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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

In Defense of Flavio Briatore... Briatore Responds re His QPR Team Involvement

- After some considerable negative press about him, a defender steps forward: The Mirror's Oliver Holt (The second half of the article is the QPR-relevant half.)
--- [Note: Back in January, Holt wrote a piece entitled "Bernie's In a Hurry". And last December, Holt
had a Mirror Exclusive "Ecclestone and Briatore exclusive"

--- For additional articles and views, visit the QPR Report Messageboard: --- Will QPR be Reducing Ticket or Club Shop Prices?

The Mirror/Oliver HoltTrust Flavio to get it right for promotion at QPR, with no jacket required.
Back in the 1990s, whenever the Belgian Grand Prix came around, a little group of us used to take Eddie Jordan out for dinner at a restaurant called Le Roannay in Francorchamps.
-One year, when QPR wasn't even a twinkle in their eyes, Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore came over and sat with us for a while.
- Both men, as always, were great company and much of the talk was of the feud between Briatore's star driver at Benetton, Michael Schumacher, and Damon Hill.
It was a turbulent time and Briatore was also involved in one of a series of spats with FIA president Max Mosley.
There was some mention of a letter Flavio had in his possession that was of great significance, and much jocularity about what the journalists among us would give to get a peek at it. Briatore was one of the first to leave. He got up, took a jacket off the back of a chair and bade his farewells.
I got back to my hotel, deep in the Ardennes, well into the early hours.
Soon after 7am, my phone started ringing.
I ignored it. The calls kept coming.
In the end, I picked up. It was one of Flavio's most trusted employees.
"Mr Briatore has your jacket," she said. But that wasn't what she was bothered about. Because if he had mine, the chances were I had his.
I checked the jacket I'd chucked on the floor when I'd staggered in. It was better quality than mine. Way better. And there was an envelope in the pocket with an FIA crest on it.
I went back to the phone and said I had the jacket. I said I'd bring it in to the circuit later that morning.
"That's okay," the Benetton lady said, "we'll send someone out to get it." I told her my hotel was way out in the sticks. More like a guest house, anyway. They'd never find it. "We'll find it," she said.
I didn't look inside the envelope before they arrived. Probably because it was sealed and I didn't have a steam iron handy.
But maybe also because I figured that whatever was inside it, Briatore would come out on the winning side at the end of it all.
Everything he has touched has turned to gold in F1. He built a brilliant team around him at Benetton on much scarcer resources than more established teams like Ferrari and Williams. And he built his team from scratch. More recently, he led Fernando Alonso to world titles with Renault.

- So I don't recognise the descriptions of Briatore that have been circulating for the last few weeks as some sort of megalomaniac nutter poking his nose in and ruining what's left of a lovely old club like QPR, where he and Ecclestone are now part-owners.
- He's a ruthless man, certainly, and he clearly lost confidence very quickly in the ability of Iain Dowie, who was sacked as manager last month.

But if Briatore's incredible success in Formula One has been based on anything, it's his talent for delegation.
- He wasn't an expert in Grand Prix racing when he arrived at Benetton, so he hired people who were.
- The same thing applies to football.
- He's not daft enough to think he can run QPR, pick the team and score the goals. But he will find people who can.

- I spoke to him yesterday as he was about to set off for last night's match against Charlton and he laughed at the idea he'd told Dowie who he could and couldn't pick.
"I had a conversation with Iain Dowie after the game at Swansea where their goalkeeper was carried off," Briatore said.
- "They didn't have a goalkeeper on the bench so they had to put an outfield player in instead but we still didn't have a shot on goal. I think it's normal to talk about that. It was talking, not dictating.
- "The last thing I want to do is be a coach. I'm too busy for that.
- Nothing changes in the way I work.

- "I'm good at delegating. I'm good at giving power to my people, but I only give power when I feel the people deserve power.
- "Now I've got someone like that in our new coach, Paulo Sousa. He's intelligent and he's normal. It's difficult to find people with those two qualities in football."
- So I don't have any fears for the long-term health of QPR. The main thing about Briatore and Ecclestone is that they don't like losing.
- They find a way to win and they don't care if their methods make them unpopular along the way.
- I'd put money on them getting promoted to the Premier League by the end of next season, a year ahead of Briatore's schedule.
- When he makes a mistake, he's very good at putting it right. The jacket doesn't stay off his back for long.
- Flavio's not daft enough to think he can pick the team, score the goals. He will find people who can
. The Mirror

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