Flavio Briatore, the Italian entrepreneur and ex-Formula 1 team manager, has urged his one-time protégé Fernando Alonso to stop cycling after he was hospitalised earlier this month while riding his bike in Switzerland.
The 70-year-old is credited with talent-spotting the Spaniard, who replaced Jenson Button at the Renault F1 team in 2003 and went on to win the driver’s championship in 2005 and 2006.
He is due to return to racing after a two-year absence at next month’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix with Alpine, as the Renault team is now known, a deal Briatore says he helped broker.
In a video interview with F1 journalist Peter Windsor, Briatore said: “Fernando is very fit,” adding with a laugh, “apart from the accident he met with the bike.
“I talk with him every day, you know, I tell Fernando to stop with the bike, because the bike is very dangerous, if you want to go you go on the mountain bike, not on the road, the street.
“I tell him, if you don’t stop with the bike, I’ll lock you in the garage – not the bike, I’ll lock you in the garage.”
Briatore is no doubt well aware that mountain biking can also provide a hazard for Formula 1 drivers, however.
In 2010, when Red Bull driver Mark Webber was challenging team-mate and eventual champion Sebastien Vettel and Alonso, then with Ferrari, for the driver’s championships, he sustained a shoulder injury in a mountain bike crash with just four races of the season remaining.
The Australian, winner of four races and securing 10 podium positions in total that year, had to take painkillers to complete the final races of the season and finished the championship in third place.
Earlier that season, in the spare weekend between the European Grand Prix, which he crashed out of, and the British Grand Prix, which he won, Webber was out on a ride bike in his own Ride to the Horns sportive in the Chilterns.
Alonso underwent surgery on a fractured jaw following his crash earlier this month, caused by a driver turning left into a supermarket car park as the he rode his bike past a queue of traffic.
The incident happened near Lugano, which lies between Lake Maggiore and Lake Como in Switzerland’s Italian-speaking Canton Ticino, just across the border with Italy.
In 2013 Alonso attempted to buy the licence of the former Euskaltel-Euskadi team in a bid to launch a new team at the following year’s Tour de France, but the plan was shelved after he had to refocus on his driving career after being dropped by Ferrari.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.