In December last year, Gérard Saillant made the five hour journey from the FIA’s headquarters in Paris to a hospital in Belgium to speak with the Former F1 doctor Gary Hartstein employers about his conduct. Saillant is a figure who is mostly invisible to the F1 fans, however he is the president of the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety and Sustainability. FIA plot against former F1 medical delegate
It’s sufficient to say he is a very senior member of the FIA and with considerable clout.
In an open letter published by Hartstein he claimed Saillant’s visit had one purpose, “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 has been vocal over the safety breaches he alleges the FIA ignored when conducting the Bianchi investigation.
Of course Hartstein’s comments on Formula One are not related to his medical role and not the domain of his employer.
“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],” Hartstein observed in an open letter to Salliant – he posted on his blog.
The former F1 doctor continued, “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”.
Hartstein has since been recruited by a leading medical facility in the UAE and now resides in there full time.
It appears the FIA wish to ‘up the ante’ with Gary and have finally communicated with him directly. The wheels of justice in the place de Concorde indeed grind slowly.
Hartstein has published the letter sent to him by the FIA and their previous interest is made clear. Gary is accused of
- “…making insulting and defamatory remarks about the FIA, its president, and fellow doctors responsible for medical safety”.
- Making “unfounded” comments concerning the Jules Bianchi affair.
- “…discrediting your successors and the considerable progress the FIA in safety at motorsport competitions.
- “…attempting to remove” some of his comments from social media.
The letter concludes
“Therefore, and in accordance with MY professional rules, I invite you to of the name of the lawyer in charge of your defence and I would ask you to invite him to contact me”. The letter is signed by Jean-Pierre Martel.
Gary’s response is in the form of an email. He begins by observing the FIA letter was sent to an address where he no longer resides.
The FIA letter is clearly an attempt to intimidate the Former F1 doctor, because as he correctly observes he does not require a lawyer given that nothing other than generic allegations have been implied by the FIA.
However, this letter is revealing and gives us insight into the way the FIA go about their business and the competence of the officers employed.
More interesting would be the fall out from any case the FIA choose to bring for defamation or libel against Hartstein. These legal excursions often result in the plaintiff having to explain in detail their words and actions to repudiate a defence of ‘fair comment’.
Specifically, the FIA may have to detail their actions taken in Suzuka and demonstrate their operatives were not negligent in the decisions taken before and during the race.
What are the odds that we’ll see further confrontation between the two? Only time will tell. Head to Bet Compare for the latest.
Below is the FIA’s letter to Gary Hartstein
Gary Hartstein’s blog can be found HERE