Renault team boss Flavio Briatore has announced that his role within the Renault organisation will likely change before the start of the 2009 Formula One championship. Briatore has been at the helm of Renault for some time and has steered them to great success, but is yet to commit himself to a new deal until the future of the team (and possibly Fernando Alonso) are decided.
Flavio Briatore has a long history with Renault, having managed the team prior to the French manufacturer buying it out. Before Renault, the squad was owned by the Italian Benetton family, the same who own the clothing company. Briatore set up many Benetton franchises in America in the early ’80s and brought the family and himself much wealth, taking on one of the largest markets in the world.
Benetton acquired the Toleman team in 1985 and due to his success in business, the family offered Briatore the role of team manager in 1990. Flavio steered the team to great success, taking the driver’s title in 1994 and both drivers and constructors the following year (incidentally, with Renault engines). However, the dream team fell apart in 1996 when Michael Schumacher left, taking many of the squad’s key personnel with him. A downturn in performance resulted and eventually, Benetton sold the team to Renault.
Briatore was fired from Benetton in 1997, but Renault decided to bring the Italian back in 2000 as the squad transitioned. By 2003, the team had won a race, and by 2005 they took the titles, a feat that was repeated the following year. And although the team have only enjoyed victory once since then (at last weekend’s Singapore event), Briatore’s position within the company appears to be safer than it was before with Benetton.
In 2009 I won’t have a 360-degree role anymore. There will be a director, who I’ve already spotted, to take care of day-by-day management. That way I’ll be able to concentrate on the most important things. Flavio Briatore.
Maybe Briatore is referring to his new wife there [pictured], but he is more likely to be moving away from the frontline, much like how Jean Todt has done at Ferrari, and Ron Dennis keeps threatening to do at McLaren.
There are cycles in F1. Just when the times were difficult, [Renault CEO] Carlos Ghosn didn’t want to lower the budget. F1 isn’t just a matter of money; otherwise Toyota would win every race.
In Renault we had to refresh the whole aerodynamics department. When you change 40 people you need to wait for them to amalgamate. Now we are in line, and we’re ready to start over. We have the right people, young and capable. Flavio Briatore.
Briatore will be hoping to retain the services of Fernando Alonso, who is looking more and more likely to re-sign to the team. The Spaniard had been hoping for a Ferrari deal, but now the Scuderia have announced no-change for 2009, Alonso’s options are significantly narrowed. The win in Singapore will have boosted the morale of the entire operation, and providing the aerodynamic department tweaks prove good and the engine issue is sorted, the team may be able to begin climbing once again.