Flavio Briatore

From Academic Kids

Flavio Briatore (b. April 12, 1950) is managing director of the Renault Formula One team.

Early life and Benetton career

Born in Cuneo, Italy, among the Maritime Alps, Briatore found early work in ski instruction and restaurant management. In the 1970s he became involved with the Italian stock exchange; during this period he met Luciano Benetton, founder of the Benetton clothing company. The two became friends and eventually business partners; when Benetton opened his first five stores in the United States in 1979, he appointed Briatore director of the group's American operations.

Due to Benetton's unorthodox method of franchising, the chain experienced a brief boom in American popularity. By 1989 there were eight hundred stores in the United States; Briatore, having taken a cut of each franchising agreement, was a very wealthy man. As store owners began to complain of competition from other Benetton stores, the number of stores decreased to two hundred and Briatore began to look for a new business.

Formula One career

Briatore attended his first Formula One race, the Australian Grand Prix, in 1988, despite having proclaimed his lack of interest in the sport. Benetton made him commercial director of his new F1 constructor, Benetton Formula, and when he fired the team management shortly thereafter, Briatore became managing director and set about turning Benetton into a competitive constructor. He hired and quickly fired engineer John Barnard; Barnard's successor was Tom Walkinshaw, whose greatest achievement was to lure young driver Michael Schumacher from the Jordan team after his first F1 race in 1991. Schumacher went on to win a race in both 1992 and 1993 before claiming the World Championship in a Benetton in 1994.

Late in 1994 Briatore purchased the ailing Ligier constructor to acquire its stock of Renault engines; FIA regulations, however, did not permit him to own the team, so he sold it to Walkinshaw. He took on complete management of Benetton, but when Schumacher and a number of engineers departed for Ferrari in 1996, the team slipped to the middle of the grid.

Briatore purchased a share of the Minardi team in 1996, but, unable to sell it to British American Tobacco, he sold out to fellow owners Giancarlo Minardi and Gabriele Rumi. Benetton fired him in 1997 in favor of David Richards.

From 1998 to 2000 he sold Renault engines, calling them Supertec. When Benetton sold out to Renault in 2000, Briatore was once again appointed managing director.

Briatore also acts as agent for a number of Formula 1 drivers including Mark Webber.

Reputation

In the late 1990s Briatore gained notoriety among European tabloids for his romantic relationships with supermodels such as Naomi Campbell, Adriana Volpe, and Heidi Klum. Klum gave birth to Briatore's only child, a daughter named Leni, in 2004.


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