Flavio Briatore, Alpine, Circuit de Catalunya, 2024

Briatore returns to Renault’s F1 team 15 years after lifetime ban for ‘Crashgate’

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Former Renault Formula 1 team principal Flavio Briatore has returned to the series he was banned from 15 years ago over his role in the ‘Crashgate’ conspiracy.

The FIA gave Briatore the equivalent of a lifetime ban in a 2009 ruling by the World Motor Sport Council. It found he was involved in Renault’s plan to ensure victory for Fernando Alonso in the previous year’s Singapore Grand Prix by arranging for his team mate Nelson Piquet Jnr to crash, triggering a Safety Car period.

Renault CEO Luca de Meo appointed Briatore as executive advisor to its current team, which competes under its Alpine brand.

“Briatore will predominantly focus on top level areas of the team including scouting top talents and providing insights on the driver market, challenging the existing project by assessing the current structure and advising on some strategic matters within the sport,” said Alpine in a brief statement confirming the 74-year-old’s return.

Nelson Piquet Jnr crashes, Renault, Marina Bay, Singapore, 2008
Feature: Crashgate – The long shadow cast by F1’s notorious 2008 Singapore Grand Prix
He was one of two senior Renault executives held responsible for Crashgate by the FIA. The other, Pat Symonds, was originally given a more lenient five-year ban, which the WMSC said was because he had admitted his involvement. Symonds later returned to the championship and earlier this year ended a seven-year spell as Formula One Management’s technical director to join Michael Andretti’s nascent F1 project.

Briatore successfully challenged his lifetime ban at France’s Tribune de Grande Instance in January 2010. He and Symonds then reached a settlement with the FIA under which neither would participate in F1 before the end of 2012.

Former F1 driver Felipe Massa began legal proceedings against the FIA and FOM earlier this year over the Crashgate affair. He believes they were slow to act in reaction to the conspiracy and that the result of the race should have been cancelled before the end of the season, making him that year’s world champion.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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64 comments on “Briatore returns to Renault’s F1 team 15 years after lifetime ban for ‘Crashgate’”

  1. This is the greatest comeback of 2024. I’m sure Netflix will milk this as much as they can. This is the greatest thing that has happened for them since Gunther Steiner.

    1. Only Facts!
      21st June 2024, 16:53

      I can see Massa having an episode (pun intended)

      1. Massa will be having a pina colada w/ Nelson Piquet Jr. Trying to rationalize to himself how if he could have only gotten Lewis Banned for being awesome, in the Hungarian GP of 2007, he would have won the championship.

        1. excuse me, 2008. Both vintages, tho, sublime.

  2. Briatore will predominantly focus on top level areas of the team including scouting top talents and providing insights on the driver market, challenging the existing project by assessing the current structure and advising on some strategic matters within the sport

    They’re going to hire Alonso again, aren’t they?

    1. @red-andy

      Why would that happen, when Alonso has signed a contract with Aston Martin that – to all intents and purposes – runs through to the end of his career, and when Alpine is one of the least competitive teams on the grid?

      1. Talby, I think Red Andy was being tongue in cheek. Alonso and Briatore have a lot of history.

    2. “Some strategic matters within the sport” – I wonder what this vague definition could mean, in the context of Renault and Briatore.

      1. “Some strategic matters within the sport” – I wonder what this vague definition could mean, in the context of Renault and Briatore.

        Well, just in the context of Renault, I’d say it’s likely that the statement was likely worded by a French person in their native language and translated OR worded in English by a French person.
        English being the wondrously convoluted grammar structure that it is, many non-native speakers trip over some of the nuances of English-as-it-is-spoken. Some native speakers frequently make a total bolognaise of it, what chance anyone else?

        In short, “it probably lost something in translation”
        Sometimes you can’t see the hidden meaning, because it isn’t there.

  3. It seems for him cheats do proper. His readmission to management of a team (and the continuing management of Alonso) is a failure from the FIA and the whole circus. How can someone with such a history be welcomed anywhere in the management of the sport after his behaviour.

    1. I don’t think this appointment is a good thing, but it’s worth noting that other key players from F1’s most notorious cheating scandals have been rehabilitated much sooner than Briatore. As the article notes, Pat Symonds ended up working for FOM.

      And Mike Coughlan – one of the two protagonists of Spygate, which in sporting terms was a far bigger scandal than Crashgate – was back working in F1 by 2011, less than four years after the story broke. So it is not exactly unprecedented for the worst of F1’s cheats to make their way back to the sport fairly quickly.

      1. I luv chicken
        21st June 2024, 10:10

        Don’t forget Ken Tyrrell and the illusive water ballast/ ball bearings fiasco. But the worst was the cheater Schumacher who deliberately tried to run fellow competitors off the track, by runni;g into them, and also trying to fix qualifying by parking in the middle of a track corner, to bribg out a red flag. I still can’t fathom all the reverence he gets .

      2. Certain sections of the British media and the fans who bought into their narrative that anything even remotely connected with Alonso is “bad, just bad” as is Alonso himself. It’d be amusing if it weren’t so tiresome.

        1. Anthony H. Tellier
          21st June 2024, 11:56

          Well, this is way more fun(ny) than the Monaco parade

          1. True. But I’ve had bouts of diverticulitis that were more fun and funny than the Monaco parade.

        2. Nick T., I have also seen quite a few individuals in countries outside of the UK make the opposite complaint – i.e. that large chunks of the British press are biased towards Alonso and give him more positive coverage than another driver putting in a similar performance.

          1. I have literally never seen one person say that.

    2. F1 was prohibited from banning Briatore for life by the French courts, and were informed it could not be for more than 5 years (from autumn 2009). If Flavio had wanted to return the moment Lewis Hamilton won his first world title, F1 would have been unable to prevent it.

  4. Did he die and get resurected? How is a lifetime ban turned around? Did they change the rules and lifted it? How can he simpy come back

    1. How is a lifetime ban turned around?

      It says in the article.

    2. Didn’t read the article?

    3. I luv chicken
      21st June 2024, 10:12

      New identity papers.

    4. Don’t underestimate Briatore’s ability to weasel out of anything.

      1. Nor any of the other dozens of personnel in F1 who were involved in that incident as well as much more serious F1 scandals. It seems that Briatore’s cheesy image earns him an uneven level of antipathy though.

    5. Was overthrown a long time ago from what I recall, he just wasn’t interested in coming back for a while.

  5. Death throes

    1. Alpine has truly hit rock bottom.

  6. Looking forward to the Singapore Grand Prix!

  7. Derek Edwards
    21st June 2024, 9:17

    Counting down to the “Ecclestone says Briatore return great news for Formula One” article…

    1. Well, he would be right, though it’s been a long time, I wonder if he’s still a capable team manager.

      1. @esploratore1 as noted in the article, Briatore is not working as a team manager; furthermore, even if he wanted to, it’s unlikely he would be allowed to take up that role.

        Part of the reason why Briatore was able to get his lifetime ban lifted by the Tribunal de Grande Instance was on the technicality that the FIA could not impose that type of sanction on a team member who was not a licence holder with the FIA. That is why, in response to that ruling, the FIA introduced the requirement for senior members of a team to obtain a licence from the FIA, with the team manager included as one of those roles, to give them the option of imposing that type of sanction in the future.

        The FIA did include clauses that stated that they have the power to refuse a licence to somebody who has been in breach of the FIA’s codes of conduct. If Briatore did try applying for a licence to become a team manager, the FIA would likely reject his licence application on the grounds that he has breached the FIA’s codes of conduct and therefore prevent him from taking up that particular role.

  8. The Phoenix

  9. Who in the Renault/Alpine camp thought this was a good idea? Yeah, the reason is probably somehow money, but surely the public perception of Briatore is so bad that no team would want to touch him with a ten-feet pole.

    1. I guess the same people who also thought firing Safnauer and co was a good idea.

  10. So renault is not able to build a competitive engine and car and thinks this is the way to solve the performance problems…
    Sounds like a massive panic and now they really lost the potential sponsors.

  11. Man he looks ancient. Anyway, considering how bad Renault is now (Alpine is probably actually the better label since they’ve been seemingly disowned by Renault), he can only help or change nothing at worst. You can tell the problem goes way beyond the F1 team by the fact their Le Mans entry went with the bargain, standard issue monocoque anyone can buy for a million dollars and then mated it to an F2 engine prepared by Mechachrome that had no prayer of lasting 24 hours and both their cars’ engines duly exploded with one making it just five 5 hours followed an hour later by its sister car.

    1. Coventry Climax
      21st June 2024, 11:12

      And thanks to the brilliant concept of BoP, the other cars are all artificially brought down to this very same, poor level, in the name of equal playing field.

      1. Coventry Climax
        21st June 2024, 11:17

        The same effect applies to Briatore’s return, with all of F1 being brought down to the same, very poor level of moral standards.
        Great move.

      2. Ferrari was able to design around the ridiculous rules somewhat as they only test downforce or lack of in the wind tunnel with the car straight ahead. So, Ferrari designed their car to create a lot of downforce solely when there is yaw and since you only want more downforce in the turns that worked great for them. But, yeah, LM has always been meant to be a technical showcase. So, this makes it seem pretty pointless, especially since the BOP is extreme and not just something like a budget cap or adding ballast if a car has a massive HP per-pound figure.

        Anyway, I don’t think Briatore being an advisor really changes much. We’ve got tons of other F1 personnel at teams, in the FIA or working for F1 that were involved in their own cheating scandals.

  12. Everyone get your crashgate jokes prepared for the inevitable caption competition at the Singapore GP.

  13. Even Flavio won’t be able to save Alpine/Renault.

    The only question really is who will fold up first. Alpine or Haas?

    Bet neither sells for that mythical billion dollars.

    1. I’m betting Alpine sells a majority stake first.

    2. An Sionnach
      21st June 2024, 12:51

      I’d expect his first recommendation is that to get a good team, car and drivers, you’ve got to pay for it. Might be a problem for Renault. What’s the likelihood that he’s going to poach another talent like Schumacher or Alonso under the noses of the other teams? Maybe it could happen if the other teams continue to employ drivers who have gone as far as they can in F1, while stringing along the young talents. Briatore wouldn’t think anything of signing Antonelli, Lawson or any other driver the big teams are sitting on. Perhaps with his extreme focus on getting things done at any cost, he might even get an IndyCar driver in. He’s effective, if potentially explosive. With Alpine at a low ebb, they need some decisiveness… and ruthlessness.

      1. he might even get an IndyCar driver in.

        First, he has to find an Indie car driver that matches two criteria:
        1. They have the 40 points for a Super Licence
        2. They actually want to drive in F1

        It has seemed for some while that the drivers that match condition 1 fail on condition 2, while those that match condition 2 fail on condition 1

        1. An Sionnach
          21st June 2024, 19:55

          There isn’t one whose good enough to be an F1 great anyway, but there might be someone who is better then the kind of driver Alpine might otherwise attract. I don’t expect Briatore can wangle anything here though, as the super licence rules are sacrosanct!

  14. I could see this coming ever since the first report, although I still didn’t quite expect a return anymore, even if only in an advisory role.
    Perhaps Alpine can win a race this year, after all.
    As a trivia, the lifetime ban was only short-lived in the end, as it was lifted in January 2010.

  15. Either he becomes the “Marco” of the Alpine team, or he will be team boss from January 1st next year.

  16. Looks like desperation from Alpine.

    The guy is an absolute clown and not the sort of PR you want to be putting out there.

    1. They literally can’t stop embarrassing themselves week-in and week-out. They wish a badly performing car was usually the most embarrassing thing happening to them. Though I disagree that FB is a clown when it comes to F1 operations. He conducts himself like a clown though.

    2. I luv chicken
      21st June 2024, 15:54

      Clown? Yes. But in a box full of rats, he’s just one of the group. There are very few influential people in the sport, who have no skeletons in their closets. Bernie was the shadiest of the bunch, and revered by many. Moneytron, Essex, Double contract Sauber, US F1, Rich Energy, Rokit, FTX, Andrea Moda, any Russian sponsors.

    3. He’s the only “clown” that’s ever delivered them championships though.

      1. Indeed. Four is it?

  17. José Lopes da Silva
    21st June 2024, 12:37

    This is more material for the study of modern gerontocracy.
    Next we will hear that Bernie Ecclestone and David Brabham are off in a joint venture to buy Haas and rename it.

    1. On the plus side, compared to American politicians this guy is a right youngster at just 74 years of age!

      Anyway, if this is the best they can do, they really do seem to just be there to milk the commercial rights payout.

      1. José Lopes da Silva
        21st June 2024, 13:50

        That’s why you change the name for a defunct seventies brand – the Renault brand is not involved and does not get depreciated for all this.

    2. New name is gonna be Saah, as in haas turned around, as we’re at it!

  18. Hahaha, just what Renault needs right now to sink even lower. You can’t make up this stuff!

  19. Yet no one complains about the Penske Indycar team? Probably the worst case of cheating in race car history. And not a complaint here or almost anywhere. How come?

    1. Penske has far too much power in Indycar. People don’t want to cause problems.

      Fans have been plenty critical though. It was painful (but justified) that it was immediately brought up in Newgarden’s Indy winner’s interview. The boos on the stands were also telling.

    2. Probably because IndyCar is basically never talked about around here, unless it is somehow connected to F1.

  20. Shows how desperate Alpine are to bring in a 74 year old has been. My local garage servicing 12 year old Fords has more of clue of leadership and strategy than Renault. Just pathetic.

  21. Inb4 Ocon crashes just in time for Gasly to make a 1 stop miracle win.

  22. I do not see how adding another manager is going to help Alpine’s situation.

  23. I might have expected him to sign with another team (if any would be that desperate to offset the embarrassment), but for Alpine to hire him on in any capacity, just makes me speechless.

    Betcha the likes of Sky etc. will want to keep cameras on him to count how many team managers shake his hand in welcome – if not outright wanting an interview.

Comments are closed.