A playboy lifestyle, hobbies that include owning a football team and a day job as the head of Renault’s Formula One team, Flavio Briatore had it all.
After two decades in sport, Renault announced September 16 that Briatore and Pat Symonds, his left hand, had the company following conspiracy charges with Nelson Piquet Jr to adjust the result of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. team announced that it would “contest” charges and lifetime ban from Formula One, which was suspended until the end of the 2011 season. Briatore was banned from all aspects of the sport indefinitely, while the Motor Sport Council met on Monday 21 September.
After two decades in sports, Briatore will be remembered as the man who designed the championship success for Michael Schumacher and then Fernando Alonso.
Briatore’s road to Formula 1 began in the mid-1970s when he met Luciano Benetton in Milan, while working in the stock market. Briatore brought the Benetton clothing franchise to the United States in 1977 and with the help of a strong – if controversial – advertising campaign, the business was a huge success.
Benetton bought the Toleman team at the end of 1985 Benetton’s solid colors to the team. Briatore participated in his first Grand Prix in 1988 in Adelaide as a guest of the team and joined the commercial year. The team became a regular winner, with the team becoming a regular winner.
Michael Schumacher made his debut with Jordan in the 1991 Grand Prix of Belgium, at the next race at Monza, Schumacher was hired by Benetton alongside three-time world champion Nelson Piquet.
Briatore noticed Schumacher’s undeniable talent and had no qualms about replacing the experienced Roberto Moreno with the rising star. A year after his debut, Schumacher got his first win at Spa Francorchamps.
Success in the championship followed in 1994 for Schumacher, but it was a year of controversy for the team. The FIA investigated the licensed license holders who had been banned from the sport but who appeared on the team’s B194. In 1994 he bought the Ligier team to acquire his own stock of Renault engines, however the FIA regulations did not allow him to own the team – he sold it to Tom Walkinshaw. In 1995 Briatore led Benetton in the constructors championship for the first time.
Always a businessman, he bought a stake in Minardi in 1996, he hoped to sell it to British American Tobacco, but when the negotiations failed he sold the stake to other team owners. Briatore left Benetton in 1997 and formed Supertec to build and supply team engines like Benetton.
When Renault re-entered the sport in 2000 after having bought the Benetton team, Briatore became managing director. He recruited Fernando Alonso for 2003 – a move that started the second high of Briatore’s career. Alonso won the championship in 2005 and 2006 with the team that secured the constructors’ title in 2005.
While Briatore enjoyed a great success on the track, he was also an important voice asking for the “show” to improve. “F1 is too predictable and the show is not fantastic,” he said in 2008. “We need it less predictable in races. And, more importantly, we need to be much closer to people: we need more stars, more development of sponsors together, we need more than all “.
Far from F1, Briatore bought the London soccer team Queens Park Rangers in 2007, as part of a consortium of investors including Bernie Ecclestone. He described this purchase as a hobby he could enjoy and nurture – when he’s not involved in managing the F1 team.
The image of Briatore recalls the F1 of the past, he likes the charm and the celebrity of his position and all the symbols that his vast wealth offers. She loves beautiful women and has enjoyed many high-profile deals with supermodels including Naomi Campbell and Heidi Klum with whom she has a daughter. In 2008 he married bra queen Elisabetta Gregoraci – 30 years younger – and the couple announced they would expect a child in 2009.
After quitting “for the good of the team”, Briatore was later banned from the sport for an “unlimited period”. His F1 career will be remembered for improving the races rather than his efforts to bring F1 to a wider audience. “Formula 1 is not just about sport and technology,” he said. “What attracts people is the glamor, the lifestyle, the drama …”
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