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Briatore claims credit for Azerbaijan’s F1 street race

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Briatore claims credit for Azerbaijan's F1 street race

Briatore claims credit for Azerbaijan’s F1 street race

Flavio Briatore has claimed credit for Azerbaijan’s spectacular street grand prix in Baku.

The former Renault boss, who has one of his ultra-expensive ‘Billionaire’ outlets in the old Soviet city, was spotted in the Baku paddock for a brief visit on Saturday.

“Without me, there would never have been this grand prix,” the 66-year-old Italian told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Three years ago in Sardinia I met the president of Azerbaijan and said to him ‘Why don’t you have a formula one race?’ He said it was a good idea and invited me to Baku.

“We got into a helicopter and he showed me from the air what a possible circuit could be. I said ‘It looks fantastic’ and connected him with Bernie Ecclestone,” said Briatore.

The flamboyant Italian, who turned Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso into F1 winners and champions, continued: “Bernie didn’t even know where Azerbaijan was.

“But within 6 months we had a signed agreement.”

Briatore was also asked about the chase for the 2016 world championship and said: “I guess Mercedes will win it one more time.

“If they would not make life difficult for themselves, they would almost have it in the bag already, but personally I can live with the collisions of Rosberg and Hamilton as it makes formula one exciting,” he added.

As for whether he has thought about mounting a comeback as a team boss, and possibly even a team owner, Briatore answered simply: “No.

“The costs are too high and there are too few new sponsors. Formula one has to be a real event, not a rolling laboratory for the automotive industry — for that, Le Mans is better.

“We should give equivalent cars to the best drivers in the world and the races would once again please everyone,” he added.

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