Briatore pearl-clutchers blind to F1 reality – Up/Down Spanish GP


Another weekend, another one in the eye for F1's holier-than-thou squad at the 2024 Spanish GP – oh, the humanity!

2 Flavio Briatore 2024 Spanish GP

He's back in the game

Getty Images

Ah yes Formula 1, motor sport’s moral Garden of Eden, where not a stain besmirches its good image.

Back at Pearl-Clutch HQ, press and online fan comments have been filled with outrage at the news that the not-so-good-ship Alpine, slightly adrift in the competitive sea, has brought an old school Lord Admiral-at-large to help set it back on course. Like it or not, Flav’s back.

He might have been central to arguably F1’s greatest cheating scandal, but ideas of grand prix racing’s fair-play and inclusion is, to a certain degree more than ever in the modern age, corporate window dressing.

Almost all teams operate to some degree in the grey areas – it’s an often-celebrated aspect of F1 – which one might describe as, err, cheating. Which is a big part of why there’s been little pushback on Briatore’s return. A lot of them are at it.

Furthermore is the atmosphere in which this all occurs. The team boss who looked set to be jettisoned early this year for allegedly less-than-pleasant behaviour (admittedly apparently being used as part of a wider company power struggle) now seems to be fine and dandy again. Whether that’s good or bad, it’s par for the course in grand prix racing and the cut-throat world of professional sport.

Said team was also accused of busting its cost cap budget two seasons ago. Not that long before that, a rival grand old F1 squad appeared to have a magic engine trick which, once perused by the FIA, was very much not in line with the rules. The punishment was limp in line with the offence.

A year before Briatore’s Singapore earthquake, McLaren was fined $100m for… we could carry on boring you.

Where was all the cod outrage when the 2024 returnee’s partner in crime Pat Symonds came back with Marussia and then Williams, then the FIA? There weren’t the social media column inches to fill with thunder then it seems – and no one’s said much about him joining the next potential new team… ‘Doesn’t Michael Andretti know who he’s hiring etc?!’

Team Enstone has decided that if it wants to get back to its rollicking ’90s and ’00s best, it had better consult the rule-breaking rockstar who made it all happen. Winning is all that really matters.


Goin’ Up

The Codfather

Flavio Briatore 2024 Spanish GP

Domenicali doesn’t seem particularly bothered by having ‘THE CHEATER!!!’ in his midst

Grand Prix Photo

And Briatore has immediately got down to business, it seems.

Rumours swirl that Carlos Sainz is now being wooed – and possibly swayed – by well-moneyed Alpine representations. It just scored three points in Barcelona, for goodness sake – can’t argue with those numbers.

Briatore was seen stalking up and down the paddock with Alpine CEO Luca de Meo, with Sainz’s rallying god dad (Carlos Sr) visiting the Alpine hospitality. What a difference a crusty 74-year-old Italian playboy makes.



George Russell Mercedes 2024 Spanish GP

‘And through goes George Russell…’ etc


Great race start by our boy George. ‘Faaantastic’ as a much-missed wise man would once proclaim. How often do you see a car go from fourth to first on a start these days?

More of this at Silverstone, please. Imagine that crowd roar.


Pipe down

Carlos Sainz Charles Leclerc Ferrari 2024 Spanish GP

Nothing like a bit of intra-team edge

Grand Prix Photo

Meanwhile there was a good bit of sniping post-race from free agent Sainz.

After Leclerc complained that his Ferrari team-mate disobeyed orders by overtaking him when the drivers were supposedly meant to hold station, Sainz told his colleague to put a sock in it.

“It’s too many times he complains after the race about something,” he said. “I elected to be aggressive, and it didn’t pay off. Is what it is.”

He’s leaving now, doesn’t matter! Say what you like.


Two scoops

Pierre Gasly Alpine 2024 Spanish GP

Three lovely points for Alpine


In addition to its high-profile new appointment, Alpine scored points for the third time in a row this year – and its first double helping of the season. Moving in the right direction at last?


Goin’ Down

Misplaced Optimism?

Valtteri Bottas Stake 2024 Spanish GP

What’s this team called again?


Steak Bake F1 described 13th and 16th for Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas as “good progress”. Would hate to know what a bad race looks like for them.


RB hopeless

Yuki Tsunoda Daniel Ricciardo RB 2024 Spanish GP

New RB aero package didn’t deliver

Red Bull

“If you perform well here, it means your aerodynamics are good,” said Yuki Tsunoda before he and RB team-mate Daniel Ricciardo finished 19th and 15th respectively in the ‘upgraded’ car at Barca.



Where for art thou?

Sergio Perez Red Bull 2024 Spanish GP

C’mon Checo, channel the power the of the Rolex Sakhir Grand Prix 2020!

Red Bull

Perez’s last four races have been eighth, DNF, DNF, eighth. Where’s ‘Checo the tyre whisperer’? The tenacious fighter? We miss him – someone needs to properly rattle Verstappen’s cage.


Nearly Nico

Nico Hulkenberg Haas 2024 Spanish GP

Look, another championship point gone begging!


Five P11s in the last ten races for Nico Hülkenberg, F1’s record non-podium finisher. That man sure knows how to nearly do something.