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Alpine appoint Briatore in bid to reverse fortunes

The ailing Alpine Formula One team on Friday announced the return of Flavio Briatore to help turn their fortunes around after a tricky start to the season.

Briatore, 74, was a hugely influential figure in the sport, as team boss of Benetton he guided Michael Schumacher to the first two of his seven world titles in 1994 and 1995.

After Renault bought Benetton, the now rebranded Alpine, his reputation as a talent scout paid off with Fernando Alonso, who went on to win the 2005 and 2006 world championships.

Scandal then engulfed the flamboyant 74-year-old Italian with the controversy over the fixing of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix forcing his resignation.

The incident, dubbed ‘crashgate’, centred on Nelson Piquet junior who the FIA deemed had been ordered to deliberately crash to allow an advantage to teammate Alonso.

Briatore was banned from F1, a sanction subsequently overturned by an appeal through the French courts, although he agreed to stay away from F1 for a while, with Renault handed a two-year suspended ban.

During his enforced absence from the fast lane he set up nightclubs in Marbella and Sardinia, a restaurant in London’s exclusive Mayfair district, a holiday resort in Kenya, and with former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone took over English football club Queens Park Rangers.

He was briefly engaged to super model Naomi Campbell, before marrying another model, Elisabetta Gregoraci.

He even had time along with all that to set up his own political party.

Alpine will be hoping Briatore’s vision and experience can prove crucial as they struggle to make an immediate impact, with their two French drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon involved in an inter-team crash in Monaco.

Their sluggish start to 2024 has left the English-based French outfit in eighth in the constructors’ standings ahead of this weekend’s 10th race in Spain on a mere five points.

Briatore joins Alpine in an executive advisory role.

“BWT Alpine F1 Team can confirm that Flavio Briatore has been appointed by Renault Group CEO Luca de Meo as his Executive Advisor for the Formula One Division,” the team announced on X.

The statement added that Briatore will “predominantly focus on top level areas of the team.. 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”.

The scouting side could prove vital with Ocon leaving the team at the end of the season and Gasly’s future undecided after his deal expires at the end of 2024.

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