Rocco Benetton

The Benetton family has owned the Benetton Formula 1 team since it was acquired from Toleman in 1986. Rocco Benetton is one of the 14 children of the four founders of the Benetton company: father Luciano, aunt Giuliana, and uncles Carlo and Gilberto. The Benettons now run one of the most successful businesses in Italy and the family is estimated to be worth something in the region of $4bn, the clothing firm now having diversified into sporting brands, restaurants, supermarkets and real estate. The racing team has been an important factor in spreading the Benetton name around the world and it was run in the early 1990s by chairman Alessandro Benetton.

After attending school in Italy, Rocco followed his brother's route in education, attending the University of Boston. He studied engineering but after graduation decided that he preferred to go into the world of high finance and joined the New York-based private banking firm Oppenheimer & Co.

After a couple of years learning about the business he moved on to a small investment company called Alpha ÊInvestment Management on New York's chic Park Avenue. The company handled over a billion dollars in assets and $300m in venture capital and Rocco started out as a consultant with the small firm. He soon joined the firm as a partner and ultimately was made managing-director.

In September 1997, however, he was called back to Europe to take a position in the Benetton Formula 1 team, following the departure of chief executive Flavio Briatore. Rocco started out as commercial director, working alongside chief executive David Richards. Richards tried to convince the family that it was necessary to sell some of the shares in the team to the Ford Motor Company, in order to get a factory engine supply. The Benettons did not agree and so Richards departed in October 1998 and Rocco was appointed chief executive, the youngest in F1 at the time. He dissappeared from F1 when the team was sold to Renault at the start of 2000.