Ex-Formula 1 team boss Flavio Briatore believes the 2012 season's unpredictability is a good thing, provided grand prix racing's credibility does not suffer if fans think the best drivers are being held back.
Each of the five grands prix so far this season has been won by a different driver and team, with victories shared between McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull and Williams. Lotus and Sauber have also challenged at the front, each scoring podiums thus far. The topsy-turvy form has been put down to teams' difficulties finding the sweet spot with Pirelli's 2012 tires.
Briatore, who ran the Benetton/Renault team during its title successes with Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso, but was banned from the sport after the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix scandal, said he saw nothing wrong with F1 2012's fluctuations. But he warned that F1 must ensure that drivers' talent did not become irrelevant – saying he was perturbed by Pastor Maldonado's defeat of Fernando Alonso in the Spanish Grand Prix.
"From a spectator's point of view, the unpredictability of five races with five different winners is an exceptional show," Briatore told Gazzetta dello Sport. "But we need to be careful that all this doesn't undermine the sport's credibility, because having [Pastor] Maldonado beating [Fernando] Alonso is something not very credible, for the fans, too."
Briatore said the dominance of the tires in deciding race form raised interesting questions for F1.
"That's something that should give food for thought to engineers that burn up huge budgets in simulators and wind tunnels," he said. "It's money thrown out of the window when Pirelli comes in with a super job with the tires: everything else doesn't count anymore."
He reckons Alonso is most likely to benefit if 2012 remains unpredictable.
"If the lottery continues, then the best is whoever has more tickets in his pocket, and that's Alonso," said Briatore. "He's leading the championship even with a car that isn't the strongest."