Born on the 12th of April, 1950, Italian Flavio Briatore has developed a unique business approach to Formula One anchored by a determined and canny character and decorated by unrivalled flair. A chance meeting with the Benetton family sparked his...
Born on the 12th of April, 1950, Italian Flavio Briatore has developed a unique business approach to Formula One anchored by a determined and canny character and decorated by unrivalled flair. A chance meeting with the Benetton family sparked his interest in Formula One and now, after more than a decade of patrolling the paddock and the pit-lanes, he is one of the sport's major players, renowned for his talent-spotting instincts and marketing skill.
Enticed by Renault's move to purchase Benetton and return to the track as a works team, he was appointed Managing Director of Renault F1 UK. As team leader, he began the task of steering Benetton through a transitional period with encouraging results as they prepared for the future. Now, in his first year at the helm of the Renault team, Briatore will pursue his distinctive path in Formula One as he bids to build a team of genuine championship contenders.
How important was it to bring Fernando Alonso in as a test driver?
Fernando is Renault's future. That is why we have decided against accepting other teams' offers for a seat this season. Being our test driver will bring him into the Renault F1 environment immediately. He will develop and improve alongside the team.
How crucial will the learning process of 2001 be this season?
Most importantly, 2001 has been crucial to re-motivate, consolidate and re-structure the team here at Enstone and to make the two technical centers at Enstone and Viry-Châtillon one company and one team. On the track we saw a clear improvement by the final races of the season.
Has that improvement built confidence for 2002?
The 2001 season was a difficult but very important year and we can now attack 2002 with more confidence. I am satisfied that we will start the new era of Renault F1 on a solid base.
What are your opinions of the design team you now have in place?
I have total confidence. Both Mike and Jean-Jacques have strong views and I support them completely. I appreciate the fact that they, like me, have a long-term strategy. That is the only way to be ahead.
You have been in the Grand Prix business since 1988. Do you still feel
the same buzz at races as you did at the start?
Yes, but it is different. My first time in Formula One was an incredible experience on a personal level that I will never forget. This time, what is new and stimulating for me is to see that the teams are getting more involved in the 'running' of Formula One. There is more dialogue between the team managers and a more entrepreneurial attitude that brings action and improvement to the sport.
Do you get the chance to get away from the Formula One scene?
I don't have any hobbies, but when I can, I like to have a short escape to the sun, in Kenya, where I can relax and practice some sports.
What does it mean to Formula One to have Renault returning as a
With many manufacturers coming into Formula One it was essential for Renault to come back in. Renault has all the ingredients for success; their facilities, a revolutionary engine concept and top people who know what winning is. This can only benefit Formula One and with the battle between top manufacturers will see the level of interest in the sport grow.
How tough is it to succeed in Formula One?
It is very tough and it is not done in a season or two. It is a combination of things that only a team as a whole can bring. It is never one person's merit. Everybody's job, however small, plays a part in the pursuit of success.
What do you hope from the future?
We must progress as a team as fast as possible and I hope we can bring Renault F1, within the next few seasons, the championship.