No ban for Ocon as Briatore eyes Alpine F1 role

Thu, 30 May 2024, 11:32

May 30 (GMM) Flavio Briatore could be set for a dramatic return to Formula 1 team management, as Alpine refused to deny reports the charismatic Italian is set to become a key advisor.

Until he was expelled from F1 amid the ‘crashgate’ affair, the 74-year-old was team boss at Renault’s works team. The Enstone based outfit, currently in a performance slump, is now branded as Alpine.

“We do not comment on individuals,” a spokesperson said.

But Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper, as well as the French sports daily L’Equipe, believe Renault CEO Luca de Meo has reached out to Briatore to see if he would be interested in a Niki Lauda-style advisory role.

“The entrepreneur is ready to return to Formula 1 to revive the fortunes of Alpine,” Corriere della Sera claims.

L’Equipe reports: “Even if the information is not official, the arrival of Flavio Briatore as special advisor at Alpine is considered done.”

Alpine has shown some signs of recovery so far in 2024, but the latest turmoil suggests current team boss Bruno Famin is considering benching Esteban Ocon for the forthcoming Canadian GP as a sanction for his first-lap crash into teammate Pierre Gasly in Monaco.

Ocon was already linked with a move to Haas for 2025 at the time of the incident, while Gasly is quoted by Auto Hebdo as saying: “I am confident about being on the grid next year.”

L’Equipe, however, insists that sidelining Ocon in Canada “was never considered”, as the information was based on “a bad translation in England” following Famin’s furious comments made at the chequered flag in Monaco.

But Red Bull’s F1 consultant Dr Helmut Marko says the Ocon situation is a real problem for Alpine.

“We had this happen twice at Red Bull Racing,” he told Speed Week. “Once in 2018 with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen in Baku, and once with Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel in 2010 in Turkey.

“In both cases, we called both drivers into the company and discussed it openly with them and made it clear that such collisions with teammates are simply not acceptable.”

Marko, however, says it would be “difficult” for Alpine to sideline Ocon.

“It is difficult to implement measures in these cases because you’d have to be able to prove clear intent, and that is not the case,” he said.

“The driver (Ocon) says he misjudged the situation, and that means there is no longer intent. The problem at Alpine, however, is that it was not the first time, and I think that makes things even more difficult,” Marko added.

You may also like