Former Renault team principal, Flavio Briatore, has revealed that he would not have returned to Formula 1 had it not been for the sport’s CEO, Stefano Domenicali.
Briatore was indefinitely banned from the pinnacle of motorsport in 2009 when the crashgate scandal from the year previous resurfaced.
Nelson Piquet Jr had been told to deliberately crash at the Singapore Grand Prix to cause a Safety Car, and that caution period would help team-mate, Fernando Alonso, to the front of the pack.
The Spaniard went on to win the race, causing a degree of suspicion from other drivers, although nothing was done about it until 2009.
When it turned out that Pat Symonds and Briatore were involved in the plan, the former received a temporary ban, and it seemed that the Italian would receive a lifetime ban.
The Renault team were given a two-year suspended ban, pending any similar incidents, and they lost a number of sponsors, namely ING.
Piquet had already been dismissed by the team for his poor performances that year, with Romain Grosjean joining Alonso for the remainder of 2009 at the European Grand Prix in Valencia.
It was a disgraceful chapter in F1’s history, two years after the spygate scandal between McLaren and Ferrari, but Briatore returned this year in a commercial capacity.
Domenicali stepped down as team principal of Ferrari during their woeful 2014 campaign, and he returned to the pinnacle of motorsport at the start of last year, taking over from Chase Carey as CEO.
The 57-year-old was a major factor in Briatore’s decision to the return to the sport, in which he is now an extremely controversial figure.
“My contact with Bernie [Ecclestone] never broke off, nor has my contact with Stefano Domenicali. I am close friends with Stefano and only returned because of him,” Briatore told Sport Bild.
Briatore is a big fan of the changes that have been made to F1 since the departure of Ecclestone at the end of 2016.
“Formula 1 has changed with the Liberty Media takeover in recent years – for the better,” he added.
“The races are more exciting because of the changes in the cars, but the environment is also different. The whole entertainment for sponsors and special guests is already good, but I want to raise the level with my experience.”
The 72-year-old divulged how his return to F1 came about.
“We have 1,300 employees worldwide, Stefano asked me if I could bring my contacts and experience from my business life to the new Formula 1. I didn’t hesitate for a second,” explained Briatore.
“I can bring all this experience and worldwide contacts, no matter if it’s negotiations with new sponsors and race tracks or the special service of special guests.
“I do this for Stefano for fun. I’ve put managers everywhere in my businesses and I don’t want to take care of everything myself anymore. I’ve done it long enough.
“I’m happy and delighted to be back in Formula 1 – it feels a bit like home.”
Renault’s current guise, Alpine, are fourth in the Constructors’ Standings heading into the final six rounds of the 2022 season.