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Ex-F1 team boss Flavio Briatore urges former protégé Fernando Alonso to give up cycling after crash

“I tell him, if you don’t stop with the bike, I’ll lock you in the garage,” says Italian entrepreneur

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 joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Kendalred | 3 years ago

It seems cycling is very important to Alonso, so I do hope he tells his former boss to shove his advice up his arse. Perhaps he could be a better advocate for road safety by trying to pursuade his fellow petrolheads to not drive like dicks.

Awavey replied to Kendalred | 3 years ago

fortunately as a somewhat disgraced ex F1 team manager his opinions dont carry much weight in modern F1 circles, surprised Alonso still has anything to do with him. But I said before on this I was surprised how common a view it was amongst petrolheads, that Alonso was engaging in some crazy recklessly dangerous behaviour by riding a bicycle, given his day job literally puts his life on the line everytime he pulls a crash helmet on and drives on a race track.

jollygoodvelo replied to Awavey | 3 years ago

If you think Briatore is no longer important in F1, you should check how many drivers are still managed by him, and what other businesses linked to him still sponsor teams.

Bungle_52 | 3 years ago

Unfortunately this is a decision that a lot of people are taking for themselves. If governments won't do anything to deal with dangerous driving then many will stop cycling or not start to cycle with adverse consequences for the health of the planet and its populations.

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