Flavio Briatore has been caught up in sensational media reports of late with regards to the performance of the Renault F1 team – Vital QPR here explores the latest revelations from Brazil.
The following is a three-part direct translation from Globo Sport, a leading provider of televised sport in Brazil.
Part One – Nelson Piquet Scandal?
Formula 1 can be close to another scandal. On Sunday, Reginaldo Leme, a commentator for TV Globo, revealed that the International Automobile Federation (FIA) has hired an independent company to investigate the accident of Nelson Piquet Grand Prix in Singapore in 2008, a fact crucial to the victory of Fernando Alonso. Flavio Briatore, Renault team boss is said to have instructed the Brazilian to crash on purpose on lap 16, three after the first pit stop of the Spaniard.
At the time, the strategy of Alonso was considered daring and it would need a safety car in the race to succeed. Coincidentally, Nelson crashed in a spot that would force the entry of the safety car. The FIA research in Spa-Francorchamps has confirmed this.
The crash of Nelson would have been intentional for there to be the entry of the safety car in Singapore. He crashed in a very strange way. Recently, talking with Felipe Massa, he called my attention to it . And Felipe went to Briatore and said: ‘This crash is not right, it happened because you wanted it to.’
Other drivers had raised this possibility at the time and now this comes up because of the investigation that the FIA are doing. It hired an independent company and has extensive interviews incriminating Flavio Briatore. So said Reginaldo Leme in the transmission of the Belgian Grand Prix on TV Globo.
Part Two – Briatore Controversies
One of the most controversial of the current Formula 1, Flavio Briatore, 59, has had his name involved in several scandals in the modern era. Close to completing a 20-year career in the sport, the leader of Renault seems to have met his final hurdle
The International Automobile Federation (FIA) has hired an independent company to investigate the accident of Nelson Piquet Grand Prix in Singapore in 2008, a fact crucial to the victory of Alonso. Briatore would appear to have sent the Brazilian to crash on purpose on lap 16, three after the first pit stop of the Spaniard.
If the charges against Briatore are confirmed by the FIA, the leader may even be banned from the sport for manipulating the outcome of a race and their drivers – Alonso and Nelsinho – punished as an example, if the complicity of both in the case is confirmed. It is not the first time the leader is at risk of punishment in the F-1.
The dubious methods of Flavio Briatore began to manifest in his second season of racing with Benetton Formula 1. In 1991, the leader sacked Roberto Moreno and put the then rookie Michael Schumacher in his place during the season, at the Italian Grand Prix. The Brazilian veteran was not even informed of the decision of the team. At the time, he drove alongside the champion Nelson Piquet.
Three years later, in 1994, a series of complaints against Benetton tarnished the first title of Schumacher in Formula 1. A ruling was in place restricting refueling, which would be decisive in the strategy of the teams. Briatore ordered to take out the filter of the machines on his team, which accelerated the process, but made it very unsafe. The ruse was discovered after the fire in the car of Jos Verstappen at the German GP in Hockenheim, involving the driver and the mechanics of the team. But, fortunately, the accident was small in proportion and no one was seriously injured
In the same year, Benetton was accused of using electronic devices (forbidden) disguised in their car, such as traction control and starting. Schumacher put the icing on the cake by winning the championship at the Australian Grand Prix, last year’s race, held at the street circuit in Adelaide.
At the end of the 1994 season, Briatore purchased the French Ligier to acquire the right to use the Renault engines, the best of the season. The FIA regulations did not allow him to be the team owner and he passed on the team to Tom Walkinshaw, owner of TWR, also known for dubious maneuvers in other categories.
The title of Schumacher in 1995 was the last light of that year’s Benetton. The departure of the German, along with several members of the crew, put the team in the middle of the grid. In 1996, Briatore purchased a share of the Minardi, but could not sell it as expected. The following year, he was fired from Benetton.
Between 1998 and 2000, he led the Mecachrome, who administered the Renault engine in Formula 1 after the departure of the French carmaker, at the end of 1997. In 2001, he returned to Benetton, Renault after buying the team and he was reappointed to the post of chief. In parallel, Briatore began investing in the career of young drivers, as the Spaniard Fernando Alonso, in a clear case of conflict of interest.
In 2003, Briatore sacked Jenson Button and Alonso was put in his place at Renault. Besides the Spaniard, the manager was manager of drivers like Mark Webber, Heikki Kovalainen, Jarno Trulli and Nelson Piquet. In late 2004, after refusing to renew the contract of several members of staff, Briatore sacked Trulli of Renault
The bet on Alonso turned out to be correct, with their titles in 2005 and 2006, the only evidence of the Renault team in Formula 1. But in 2007, the French team was accused of spying on McLaren. According to FIA, Renault had data models 2006 and 2007 rivals. The team was found guilty, but was not punished. Briatore sacked those responsible for bringing the data to Renault.
This year, Briatore enjoyed a great controversy with Brazilian Nelson Piquet. Dissatisfied with the performance of the driver, the manager threatened to fire him just before the start of the races. After the Hungarian Grand Prix, he was off the team and accused the businessman of being his executioner and of taking 20% of the drivers salary.
Briatore was born on April 12, 1950, the Italian city of Verzuolo. He grew up in the Maritime Alps of the country, in a family of teachers. He graduated from high school with very low grades and began working as a ski instructor and restaurant manager. He opened his own business, ‘Tribula’, which closed shortly thereafter.
In the 1970s, he moved to Cuneo and became assistant to businessman Attilio Dutto, owner of Vernici Paramatta, which manufactures paint. The head of Briatore was killed on March 21, 1979, after his car exploded by a bomb.
After the tragedy, Briatore then moved to Milan to work on the Stock Exchange. This time, he met Luciano Benetton, founder of the Benetton clothing. They became friends and, shortly thereafter, partners. By expanding the company to the United States, the businessman named friend Briatore as director of the American operation of the group.
The Bennetton brand had a successful path in the United States. In 1989, Benetton had about 800 stores in Brazil and Briatore had already made his fortune with a contribution required in each franchise company. The manager left the U.S. victim of his own aggressive strategy: brand stores began to compete with each other and their number fell to 200 at the end of that decade.
Part Three – Bernie Defends Flavio
Ecclestone: ‘If confirmed, Nelson is as entangled as Briatore’
While Nelsinho Piquet and Renault do not comment on the scandal involving the Brazilian driver and the leader of the French team, Flavio Briatore, the boss of Formula 1, Bernie Ecclestone commented on the case. He said the Brazilian’s career in the sport comes to an end if the allegations are confirmed.
– It’s not good for the sport. It all seems very strange, not to know the truth. If confirmed, then Nelson (Piquet) is as entangled as Briatore. If I send you rob a bank and you go, you can not justify it by saying ‘Bernie sent me to do that.’ But it may be just a rumour and Nelson may only be angry for having been fired – Ecclestone told the website ‘Autosport’, describing Nelson as ‘a very angry young man’.
The international newspaper reports suggest that the sources of the accusations are Nelsinho Piquet and his father, enraged by the dismissal of Renault’s Brazilian driver after the Hungarian GP. Ecclestone admits that it is very difficult to prove.
– What I know is that Flavio (Briatore) is saying he does not know anything about it. It will be difficult to prove. If you have something on the radio that says ‘Hey, Nelson, crash,’ what could they do? But we would have copies of these conversations and someone would have appeared with them in the meantime – he explained.
All reports are directly translated from Globo Sport – whose website can be found here
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