The F1 Beyond The Grid podcast had Flavio Briatore speaking on his time at Benetton, drivers like Michael Schumacher, Martin Brundle, Fernando Alonso, crashgate and more.

The third episode of the F1 Beyond The Grid has former team boss Briatore speaking up on multiple topics. He has a wide range of topics, from his time in the sport to the current happenings. Here’s a point-wise summary of all what was discussed with Tom Clarkson:

  • They first discussed what it was like for Briatore to be thrown into the deep-end of F1, despite having no experience in racing. He elaborates how that situation came about.
  • The Italian then told some stories of his early days in the sport. He admitted that he actually was tempted by an offer from Donald Trump to work in America
  • When pressed more, he explained that he was offered a position working with Trump on his casino in Atlantic city.
  • The controversial businessman went on to tell the story of his time at Benetton, in full. Additionally, Briatore spoke about his relationship with other team principals, and Bernie Ecclestone in particular.
  • He also spoke about his several clashes with Ron Dennis, as they had varying methods.
  • After this, Flavio spoke in-detail about how he ran Benetton. He also revealed that when the team were winning, Max Mosely and Ecclestone were displeased, as it made a mockery of F1, with a ‘t-shirt maker’ able to win.
  • He then spoke about how he and his time with Benetton paved the way for a team like Red Bull Racing in the sport.
  • From here, the Italian spoke about what made Schumacher special, and how he managed to snatch him; he also touched upon how he dealt with claims of favoritism.
  • Briatore explained that they were seeking a cheaper, younger driver, and landed on Schumacher. He then told of how Roberto Moreno was put off which upset Nelson Piquet.
  • With regards to the favoritism, and Benetton’s #1, and #2 driver system, Briatore defended himself by saying that it makes sense for a team to make the driver most likely to win them a championship be #1. However, he maintained that Schumacher was not necessarily favored. Post this, he admitted that Brundle was the driver who was closest to the German in terms of pace.
  • He then told stories of Benetton’s championship-winning year in 1994, when Ayrton Senna accused the team of using traction control. Upon closer inspection, Benetton was found to have traction control of some sort coded into the car, but Briatore still defended it, saying that all teams had it still, but none used it.
  • The team received a three race ban, and Briatore explained this in length. The Italian claimed that after this, the FIA was biased against the team. They then debated and discussed the Adelaide 1995 controversy, and some of Schumacher’s potential flaws.
  • Briatore was of the mind that the German did little wrong, while Clarkson thought some blame was due to be put on Schumacher. The Italian then spoke about the damage the seven-time champion leaving did to Benetton, as he also speculated why he, Ross Brawn, and the others of the ‘dream team’ left.
  • After this, Briatore spoke about Alonso coming to him many years later, after Benetton became Renault. He compared the two greats – he ranked the Spaniard higher, and spoke about Imola 2005 when the duo battled it out on track.
  • Clarkson then asked how the mood changed between when Benetton was Renault and when it was in its former self. Comparing Alonso and Schumacher yet again, Briatore drew some parallels from his success with the Spaniard and his success with the German.
  • The ex-Renault team principal speculated that if Alonso had stayed in 2007, Renault would have won again.
  • From here, Briatore discussed his eventual move to McLaren, and his difficulty dealing with Alonso and Lewis Hamilton’s deteriorating relationship.
  • After this, Briatore weighed in on Alonso’s more recent outings in motorsport, and his mistakes in the Honda era at McLaren, and a potential return in 2021. He stated said that he believed the Spaniard could return, even at one of the top three teams.
  • As the podcast began to wrap up, Briatore discussed the crashgate scandal, which was a career-defining moment. He said that he could return to F1, but doesn’t want to – at least for the time being.
  • Finally, Briatore gave his two cents on the current crop of drivers, weighing in on Charles Leclerc, Hamilton, Max Verstappen – the three which he ranked highest – and the others. He talked of Hamilton/Schumacher and Leclerc/Kimi Raikkonen.

Due to FOM’s restrictions, we cannot use the podcast but we have the link where you can find it:

Here’s the last F1 Beyond The Grid podcast of Pedo de la Rosa

The story was edited by Darshan Chokhani