Berlin – Flavio Briatore looks spellbound on the screens in front of him. He is the boss. The Renault team boss. He, the charismatic Italian who had accelerated Michael Schumacher’s record career many years earlier.
Briatore sees one of his two drivers crash into the course limit at the Singapore Grand Prix in September 2008, the first edition of the electrifying night race. Such trouble. Or? No. A little later, Briatore cheers. His second driver won the Singapore Grand Prix. Coincidence? No.
Rather, it is one of the greatest scandals in Formula 1 – probably still the most incredible, with Briatore in the middle. The success maker. The Playboy, during whose liaison with Heidi Klum, their daughter Leni, was born. One of those who cultivated the image of a chauvinistic racing series with sex appeal thanks to his relationships. One from a long time ago. Yachts, beautiful women, tanned, sunglasses, rich in money, rich in scandals.
This dazzlingly rich Flavio Briatore turns 70 on Easter Sunday. He will spend it in Monaco with his ten-year-old son Natha Falco and his mother. He told his son that he could count himself very lucky that not everyone had such opportunities, Briatore said in an interview with the newspaper “Corriere Della Sera”.
The son of a couple of primary school teachers from Verzuolo in the Piedmont region became wealthy when he opened franchise stores for a fashion manufacturer in the United States. A year after his first race visit to the 1988 Formula 1 race in Australia, Briatore became Benetton’s team principal. With no real knowledge of Formula 1, no idea of the technology. A t-shirt manufacturer, as he jokingly said.
“Briatore brought a unique and innovative management style to Formula 1,” it says on its website. That is certainly true, but what is meant here above all is that he did not view Formula 1 as a sport, but above all as a spectacle and business.
Briatore guided Michael Schumacher to his team in the early 1990s, and in 1994 and 1995 the Kerpener-born won the first two of his seven World Cup titles in the Benetton. Briatore later became team manager at Renault and ended the series triumphs of Schumacher with Fernando Alonso in 2005. In 2006 Alonso won the drivers’ championship again under Briatore.
The low point came two years later, Singapore came two years later, and a fictitious accident occurred two years later with a team boss named Briatore. On lap 14, Nelson Piquet Junior crashed into the track with his Renault because he should. He was not injured. Team colleague Alonso was called to the pits to change the tires at an unusually early stage and then benefited from the safety car phase due to the accident. He won the race. Briatore also cheered but was later banished forever by the World Automobile Association.
“I think we had to show the world and our sports fans that someone who does something so bad no longer has a place in Formula 1 or international racing,” explained FIA boss Max Mosley at the time. Briatore was one hundred percent responsible. “He should have prevented this from happening if it was suggested to him. He should never have implemented this idea. »
Briatore, who had been exposed to Schumacher accusations of cheating and violated the rules even at the time of success, always claimed his innocence in the infamous “Crashgate” of Singapore. Briatore recently described what was then the Motorsport World Council as a “Mickey Mouse event”. A French court later lifted the lifelong ban and awarded Briatore 15,000 euros. “I wanted a million and got 15,000,” he said.
Formula 1 is a thing of the past for Briatore. The trained surveyor, who later became an insurance clerk, businessman and team boss, who in 1998 also made the “Billionaire” club in Costa Smeralda the hotspot of the rich and beautiful from all over the world, no longer withdraws. He was happy. “I achieved enough in Formula 1 and made a lot of money,” he said.