Piquet Officially Sacked By Renault
Nelson Piquet has officially been relieved of his duties as the number 2 driver at the Renault F1 Team. After a torrid two seasons with the Enstone based outfit, the Brazilian berated Flavio Briatore in his exit statement. Where Piquet will go from here is uncertain, leaving the pinnacle of open wheel racing at such a young age.
Piquet joined Formula One as a test driver initially at Williams in 2003 after good showings in Formula 3. He was not signed with the team and continued to race working through the open wheel ranks, and taking 2nd place in the GP2 championship in 2006, a title won by Lewis Hamilton.
His F1 career proper started in 2007 when he was signed to the Renault team as their official test and reserve driver. The team were under new sponsorship of ING, and were reeling after losing Fernando Alonso to McLaren. Heikki Kovalainen and Giancarlo Fisichella underperformed and were both released at the end of the season. Alonso rejoined for 2008, and Piquet was selected to drive alongside him. Laclustre showings from Piquet, and Alonso’s late season victories lead to speculation that he would be sacked during the 2008 off-season. He was under a cloud from the start of 2009 about his future with the team, and generally bad driving and retirements have seen Renault let go of the Brazilian.
His best ever result was 2nd place at the 2008 German Grand Prix, his only ever podium. Indeed in 2009 he has scored 0 points and resides in 20th place, even below Sebastien Bourdais who was sacked some weeks ago.
Piquet released a statement this morning;
“I have received notice from the Renault F1 team of its intention to stop me from driving for them in the current F1 season,”
“I want to say thanks to the small group who supported me and that I worked together at Renault F1, although it is obviously with great disappointment that I receive such news.”
“I feel a sense of relief for the end of the worst period of my career, and the possibility that I can now move on and put my career back on the right track and try to recover my reputation of a fast, winning driver,” he said.
“I am a team player and there are dozens of people I have worked with in my career who would vouch for my character and talent, except unfortunately the person that has had the most influence on my career in Formula 1.”
“For the 2009 season Briatore … promised me everything would be different, that I would get the attention I deserved but had never received, and that I would get ‘at least equal treatment’ inside the team,” he added.
“He made me sign a performance-based contract, requiring me to score 40% of Fernando Alonso’s points by mid-way through the season. Despite driving with Fernando, two-time world champion and a really excellent driver, I was confident that, if I had the same conditions, I would easily attain the 40% of points required by the contract.
“Unfortunately, the promises didn’t turn into reality again. With the new car I completed 2002km of testing compared to Fernando’s 3839km. Only three days of my testing was in dry weather – only one of Fernando’s was wet.
“I was only testing with a heavy car, hard tyres, mostly on the first day (when the track is slow and reliability is poor), or when the weather was bad. Fernando was driving a light car with soft tyres in the dry, fine conditions. I never had a chance to be prepared for the qualifying system we use. In Formula 1 today, the difference between 1st and 15th position is sometimes less than a second. It means that 0.2 or 0.3s can make you gain eight positions.”
“I believe without doubt in my talent and my performance. I didn’t get this far by getting bad results. Anyone who knows my history knows that the results I am having in F1 do not match my CV and my ability.
“The conditions I have had to deal with during the last two years have been very strange to say the least – there are incidents that I can hardly believe occurred myself. If I now need to give explanations, I am certain it is because of the unfair situation I have been in the past two years.
“I always believed that having a manager was being a part of a team and having a partner. A manager is supposed to encourage you, support you, and provide you with opportunities. In my case it was the opposite. Flavio Briatore was my executioner.”