Track Limits
Alpine & Flavio Briatore: Stroke of Brilliance or Desperation?
Understanding the factors leading to his appointment and the potential ramifications requires a closer look at both Briatore's professional prowess and the ethical concerns surrounding his history. 
Written By:
Ernie Black

Flavio Briatore's appointment as an executive advisor at Alpine has stirred significant debate within the Formula 1 community. Briatore, a seasoned figure in the sport, brings a wealth of experience and business acumen, but his controversial past casts a long shadow. 

Understanding the factors leading to his appointment and the potential ramifications requires a closer look at both Briatore's professional prowess and the ethical concerns surrounding his history.  

Possible Factors Leading to Briatore's Appointment

Business Acumen and Experience:

Briatore's extensive experience in Formula 1 is a primary factor in his appointment. His tenure with teams like Benetton and Renault showcased his ability to transform underperforming teams into championship contenders. 

Under his leadership, Benetton secured the Constructors' and Drivers' Championships in 1995 with Michael Schumacher. Similarly, Renault won back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006 with Fernando Alonso. This track record of success is likely appealing to Alpine, which is striving to become a top-tier team. 

Relationship with Key Figures:

Briatore's close relationships with influential figures in the sport cannot be overlooked. His longstanding friendship with Fernando Alonso, Alpine's star driver, might have played a role in his return. Alonso's trust and respect for Briatore could help foster a more cohesive and motivated team environment.  

Business Strategy:

Briatore's business ventures outside of racing demonstrate his strategic thinking and networking skills. His involvement in luxury brands and hospitality has proven his ability to manage and grow enterprises, qualities that Alpine may find beneficial as it seeks to enhance its commercial and competitive standing.  

Ethical Concerns and Controversial History: 

Despite his credentials, Briatore's appointment is still not without controversy, primarily due to his involvement in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix scandal, often referred to as "Crashgate." 

The Singapore GP Scandal The 2008 Singapore Grand Prix saw Nelson Piquet Jr., under orders from Briatore and Renault's executive director of engineering Pat Symonds, deliberately crash to bring out a safety car. This strategic move allowed Alonso to win the race, significantly benefiting Renault. The scandal broke in 2009, leading to Briatore receiving a lifetime ban from FIA-sanctioned events, though this was later overturned in court. 

 Impact on Integrity:

Briatore's role in orchestrating one of the most infamous race-fixing scandals in Formula 1 history raises serious ethical concerns. His actions not only compromised the integrity of the sport but also jeopardized the safety of drivers and officials. The fallout from the scandal damaged his reputation and highlighted a willingness to prioritize winning over sportsmanship and fair play.

Personal Opinion: As a former Ethics officer myself, I dismissed the rumours I had heard and read about Flavio’s return before news broke at the 2024 Spanish GP on Friday. Surely not, I thought. As a father of a young child, I was concerned with the message this might send to our youth. What rehabilitation did Flavio go through? I wondered. Regardless of whether his lifetime ban from the sport was lifted… it’s not the example I want this sport I love, to set for my child. 

Potential Negative Impact on Alpine:

Reputation Risk 

Appointing Briatore may tarnish Alpine's reputation. Fans and stakeholders might view his involvement as a step backward, undermining efforts to present the team as a beacon of integrity and fair competition. This move could alienate parts of the fanbase and attract negative media attention, potentially impacting sponsorship and partnership opportunities. 

Internal Morale 

Internally, bringing in a figure with a controversial past could affect team morale. Members of the team who prioritize ethical standards might find it challenging to reconcile working under someone with Briatore's history. This could lead to internal friction and impact overall team cohesion and performance.  

Public Perception 

In the broader public eye, the decision to appoint Briatore could be seen as a disregard for the ethical standards expected in modern sports. Formula 1, under increased scrutiny for its governance and ethical practices, might face backlash from fans, sponsors, and media, questioning the sport's commitment to fair play and integrity. 

Finally, Flavio Briatore's appointment as an executive advisor at Alpine brings a blend of strategic expertise and significant controversy. While his experience and business acumen are undeniable assets, his tarnished reputation from the 2008 Singapore GP scandal could pose substantial risks. Alpine's decision to bring him on board will likely be scrutinized by fans and peers and its success will largely depend on whether his input delivers the expected results. 

Alpine appears to have made a calculated decision, driven to a level of desperation it would seem. The team is not in a good place and is underperforming. Something had to be done. And as Alpine boss, Famin shared, “I don’t really care about the past, I’m always looking at the future, what can we do to get our team better.”

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