Alonso and the Piquet-Renault fall-out

Piquet gets his annual quota of attention from Briatore in a single glance

Piquet gets his annual quota of attention from Briatore in a single glance

Nelson Piquet Jnr looks increasingly unlikely to finish the season with Renault. Rumours have intensified since the Hungarian Grand Prix that he will be replaced at the team by Romain Grosjean.

And details have emerged of a row between Renault boss Flavio Briatore, the driver, and his three-times champion father:

Flavio is a business man, but he doesn’t understand s*** about F1. He’s my manager, but in his role of team boss he doesn’t respect me. He only thinks about money, at how much money he can pocket in everything he’s involved, he’s a man with no friends.
Nelson Piquet Jnr

When a driver lacks results, he opens the book of excuses and begins: the fault is the weather’s, a spectator’s sunglasses, a spin on the straight, this and that. It’s not true that there’s a technical difference of seven tenths between Alonso’s and Piquet’s car. If that was true, we’d have a car capable of winning the title, and that unfortunately isn’t the case. The technical difference has always been minimal and never longer than one race.
Flavio Briatore

The argument centres on whether Renault gave Piquet a serious chance to impress in F1. The Piquet camp claim Renault never gave him sufficiently up-to-date equipment to compete with Fernando Alonso.

We all know that as long as there has been F1 there have been arguments like this. The pace of development is so hot that teams are often unable to construct enough of their newest gizmos to adequately furnish both drivers.

For example, reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton got first dibs on McLaren’s new floor assembly at the Nurburgring which provided a massive step forward in performance. Heikki Kovalainen had to make do without, but both had the new parts at the Hungaroring.

In some ways, Renault’s problem this season is the flip side of what McLaren experienced in 2007, when it tried to pair Alonso and Hamilton together, with explosive results.

McLaren found themselves dealing with a fuming Alonso who did not expect Hamilton to be quite as good as he was. Renault chose a different path – picking a driver who posed little threat to Alonso. How far each team allowed those drivers to give Alonso a run for his money is open to debate.

Renault has kept Alonso happy but Piquet clearly isn’t. And you have to wonder how many points the team has missed in the past year and a half by not having a more capable (and perhaps better equipped) driver in the second car.

Piquet may feel vexed that his career has been sacrificed to massage Alonso’s ego, but did anybody honestly expect anything different?

It seems increasingly the case that if you have Fernando Alonso in your team, either he will be content or his team mate will, but not both.

Alonso’s future move to Ferrari may be F1’s worst-kept secret. But how will they solve the problem of who to put in the other car?

They may well decide mollycoddling Alonso with a weak team mate is no better solution than pairing him with someone more challenging.

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Alonso may have a tougher team mate next year - or next race

Alonso may have a tougher team mate next year - or next race

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88 comments on Alonso and the Piquet-Renault fall-out

  1. mp4-19b said on 1st August 2009, 16:42

    DSOB first of all i have to say you are a wonderful man, you are not miserable & you don’t become intoxicated but you do feel the need to “tell it like it is” & i dunno if u like doing push ups :). You never spout racist and other politically incorrect statements at a constant rate ( like a “Drunken S.O.B.” ) yet you call your self DSOB, why? you are just opposite to a DSOB :) . your views are always politically correct & non- racist. why do u call yourself a DSOB?

    • mp4-19b said on 1st August 2009, 16:45

      @ DSOB of course

    • dsob said on 1st August 2009, 18:15

      First of all, thank you for the compliments.

      Now, substitute dirty for drunken, and you may get a better picture. :)

      It’s a term that, over the years, has been flung at me as an epithet by many of my competitors. These days, I wear it as a badge of honour.

      I remain true to my principles, and believe in truth in life, without equivivocation. You do, or you do not…there is no middle ground.

      And, yes, I always “tell it like it is”, which is too tough for many peoples’ palates. Which is one of the reasons I got the nickname “dsob” in the first place, lol.

  2. Bartholomew said on 1st August 2009, 17:03

    I think Piquet Jr. should consider himself lucky to have such a fast teamate, so he can learn to go fast.

    No matter what anyone says, Lewis benefited from having Fast Fred as his teammate. He studied the telemetry of Fernando and said to himself this is how its done.

    • mp4-19b said on 1st August 2009, 17:13

      did alonso ever share his telemetry data with hamilton?

      • Bartholomew said on 1st August 2009, 17:29

        I believe this is all shared and studied within the team. Please correct me if it is not

        • Usually all telemetry is shared between team-mates, but there are occasional exceptions if a “No. 1 driver” gets particularly annoyed by such sharing.

        • Patrickl said on 2nd August 2009, 11:27

          Alonso stopped sharing telemtry with Hamilton after he realized that Hamilton was faster.

          I don’t think Schumacher ever shared his telemetry with his team mate. Maybe his last season with Massa was an exception.

    • Oliver said on 2nd August 2009, 0:22

      Study telemetry? You are watching too much TV my friend. :-) Besides the telemetry belongs to the team and engineers, they use it to improve on their cars. Whats the use having telemetry if a driver just puts it in his pocket and goes home. :-)

      Speaking about telemetry, you don’t get the feel of a car from telemetry, you get that from ability.

      • Patrickl said on 2nd August 2009, 11:29

        There are different forms of telemetry. The engineers will look at suspension and brake feedback and such, but the drivers DO study telemetry too. For instance throttle and brake points. That way they can evaluate taking different lines or different setups.

        • Oliver said on 4th August 2009, 18:39

          I know very well what telemetry means, I’m responding to what Bartholomew said. The telemetry belongs to the team not the driver. Car setup up however can be driver specific.
          So a driver can’t hide the telemetry. If 2 cars have different brake bias setup, a telemetry on braking point will be incompatible with either drivers setup. But still useful as a reference point when the team comes back to that track.

  3. Renault’s future is always thought of as unsure, but I’m sure that they will stay in F1 as long as they have Alonso.

    I’m not sure if Fernando will go to Ferrari.

    With Massa on the med, he will be back next year, and with Kimi signed until 2010, and even if he rejects this and goes to WRC, Schumacher might get another bite at the WDC if he impresses in his Massa replacement stint.

    Alonso, I believe, should stay where he is. Piquet, well, I don’t quite know what’s ging to happen to him, never mind next season.

  4. bwells said on 1st August 2009, 19:16

    Hey all… well the debate rages on… Nelson has definitely been helped along the way with his name and really has been out raced every event by Fernando…
    Fernando has proven that he can take a car that’s not up to speed and make it work… something that Nelson just can’t match…

    Kimster you mention that Nelson has 30kl more fuel for the last race so that made him slow during quali… that would of been added after he was knocked out of quali… although they don’t post fuel loads during all sessions of qualifying I’m sure the team wants there cars to advance to Q3… so if they don’t make it they make a decision on what strategy they want to use…

    Yes it’s true that teams can’t upgrade both cars at every event… that’s been a part of F1 forever… but at the Hungaroring they had identical cars and Nelson made the mistake of telling the world he will beat Alonzo… now that’s just stupid!… lol… yes because Fernando lost his tyre he did in effect finish ahead of him but lost places as usual and finished way back…
    Fernando was looking at a possible 4th,5th position…
    So Nelson has to go… he has never been quick and always inconsistent… the only thing he ever did was give Fernando the win last year at Singapore!! lol…

    One last thing… as temperamental as Fernando is.. he is a 2 time champion… I can’t wait to see him and Shumi race again bringing back memories of great battles back in 2006… and if/when he goes to Ferrari I think he’ll be extremely happy as long as they build him a fast car…

  5. danielle said on 2nd August 2009, 0:24

    You know keith I have got say I am pretty cheesed off…

    “It seems increasingly the case that if you have Fernando Alonso in your team, either he will be content or his team mate will, but not both.”

    This is absolute rubbish and is only touted by the British media and the malleable public who believe everything that is sensationalised and twisted in their media…you have no idea this is the case and neither does anyone else, in fact in australia we call that sledging.

    Alonso is a champion and a proven driver who deserves to be treated with respect inside his team…If there were issues with him at mclaren who is to say they werent the problem of mclaren, after all he is not the only one that has had trouble with that team.

    I think you would do better to stick to the facts instead of making them up to fit your idea of the truth.

    • bwells said on 2nd August 2009, 3:06

      I do agree with you danielle… it seems Fernando has been given a bad reputation…
      I don’t remember hearing much about these problems before he was at McLaren… at the time they brought in a 2 time world champion and a rookie they brought up through there system.. you would think that Fernando would get some preference but to have it the other way was disastrous for the team.. of course we don’t know what really happened behind closed doors but in the end Hamilton and Fernando ended up even at the end of the year… I feel Fernando was right to be upset at the team and it’s managers as really he should be a 3 time WDC… :)

      • Jay Menon said on 2nd August 2009, 8:03

        Yeah, agreed!

        I hate it when people keep dissing Fernando. He is the best driver on the grid, and people still keep doubting him, what else has he got to do get the respect he deserves? Cheesed off is the right work mate.

        He won two World Championships through his own hard work, he didn’t have the luxury of the team handing him a good car from the start. The Mclaren episode is one thats been blown out of proportion. We all know of Ron’s favoritism..ask David Coulthard and JP Montoya..enough said. Last season, he hurled the shopping cart of a Renault to a may a decent result…so what else do you people want?

        Everybody keeps comparing Lewis to Fernando…I guess this is one that will never be resolved..its like the Prost and Senna dilemma, everybody is entitled to their opinion..mine is that Lewis needs to do a little bit more to be in the same league as Nando.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd August 2009, 9:34

      I think you would do better to stick to the facts instead of making them up to fit your idea of the truth.

      I’m not putting that forward as an opinion, I’m stating the facts. Do you disagree Fisichella was unhappy with his treatment at Renault alongside Alonso, and Alonso was unhappy at McLaren, and Piquet is unhappy now?

      • danielle said on 2nd August 2009, 10:34

        Yes I do disagree Keith. I read an interview with Fisichella in F1 racing magazine with Fisi who when asked who his favourite team mate was replied Fernando, apparently they get along very well and always have done. To my knowledge Lewis has not ever said that Fernando was a difficult team mate, rather it was the situation at Mclaren that was the issue and as far as Piquet is concerned he comes across as someone who is quite used to getting his own way and needs to lay the blame on someone for why he is not performing.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd August 2009, 10:53

          Fisichella also complained that he felt Renault did too much for Alonso. And even then Alonso complained whenever he wasn’t beating Fisichella (which was rare). This from 2006:

          I had difficult moments in Indy, when I was not competitive, and in China I was off the pace for about ten laps and losing four seconds a lap. In these two moments, my opinion is that with the team maybe I should have had more help.

          I’m not having a go at the guy, but I think he’s a difficult person to keep happy in a team, more so than other drivers. That leaves his team with a choice of either giving him a competitive team mate and risk one of these outbursts (which weren’t confined to 2007) or putting a much less competitive driver in the second car.

          Becken’s quote below illustrates it rather nicely I think.

          Also, I don’t know what you mean about the nationality thing, it’s not a concern for me at all where you are from.

          • danielle said on 2nd August 2009, 11:31

            I am australian :)

            I am not saying he is or isnt difficult, like everyone else here I would have no idea, he is spanish and on the whole they are quite emotive people, fiery or passionate does not mean difficult to get along with, something I feel the British media have trouble understanding and have therefore tarnished him with the wrong brush. I have seen interviews with alonso and then seen the follow up written in the British media and it is twisted to suit their own interpretation of the story.

            My problem lies with the implied statement that he is a difficult team mate, which has nothing to do with what Flavio said and what both you and Becken have quoted.

          • roser said on 2nd August 2009, 13:28

            In one interview, Piquet said that Alonso was a good teamate and that he considers him a great driver… He complained about Flavio, but never about Fernando (as far as I know, maybe I’m missing something).

  6. This is absolute rubbish and is only touted by the British media and the malleable public who believe everything that is sensationalised and twisted in their media…

    I think you miss the point here. Some time ago Flavio said:

    “Would it be positive to put Alonso and Raikkonen alongside each other? The time is gone when you could have two strong drivers in a team together. Today the roles need to be clearly defined as number one and number two, otherwise you risk destabilizing the team.”
    “With Nelson it’s a bit like with (Roberto) Moreno. We promised him a drive, but we didn’t specify in what kind of car!”

    So, Flavio himself admitted the point made by Keith. There´s nothing to with Fern here…

  7. Rich said on 2nd August 2009, 8:15

    Its always struck me as odd that a driver’s manager would also be a team manager. Seems a pretty obvious conflict of interest.
    So how did Flavio-the-team-manager decide to fire Flavio-the-driver-manager’s client? Does he have little sock puppets on each hand that debate it back and forth?

    • Oliver said on 2nd August 2009, 18:11

      The hope is he can replace with a new Flavio-the-driver-manager-client, as has happened several times in the past. Fisi refused Flavio’s management and got tossed to the back of the grid like lightening. :-)

  8. Paige Michael-Shetley said on 3rd August 2009, 1:47

    I hate to be on Flav’s side, as I despise him as much as any personality in F1, but the fact is that Piquet did nothing to impress. You cannot tell me that Renault purposefully gave him a much weaker car than Alonso. It makes absolutely no sense for them not to give both drivers the best car they can, as they sacrifice constructors points by doing so.

    Sure, between races there may have been differences because Renault couldn’t get enough parts out to the track in time for both cars, but they always ended up giving Piquet the same parts Alonso had on his car.

    The fact is that Piquet was simply rubbish in the car. The Renault isn’t brilliant this season (nor was it brilliant last sesaon), but it’s a car that should always make it out of Q1 and should at least always challenge for Q3. Alonso is an elite driver and has driven the car impeccably in getting the mid-packer into Q3 on a consistent basis (in addition to helping the team develop a car he could win in), he’s a tough standard by which to judge any driver. But he’s not so great that he takes a car that should struggle to get out of Q1 and always put it in Q3; no driver is that good. The car should make Q2 consistently and challenge for Q3.

    Piquet always struggled to get out of Q1, which is the territory of cars clearly inferior than the Renault such as the Force Indias and STRs. (And last year, the Honda) Let us not forget the numerous spins in a display of simply weak car control. He’s had the benefit of advancing through the ranks due to having a famous last name and a lot of money backing him. But F1 eventually weeds these people out and keeps the talents who really belong, and Piquet was weeded out.

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