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Why did Flavio Briatore visit Ferrari?
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Why did Flavio Briatore visit Ferrari?
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Jul 2010   |  5:09 pm GMT  |  142 comments

The Italian sporting media is all a flutter today with the news that Flavio Briatore recently visited Ferrari’s Maranello headquarters, toured the Gestione Sportiva with team principal Stefano Domenicali and went across to meet chairman Luca di Montezemolo.


Gazzetta dello Sport describes the visit as a “very great surprise” and speculates as to the motive for the visit. It happened four days ago, after the British Grand Prix, when Ferrari and the FIA were in a dispute about the sequence of events which led to Fernando Alonso’s penalty, which ruined his race.

Following the Singapore crash scandal last season, Briatore is now a free agent, no longer affiliated to the Renault F1 team. He managed to clear his name to a certain extent in the successful appeal against his lifetime ban from the FIA World Council.

However he is still under an order where he is not allowed to work in F1 until 2013. This is mainly on the team management side. He is allowed to duck and dive and he played a big role in bringing the Pirelli deal into F1.

There is talk in the F1 paddock that he is likely to start work with his old friend Bernie Ecclestone in the near future.

His position in the sport now is an interesting one, as he was one of the architects of the Formula One Teams Association and drove them towards the breakaway last summer. Although he is from the other end of the Italian political spectrum from Montezemolo and the two had a stormy relationship for many years, their work together on FOTA brought them closer together. Briatore was in charge of the commercial working group at FOTA and in that capacity was a kind of “shadow Bernie”.

But if Briatore does now work alongside Ecclestone in some capacity which does not violate his sentence, he will be in a poacher turned gamekeeper role in the negotiations over the 2013 Concorde Agreement, one with extensive insights into FOTA’s strategy and it may be that Montezemolo wanted to look him in the eyes and ask him his intentions.

We are about to enter into an interesting period when the teams are shaping up to demand a much higher share of the commercial revenues of the sport in the next Concorde Agreement. There are all sorts of theories about what Montezemolo personally wants to get from the negotiations. Bernie Ecclestone and former FIA president Max Mosley are believed to have long considered FOTA a Trojan horse for Montezemolo.

Given the background here, it is unlikely that Briatore went to Maranello simply to have a coffee.

There are many possible reasons why he might have gone there; he is the boss of a company which still manages Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber. He could have been there to sound out Montezemolo on behalf of Ecclestone.

However the converse is also possible and he could even have been talking about a role in a future F1 without Ecclestone and let’s not forget that Briatore and Montezemolo were all for FOTA starting an alternative racing series last season.

Indeed, the way that this story has emerged and knowing a little of how things work in Italy, there is a message here to someone from Montezemolo and Briatore. Looking at the provenance of the story and the writers involved, it is more likely to have come from Briatore than from Ferrari.

Whatever the political motive, it is unlikely that Briatore has any kind of return to racing in mind, as he said in May, “Seeing the way it is now, I don’t enjoy it anymore, the adrenaline to do it is not there anymore. This is something I don’t miss at all.”

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142 Comments
  1. Dank says:

    There were mutterings in the Italian press at the weekend that Webber had been in contact with the Prancing Horse about possibly joining them next year.

    Personally, I don’t believe this to be the case, but hey, stranger things have happened in F1, and Briatore visiting Maranello may have had something to do with it?

    1. nik says:

      So Webber would leave the fastest team with the fastest car as a quasi-second driver to a team that is slower where he would definitely be a number 2? unlikely.

      But as you say, anything can happen in F1, and I doubt Ferrari will spend a third season as a midfield team.

    2. Ben G says:

      Hmmm, I like this idea. Massa not performing, Webber not happy – why not?

      And what a delicious idea – Webber as world champion going to Maranello, and Alonso with a big fat no. 2 on his car…

      1. Andy C says:

        To see no 2 on Fernandos car, I’d happily drive (or indeed carry) Mark over there to sign if he wins the WDC ;-)

  2. Jan Isley says:

    This conjures up a fairy tale image of witches around a pot, stirring up a potion for no good purpose. Except under to pointy hats I see Flavio and Luca and perhaps Bernie? And what could be in the pot? ;)

    Briatore ever seems the troublemaker. He is inciting Weber, yes? What possible good could come from that? Does he want Red Bull to cut Weber loose for 2011? Is Masa’s seat really safe next year? Hmm… I do not really think that is the dance being played, but I expect to see it in print soon enough anyway.

    With most of the seats already filled, Silly Season expands its universe to keep the pundits busy.

  3. tim says:

    Webber to Ferrari…. I know contracts are in place for the respective drivers, but with Massa’s poor form and Webber not being happy with RBR maybe Briatore was sounding out Maranello in a possible swap for the two drivers???

    1. dimitris says:

      I do not think Massa will go to RBR to be no. 2 as he de facto is now at Ferrari. This is probably the reason for his poor performance so far this season. He would probably prefer go to a team with championship potential, like Renault.

  4. Kenny Ramsey says:

    Well ok, just to throw a random one out there. Ferrari want another team to use their engines, perhaps a de facto 3rd car. Briatore rumoured (although far from confirmed) to be in and around the new Villeneuve/Durango team based in Italy.

    1. Andrew Murdoch says:

      Thats precisely what I was going to say, however would that typically result in someone as high profile as Briatore having a face to face meeting with someone as high profile as Monty?

      1. Nicko says:

        Andrew, I find it entirely credible that Flav and LdM discuss a possible Ferrari engine supply.

        If I were JV’s project he’s just the guy I’d like to send – persuasive, commercially very astute, understands F1 intimately, commands respect and of course is a fellow Italian.

        If the prospect appeals to LdM then the potential deal gets passed to others to investigate in detail.

  5. Nando says:

    Ecclestone would be worried about FOTA after he he used FOCA to become a dictator.
    Far too much cronyism in F1, if Mclaren had done what Renault did they’d of slapped with a $100 million fine. Alonso didn’t even have to give up his race win.

    1. Sebee says:

      Wouldn’t that have given Massa the championship?

      1. marc stokes says:

        no, lewis finished in 3rd and massa in 13th after his fail at the fuel pump, it means lewis would have won much more comfortably in brazil.

      2. Steven says:

        Massa finished 13th after getting the fuel hose stuck in his car, it would have given Hamilton an extra 2 points.

      3. Stefanos says:

        Massa finished 13th only because of the safety car situation and the pit stop error happening then. There is no reason to believe that at another time it would happen again.

      4. Lockster says:

        depends if they disqqualified Alonso or and shuffled everyone else up or if they nulified the entire race results.

      5. Darren says:

        I thought it would have given it to Massa? Was the reason Massa fell back so many places during is pitstop fail not because the safety car was out for Piquets “crash”.

        I am meaning, if the crash hadnt happened then even with Ferraris cock up Massa would have still finished with some points and thus given him the championship.

        I could be wrong. But either way you can never say these things its like a football match where a team hits the post 3 times (or score a clear goal and have it disallowed ;)) people will say oh they would have won if those went in, but that is not true, if they had gone in then circumstances change and have an effect on future events. You cant change one event in history and expect the rest to play out exactly the same way

        Hope you like my uneccesarily longwided reply

      6. Damian Johnson says:

        And Spa 2008 where Massa was credited with an undeserved win?

      7. Damian Johnson says:

        No. It’s impossible to make such a claim by removing one race result or re-adjusting the points. How would McLaren/Hamilton have reacted to a Massa win at Singapore in 2008? They may have reacted by driving more aggressively in the remaining races to guarantee a WDC for McLaren compared to more conservative point accummulating strategy. There are simply too many “what if’s”.

      8. Sebee says:

        The question was how was Alonso allowed to keep the win. Since the whole event was manipulated the FIA really was between a rock and a hard place. But only view the event was so heavily impacted by the events that there is no other choice but to exclude it. There is no was in he’ll Alonso didn’t know what was going to happen.

        You know what this is like in my view? A CEO who commits fraud and gets 200million from it, then is convicted and told to pay a 5M fine.

        FIA should have nullified this race, and since it wasn’t their fault Ham and Massa should have been given the trophy. Points should have been adjusted and teams paid any changes in points order drivers paid bonuses for achievement, Renault should have been given e bill. That would have made it right. As it stands really this is one of the most undermining events in F1 history. Behind closed doors they said to themselves

      9. Sebee says:

        The question was how was Alonso allowed to keep the win. Since the whole event was manipulated the FIA really was between a rock and a hard place. But only view the event was so heavily impacted by the events that there is no other choice but to exclude it. There is no was in he’ll Alonso didn’t know what was going to happen.

        You know what this is like in my view? A CEO who commits fraud and gets 200million from it, then is convicted and told to pay a 5M fine.

        FIA should have nullified this race, and since it wasn’t their fault Ham and Massa should have been given the trophy. Points should have been adjusted and teams paid any changes in points order drivers paid bonuses for achievement, Renault should have been given e bill. That would have made it right. As it stands really this is one of the most undermining events in F1 history. Behind closed doors FIA said to themselves – it’s only entertainment, let’s not take it so seriously – by taking the actions they took in my view. Othes were cheated and they didn’t make it right.

  6. BMG says:

    As James said,he is Alonso’s manager and Alonso has not been a happy camper of late. Would be great to see Webber join Ferrari after what he has been forced to put up with and from what I could tell, he and Alonso get on very well but Webber would have to settle for number 2.

    1. Andy W says:

      Maybe they wanted him so they could pick his brain over how to handle/manage Fernando…

    2. Tim says:

      Why is Alonso not happy?…I know winning but what else?

    3. Marybeth says:

      Personally, I would like to see Ferrari give Kimi back his last contract year, i.e., do the year 2010 in 2011. If they had to let Kimi go after Massa was injured, & it wasn’t Alonso demanding Kimi’s ouster, then let Kimi have his last contracted year, as their 1st driver, next year. I think that by now, Ferrari might look at The Iceman as a very large dish of ice cream on a very long, hot, & tiresome road. It could provide redemption, & tying up of loose ends, for all involved.

      1. Andy C says:

        Kimi back to Ferrari? More chance of that ice cream not melting in hell I think.

        No way would Kimi go back there after being shoved out. The decision is looking pretty poor on the basis of Felippes drives this season(regardless of personal opinions on how Kimi drove last year/application)

    4. "for sure" says:

      Why would anyone with any sense want Alonso as a team mate? He guarantees disharmony.

      1. tim says:

        …YOU funny…..because he wins Championships and drives at 110% on EVERY lap unlike many in F1 or even drivers from the past …that only drove when they wanted to.

      2. Philip T says:

        He won TWO championships with Giancarlo Fisichella as a team-mate – a man who always seemed to underperform in a really good car.

        Alonso exploits at McLaren give substance to “for sure”‘s argument. Where he DIDN’t win a championship and DID cause friction.

        I am yet to see anyone do anything at 110%. 110% of what? Effort? Not possible. Of team-mate’s ability? Yeah ok, but since you seem to be such a big fan you must rate Alonso at more 150-200% of his team-mates’ abilities over the years.

  7. James Punt says:

    Just seeing the names Briatore, Eccelstone and Mosley in the same article is enough to bring on a bout of depression.

    A question for you James.

    Is there any sort of succession plan in place for when Bernie finally heads for the great deal in the sky? Any Rumours of who will take the reigns? Surely not the disgraced Briatore!

    1. James Allen says:

      That is the $10 million question

      1. Jan Isley says:

        Only $10 million? Did you drop a zero or two?

      2. Neil Barr says:

        $10 million? Unless that’s per day, that’s one hell of a pay cut for whoever takes the reins.

    2. Per grapevine the negotiations for taking Bernie’s circus upstairs have been making rounds for ages now. Its just that the folks upstairs don’t have the kind of monies that the tiny man has been demanding for bringing his circus there :)

    3. I am sure Bernie must have charged hefty price to the guys upstairs for the privilege of bringing his “Circus” there. As such they would have shelved any plans to have him there :)

  8. BillDay says:

    After I see a picture of Briatore, I always feel like I need a shower.

    1. chris scott says:

      He really makes you so hot and bothered you need a cold shower?? 8)

    2. Tim says:

      Like him or not..he is a great charter for F1..and they NEED SOME

      1. Stefanos says:

        He is exactly what is wrong about F1 and the world in general. Very canny. A chancer that will do everything to succeed. A bully that knows no moral or ethical limits. F1 is far better without him.

      2. HowardHughes says:

        Rubbish.

      3. tim says:

        Good thing about opinions….everybody has one and NONE matter.:)

      4. hesus says:

        I’d rather have dull people but not interested in fixing races. What he did was simply big “f…you” to all the F1 fans.

  9. Chris H says:

    James – Wasn’t Briatore told he could no longer manage Alonso or Webber in any capacity?

    1. James Allen says:

      At the time of his original sentence, which was overturned in a French court

      1. Ash says:

        So is he now representing Alonso and/or Webber again?

  10. Steven says:

    There’s a rumor that Briatore and Pat Symonds might be involved in the Villeneuve/Durango F1 bid. Could Briatore have gone to Maranelo to see about that team running Ferrari engines? It may have been 28 years ago, but people still associate the 2 names, and GV was one of Il Comendatore’s favorite drivers, LDM knows this.

    I’ve been a JV fan since his days in Indycars, I would love to see him comeback, and if he does, I pray he doesnt pull a Schumacher.

    1. Uppili says:

      I was thinking exactly this. And to extend that thought further, remember that Briatore’s ban from active involvement in F1 is banned only till 2013. So may be he is installing JV as a figure head for the two years and pulls the strings and after two years returns in a team principal capacity….

    2. Monji says:

      If he pulls a Schumacher that will be an upgrade wouldn’t it.

      1. Steven says:

        I meant a Schumacher circa 2010.

      2. malcolm.strachan says:

        I think that’s what Monji is referring to.

  11. Kent Paul says:

    He makes me feel ill

  12. Duncan Ley says:

    I too saw those names and linked them with the Villeneuve/Durango/Fry/Briatore story – Italian team + Italian engine? James have you heard any more about this story other than the press release from Jacques website? It seems strange that Briatore would be linked as he isn’t supposed to participate in F1 until 2013.

    1. James Allen says:

      I’ve not heard more on those two being involved with Durango and JV. There is a feeling that none of the contenders will be strong enough for the 13th place. I’m going to find out more this weekend

      1. Tim says:

        So if not strong enough does the FIA still award a 13 spot or can they simply say no to all?

      2. Dan Clegg says:

        They can say no… the spot is out to be earned, and if the FIA doesn’t think they’re up to scratch, and that’s been ramped up after the USF1 debacle, then they’ll tell them goodbye..

    2. stuart fenton says:

      there was a JV interview in f1 magazine recently (I read it in whsmith). JV commented that “there was unfinished business with ferrari” which I thought was a bizarre comment. But now with the team etc, it makes sense. An italian team under the much loved gilles name? A clear link with ferrari? ART gp suddednly deciding F1 wasn’t their bag? Its going somewhere interesting.

      1. Duncan Ley says:

        I read that as well and thought it an odd comment – I took it as a throwaway comment that makes a good headline at the time. In the same article it mentioned Jacques has got out of the restaurant business and some of his other non-racing activities – perhaps to help fund the team?

  13. Sam Tana says:

    James, you can’t “clear your name to a certain extent” – and Briatore’s reputation is still in ribbons.

    1. RickeeBoy says:

      “Divide and conquer” – Now there are two Bernie’s !!

      The most powerful man in F1 has made it public that he’s talking to FB ( therefore they are already working together.)then this is all about Bernie wanting FB to secure a bigger overall slice for Bernie come 2013 and is also dangling a big carrot at FB.
      - Flavio can do the role will be attracted by the possible role as “The Successor” – so this isn’t just poacher becoming gamekeeper methinks its far more possible to be Terrorist becoming Dictator.
      - Everybody in F1 now has the best chance in 35 years of prizing power, money, control away from BE come 2013, and the man responds with his classic move – “Divide and conquer” – Now there are 2 x BE’s.

      Now, lets face it no Ferrari – no F1. Methinks its far more BE and FB working their now doubly evil ways on Ferrari.

      Doesn’t look like the smoking mirrors, silent daggers, and yet more horrible political machinations are going away any time soon.

    2. Neil Barr says:

      Sam, I’m with James on this one. Briatore is guilty of nothing. He was deemed to be one of the “responsible” parties for the Singapore Sling by Max’s kangaroo court. A French court deemed that process to be irregular and as a result the sanctions against those parties are invalid. We can’t turn back the clock and Briatore has much to lose by suing to recover what he’s lost. So the conspirators are free to ply their trade to anyone who can stand the stench. First in line is Bernie, then the Count.
      I guess you’re judged by the company you keep.

      1. adam says:

        The French courts didn’t make any investigations or pronouncements of guilt.
        They ruled the FIA couldn’t sanction a non-licence holder.
        It was Mr Permane at Renault who gave the FIA the evidence that Flav was at the heart of the conspiracy to race fix.

      2. RickeeBoy says:

        James,

        Have you noticed obviously biased posts on your own and other forum’s which maybe posted by the marketing arm of certain parties. ?????

      3. Nicko says:

        >Briatore is guilty of nothing

        So squeaky clean that Renault booted him out

        > Max’s kangaroo court

        Oh come on.

    3. tim says:

      Remember Bernie likes FB…..

      1. malcolm.strachan says:

        Bernie is on Facebook!?!

        I am getting tired of people using initials to identify people. For example, RB could be Red Bull, Ross Brawn, Rubens Barrichello, or even Rory Byrne if he came back to F1… Just take the next 0.3 seconds to type out the rest of the name!

      2. HowardHughes says:

        I’ve never once seen Bernie on FaceBook…

  14. Richard Bell says:

    I just want Flavio to stay away from F1 for good. He played a significant part in the Singapore scandal, how can anyone trust him now, for all we know he could’ve done other devious things before the crash. If he must return I don’t think he should be allowed to have a say in any major decision that will influence the direction of F1.

    1. Phil J says:

      What makes you think that Flavio is more devious than the rest of the piranha tank?
      He is surely less devious as he got caught!

    2. Tim says:

      F1 has a very short memory…

    3. Neil Barr says:

      Whether he’s representing Ecclestone, Alonso, Webber or Durango we can consider an appointment with Montezemolo formal notification that Flav is back and he’s a playa of some sort. From now on any participation he has in F1 is notable and interesting because “it’s him!”

      If you’re irritated by “what is and what should never be” best grow a thicker skin. There’s hard times ahead.

    4. RaulZ says:

      At the end, it was only proven that he was the team chief. So he’s as guilty as Renault.
      French court said that and nullified the decision. Don’t be the voice of Max.

      Of course, he’s very cheat or it looks like he is, but that’s the esence of F1. In fact, he is more F1 than the rest. I no doubt he is the most nerve.

  15. adam says:

    Why assume its only one of the above – perhaps next year we will see webber at Ferrari and Massa driving a Villeneuve racing ferrari.

    Two birds, one stone.

    1. Midnight Toper says:

      And Schumi pairing up with the young Schumi at RBR.

      1. Tim says:

        RBR would never hire MS

      2. Midnight Toper says:

        because….?

      3. Taz says:

        I remember back in the 2004 or 2005 season, Red Bull wanted MS and Valentino Rossi in the same team. So you never know

  16. Harvey Yates says:

    James,

    I don’t mean to criticise but poacher turned gamekeeper? More like poacher continuing in his old job. Leopards and spots.

    Perhaps you could return the compliment and correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t I read something about Ferrari being upset by the stewards? I might have imagined it.

    Could Briatore be lobbying for some sort of break-up of FOTA?

    FOTA is, for all the bonhomie and back-slapping amongst the team principals, dependant on Ferrari’s whims. If they move towards Bernie then all hope is gone.

    Todt’s biggest challenge perhaps? The honeymoon might well be cut short.

    What a bit of news midway through such an interesting and exciting season. A real downer.

    1. Louis says:

      If they really do want to have another go at a breakaway series, that would explain Ferrari’s whines about the FIA stewards lately, they can claim a more consistent set of rules is the reason they’re making a new series.

      But then again, none of the other teams will support this — the stewards have been gentle to them, not punishing a few crazy stunts, the racing is great, FIA isn’t introducing Mosleyesque rules, and the 3 newbies will certainly hate the idea of a budget-unlimited series that could come out of it…

    2. Stevie P says:

      I’ve always found it interesting that, on the BBC, they speak to Ferrari separately… yet, McLaren, Red Bull and Merc GP (namely Whitmarsh, Horner and Haug\sometimes Brawn), at times, are interviewed together, kinda chaperoned into one area – I’m kinda referring to “bonhomie and back-slapping” here.

      The plot thickens… :-)

  17. Matt W says:

    The whole make up of how F1 is run is incredibly shady. How can one man like Ecclestone hold so much power in what is supposed to be a sport. He seems to be key to a lot of policy changes that are just knee jerk reactions like the diabolical medals concept.

    F1 needs to seriously modernise how it is run if it wants to be taken seriously. Chatting to casual fans the general opinion I get is that they believe the sport to be fixed, and given how it is “owned” and run by seemingly one guy it is getting increasingly hard to defend.

    Bernie should move the sport in the direction that Moto GP is run.

    1. Bret Fly says:

      History man read the history. The FIA did what Blair Brown did to the UK, sold it down the river for a pittance.

  18. ian says:

    ‘ Although he is from the other end of the Italian political spectrum from Montezemolo’

    what does this mean?

    1. James Allen says:

      One is left the other right

      1. HowardHughes says:

        Really? That’s interesting – which is which? They’re both hyper-wealthy Italian industrialists – can one really be left-wing / socialist / liberal?!

      2. Bludd says:

        Well, I don’t think Montezemolo is a leftie according to this news piece

        http://www.grandprix.com/ns/ns19224.html

        “Montezemolo advocated that some of the public services should be opened to competition and that Italy should be run as a market economy.”

      3. ian says:

        Flav is left wing! ? Amazing!

      4. Midnight Toper says:

        Makes sense, at the very heart of Benneton’s business model were designer clothes for the masses.

  19. michael grievson says:

    Hhmmm i wonder of massa will crash this weekend bringing out a safety car handing Alonso a win. ;o)

  20. HowardHughes says:

    Hahaha great stuff! I like Flavio (close friend of mine worked with him at Billionaire Club and Cipriani and he’s a top bloke to have as a boss)

    So he pulled something audacious off to try and win a race. Big deal. Who knows what pressure he was under to try and keep Renault interested in F1 – maybe a win at any costs was the only way he could see to help guarantee hundreds of jobs? Anyway, they say don’t judge a man til you’ve walked a man in his shoes etc – til I’m a multi-millionaire F1 team boss I won’t judge the guy. In any case previous bosses have done way worse over the past century or so of motor racing…

    I think he’s still got loads to offer F1. I wish he’d return.

    1. Darren says:

      Excellent point, He stikes me as one of the last of the old-school team principals. They all seem quite open and jolly now conforming to media demands etc. It would be great to get the devious scheming old man that is Briatore back, he is a fantastic character (something f1 sorely needs).

      On the whole Singapore thing anyway, dont tell me stuff like that hasnt happened before, team mates conveniantly running people off the road or retiring from the race under interesting circumstances. Only difference here is that it involved Piquet risking injury to himself & more importantly others. As HowardHughes points out no one knows what pressures he was being put under. Far from ruining the Renault team he may have in fact saved them to a certain extent…. Its a possibility isnt it?

      After all, it was him that coined the term “pirhanna club” wasnt it?

      1. HowardHughes says:

        Agree on every point (although I think it was actually Ron Dennis who first said to Eddie Jordan ‘welcome to the piranha club’, though I stand to be corrected)

        Anyway, I’m with you on the new media-friendly, jolly approach. Seems forced, and it leaves me cold. Suddenly any hint of teammates not towing the corporate line and acting like best mates leaves a team open to accusations of ‘rifts’ and ‘threats’ and ‘crisis’ – nonsense. None of them really trust each other – at least characters like Flav were more than happy to contribute to the pantomime villain parody and eye their rivals up through squinted eyes across the pitlane.

        Bring the guy back – the place was a hell of a lot more interesting with him than without him, and we need him to balance up the new jolly hockey sticks, ‘lets post what the team had for breakfast on Youtube’ brigade!

  21. phil says:

    FOTA are preparing for what they should have done a couple of years ago. There going to prepare there own series and tell CVC, FIA and Bernie where to go. The product will be worthless overnight. The teams are getting screwed plain and simple whyc should the teams not collect more money. I would not be suprised if the top teams create a series all equal share. If there has ever a time to do it, it would be now, when the economy is flat and recovering.

    F1 is dead and buried without the top teams. This is clear, the new teams have not contributed one thing to .

    1. Jose Arellano says:

      i dont think they would do that.. they are just going to ask bernie for a better deal.. if bernie says no then they find another promoter.. and thats it…

    2. Neil Barr says:

      phil, have you ever seen Groundhog Day?

    3. Robert McKay says:

      I think the visit of Briatore will have been to discuss some of that, although I’m just guessing…

      But, like every time, it won’t be “serious” and in reality will be nothing more than a bargaining tool to get more out of CVC/Bernie and ratchet up the political and commercial stakes.

  22. David MacPhee says:

    James,

    What are your personal views on Briatore now?

    Can there be enough water under the bridge to let Briatore near F1 in an official capacity again?

    I still haven’t made my mind up; I can’t cast him as a hero or villain.

    1. James Allen says:

      very big player in the last 20 years and he looks like he will play a role in what is likely to be one of the main turning points for the sport

      1. HowardHughes says:

        Excellent stuff.

  23. Tom Leahy says:

    is it possible Ferrari may be using Durango and villnueve to get their extra cars??
    Ferrari have been looking for 3 for a long time and may see italian Durango as a possible way to get 4 cars on the grid in a set up like red bull have with toro rosso? and with a ferrari backed project and ferrari design would massa be willing to be a second team driver with JV? its the only way i’d sign him into 2011!

    1. paul bailey says:

      That scenario would make perfect sense and would fit all the why who when questions of Briatores visit.

  24. Werewolf says:

    If, as James’ knowledge of international motorsport journalism suggests, the story was leaked by Briatore rather than Ferrari, the logical deduction is that Briatore is the orchestrator. His motive, presumably, has to be either self promotion or to destabilise someone or other.

    I don’t think Webber is important enough (Red Bull would have no difficulty finding a competent replacement) and, in any case, his recent placatory comments suggest that Red Bull remains the estimable Aussie’s chosen berth. Besides, if he thinks young Vettel is a political problem I can’t see him fancying Alonso, with or without Santander support, as a team mate!

    So, it’s either wider F1 politics, eg FOTA vs FOM (either pro or anti-Ecclestone, given Ferrari’s importance to F1 or any rival series), or publicity for himself or an organisation such as Villeneuve/Durango needing credibility to attract investment.

    Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Briatore’s business acumen and Pat Fry’s racing nouse is a powerful combination, especially for a young team, but my gut instinct is manoevering on a broader scale as F1′s real estate comes up for grabs and possible sub-division in the run up to the next Concorde Agreement.

    1. simonw says:

      The comments about Mark Webber make sense (unless despite his placatory comments, he considers his relationship with RB is heading towards irretrievable breakdown).

      1. tim says:

        You know it is over with him and RBR…only time now.

  25. Peter says:

    Quite happily I’d never want to that man return to F1 after the truly shocking and disgusting events of Singapore 2008.

  26. jb says:

    very interesting time for flav to visit, all of the above suggestions could be possible, lets hope though that Webber is going to ferrari next year, maybe a driver swap? could you imagine ferrari with webbers rb knowledge, webber and vettel banging wheels in anger! vettel might get a taste of his own medicine?

  27. Harv says:

    Could he actually have been scouting things out for Webber? A Webber/Massa swap, no idea if that would even be possible, would seem something that both teams might like: Alonso would have a confident fast partner to help him get points towards the constructors, and at RBR they’d have a experienced “proper #2″ driver who wouldn’t be a threat to Vettel but would provide solid support.

  28. Metin says:

    Hi James,

    I had a crazy idea about this issue for months. I can see Flavio replacing Domenicali in Team Principal role for Ferrari, fulfilling the need of a “complete” team principal role for such a big team. Scuderia is having problems for a few years and the team needs a strong management. Flavio might be a good candidate because of having won titles and being Italian.

    What can you say about this probability?

  29. EGA says:

    Why in the world was he not banned for life??? Race fixing has got to be the ultimate in bringing the sport into disrepute as they say.
    What other sport would tolerate such behavior?
    Fixing a race and endangering the lives of other drivers, flag marshals, fans, etc. can never be condoned or forgiven!! Ban him!!!!

    Does the sport actually have any “repute” left to “dis”? lol

    1. HowardHughes says:

      This is a somewhat sanctimonious perspective. No one was truly placed at risk. No one. And the only people who should be miffed at a position being altered via a crash are those who bet on the outcomes, and I don’t have a ton of time for that anyway…

      1. Ben says:

        I take issue with that, there is a difference between the situation being controlled and there being no risk. The reason there are no incidents when there are marshals on track is due to the high level of training and skill of everyone involved, it does not mean it is not a dangerous environment.

        A knife juggler doesn’t avoid injury because knife juggling is safe, but because he is well trained at knife juggling. He is always at risk while he is doing it. And the same applies to the drivers and marshals when marshals are on track.

      2. Midnight Toper says:

        This is a somewhat narrow perspective. I think Felipe Massa & Ferrari in particular have every reason to be miffed, as do half the teams, their employees and respective fans.

      3. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

        Howard Highes….that’s ridiculous.

        That’s like saying it’s OK to steal something from someone who is wealthy because it’s a “victimless crime”…

        Stealing is stealing and cheating is cheating.

        Who knows what other hidden scams Flavio has been in over the years.

        I hope that he doesn’t end up running Formula 1…we don’t need Bernie Ecclestone being replaced with a Bernie Madoff.

  30. cheers says:

    Webber making a move? Maybe. The RBR PR machine just won’t let go. They and the FIA had to suppress the lower chassis weight thing because it makes Vettel look bad for last year and the sport look less fair overall when the driver weight / balance issue ends up being so big in laptime. Interesting to hear where the weight comes out specifically when it is ion effect the same tub (this one Vettel’s old one). But this is among the technical details that get a defacto media prohibition on them.

    For mine though the Ferrari engine is one team short of what it needs to be under the new budget no.s and Jacques is short of team management skill so that story sounds more plausible.

    Or an outlier, a straight driver swap but with an RB exit strategy for Torro Rosso to go under the wing of Ferrari (FIAT branded) as the junior team with Rossi also getting a seat? Doubt Webber has not got the exact RB seat nailed down in his contract so maybe the Ferrari seat rather than the TR seat.

    And lastly has Ricciardo got Briatori? He is ready and waiting for a seat.

  31. pedromorgan says:

    Pardon my ignorance but it seems to me that FOTA have got them over a barrel. All the concorde agreements expire on the same day. Why dont FOTA just run a propper tendering process for the running and broadcasting of F1?

    They may not be able to call it F1 because bernie owns the rights to that but why should FOTA comprimise on anything?

    In 2013 Bernie becomes irrelevant! as soon as the concorde agreements expire FOTA effectivly owns F1, lock, stock and barrel!

    Peter

    1. Drez says:

      Bernie is far from irrelevant as he effectively controls the race track contracts. The majority are already signed to at least 2016 and by 2013 he’ll have two more long term signee’s on the books. Who knows what other ancillary things he controls as well!!

      Besides Fota will crumble at the fist sign of ‘incentives’ for the small guys, Williams and maybe Ferrari.

  32. Spyros says:

    Given that we live in the Internet age, somehow I doubt that the visit was any kind of a ‘sounding out’ session, by either man. I believe that if people like these meet, it is because they want to be seen to meet.

  33. Red5 says:

    So where does Gerhard Berger fit into all of this?

    Or did he turn down the job offer?

  34. Hi James, couldn’t find a contact form, but you haven’t crossed out the British GP from the list of races this year!

    You could thank me by inviting me along to a GP ;-)

  35. Nathan says:

    I think it’s disgusting he’s allowed anywhere near F1.

    1. Nando says:

      Looks like personalities are bigger than the sport, F1 has thrived without him he isn’t needed.

      1. HowardHughes says:

        One can equally argue F1 has similarly thrived without Schumacher, or indeed without Senna, Prost, Hunt, Lauda, Mansell, Chapman all the way back to Dick Seaman… F1 thrives; so what? That’s a given, like football thriving without Pele or Best. It doesn’t mean the subject didn’t have a truckload to contribute…

    2. HowardHughes says:

      Well with respect he’s done a helluva lot more than any of us to contribute to this sport you suddenly feel qualified to ban him from.

  36. MR says:

    F1 needs Character not characters (e.g., briatore).

    1. Andy C says:

      I fully agree!

  37. Declan says:

    I’m with HowardHughes – Bring back Flav. His different approach was instrumental in bringing the sport from the 90′s to where it is today commercially. The man has vision.

    I don’t condone his part in Singaporegate which will be a stain forever on his legacy, but it is amazing how people lose sight that Piquet was the main culprit. He was in total control of that car and he CHOSE to do what he did.

  38. mike admas says:

    Flavio to replace Stefano next season?

  39. Harvey Yates says:

    I’ve got to say I’m surprised by some of the posters on here suggesting that we ‘need’ FB to liven things up. I would suggest that, for a change, in the time he’s been away most attention has been focused on the track.

    I would accept the cause probably had more to do with the waning influence and eventual removal of another person but even so, what more are we after: more suggestions of manipulated results, more kangaroo courts, more accusations of favouritism and graft?

    We had three seasons where off-track scandal, with material presented as fact was anything but, with decisions of those in authority called into question by everyone, with suggestions of bias, with behaviour beyond the pale ruined the spot. Since then we’ve had racing, we’ve had excitement, we’ve had fun.

    I find it difficult to class FB as the icing on the cake.

    I was at the F1 Forum and saw Whitmarsh, Clear and Corajanni sitting at the same table and joking with one another about matters which they viewed as serious. There was competition and respect and even, perhaps, a bit of trust.

    And we want to throw FB into that mix? I, for one, don’t think so.

    The arguments about the Singapore incident are still going on, with suggestions that it robbed Massa of the title. The thing is that we will never know. The fact that the race fix gave us a WDC decision on the last race, last lap, last corner is no defence. We were robbed.

    I like Massa and it looks now as if he’ll never get another stab at the title.

    Yeah, let’s bring ‘colourful characters’ back. Perhaps some other driver can be robbed of a potential WDC.

    1. mtb says:

      Whether or not Massa was robbed of the title is something that will always be debated but never resolved.

      What can not be debated is the potential danger associated with Piquet’s crash.

      1. HowardHughes says:

        Of course it can be debated! And what is ‘potential’ danger? How is the ‘potential’ danger of an alleged fixed crash any more potentially dangerous than any F1 incident? What’s the ‘potential’ danger of any of us crossing the road?!

        It’s endlessly debatable frankly.

    2. tim says:

      OR, we could just as easy let F1 figure out how to pass more and then we would not need FB to liven the show up…one or the other is needed…..and it sure seems easier and quicker to let FB back then to get F1 to pass five times on every lap.

    3. HowardHughes says:

      With respect to Massa, whom I like – if he doesn’t get another chance at a WDC it’s down to him.

      I have to disagree with your overview of the team boss situation – who cares if they’re pally and jokey, bathed in a warm glow of mutual respect? I don’t follow F1 to see who’s friendly with whom – I want deadly rivalry! Sure – occasionally seeing friendliness can evoke an emotional response; witness for example the press conference where Irvine threw water on Schumacher and Hakkinen, which descended into hilarity… but for the most part I want human drama and competitive conflict, not chumminess.

      So yes, I absolutely do want to see Flavio thrown into that mix! I mean it’s hardly like he wandered round the paddock in a Phantom of the Opera outfit hissing at everyone – he had plenty of admirers and allies; he just didn’t see the point of unnecessary bonhomie.

      Bring him back!

  40. Michael says:

    Hi James,

    Always enjoy reading your blog and the comments! Keep up the great work.

    This question does not pertain to the article but I don’t have your email address so I thought to ask it on the open forum.

    I’ve been to Montreal a few times to watch the race but I never seem to know when or where the drivers are doing their signing session. I’ve just purchased my tickets for 2011 and wanted to know if you know what day and time the drivers usually make themselves available for autographs?

    Cheers.
    Michael

    1. James Allen says:

      Not at this stage. Sorry. Usually Thursday afternoon

  41. OppositeLock says:

    I haven’t seen this story anywhere else. Very intriguing. Kudos James for telling us about it.

  42. Diamond says:

    I think the main point is, where does it all end if these types are encouraged?

  43. Andy C says:

    I’ve read all of the comments, and to be honest my first thought is something to do with Mark Webber.

    But I also wondered on the JV link with Durango, and how they could be used as a Junior team/second tier Ferrari powered team.

    I will personally be very surprised if Massa is driving there next year (contract or no contract).

    James,

    I remember a few years back there were some old F1 driver races (I cant recall the name, but was it GP masters – remember seeing Nigel racing).

    Wouldnt it be great to revive this at selected GPs (using GP2 cars or such like). I would love seeing a sprint race with ex F1 drivers.

    What ever happened to that?

    1. James Allen says:

      I agree. It would be fantastic. Old drivers and also old cars in a parade, like we had in Bahrain

      1. Andy C says:

        I was reading that jenson won a legal battle with brawn to take his wdc winning rolling chassis (apparently it was agreement that brawn tried to stop).

        Do you know if that is true?

      2. James Allen says:

        I know that the chassis was a sticking point, not heard that it was sorted in court, but it could be

  44. Juan says:

    If you like it or not, Briatore is a very charismatic and smart person that is missing in the Formuila One that risks to transform in an old ladies tea club. I also do not believe that he really organized that “accident” of Piquet, perhaps he just talked loud in some kind of joke and Piquet took it litterally.
    Briatore might be tired of all the F1 Circus but we will still hear very much about him. He, with his experience and knowledge and as an Italian, would be a positive and great influence with both, Ferrari and Pirelli, and the involved pilots, not easy to manage perhaps, but these kind of geniuses are not.

    Luck to Briatore and his new Family!

  45. mikecorno says:

    James,

    I understand you cant say too much, but don’t you find it amazing that all this talk about the cheat scandal of Singapore and Piquet Senior comes out squeeky clean.We are talking about a guy here who would stop at nothing when he was racing(on and off the track), comes up with the Singapore idea so he can blackmail Flav with it later.Even went as far as ruining his sons career just so he could get one over on Flav(and probably because he could’t handle it if his son did better than him).
    Anyway, have you heard any rumours of Piquet Snrs involvment in this from the start?

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