Fernando Alonso’s uber-fan and mentor, Flavio Briatore is relishing his renaissance in Formula 1, the controversial former team boss taking credit for the great Spaniard’s inspired decision to join Aston Martin.
It would be fair to say that 41-year-old Alonso’s two-decade F1 career has been pockmarked with unfortunate decisions but the spontaneous move to abandon Alpine (aka Renault who he won his two F1 world titles with) and replace retiring Sebastian Vettel, at Aston Martin for this year is proving to be a bulls-eye.
A deal was struck swiftly with Alonso signing to team up for 2023 – teammate to Lance Stroll son of ambitious owner Lawrence Stroll – catching everyone off guard. A deal that has since proven to be one of Alonso’s better decisions, mostly in terms of timing, as the Aston Martin AMR23 is a surprisingly good car in his hands as his five podiums in five races attest to.
Speaking to Il Riformista, Briatore said of Alonso’s return to potential race-winning form: “Aston Martin was not competitive until this year. They raided the number two of Red Bull and Mercedes investing heavily in technology and in the factory for over twenty million.”
Aston Martin attracted the best of the best from Mercedes and Red Bull
Briatore of course referring to the arrival of technical director Dan Fallows (ex-Red Bull) who together with Eric Blandin (ex-Mercedes) have produced a car that has humbled their engine suppliers Mercedes all season long. As a result, five races into the season and Aston Martin are second in the 2023 F1 constructors’ standings with 102 points.
Alonso has thus far scored 75 of those points, inadvertently and despite the Spaniard’s guidance, Stroll has been no match to his older teammate; the 24-year-old’s shortcomings relative to Alonso are glaring and a stark warning that the Canadian has to raise his game substantially, to come close to a real F1 benchmark which Vettel was not in his final years in F1. With Fernando, there’s nowhere to hide now for the Rich Kid.
Typically, Briatore made sure credit is given, where credit is due and added to his first revelation: “For these reasons, I pushed Fernando to join Aston Martin, which is now second above Ferrari after five Grands Prix. Aston did well in the last round in Miami although it’s not exactly a circuit that suits the car well, but if nothing unexpected happens, the F1 world championship is already decided.”
Briatore: Red Bull is doing a separate championship
“But remember there are some circuits like Monaco, that can always be a big surprise,” added Flav, before explaining why he thinks the 2023 F1 world titles are already decided with 18 Rounds left: “Red Bull is doing a separate championship, Max Verstappen has strength and style and the world championship is already his.”
As for Ferrari, enduring an awkward time in their history with a new man in the hottest seat in sport, Fred Vasseur, who is attempting to harness the chaos amid a revolving door of technical staff, albeit with an open chequebook to fix the problem at Maranello.
The Scuderia’s season is already pegged back and quite abysmal for both drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, a scenario in which Briatore sees few positives: “Ferrari are far behind, the car has innumerable problems starting with [fuel] use. And Charles, as we also saw in Miami, is not competitive, unlike his teammate Sainz who defended himself well.”
Ferrari have tasked Vasseur to turn the team into winners again, in the wake of Mattia Binotto’s tenure in charge of the Reds, but Flav reckoned: “Fred is only one man in a team. He is trying to rebuild an adequate technical structure and at the same time not to lose engineers.”
Alonso: You don’t have a crystal ball but I’m happy with the outcome for sure
Returning to Aston Martin, Alonso recently confirmed Briatore’s role in his move, and shed light on how his deal with Team Stroll transpired: “I think back in August (2022) every F1 team is optimistic about the following year. So I was told that the car will be good and I spoke with Lawrence when Seb retired and he said we have a fantastic team and the car will be very different from what Sebastian and Lance [Stroll] drove in 2022.
“I said okay, yes everyone is thinking the same, but let’s see. You never know the result, you don’t have a crystal ball, but I’m happy with the outcome for sure,” declared Alonso who, after the first five races of this 23-round season, is a mere six points shy of what he scored with Alpine the whole of last year, and on course for his best season in the top flight since 2013.
Whether one likes him or not, Briatore played an immense role in the history of F1 (sadly including his Crashgate scandal) during a 20-year spell as a very big player in the F1 paddock, and who can rightfully lay claim to guiding F1 legend Michael Schumacher to the first two of his seven F1 world championships titles.
And of course, there is no denying, Flav was always a big-believer Alonso and ever-present in the driver’s corner, through thick and thin, since the Italian gave the kid from Oviedo his debut at the 2021 Australian Grand Prix; the rest – as they say – is history.