Has Flavio Briatore lost interest again?

Flavio Briatore, Pay Symonds, Renault, Bahrain, 2008, 470150

What’s the problem with Renault?

It was no great surprise to see the champions of 2005 and 2006 lose their way in 2007. There was certainly no shortage of explanations: they had lost their champion driver and talisman of the team, Fernando Alonso. They had lost the Michelin tyres to which generations of Renault chassis had been perfectly tuned. And in the haste to keep pace in 2006 they had gotten seriously lost on their aerodynamics calculations.

But this year they appear to be behind McLaren, Ferrari, BMW, Toyota, Red Bull and Williams – enough to make merely scoring points a challenge.

I wonder if the heart of the problem is Flavio Briatore.

Back in 1996 when Briatore was in charge at Benetton he had seen his favourite son, Michael Schumacher, leave for Ferrari. Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi came in his place and it was clear Briatore wasn’t impressed – particularly when Alesi retired from the 1997 Australian Grand Prix having missed several calls to pit for fuel. By the end of the season Briatore had left the team to seel F1 engines instead.

Fast forward a decade and, in 2007, Briatore once again saw one of his proteges leave for another team as Alonso switched to McLaren for 2007.

Alonso, of course, has returned to Renault. But for how long? According to Red Bull’s Dietrich Mateschitz Alonso was only looking for a one-year deal for 2008. And the twice world champion has already stated he can escape his Renault deal if certain performance criteria aren’t met – which aren’t likely to be met in a car not capable of scoring points every weekend.

All this makes me wonder if Flavio Briatore hasn’t seen the writing on the wall, knows it’s inevitable Alonso will go to Ferrari in 2009 (or failing that perhaps BMW?) and instead is devoting all his time to his new love: Queens Park Rangers Football Club.

Flavio Briatore biography

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10 comments on Has Flavio Briatore lost interest again?

  1. Journeyer said on 10th April 2008, 13:44

    Even if Flavio has lost interest, he has a lot of great people under him, most notably Pat Symonds.  I don’t think this is THE reason why Renault is struggling.  Rather, Flavio losing interest is an effect of their underperformance.

    But it’s still early days yet.  Let’s talk about this when we’re halfway through the season and we really know where the Regie stand.

  2. Brar Soler said on 10th April 2008, 16:00

    And Briatore have a problem with someone above him. Carlos Gohsn don´t likes to spend much money.

    Alonso noticed and goes to Mclaren, he comebak was the only alternative (and it seems he regrets)

  3. Journeyer said on 10th April 2008, 16:36

    Good point, Brar.  Renault may finally be struggling with their limited budget.  BMW’s, McLaren’s and Ferrari’s people are as good or better than Renault’s, with a lot more money.  That can only have one long-term result.

  4. Scootin159 said on 10th April 2008, 17:49

    worth noting, Autosport is reporting that Renault have replaced their chief of aerodynamic development today.

  5. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 10th April 2008, 18:54

    Good spot Scootin that almost passed me by.

  6. A. Nother said on 10th April 2008, 18:58

    Journeyer, for me Renault was fantastic, I was a real suporter, a Renault engine fan (cause eletro-eletronics valve command)
    Buts!  (Like Tony Stewart, decided to change tyres brand) I´M thinking to sell my Renault Kangoo 1000cc! I Hope Carlos Ghosn  trembles when he hear about that. 

  7. Robert McKay said on 10th April 2008, 19:57

    I don’t know if the budget or Flav is the problem. I think what it does show is just how hard it is to stay at the top of F1 for a lengthy period. Only Ferrari and Mclaren have done it consistently over the least decade, and even they have both had the odd year when they’ve been a bit off-colour, though not quite to the extent Renault are now. That’s testament to those teams ability to keep refreshing themselves and stand the pace. Renault more or less built up into a glorious firework – it’s beginning to look like they outperformed their level for a few years, rather than building a solid foundation as a top-line team.

  8. F1-Insider said on 10th April 2008, 20:38

    Just maybe an unknown secret deal was struck where Renault were not allowed to use Mclaren technology on their cars in 2008. After all they did have Mclaren’s drawings on their computers, yet somehow escaped ant punishment from S&M Max!
    Could this also be why nothing has been heard from Renault re the current scandal taking over F1?

    No, surly not :-))) Me thinks maybe so!

  9. Oliver said on 10th April 2008, 23:14

    Whatever the case may be, if Renault are unable to find the performance to take them back into the top 3, then they would have wasted unnecessary money on a driver who is unable to driver the car beyond its natural ability.

  10. Renault and Briatore have not missed a chance to talk tall about their low-budget-winnings. And I believe that it is that short-spending that is Renault’s undoing at the moment.

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