By Lubna Hamdan
Former Renault team boss rules out returning to the F1 in the future
Former Renault team boss Flavio Briatore has described Formula One as “PlayStation for engineers”, and says the people who run the sport have forgotten the fans.
The outspoken Italian, who guided both Benneton and Renault F1 teams to multiple world driver and constructor championship titles with Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso, says the sport is in need of a radical shake-up, with more emphasis needed on the drivers than the cars.
“[It’s] PlayStation for engineers. People forget the fans, forget the show,” Briatore says, in an interview with CEO Middle East.
"Now it’s an exercise for engineers and it’s not sexy anymore. There’s no glamour. When you see the engineers on TV explaining an amazing clutch, nobody cares. People care about the driver, the star. Now to be quick, you need the bank to finance you. Now people put money in the car. Everything is critical. If you touch the white line, you are punished. If you don’t have the right engine, you are punished. It’s a punishing business,” he says.
The 65-year-old, however, says he believes changes are coming to the sport.
“I think sooner or later it will change, because like this it will go nowhere. People don’t find it interesting. It’s missing the gladiator factor. The drivers need to fight. You need to a rivalry between drivers, between Senna and Prost, between Mansell and Schumacher. This is what people want to see,” he says.
While Formula One might need Briatore, he clearly doesn’t need Formula One.
In September 2009, the he was convicted of race-fixing at the Singapore Grand Prix. While he denied the charges, he resigned from the team – which had been purchased by Renault. He was banned from any Formula One event by The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). Even though the ban was later overturned by a French tribunal, by then Briatore had turned his back on racing.
“They [FIA] weren’t happy because we [Renault] were too powerful at the time. At the time I was representing the team, myself and Luciano, we were too powerful. But with that power, I promise you Formula One would have stayed like it was before.
"I don’t have a ban anymore. If I want to go to Formula One I can go tomorrow morning,” he says. “I don’t miss it. I miss the old Formula One,” he adds.For all the latest lifestyle news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.