Alpine's Bruno Famin brushes off Flavio Briatore's controversial past

BARCELONA, Spain -- Alpine and its Formula One rivals have brushed off Flavio Briatore's controversial past, stating his involvement in the infamous Crashgate scandal should be consigned to the sport's history books.

Briatore, issued a lifetime F1 ban after fixing the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix while Renault boss, has returned to the French manufacturer's struggling F1 team as executive advisor.

Briatore's lifetime ban was overturned on appeal in 2013 but he had not been involved in an official capacity with any team until now.

Renault was issued a two-year suspended sentence for the scandal but the team's current F1 boss Bruno Famin said the scandal is irrelevant.

"I don't really mind about [the] past," Famin said in Spain on Friday. "I am always looking at the future, and looking at what we can get and to get our team better. And that's really our goal.

"What I see is with having Flavio as an advisor of the team is the opportunity to have his experience, to help us. He has a very high level knowledge of Formula One, he has a lot of people, and I'm sure he will support us in developing the team faster and better. That's all."

When pointed out Briatore never apologised for the scandal known as Crashgate, Famin replied: "I'm looking ahead, not backwards."

Alpine's F1 team is in a dire state, with years of mismanagement and a revolving door of senior personnel culminating in a drop down the competitive order this season.

Famin added: "The target is to make the team better as soon as possible and with the knowledge, the influence, the network of Flavio, it's an asset and we are using all available assets to make the team stronger."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was one of the team bosses quizzed on Briatore's return and he said his friend deserved a chance to make amends for his controversial past.

"I think we need to give a chance to recover from the situations," Wolff said. "I have known Flavio as a extremely smart businessman. He has a lot of knowhow in Formula One. Every input that I got over the last 10-plus years that I have been in much more contact, and I have a friendly relationship with him, was in a way helpful.

"There is a lot of experience and expertise, 40 years of Formula One, and I think everybody deserves the opportunity to come back. And for me, for sure, having another clever mind in Alpine, someone that is able to simplify things and apply common sense is in any case, where Alpine today is, is a benefit."

Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur said Briatore's appointment was "a step forward for Alpine", and added that "it's good for F1 at the end if Alpine is coming back into the fight. We know the story. And I think he paid the price of this. If now he's allowed to come back, he can come back."

Crashgate occurred when Briatore and Renault's then-technical director Pat Symonds instructed driver Nelson Piquet Jr. to crash in order to help Fernando Alonso win the race.

Piquet Jr.'s crash triggered a safety car at a perfect moment for Alonso's strategy.

The scandal was exposed a year later when Piquet Jr., by that point on the outs at Renault, revealed the plot to the FIA.

Symonds was also handed a lifetime ban which was overturned on appeal. Symonds has since worked for Williams and F1 itself -- he is currently the special advisor to Andretti's F1 bid.