Flavio Briatore

© Anup Pareek (Sportz Interactive), 1 March 2009

Flavio Briatore, team principal, Renault F1.
© www.ing-renaultf1.com
Ex-Team Principal, Renault
Nationality : Italian
Date of Birth : 12th April, 1950
Place of Birth : Verzuolo, Italy

Impulsive, street smart, talented, shrewd, notorious, fugitive, successful, brilliant...: these would probably be the adjectivesapt to describe Renault boss Flavio Briatore. One of the most popular figures, not juston the Formula One circuit but also in global business circles, Briatore has created an identity for himself. He may not make it to his team garage, but he never fails to make headlines!

Briatore never became what he is today, by chance of luck. He has worked hard and used his grey matter to succeed at every stage of his life. Born on April 20, 1950 in Verzuolo, Italy, Briatore came from a family of school teachers and was obviously expected to finish graduation with flying colours. Never the kind to make regular hackneyed decisions, he decided to be a ski instructor after completing his diploma with the lowest grades. Briatore stunned his family and friends when he started his own restaurant; then he worked as an insurance salesman and later he moved to Milan to work in the Italian Stock Exchange!

His association with Luciano Benetton thereon probably changed Briatore’s fate forever. Benetton started a chain of clothing stores in America and Briatore was to head the operations in the country. From an initial five stores to a mammoth 800 stores all over the country, Briatore just gave an example of his brilliance and he couldn’t be ignored when the company decided to buy over the Toleman Formula One team. Initially disinterested in the sport, Briatore quickly accustomed himself to the change and assumed the role of Managing Director with a panache that later became his trademark. Under his leadership, Benetton got Michael Schumacher to drive and only Briatore would have gauged how far this young racer would go. Benetton won two Drivers’ Championships in 1994 and 1995 and also the Constructors’ Championship in 1995.

“Time will tell if I am wrong”, was what Flavio Briatore said in 2003 when he replaced Jenson Button to offer Fernando Alonso a driving seat in Renault. In 2000, Renault had decided to return to F1 and had taken over the Benetton team. With Briatore as the Managing Director and the Team Principal, the team came to be known as Renault F1. The Italian had a reputation as a ‘talent-scout’ and when he spotted Fernando Alonso, he soon knew that he was looking at a strong contender for a drivers’ title. Time told the critics that Briatore was spot-on with his decision, when Alonso won the 2005 and the 2006 Drivers’ Championships, just as Renault won both Constructors’ Championships. However, in 2007, Alonso decided to move to McLaren, but would return to Renault a year later in 2008. In November 2007, Renault were found guilty of possessing information about McLaren's 2006 and 2007 car, but somehow escaped without being punished.

2007, 2008 and the 2009 F1 season were the most difficult times for Briatore and Renault F1 as they finished third, fourth and eighth overall in the championship, respectively. 2009 proved to be the end of Briatore's career in Formula One as Renault was involved in the infamous crashgate controversy and proved guilty. Briatore was banned from all Formula One events and FIA-sanctioned events indefinitely, while executive director of engineering, Pat Symonds was banned for five years.

Renault F1 were disqualified from F1, which was suspended for two years pending any similar rule infringements.

  • Briatore has managed the careers of Jarno Trulli, Mark Webber and Heikki Kovalainen
  • He was sentenced to 4 years and 6 months of imprisonment after being convicted of fraud which led to the bankruptcy of Attilio Dutto’s company, Paramatti Vercini. He fled to Saint Thomas in Virgin Islands and was never arrested
  • In 1994, Briatore purchased Ligier with hopes of using their Renault engines but the FIA did not permit him to have his team and he sold it to Tom Walkinshaw
  • He is known for having romantic relationships with supermodels. Naomi Campbell, Adriana Volpe and Heidi Klum are a fewwell-known he has been linked to
  • Briatore married 23-year-old Wonderbra model Elisabetta Gregoraci on June 14, 2008. The driver of the bridal car was Fernando Alonso

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