OCTOBER 27, 2008

Briatore's sidekick to be Briatore's sidekick?

Rumours suggest that Flavio Briatore's plan to put in an administrator at Renault F1 will result in the position being taken by his longtime sidekick Bruno Michel. The Swiss-based French accountant has been involved in motor racing since the early 1990s when he first became involved as an associate of Cyril de Rouvre, a sugar magnate who bought the AGS Formula 1 team and later Ligier. In December 1993 de Rouvre was arrested on charges reating to financial irregularities and Michel began dealings with Flavio Briatore, who bought Ligier in order to get hold of the Renault engine supply. Michel then became the front man because Briatore and Tom Walkinshaw wanted to play down Ligier's foreign ownership given that the team was funded by French government companies. After the team was taken over by Alain Prost in 1997, Michel departed and popped up again as the manager of Briatore's Supertec engine company which sold rebadged Renault engines to F1 teams. When that ceased its F1 involvement Michel ran Briatore's British Virgin Island-based driver management business, overseeing the careers of a strong of drivers including Fernando Alonso, Jarno Trulli and Mark Webber. he was also put in charge of the Renault Driver Development programme and later was given the role of managing the new GP2 series.

In recent times Michel has acted as a director of Briatore's Queens Park Rangers soccer team.

Briatore is spending more and more of his time on soccer although pops up in F1 occasionally. He has been in the newspapers in recent days following a falling out with QPR manager Iain Dowie, who took offence when Briatore took it on himself to name the line-up for the team to play Reading. Dowie refused to accept Briatore™s interference and was sacked. QPR has won just one of their last six league matches.