Flavio Briatore, Renault’s team boss, said in an exclusive interview to FFNA that he expects the 2007 season to be a ‘stinker’, with the sport’s top teams all in a transition period. “Ferrari has lost Michael and Ross, and that will take some recovering from” he said feelingly, speaking perhaps from the bitter experience of having the lost the super duo himself in 1996 and 1997. Flavio also felt that McLaren being well….McLaren, they probably won’t finish half the races which kind of dashes Alonso’s championship hopes. Renault of course is more favorably placed having retained its technical talent for 2007, but unfortunately their championship campaign is going to be spearheaded by Fisichella. “We don’t have a chance” said Briatore rather gruffly, “I might be an optimist, but I am not stupid”. We have to agree with Flavio there.

Briatore also admitted that he had met Michael Schumacher a few hours after his retirement announcement at Monza and tried convincing him to switch to Renault in 2007, but Michael felt it was far too early to be discussing his comeback as he had not even properly retired yet. Moreover he was expecting a few lucrative retirement gifts and there was no point in hurrying about the comeback. “I spoke to him again last week” added Flavio, “but he appears to be really committed towards adding value at Ferrari. I told him he can still do that while driving for us…”. However, Michael apparently failed to recognize how he would add value at Ferrari by winning races for Renault, and he does have a point.

More to follow tomorrow – Flavio Briatore on Kimi Raikkonen and life after Alonso.