Piquet’s scathing attack on Briatore

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

Nelson Piquet Jnr has hit out at Renault F1 boss Flavio Briatoret
Nelson Piquet Jnr has hit out at Renault F1 boss Flavio Briatore

As first reported here on Saturday, Nelson Piquet Jnr has been dropped by Renault.

And a statement from the Brazilian today gives insight into the simmering resentment between him and team boss Flavio Briatore.

We discussed the Renault situation last week and there was some disagreement over whether Briatore had compromised Piquet in trying to keep Alonso happy. Has Piquet got a point or, as Briatore alleged, is this just him reciting from the drivers’ book of excuses?

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. But, at the same time, 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. 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.

I started racing at the age of eight and have broken record after record. I won every championship I raced in go-karts. I was South American F3 champion, winning 14 races and getting 17 pole positions. In 2003 I went to England, with my own team, to compete in the British F3 championship. I was champion there as well, winning 12 races and getting 13 pole positions. In fact I was the youngest ever champion. I raced GP2 in 2005 and 2006, winning five races and scoring six pole positions. I had a great season in my second year, only missing out on the championship to Lewis Hamilton due to technical mistakes of our team, which I take as my own as well, including running out of fuel during a race. I set the record in GP2 for the first driver to have a perfect weekend, scoring the maximum points available, in Hungary 2006. No-one matched that until July 2009 when Nico Hulkenberg did in at Nurburgring.

The path to F1 was always going to be tricky, and my father and I therefore signed a management contract with Flavio Briatore, who we believed was an excellent option with all the necessary contacts and management skills. Unfortunately, that was when the black period of my career started. I spent one year as a test driver, where I only did a handful of tests, and the next year started as a race driver with Renault. After the opening part of the season, some strange situations began to happen. As a beginner in F1, I could only expect from my team a lot of support and preparation to help me in getting up to the task. Instead, I was relegated as “someone who drives the other car” with no attention at all. In addition, on numerous occasions, fifteen minutes before qualifying and races, my manager and team boss (Briatore) would threaten me, telling me if I didn’t get a good result, he had another driver ready to put in my place. I have never needed threats before to get results. In 2008 I scored 19 points, finished once on the podium in second place, having the best debut year of a Brazilian driver in F1.

For the 2009 season Briatore, again acting both as my manager and team boss of Renault F1, 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 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.

In addition to that, car development is now happening on a race-to-race basis due to the in season testing ban. Of the first nine races that I ran this year, in four of them Fernando had a significant car upgrade that I did not have. I was informed by the engineers at Renault that in those races I had a car that was between 0.5 and 0.8s a lap slower than my teammate. If I look at Germany (where I out-qualified my teammate despite that), if I had that advantage in qualifying I would be fifth and not tenth. If we had that difference in the race, I would have finished ahead of my teammate, which I did in Silverstone, despite him having upgrades that I did not have.

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 ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ 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.

Being under pressure is not new to me. I have had criticism throughout my career, and have also had a lot of expectations put on me due to my name. Up until now I always met those expectations ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ surpassed them even. I have never before felt the need to defend myself or fight back from rumours and criticism because I knew the truth and I just wanted to concentrate on racing ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ I didn’t ever let it affect me. Fortunately, I can now say to those people who supported me through my career that I’m back on the good tracks and considering the options for a new start in my F1 career in a fair and positive way.

I’m on Sky News tonight (Monday) at 7pm talking about Felipe Massa and his replacement Michael Schumacher.

155 comments on “Piquet’s scathing attack on Briatore”

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  1. I think the issue stems from having a personal manager who is also one’s team boss!

    OK, so that is also true of Alonso, but it’s otherwise rare down the pitlane. Flav is manager of several drivers, such as Webber, but isn’t team boss of them at the same time.

    Equally, there are drivers like Felipe, Kimi etc who have managers who are on their “team” in a personal sense, and can represent their interests without the conflict of interest of running the F1 team at the same time.

    I’m not a Piquet fanboy, but a certain amount of what he has said rings true. The shame is that having achieved so much in his short career so far (pre-F1) he may struggle to recover from here.

  2. The release is interesting and if all is true according to Piquet he probably did get shafted to a degree by Flav.

    However was it Flav who kept throwing Piquet’s Renault down the road so many times in his season and a half in F1? No. Piquet seems to have an attraction to gravel since he’s been in F1 and, upgrades or no upgrades, that’s his own fault. If he had kept it on the road most of the time and been within sight of Alonso Flav wouldn’t be so dark.

    A question – would Nelson Piquet Jr have had the talent and opportunity to have been an F1 driver if his name were John Smith?

  3. I just hope if Nelsinho gets another drive for next year, he can show everyone what he is capable of.At least give him the chance to stand by his words..
    All in all , at least for me, anyone who bashes Flavio Briatore is a nice guy

  4. Just a thought…

    A team has to make decisions about the direction they take with car development and these may or may not suit a particular driver’s style.

    Now is Piquet’s driving style similar to Alonso’s or would he require different handling characteristics from his car to go fast?

    It’s hard to think that Renault would tailor their car to suit Alonso’s style in particular and if this was the opposite of what Piquet needed then he would struggle.

    As I say just a thought, since I’m no fan of Flavio. If this was a strategy that he employs every year then it could also explain why his teams often have 1 star driver who out performs the 2nd driver.

    1. Piquet never complained about the car itself.

      Though I doubt he would have the skill to realise wether it suits his driving style or not.

  5. In an ever changing world of f1 – at least piquet jr was a constant. If someone went off the track, spun or crashed – It was Junior.

  6. Seem to remember Flav having complete disregard for Johnny Herbert in 1995, and he was WINNING RACES for him.

    In Flav’s world, everything goes to number one driver (Schumacher/Alonso), then ‘someone else’ drives the other car (Lehto/Verstappen/Herbert/Fisi/Trulli etc etc)

    No.1 driver
    Schumacher – 19 wins
    Alonso – 17 wins

    No.2 driver
    Herbert – 2 wins
    Fisichella – 2 wins
    Trulli – 1 win
    The rest – zilch.

    Thing is, using this method he’s won (or been part of) 4 drivers titles and 3 constructors titles. Justification?

    1. Still, if you look at the points the other 2nd drivers got, they usually got between 50% and 60% of Alonso’s (or Schumacher’s) points.

      Piquet is nowhere near that.

      Also, look at the situation in 2007. Fisichella was obviously the No 1 driver at the start of the season. When after 6 races it turned out that Kovalainen was better they switched attention.

      So it might be true that the No1 driver gets more attention, that’s only because the no 1 driver is better anyway.

  7. please read ‘the piranha club’, and you’d know Briatore is excellent in politics, and executing what he wants. That guy was never a motorsports man, a manager of cloths company and accidental friend of the owner of the same company. Everyone knows what he said to tv when he got Heikki. He’s bad in F1, a politics, and divisive guy.

  8. That Flavio must be somewhat related with the italian mafia in some way… He’s an ASS!

  9. IMHO a team can treat their drivers however they seem fit to get them further up the ranks, as long as it is within the legal bounds of their contracts.

    If Flavio operates on the old-fashioned theory that ‘whipping the horse’ makes it run faster, then this is part of his ‘well-thought-out’ strategy which may (or may not!) get the team further up the ranks. Driver psychology is always an integral part of the overall strategy of a team.

  10. Some observations.

    1) Never ever partner a world champion in an F1 team while starting career if you wanna become one. [ Except in cases like Hamilton where the team boss himself is looking after your career. In that sense Ron did an excellent JOB ]

    2) Flavio is a better business man than a manager/principle.
    1) Schumacher left him in 1995.
    2) Alonso moved to McLaren without letting him know in 2005 end.
    3) Bad Mouthed / Dropped Trulli 2004
    4) Bad Mouthed Hiekki 2007
    5) Bad Mouthed Nelsinho 2008/2009.
    6) Alonso is still looking to leave him to Ferrari or wherever 2009.

    3) AND to Top it all….If you are starting your career by partnering a World Champion in Flavio’s team. You can close out your F1 career soon !!!!!

    Again if Schumacher was disgraced for passing Barichello in 2002. Why is not the same talked about Hakkinen passing coulthard in 1998 Austalian Season opener GP.


      1. Because that was due to an agreement made with both drivers. It’s still ridiculous, but they made the deal that whoever came first after the first corner would be allowed to win.

        BTW which driver really lost their career due to Briatore. Fisichella? Trulli? Heiki? Herbert? Oviously not.

        Maybe Verstappen, but he also really had himself to blame ending up in the gravel as often as he did. The final straw was when he put Schumacher’s car in the gravel during qualifying.

        Same with Piquet, you can’t really blame Briatore for Piquet’s utter failure. At worst you can blame him for hiring him and even more for giving Piquet a second chance.

  11. what a cry baby.

  12. Stephen Luick
    4th August 2009, 23:33

    Here’s an idea…Piquet for Kovalinen, Renault/McLaren. Any takers on that? It seems to me though that the situation at Renault is more due to the fact that Flav is doing anything at all costs to keep Alonso happy, and Piquet is suffering the consequences.

    On the talent side of things, what could have Piquet done at either McLaren, Ferrari, or Brawn? Could he have lifted the McLarens or Ferraris off the bottom of the table? The lack of quality equipment for him seems to be the main issue. He ought to try IndyCar over here with a decent team, Ganassi for example. I wonder what he could do.

    1. By his own words he had inferior equipment to Alonso in only 4 races (out of 27). So how is his main problem a lack of quality equipment?

      The main problem for Piquet is that he’s unable to cope in F1.

      He should try something else. Indeed like IndyCar.

  13. Who’s next on the march…Grosjean ?
    Lets hope it is Flavio.

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