Flavio Briatore: It’s hard to miss Leni
Flavio Briatore finds it "hard" to miss his daughter Leni because he "never sees" her.
The 66-year-old businessman’s ex Heidi Klum gave birth to the youngster, who is now 12, shortly after they had split up in 2004 and she was raised by the supermodel and her ex-husband Seal, who the former Renault F1 team manager says he has an "amazing" relationship with.
Flavio – who has six-year-old son Nathan with wife Elisabetta Gregoraci – said: "Leni is my natural daughter, but the three of us happily agreed that it made more sense if Seal adopted her, because a child needs to grow up in a family. Heidi, Seal and I have built an amazing relationship.
"It’s hard to miss a baby that you never see. But I know that Leni is not an abandoned child. Leni is part of Seal’s family and Nathan is part of mine."
Leni – who was born Helene Klum – used to speak to her father on the phone for two hours a day but he insists it "wasn’t enough" and Heidi and Seal raised her.
Speaking to Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, he added: "Leni was born when Heidi and I had already spilt. Heidi was living in Los Angeles and I was in London, the distance between us was unbridgeable.
"We used to speak on the phone two hours a day, but it wasn’t enough. She needed to stay with her mum. Then, Heidi started to date Seal and he raised her."
Flavio started dating Heidi, 43, in March 2003 and she announced she was pregnant in December that year but the pair sadly split soon afterwards.
Heidi gave birth to Leni in May 2004 in New York and he allowed Seal to adopt her and change her name to Helene Samuel.
The blonde beauty – who also raises kids Henry, 11, Johan, 10, and Lou, seven – filed for divorce from Seal in April 2012 and it was finalized in October 2015, 10 years after they tied the knot.