -- it has all been decided...they have decided to give the world championship to Schumacher and that is what will be," he said.
"Compared to what is happening in Formula One, 'calciopoli' just makes me smile," added Briatore, referring to the football scandal which resulted in leading club Juventus, owned like Ferrari by the FIAT group, being demoted to the second division as punishment.
In his later statement, Briatore said that "a jokey remark has been turned into something it was not intended to be.
"I have every confidence in the governance of our sport and look forward to our team fighting and winning the Formula One world championship this season," he added.
His earlier comments had drawn a swift response from both Ferrari and the sport's governing International Automobile Federation (FIA).
"While I accept that there are people who talk about Ferrari from time to time, there is someone who talks too much and who missed a good opportunity to stay quiet," said Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo when asked about Briatore's comments.
"In life you need to have a little bit of class and so I prefer not to respond," he added.
An FIA spokesman said: "The comments attributed to the Renault team principal have been noted by the FIA and are under consideration."
An extraordinary meeting of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council has already been called for September 19 to consider a controversial podium presentation at the Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul last month.
Alonso leads Schumacher by two points with three races remaining.
Seven-times world champion Schumacher announced on Sunday that he was retiring from the sport at the end of this season.
Formula One: The Complete Coverage