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Flavio Briatore makes shocking return to Formula One, becomes executive advisor at Alpine

Written by Vyas Ponnuri

In a shocking turn of events, former Renault team principal Flavio Briatore returns to Formula One, taking up a role as an executive advisor to Alpine's CEO Luca de Meo, for the team's Formula One division.

Briatore returns to the sport for the first time ever since he was dismissed for engineering the infamous 'Crashgate' scandal at Formula One's maiden outing in Singapore in 2008, when Nelson Piquet Jr infamously crashed at turn 17, 14 laps into the race, bringing out a safety car that put Fernando Alonso in the box seat for victory.

The Spaniard had pitted before the safety car intervention, and with regulations forbidding pitting under the safety car until the entire field had bunched up together, it put the front runners in a tough position, as they would pit later during the safety car period and emerge further behind. Alonso would eventually win the race, albeit leaving a massive asterisk over the result.

A massive investigation followed into the controversy, and Piquet Jr was dropped by Renault halfway into 2009. The Brazilian then leaked statements to the FIA about the French team ordering him to deliberately stage a crash at a specific corner, so as to help Alonso win.

While Renault commenced legal action towards Piquet Jr and his father, Nelson Piquet Sr, it was believed that Renault Director of Engineering Pat Symonds was offered immunity by the FIA if he provided details of the alleged conspiracy the team had been charged with.

Briatore and Symonds would leave the team ahead of their scheduled WMSC meeting on September 21st, 2009, an extraordinary meeting which saw the former Renault team principal indefinitely banned from the sport, Symonds banned for five years, and if Renault were found to engage in any such scandal before 2011, they too would be indefinitely banned from Formula One.

The Italian supremo would get his lifetime ban overturned in 2010, at the French Tribunal de Grande Instance in 2010, with courts stating irregularities in the bans dished out to himself as well as Symonds in this case.

Upon his return, Briatore even served as Mark Webber's manager, and was also on Alonso's management team at some events.

While Briatore's reputation has been tarnished by the infamous Crashgate scandal, he does have a stellar track record in Formula One, leading Michael Schumacher to championship glory in 1994 and 1995, and Alonso a decade later, to two further championships.

He was the mastermind behind bringing Alonso aboard the Renault project too, helping the Spaniard kick-start his decorated Formula One career.

After weeks of speculation, Briatore has indeed joined the Alpine advisory team as an executive advisor to the CEO Luca de Meo, reporting to the latter on decisions for the Formula One division.

The 74-year old returns at an interesting point in the French team's career, the team losing personnel with every passing year, and are having what is arguably their toughest season so far, with only five points to their name.

Briatore is also expected to take a decision regarding the power unit supplier for 2026, the French team even contemplating dropping their status as a works team, considering the difficulties faced with the use of the Renault power unit.

A statement from Alpine read:

"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.

“Briatore will predominantly focus on top level areas of the team including: 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.”

While Alpine appear to be struggling to correct their downward spiral in momentum, it remains to be seen if heading back to old friends can help them resurrect their Formula One fortunes in the future.


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