Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone have both dropped strong hints that the 'Singapore-gate' race-fixing conspirator is set to return to F1 in a commercial capacity in 2013.
Whilst Briatore remains unable to take up any official role in the top flight for the next two years – as punishment for the leading part he played in one of the most vilified cheating scandals in recent sporting memory, and under the terms of the settlement he renegotiated with the FIA, having initially been banned indefinitely – and has previously stressed on a number of occasions that he has no interest in ever coming back, he since appears to have had a change of tune.
“We shall see how my return to F1 goes in 2013,” the disgraced former Renault F1 managing director told The Times of India
, adding in an interview with French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche
: “I have drawn a line under the role of team boss, but that does not mean I am saying goodbye to F1 – far from it.”
It has been noted that Briatore has put in an appearance at a number of grands prix this year, and the flamboyant Italian – who has always enjoyed a good relationship with F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone and has invariably been a strong advocate of the need for the sport to appeal to the fans and put on more of a show – has been most strongly linked with a position alongside the Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive on the 'business' side of affairs.
The Italian has even been mooted as a potential successor for Ecclestone when the 79-year-old eventually calls it a day – or rather, he quips, dies. Whilst insisting that 'the way I feel at the moment, why stop', the British billionaire has conceded that he and Briatore may yet work together.
“What happened with Flavio was awful and very wrong and he deserved to be punished, [though] maybe not as severely as he has been,” Ecclestone – who co-owns London football club Queens Park Rangers (QPR) with the 60-year-old – told Gulf News
, “but we, and he, will overcome the setbacks and get on with the job of putting on a fabulous show for the fans worldwide and living our lives.”
Briatore has also been linked – albeit considerably more tenuously – with roles at either Ferrari or F1 2011 tyre-supplier Pirelli, both of which have been denied.