Flavio Briatore hits out at Ferrari’s leadership for allowing technical regulation changes

Michelle Foster
Ferrari single-pillar rear wing. Bahrain, March 2023.

The Ferrari single-pillar rear wing concept. Bahrain, March 2023.

Flavio Briatore has hit out at Ferrari’s leadership for allowing the FIA to change the technical regulations ahead of this year’s championship, saying he “would not have allowed” that.

Two races into this season and there’s a lot of head scratching going on at Ferrari with the Scuderia yet to step foot onto the podium, never mind win a grand prix.

With Red Bull claiming back-to-back 1-2 finishes, the reigning World Champions are leading with 87 points, Ferrari down in fourth place with just 26.

They’re also behind double podium finishers Aston Martin as well as Mercedes, even though the latter has been the subject of a B-spec car debate, such has been their disappointment with the pace of the W14.

Briatore reckons Ferrari’s problem this year is the new floor regulations that the FIA mandated to minimise bouncing.

While the FIA initially called for 25mm, after much debate a 15mm increase to the floor height was agreed upon, the Italian adamant he would’ve never allowed it get that far.

“We’ve known Ferrari for years, it’s not that something extraordinary happened this year, it’s a bit what happened before,” he told Radio Rai broadcast ‘La politica nel pallone’.

“The 2022 season started very well, but then the Federation changed the regulations due to the bouncing problem.

“If it had been me leading Ferrari, I would not have allowed the rules to change. Ferrari’s political actions must be incisive, last year they had an advantage and they shouldn’t have let the regulation change.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

Fred Vasseur urges Ferrari to not ‘bullsh*t itself’ over Saudi GP failures
Has F1’s ‘Smooth Operator’ Carlos Sainz lost his mojo at Ferrari?
Ferrari targeted by hackers with ransom demand for customer data

The former Benetton team boss also isn’t happy with Ferrari’s messaging, the Scuderia talking up the car only to find themselves well off the pace in Bahrain.

“It isn’t brilliant,” he said. “In winter Ferrari is always a candidate to win the World Championship and then things don’t go that way. I heard statements during the presentation with some of the executives saying: ‘Never seen a Ferrari so fast’, but all this stuff confuses the fans.

“I saw their anger on Instagram, because you don’t have to promise, you have to do the first race and see what happens. Now they all have this expectation that Ferrari is forced to win the World Championship.

“Unfortunately there are other teams who have worked better, making up for this gap is very, very difficult. Expectations are always too high compared to reality.”

One of those teams that’s worked better is Aston Martin, the team on the podium in Bahrain and again in Saudi Arabia.

“The team can be fixed,” said Briatore. “How to do that? Just look at Aston Martin.”

He told Corrierre dello Sport that he blames Ferrari’s higher-ups as they need to make sweeping changes over the winter, not just swap out Mattia Binotto for Fred Vasseur.

“It always happens,” he said to the Italian newspaper. “There are people at Maranello who talk all winter when what was needed is an in-depth analysis on why they haven’t won for more than 15 years.”

When asked who has the responsibility, the 72-year-old answered: “The Ferrari ownership. But I don’t see it being very involved in this.

“It is not enough to make one change. They need characters of weight in the team and these days there are none. I remember how they started winning when they took 10, 12 people away from Benetton. They did well.”

He, however, believes Vasseur is the right man to lead the changes.

“Vasseur has come to the team, I know him well,” he said. “He is a good man and has the right capabilities.

“Nobody should blame Vasseur, because the SF-23 was already made before he came.

“He has to build the team, shop around from other teams. In Maranello, I have seen for years people are not looking at other teams for personnel.”

As for the drivers, Briatore believes in Charles Leclerc Ferrari have the driver can help them return to P1.

“The driver is there, it’s just the car that is missing,” he said. “Otherwise how would he manage to get so close to Red Bull in qualifying?”

He reckons Ferrari missed a trick last season in not backing Leclerc for the title.

“Last year it was said that the car was good for Charles Leclerc and less so for Carlos Sainz. So it was necessary to bet everything on Charles Leclerc, with Carlos Sainz who would have brought points for the Constructors’ standings.”