Bernie Ecclestone has seemingly backtracked on his plans to have disgraced former team principal Flavio Briatore head a new working group that was going to be set up to look at ways of improving the popularity of Formula 1.

The 83-year-old had revealed at a special meeting of the sport’s team principals during last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix that he was looking to include the Italian – formerly the team principal at Benetton and Renault – as chair of an upcoming summit where the proposed changes would be tabled.

If the answer to F1’s problems is Briatore, then the question itself is wrong.

Briatore has not been involved in Formula 1 since late 2009, when he was sacked after the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix ‘Crashgate’ scandal was revealed. The Italian was banned from the sport for life – later reduced to five years under appeal – for conspiring with Renault technical director Pat Symonds and the team’s number two-driver, Nelson Piquet Jr, to have the Brazilian youngster deliberately crash his car to trigger a Safety Car interruption. The full-course yellow played into the hands of Fernando Alonso, who had pitted just before and was then vaulted to the lead and the race win.

The announcement provoked almost universal scorn in the media and among fans, many of whom felt that if the answer to F1’s problems is Briatore, then the question itself is wrong.

Thankfully, the race in Hungary was a thriller – sensationally won by Daniel Ricciardo – and, perhaps sensing the foolishness of this idea, Ecclestone has now suggested that the working group will not go ahead, at least not with Briatore’s involvement.

“We do not need Flavio. We can do it ourselves,” Ecclestone told the German-language Auto Motor und Sport newspaper.

Ecclestone also indicated that he would petition to reverse the series’ recent approval where standing restarts would be brought into the 2015 rulebook. The rule was ratified just over a month ago at a meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council.

That rule change would see standing restarts follow on from Safety Car periods, providing more than two laps have passed since the start of the race – or any previous restart – and that there are at least five laps of the race still to run.

In a long-form interview with the same newspaper after the Hungarian race – which featured two Safety Car interruptions – Ecclestone indicated that he would look to scrap the idea, which has been almost universally panned by drivers and fans.

“There will be no standing start after a Safety Car phase. What we saw in Budapest was good enough,” Ecclestone added, suggesting that the sport had gone too far with its recent changes to the rule book.

“All the stupid and unnecessary rules that have been added in recent years, it should be no more. I want a World Championship of drivers, not of engineers.”

Image via LAT

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.
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