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.
NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott became the eighth driver to join the Superstar Racing Experience, the short-track series being started by Ray Evernham and Tony Stewart.
The two-time Daytona 500 winner and 1988 NASCAR Cup Series champion was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015 and was voted NASCAR’s most popular driver 16 times (his son, Chase, has received the honor the past two years). Elliott also closed his full-time Cup career driving for Evernham’s Dodge team from 2001-03, winning the 2002 Brickyard 400.
“I am excited to reunite with Ray Evernham and some of the great legends of our sport,” Elliott, who joins Stewart and Bobby Labonte as NASCAR Hall of Famers in the SRX, said in a release. “I look forward to racing at some of the most historic American racing destinations and putting on an awesome show for the fans. We have a special driver field and it will be fun competing with some of the greatest drivers of all time.”
The series, which is expecting to have a dozen drivers, also has Tony Stewart, Helio Castroneves, Bobby Labonte, Paul Tracy, Tony Kanaan, Willy T. Ribbs and Mark Webber in its lineup.
SRX was co-founded by NASCAR Hall of Famers Stewart and Evernham and was unveiled July 13.
Several drivers have expressed interest in the new circuit, which is modeled on the International Race of Champions (IROC) series that matched drivers from various auto racing disciplines in equally prepared cars for an annual four-race series for 30 years.
With the addition of Bill Elliott, Superstar Racing Experience has yet to reveal a schedule or tracks, but it’s expected that Stewart’s Eldora Speedway will be on the slate.