Just when all is well, Bernie appears to be back on the throne and at Christmas it’s time for peace and goodwill to all men (and maybe no negative stories about Formula One, say just for 12 days), serious allegations of grave misconduct have been made against Gérard Saillant
According to the FIA, Saillant “became a fellow of the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety and Sustainability in 2005, rising to Deputy President the following year before his 2011 appointment as President. Saillant has operated on many racing drivers and sportsmen over the last 20 years, including Michael Schumacher, Clay Regazzoni and the footballer Ronaldo”.
In a keynote speech delivered at the inaugural ‘Sport Conference Week’, Saillant explained the role of the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety and Sustainability. “From our earliest focus on safety research, we have broadened and deepened our remit to become a multi disciplinary think-tank for innovation and excellence. Safety R&D, education and training, medical research, sustainability and eco management, technology development, we’ve become a hot house for new ideas and approaches to motor sport development and management”.
Last week Saillant made a day trip of 5 hours return from his base at the FIA in Paris to a hospital in Liège, Belgium. This is the hospital where former FIA employee Gary Hartstein is currently employed since he was unceremoniously fired from his job in Formula One.
This visit appears to have been undertaken with Saillant acting as an officer of the FIA, though under whose specific instructions and authority, is unclear at this moment.
Gary Hartstein alleges that Saillant made this journey with the sole purpose to persuade the Dean of the medical faculty in Liege to bring some pressure to bear on Hartstein to cease writing his Formula One blog – or even to have him fired.
In an open letter published by Hartstein he claims of Saillant, “You came here to raise the issue of whether THIS blog violated my contract at work and could therefore be a reason to fire me, or at least to muzzle me”.
According to Hartstein, Saillant brought a dossier of posts from his blog as evidence of an alleged breach of contract together with a copy of an email he claimed had been sent by Corinna Schumacher to the former F1 Doctor.
Gary Hartstein reveals a number of matters, including the way Saillant had fired him from his role at the FIA – by email.
“It is clearly expressing their personal opinion My blog has nothing to do with my job. In fact, things like “privacy”, and “free expression” come to mind – not as sterile principles, but as LAWS THAT YOU ARE ON THE CUSP OF VIOLATING. You and your boss [Jean Todt].
Clearly upset by this clandestine meeting, Hartstein fights back. “You have acted like a hoodlum. What you have done was not unexpected, but was thuggish and disgusting. You might wear expensive suits and a Patek Philippe, but your tactics are from the gutter.
Be aware that I’ve referred the “dossier” you handed over to the Dean to my attorney. You are on very very thin legal ice”.
If this FIA action is proven, it well demonstrates the power of social media. Since fired from his job in Formula One 2 years ago, Gary has garnered around 34,000 followers on twitter, and participated in a number of ‘non-official’ media events, including three TJ13 podcasts.
Gary’s candour on certain matters and his criticism of the FIA has given significant insight into the machinations of this highly secretive organisation, who prefer to do their business beyond the public gaze.
It now appears the way the FIA chooses to do business, is ethically suspect and more than questionable,
However, having agreed to forgo its exclusive right to regulate Formula One, by accepting $40m from Ecclestone and certain teams, the FIA have attracted the attention of the EU Commission for once again breaching a previous ruling handed down to prevent exactly this from happening.
Further, the FIA’s investigation into itself over the incidents in Japan this year which culminated in French driver Jules Bianchi’s life now hanging in the balance – was considered inappropriate.
The two pages of bullet points which emanated from the FIA’s 10 man expert panel investigation into the Bianchi crash, appeared to be merely and activity of ‘being seen to do something’ – rather than a proper examination of accountability and responsibility, as Gary explained in last week’s TJ13 Courtroom Podcast