Question Mark: Flavio Briatore in F1. Good or Bad?

Briatore Nelson Piquet crashgate sig=ngapore accident

Ever since he has been popping up in social media photos with some very important Formula 1 heavy-hitter during the summer break, it is time to ask the question: Flavio Briatore in F1. Good? Or Bad?

Flavio’s history is well known, the flamboyant Italian marketing man heading Bennetton’s campaigns in its heyday, convincing the clothing family to buy a F1 team to further promote their brand.

Since then the likes of Michael Schumacher passed through his hands, and thereafter it would be fair to say that Briatore, by then good pals with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, has a finger in just about every pie in the Piranha Pool.

Of course, he had a hand in that putrid Crashgate scandal in which he ordered Renault driver Nelson Piquet to crash during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix with Pat Symonds also roped into the skullduggery.They were banned then unbanned and the latter has a good, senior job in F1.

Flav continued to live the life of a billionaire, although only down as having $200-million in the bank while pissing off many people including Italy’s tax collectors and more recently the country’s pizza kings. But that’s another story.

The problem I have is that I am on the fence on this one

Wolff_Domenicali_Briatore

I do believe that Flavio is still connected to the ‘right’ people and with Fernando Alonso a long time ally still a big player in the paddock, plus the Baku deal, plus, plus…

Perhaps not like before, but indeed Briatore does wield power. Try set up a photo-op with F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff on a yacht somewhere gorgeous where the very rich play.

That image prompted questions about Briatore’s increased presence on the grid, more frequent in recent times and what the controversial businessman has in store for Flav 2.0.

On this one, I cannot decide whether to be bad cop or good cop, devil’s advocate or whatever but there is a ying-yang to my thoughts on the matter aka as fence-sitting.

Briatore is not welcome in Formula 1

piquet singapore crashgate

He should never be allowed back after orchestrating the 2008 Singapore cheat. He got off lightly and should have got a fine, how he was unbanned needs to be investigated. Was there more at stake than just Fernando’s victory? Any big bets happening on that night because it was a fixed race after all?

Just far too many questions people will be asking when he gets an official post or a deal with a team. Furthermore, everywhere he goes he upsets people with his tactics and attitude.

Many report, off the record of course, that in F1 Briatore wielded far too much power and appeared to consider himself and his team to be untouchable, while his ‘shares’ in the sport grew from deals made with drivers in F1, as well as those heading there while also running the sport’s junior series’ where he had first dibs on young talent.

Many stories abound regarding projects that went south because of Briatore, drivers whose careers he destroyed or dismantled, Crashgate whistle-blower Piquet Junior included; also teams he was involved in that went bang. Google is packed with Flav stories if you dig.

The final straw in this villain’s story was Crashgate, from which there should never be a comeback. Briatore’s plan could have killed the driver – Piquet – who was stupid enough to go with the plan.

Today Formula 1 has no place for a shady and disgraced 72-year-old who has no value for an F1 era forging a new path while ridding itself of the cobwebs of Ecclestone’s draconian and shadowy rule, which allowed Briatore to thrive and become incredibly wealthy in the process.

In this boom time for the sport, when transparency is vital in the age of Liberty Media, trust is hard to award to all concerned with that shameful act in Singapore and they should be banned for life, no way back. Briatore top of that list of villains.

Briatore is welcome in Formula 1

alonso renault briatore

Flavio is sure to be earning some kind of commission with deals he struck during his time in F1, even now, as we debate the value he brings to the sport.

Let’s face it he has always been involved, perhaps less so now than in his heyday but some deals and commissions linger, when done right and it would be no surprise if commission cheques from F1 deals arrive every now and then in his post box.

Granted the Singapore incident will always be a sore point even to the most liberal among us, but at the same time it was a long time ago, Briatore was ousted from the Renault, banned from the sport and then unbanned, which means legally he is welcome to do business in the F1 paddock.

He has paid his dues, taken the rap and like any other should be allowed a second chance. He rigged a race with willing accomplices, he didn’t murder people. Let bygones be bygones.

Flav back in F1 would be good on every level. He will be a quote machine and unlikely to be quiet when asked his opinions. He will be a social media treat in an ‘all-news-is-good-news-kinda-way.’

In fact, I will go a step further and say to John Elkann, hire Flavio to sort out Ferrari. He is exactly what the team needs to front for a fumbling Mattia Binotto and his current crew of Incapables, much like Luca di Montezemolo did for Jean Todt during the Michael Schumacher glory years.

Binotto running the tech side and out of the spotlight, with Flavio soaking up the attention and sorting out the mess of a team that the Reds have turned into.

Like him or not, Briatore knows how to beat big teams as he showed when taking Michael Schumacher to his first two F1 titles with Bennetton, and then repeating the two-title feat with Fernando Alonso a decade later; by then Flav had successfully turned a clothing business marketing project into a fully-fledged factory team: Renault.

In other words, he knows what it takes to win F1 titles, which few of Mattia’s era at the Scuderia do. So I am going to punt Flav to Ferrari alongside Mattia and say he is more than welcome in F1.

What’s your verdict on Flav?

It does not take Nostradamus to predict that we are going to be seeing more and more of Flavio Briatore on the F1 grid and paddock, in what role remains to be seen.

With my jury hung, I fling it out there and ask the question in the headline: Flavio Briatore in F1. Good? Or Bad?