Briatore tipped for Alpine F1 role amid Renault frustration

Italian outlet Corriere della Serra and French newspaper L’Equipe have reported that the 74-year-old has been tapped up by Renault CEO Luca De Meo to become a special advisor to help the squad turn around its fortunes.

Reportedly, his role would entail helping the team’s recruitment drive to bolster its Enstone headquarters and its engine plant at Viry-Chatillon rather than a more hands-on role.

Alpine has declined to either confirm or deny Briatore’s arrival, issuing the following statement: «As a team, we are in frequent contact with a number of industry experts in pursuit of improving overall performance.

«We consider all relevant inputs and, when appropriate, seek advice from people with experience and previous success. We cannot comment on any individual matters.»

If Briatore’s arrival is confirmed, it is sure to cause some unease in certain quarters.

The former Benetton and Renault team principal, who was at the helm when Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso enjoyed their double championship wins with the squad, served a paddock ban for his leading role in the 2008 Singapore ‘Crashgate’ scandal.

Flavio Briatore and Fernando Alonso, Renault F1 Team celebrate victory in parc fermé

Flavio Briatore and Fernando Alonso, Renault F1 Team celebrate victory in parc fermé

Photo by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch / Motorsport Images

That lifetime ban was overturned in 2013, with the Italian a regular visitor since then. He attended last week’s Monaco Grand Prix and was seen in the company of F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali before Sunday’s race.

Alpine has gone through a turbulent 10 months, starting with De Meo’s removal of brand CEO Laurent Rossi, quickly followed by the departure of team principal Otmar Szafnauer and long-time sporting director Alan Permane ahead of the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix weekend.

The team then went in a wrong design direction during the development of its 2024 challenger, which saw it start the season well off the pace after finishing sixth last year.

As a result, both technical director Matt Harman and head of aerodynamics Dirk de Beer left the outfit in March.

In their stead, interim team boss Bruno Famin created a McLaren-like three-pronged technical structure, snapping up the Woking outfit’s David Sanchez as its overarching tech chief.

Alpine has been making progress in recent weeks, moving from the rear of the grid to a position in the midfield where it can take the fight to the likes of Haas and Williams.

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A524

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A524

Photo by: Alpine

In Monaco, Pierre Gasly scored the team’s second point of the campaign, surviving a controversial clash with team-mate Esteban Ocon.

But there has been plenty of talk that Renault Group CEO De Meo remains frustrated with the team’s lack of results and is keen to shake things up further. Bringing back a controversial figure like Briatore would certainly do that.

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These rumours have surfaced in the wake of reports that several prospective buyers are interested in acquiring the Enstone team, including Chinese manufacturer Geely.

Alpine has always maintained the team is not for sale. «The rumours and stories about the team being for sale are false. The team is categorically not for sale,» it said last month.

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