Briatore: F1’s sharpest team boss


_26y1012That hoary old racing cliché ‘cut him and he bleeds petrol’ does not apply to Flavio Briatore. He’s a businessman, pure and simple. But he also happens to be the sharpest Formula 1 team boss in the paddock, and a very successful one too.

Flav is not the most obvious cover subject for Motor Sport, I admit. But think about his record since he found himself thrust into Grand Prix racing with Benetton in 1989. His team was the only one of the era to break the Williams/McLaren stranglehold on the World Championship; he was intuitive enough to understand why his team needed to poach Michael Schumacher from Jordan in 1991. Then he built a new empire at the same team and did it all again during the noughties with Fernando Alonso, this time ending his old star Schumacher’s dominance with Ferrari.

Briatore has been swaggering around the F1 paddocks for 20 years. He’s long overdue serious recognition, and as Nigel Roebuck’s cover story reflects, this guy talks more sense than most of his ‘pure racer’ rivals put together. Flav was talking about the lack of overtaking and cutting costs 10 years ago.

The May issue of Motor Sport is nothing if not eclectic. An exclusive interview with Briatore’s friend and business partner Bernie Ecclestone keeps to the modern F1 thread, as does Rob Widdows’ revealing factory visit to Force India.

But if a dose of the past is what you’re after, check out this line-up of features. Simon Taylor enjoys one of his most entertaining lunches yet with famed Jaguar entrant John Coombs, as they discuss Salvadori, Chapman, Brabham, Hill, Stewart and many others; we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the story of how and why the great oval was built; we meet a bunch of Indy oldtimers with hair-raising tales to tell; and Richard Heseltine profiles one of the great British competition classics, the Austin-Healey 3000.

But my personal highlight has to be Paul Fearnley’s story about an Indycar inspired by an eccentric millionaire – and powered by steam…

Enjoy the issue.

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