The Renault F1 Team's Managing Director Flavio Briatore gives his
thoughts on the season so far. His verdict? He's happy, but not
Flavio, how do you
summaries the start of the season so far for
"It has been very good, there’s no doubt about it. But we always
have to tell ourselves that we have achieved nothing so far – simply
met our objective from the start of the season, which was to be
competing for the title. This is the longest championship we have
seen in Formula 1 with 19 races, and it will be difficult to
maintain our current level of performance. The situation in Monaco
with the poor results was dramatic for us, and that is why it was so
satisfying to go to Germany and beat Mercedes on their home turf –
it was a big psychological boost. But we all know there is a very
fine line between success and failure."
We saw in Barcelona and Monaco two races where the cars were not
able to fight for the win- what was the reaction to that?
"I said at the time, that you cannot expect to win all the races. We
are racing with the best teams in the world, they have huge budgets
and F1 is an incredibly tough competition: we are fighting big names
like Toyota and Honda. Not only that, but we began building this
team four years ago – and we are battling teams like McLaren-
Mercedes, who have been investing heavily together for a decade, or
Ferrari, who have enormous budgets and stability. From the outside,
people don’t always see what is happening but within the team, we
know what we have achieved. For some of the manufacturers we have
seen come and go in Formula 1, even our bad results would have been
their best ones. I believe the teams at Viry and Enstone are doing a
One of the hot topics in Formula 1 at the moment is the new tire
regulations – what is your opinion of them?
"I think we have to look back to why we changed the tire rules first
of all. We were moving in the direction of saving money in areas
that do not bring benefit to the spectator. One of these was
engines, by making them last two weekends. In that context, we said
the tire manufacturers should be restricted as well. But then,
because we have two tire manufacturers, everybody pushes things to
the limit. It is the responsibility of the teams to make the
decision with the driver when they see they have a problem, and they
judge the risk involved, like in many other areas."
"In Germany, we knew there might be tire problems and worked our
strategy around that – Fernando, for me, drove a better race than
Raikkonen because he did not have any difficulties, and was able to
push all the way through to the end. Sometimes you have the chance
to win because you are fast, other times you can win by making your
competition lose, and the latter is what we did at the last race.
However, we also know McLaren did a better job than us in Monaco.
But this year, with these rules, I think we have seen more
spectacular races and it has helped the show. We do not want to see
people hurt, of course, but managing risks is part of the sport and
why people like F1. There is a mix of risk, strategy and racing that
makes Formula 1 a great event for the fans."
The team has gone from the back of the grid in 2001, to the front
in 2005 – what has been the secret?
"There is only one secret, and that is the people, the team. We have
people in this team who know how to win. For me, it is like ten
years ago with Benetton – it feels like watching the same film, but
with different people in the roles. The people in our organization
are very strong, they are racers. This is not a big team like some
of our competitors, but we are flexible, we can change direction and
we take decisions quickly. The organization is very flat – we
communicate fast, and people are in no doubt as to their role and
their responsibilities. Plus we have the Renault group behind us.
With Benetton, there was a clothing manufacturer; now, we have an
advanced global carmaker with a lot of technology to offer us. That
is one of the keys to our competitiveness."
The Renault Group has a new Chairman – Carlos Ghosn. What has
that changed for you?
"I know Mr. Ghosn is a competitive person – he has shown that with
what he achieved at Nissan, and I am pleased that he is now at
Renault. His predecessor, Louis Schweitzer, gave the green light to
come back to F1 and with Patrick Faure, gave me the responsibility
for this team. I hope I repaid their confidence, and intend to
continue doing so. Renault is not in F1 just to take part – we are
here to be competitive, and be the expression of a competitive
group. When you are winning, the boost of Formula 1 for the
company’s image is undeniable, and we need to be able to make the
most of that."
That way of thinking seems to link back to your reputation as one
of the most serious businessmen in the paddock...
"You cannot manage a company of 800 people without a business head.
This is not just about going racing – if you want to do that, you
can do it with a few friends, build a car together, take it to a
track and race it. This is a complex operation, and we have the
responsibility of carrying the image of a group like Renault. That
means it is business. For us, the objective is to achieve the
maximum result for the minimum investment – and I think while
results are what we are judged on, the way we achieve them matters.
It is easier to do things with an open checkbook, but here we train
mechanics, engineers, drivers. We always invest in the future,
whether it is with drivers or the team."
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