Flavio Briatore is set to return to Formula 1 as the head of a new popularity working group with the task of ‘improving the show’ in the sport.
Following a fall in the global TV audience of 50m and low attendances for some of the grands prix this season, there has been a focus on improving the racing in Formula 1 and making it more appealing to fans.
In an attempt to keep the world championship alive, a double points round has been introduced at the end of the year in Abu Dhabi, and standing restarts after a safety car period will become commonplace in 2015.
According to reports in the Hungarian Grand Prix paddock, former Renault team principal Flavio Briatore has been asked to head up a popularity working group that will come up with other ideas. Introducing a success ballast is reportedly one option that has already been proposed, penalizing the winners with a heavier car for the next race.
Briatore left Formula 1 in 2009 after he was found to have played an instrumental part in Renault’s fixing of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. Nelson Piquet Jr. was told to deliberately crash his car to allow teammate Fernando Alonso to jump ahead of the field under the safety car, with the Spaniard eventually winning the race from 15th place on the grid.
However, it now appears that he has a way back into the sport with this role. It will be interesting to see what ideas are brought forward, and how his vision for the future of F1 compares with that of the F1 Strategy Group.
Alex Palou was named a Formula One reserve driver for McLaren Racing on Thursday, confirming the end of a prolonged battle for the IndyCar champion and the F1 team.
The Spaniard, who won the 2021 IndyCar championship for Chip Ganassi Racing, last July said he was declining to return to Ganassi next year and instead would drive for McLaren.
Ganassi held an option on 2023 for Palou, who wanted to move to McLaren for a shot at motorsports’ highest level. The fight for the driver dragged into September through mediation, where it was decided that Palou would finish his contract and also be allowed to do F1 opportunities with McLaren.
Palou, 25, since has tested for McLaren, and he made his F1 debut at the United States Grand Prix in October when he drove the first practice session.
In his role as a reserve driver, Palou will support McLaren whenever it does not conflict with his responsibilities in the final year of his IndyCar contract with Ganassi. He officially will move to McLaren at the end of the upcoming IndyCar season and drive either for Arrow McLaren SP in IndyCar or move completely into an F1 role.
“I’m excited to be part of the McLaren team as one of their reserve drivers in 2023,” Palou said. “I can’t wait for the involvement with next year’s car. I look forward to continuing my development as a driver and I appreciate the trust McLaren have in me with this new role next year.”
Palou has four wins and 15 podiums through three IndyCar seasons and is the only Spaniard to win the championship.
“The team are pleased to have Alex on board as one of our reserve drivers for next season,” said Andreas Seidl, McLaren team principal. “He impressed with his FP1 session in Austin and his driver development tests this year.”