Formula One needs new stars, says Briatore

Renault's team boss says F1 needs new, young drivers to come through and fire the public's imagination after Schumacher retires.

india Updated: Sep 30, 2006 22:05 IST

Renault team boss Flavio Briatore says Formula One needs new, young drivers to come through and fire the public's imagination after Michael Schumacher retires.

"I don't know who is the next dominant (driver) but what is important in Formula One now is that the young drivers arrive," he said at the Chinese Grand Prix.

"BMW have done that and other teams hope to do it," added Briatore, who last year saw his Spanish driver Fernando Alonso become the youngest champion in the history of the sport at the age of 24.

"We always need new stock. It is fundamental to Formula One. We have a lot of champions now, a lot of good drivers, quick drivers and really we need another star in Formula One on the drivers' side," said the Italian.

"This is something that we are missing and I hope that in this group of young drivers coming into Formula One that we can find a star for the future."

Ferrari's seven times champion Schumacher, 37, announced this month that he will retire after the final three races of the season.

The German is two points adrift of Alonso, whose place at Renault will be taken next year by young Finn Heikki Kovalainen.

BMW Sauber have brought in 21-year-old Polish driver Robert Kubica, whose style is very similar to Alonso's and who finished third at Monza in only his third race, as a replacement for Canada's 1997 champion Jacques Villeneuve.

The team also have 19-year-old German Sebastian Vettel impressing as driver of their third car in Friday practice while Williams have 21-year-old German Nico Rosberg racing for them this year.

McLaren-backed Briton Lewis Hamilton, 21, is also knocking on the door of Formula One after winning this year's GP2 feeder series.

Briatore, who presided over Schumacher's first two titles at Benetton in 1994 and 1995, painted a bright future for the sport despite his comments on Italian television at Monza that suggested this year's championship was being manipulated in Ferrari's favour.

"I believe the sport is so strong," he said, when asked about the impact of Schumacher's retirement.

"Whatever actors you have in this movie, sooner or later the actors stop and the movie is going on.

"We remember (Ayrton) Senna and he is the classic example. We talk about (Nigel) Mansell, about Senna and we talk about (Alain) Prost.

"After what happened to Senna, I remember every magazine and newspaper said Formula One is finished," said Briatore, referring to Brazilian's death at Imola in 1994.

"It was the headline in every newspaper. And there was no Michael there. But nothing changes."

BMW team boss Mario Theissen agreed that the sport would stay strong in the coming new era.

"The show goes on, and new guys are there," he said.

First Published: Sep 30, 2006 22:01 IST