Chequered flag for playboy of the paddock

Log on to Flavio Briatore's exceptionally snazzy website and the epithets come at you thick and fast (with Italian translation below). "A successful manager", "A versatile entrepreneur", "An inspiring leader", "A competitive achiever", they read, following each other in an interminable cycle of self-aggrandizement. They give some indication of just how flash Flavio is. And how much he knows it.

Though he can't claim to have been one of Formula One's original playboys (the sport is too old for that), he may be one of the last. Effortlessly flamboyant, Briatore has spent three decades living a life of international glamour, and receiving publicity to match.

Last year the 59-year-old married Elisabetta Gregoraci, an Italian model three decades his junior. They wed in a lavish ceremony in a 12th century basilica near the Vatican, at which Briatore presented his wife an 18K white gold ring, designed by jeweller DeGrisogono. He had previously dated models Naomi Campbell and Heidi Klum. He has a daughter with the latter, and their relationship is alleged to have finished when he was spotted kissing another woman while she was pregnant. All of which has, of course, been documented by the paparazzi.

And yet, for all that, he cannot be dismissed as just so much glitz, a schmooze merchant with no nous. Far from it: having been raised by two teachers near Cuneo in north Italy, he worked first as a ski instructor and then on the Milan Stock Exchange. In 1974 he met fashion icon Luciano Benetton, who was so impressed he sent his new protégé to launch the label's operation in the US. In 1989 he launched the Benetton Formula One team, and two years later he poached Michael Schumacher from rival Eddie Jordan.

Two years ago he bought Queen's Park Rangers with Bernie Ecclestone. On top of that, he owns a company that manages several of the sport's drivers, and in the past few years launched his own "Billionaire" clothing brand. His critics claim the name says all you need to know about Billionaire Briatore.

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk