Former Lifetime Ban Recipient Flavio Briatore Back in F1 During Same Life

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Former Lifetime Ban Recipient Briatore Back in F1NurPhoto - Getty Images

For two decades, Flavio Briatore served as the championship-winning manager of Benetton and Renault's Formula 1 programs. Briatore's time in the sport ended abruptly when he was accused of race fixing by former Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr. and later banned from competition for life. That ban was later overturned in court and kept at bay by a settlement with the FIA, opening a long-unused door for the long-time executive to return to F1. A decade and a half after the accusations first surfaced, Briatore is making good on that promise and taking up a role with a Formula 1 team once again.

Briatore will serve as an executive advisor to the Alpine F1 team, the successor to the Renault and Benetton teams he managed. Oddly, he will not become the first recipient of a "Crashgate"-related ban to return to the sport; Pat Symonds, a leading engineer for that Renault program, returned from a ban of his own in 2013. Symonds even briefly worked for F1 itself as chief technical officer before accepting an offer to lead the still-theoretical Andretti Formula 1 team.

At Alpine, he will be tasked with managing a turnaround for a program that has collapsed from relevance since grabbing its sole win under the Alpine name in 2021. The Renault-aligned program has just five points this year, good for eighth in the ten-team constructor's standings. The on-track struggles come in addition to two years of friction between teammates Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly. After an on-track incident with Gasly at Monaco, Ocon has already been told that he will not return to the team in 2025.

Despite his long history of controversy and the lifetime ban he received during this lifetime, Briatore's time managing an earlier version of the Alpine program was overwhelmingly successful. At Benetton, Briatore led a team tied to a family-owned clothing brand to a constructor's title and two driver's championships with Michael Schumacher. He added two more constructor's and driver's title wins during Fernando Alonso's time at what became Renault. By contrast, the team has won just three total races since Briatore's departure.

The hope from Alpine ownership is that the hire will be the beginning of a turnaround that takes the Enstone-based Formula 1 team back to the top of the ladder. That sort of success is worth just about any PR hit, including the hire of someone accused of race-fixing just 16 years ago.

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