MAY 1, 1995

How to make friends and influence people

Flavio Briatore did not have a good weekend at Imola.

Flavio Briatore did not have a good weekend at Imola. In addition to his noisy ruckus with Ken Tyrrell at the team manager's dinner, Flavio managed to offend the whole of the French press corps by suggesting that some of them were "dishonest." Briatore called a press conference to counter a number of reports in the French press that morale at Ligier is at rock-bottom and the team is about to lose its major sponsors. He also went to great pains to try and convince the French press that the Ligier is not a copy of a Benetton, saying that the FIA's F1 technical delegate Charlie Whiting has inspected both cars and declared them to be completely different under the skin. Sources at the FIA confirm that this was the case, although there is little doubt that there was a flow of information between the two teams. Briatore, however, badly misjudged the situation and has done more harm than good in his campaign to re-sign Ligier's sponsors for 1996 and beyond. In order for the team to move forward, it is necessary for Briatore and Walkinshaw to decide who is actually running the team because at present their is a vacuum of management which means that team morale is very low as the staff do not know what the future will hold. They are worried that the team will lose its French financial backing and be moved to England, leaving them out of work. The team's technical staff also want to move ahead and plan for the future, but the lack of the necessary budgets means that the team is currently standing still.