Piquet’s scathing attack on Briatore

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 ?ǣ 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 ?ǣ 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 ?ǣ 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.

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155 comments on Piquet’s scathing attack on Briatore

  1. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd August 2009, 23:06

    I think we all appreciate that when a team has only one example of the latest update it goes to the driver who they consider a better bet. It’s one of F1’s ‘facts of life’.

    What I wonder, though, is how often that happens at some teams. Do some teams prioritise getting updates for both cars, and as a result rarely find themselves having to e one driver the better car?

    Do others focus their resources on building the best individual car, with the second driver getting the rough end of the bargain more often than not?

    Afraid I haven’t got a compelling answer to that question, but it might provide an explanation for why, as Tom L. says above, Briatore has a history of unhappy second drivers. And why Alonso felt he wasn’t getting the support worthy of a two-times champion when he turned up at McLaren.

    • pSynrg said on 3rd August 2009, 23:12

      I think we also need to consider the ‘ego’ factor at all times.

      I expect the drivers to all have an ego that is in proportion to the amount of expectation riding on their reputation. Quite apart from the theory of equal/unequal equipment.

      Surely the least reliable answer to the question of equal machinery is going to come from the driver performing less than his team mate.

    • Oliver said on 4th August 2009, 1:15

      Unfortunately the modern race car is made, to a great extent of carbon fiber. Its very rarely lately to have a team bringing a purely mechanical update, I mean a metal part.
      Carbon fiber has to go through various processes before it is finally complete. Then a mould is made, which might require some hours or days to set, depending on what the requirements for that component is.
      For small components, its possible to have several of those put in an autoclave simultanously, but for larger compnents like floors, this might not be possible, it all depends on the set up the have.

      As is the case with most new parts, they have to be signed off as working. That normally entails a test. With in season testing banned, teams have to test race weekends. For a large part as a new floor, there might be insufficient time between races to make one, test it approve it, and then replicate it. So if it so happens its a good component, they have to give it to a driver, then hopefully by the next race they have an additional one.

      That is often the reason why even when both drivers have new pieces, there are often no spares, so if a driver damages his new part he resorts to an older part. Gone are the days when race cars were made of metal and a hydrolic press could stamp out several new parts in minutes. Nowadays if a part needs to spend 12hours in an oven, you cant fast forward the process.

    • Patrickl said on 4th August 2009, 1:36

      I think Ferrari are alternating their updates. Sometimes Massa got them first and other times Kimi got them first.

    • Max should resign now!!! said on 4th August 2009, 2:15

      Maybe we should have ONE TEAM per CAR just to end with favoritisms, pure battles between 26 guys. Anyone?

      • just me said on 4th August 2009, 18:46

        @ Max should resign now!!!

        Haha, looks like the trend may be going the other way: 3 CARS per ONE TEAM…

        All this current whining about the ‘unfair’ treatment of the 2nd & 3rd drivers will then go out of control, and Keith will need to invest in a bigger hard drive on the server to store all those lengthy debates!

        • Max should resign now!!! said on 4th August 2009, 21:48

          Hi, yes I heard about the 3 car proposal i think it’d be crap to see two guys racing semi rolling “spare parts cars”…

  2. I would like to see Romain in the car. I think he will be very confident in the car. He seems arrogant, but I would call this confidence.

    His poor results in the lasts races in GP2 shows that his head was already in Renault seat. Another point is that Nelson has said that Romain is son of an important CEO in Renault, a Global Renault´s Lawyer or something like that. He own the team in a way…

    He seems very Close to Fernando too, what could help!

    I will not be surprised if he score at least one point or get in Q3 in his debut. This would be a shame to Piquet…

    • Martin said on 4th August 2009, 1:34

      wont happen, he will never make Q3 unless Renault changes the way they ru the team. If he ever outperforms Alonso regarless of car prep and level of new bits on the car Alonso will call Briatore into his office and explain the wway thing work and it will be back to submarining the new guy.

  3. Dane said on 3rd August 2009, 23:36

    Its just excuse, excuse, excuse, I, I, I

  4. Brian said on 4th August 2009, 0:00

    I don’t agree with the whole putting one driver ahead of the other. In Renault’s case I do understand. Picket just sucked. I say he sucks because a good driver will put up with all the crap and just do his job. If you don’t like your current boss, you don’t try to make his life miserable by complaining, you just take it and do what you can to impress other people and hope they take a chance on you. Picket should have kept his mouth shut, but he didn’t and he killed his chances in F1. Guess that just leaves Indy Car.
    And you know, if the teams start putting three cars on the grid, the complaint level of unhappy drivers is just going to go up.
    I say that if you have two good drivers, you should put them both in a position to win, and let them figure out for themselves who will cross the line first.
    So far this year, Red Bull has been the only team to have two really good drivers. They have had three 1st and 2nd finishes. I think they have done a good job of managing their drivers. I know I know, Ross Brawn, but I was hoping to ignore them, but I can’t.

    • S Hughes said on 4th August 2009, 0:17

      a good driver will put up with all the crap and just do his job. If you don’t like your current boss, you don’t try to make his life miserable by complaining, you just take it and do what you can to impress other people and hope they take a chance on you.

      Brian, using your criteria above, Alonso is a very bad driver.

      • Brian said on 4th August 2009, 5:34

        My idea of a good driver includes his personality and work ethic. Alonso works hard but he has a huge ego, and therefore I don’t like his personality. If I were Ferrari, I would seriously think twice before hiring him next year, and work my butt off trying to get Kimi to stay.

        Say what you want about Kimi, he keeps his mouth shut and he does his job.

  5. bwells said on 4th August 2009, 0:06

    Wesley and pSynrg… you both bring up excellent points… watching Fernando and Michael battle in ’06 was amazing.. they say to be the best you have to beat the best and that year… with 7 wins each Fernando stole Shumi’s retirement thunder… epic… and the ego… a drivers ego can be as big as he’s capable of backing up!! Nelson unfortunately pushed his luck proclaiming he was going to beat Alonzo and that was his undoing… well… along with not performing over all… and of course Keith… you are the backbone… enough said… :)

  6. verasaki said on 4th August 2009, 2:59

    Yes, as a team manager I am certainly going to give my may-be-promising new guy equal footing to my 2 times champion because after all, that’s what F1 is all about-equality and bread for all. Suck it up, Piquet-lite. Your daddy would have done his best to drive the wheels off the damned car wet or dry just to p!$$ off old Flav and might have earned his respect along the way.

    After his last tirade about what Briatore knows about F1 I’m just amazed it took this long to fire him.

  7. Gusto said on 4th August 2009, 3:16

    When drivers sign a contract as a driver its always as a driver, they is no subclause to be second driver, but as a driver you must realise that you are the number two driver, its not rocket science. To behave otherwise leads to situations like Mclaren 07 ie the title went to Ferrari because Mclaren wouldn`t side one or the other ( Monaco conspiracy put to one side ), but for Nelson to think He was sh*te because of the team and not that He is ***** is pushing things.

  8. Gman said on 4th August 2009, 4:07

    I am inclined to think that Piquet got a raw deal and was not treated fairly…but then I think of all his spin-outs and off-track adventures from his season and-a-half in F1, and I am inclined to think a really talented driver would have at least eliminated those mistakes, equal equipment or not.

    If Nelson Sr. buys out BMW’s part of BMW-Sauber, we may really get a chance to see what Piquet Jr. can do. Honestly, I would be really curious to see what would happen in that case.

  9. Hell$torm. said on 4th August 2009, 4:13

    can anyone plese tell me the number of retiremants that piquet has had in his f1 career so far? i am realy interested to know, if you can help me out that would be great.

    • Max should resign now!!! said on 4th August 2009, 4:31

      9 DNFs on his first season and 2 retirements this year.


      • Patrickl said on 4th August 2009, 9:03

        Don’t forget his double crash in China. He got classified there, but needing two new noses after two crashes really made him look quite stupid.

      • Hell$torm. said on 5th August 2009, 4:34

        Thanks mate! 9! JESUS! i watched all the races last year but i dont remember that many, maybe his frequency of retirements made it seem normal and i didnt notice them. thanks again, hey do you know what his longerst streak of retirements was? or did he decide to spread them evenly over the season?

        • Max should resign now!!! said on 5th August 2009, 20:46

          Hi mate no worries! I was traveling last year so I only managed to watch a couple of races including that great season finale (GO LEWIS!).

          AUS Ret
          MAL 11
          BHR Ret
          ESP Ret
          TUR 15
          MON Ret
          CAN Ret
          FRA 7
          GBR Ret
          GER 2
          HUN 6
          EUR 11
          BEL Ret
          ITA 10
          SIN Ret
          JPN 4
          CHN 8
          BRA Ret

          Yeap it was a bit spread out (i just copied it from wikipedia) :)

          • Hell$torm said on 6th August 2009, 2:54

            Sweet, thanks again. Yea last years finale was incredible, i was on the edge of my seat for the last few laps, one of the greatest season finales ever, im sure that a few ferrari and renault fanswill disagree, and lewis’s driving performane this year has been aqsome, realy great to watch, thanks for finding that out for me i think that i could have had a look on wiki but it never crossed my mind. On piquet however, i dont think that he has been given a good oportunity in the was that he has been pared with alonso, however he hasnt made the most of the oportunities that have been given to him, he hasnt aplied him self 100 percent,and thats a real shame, he has potential he showed that in gp2 but maybe its to hot for him and he should get out of the f1 kitchen, mayb alms would be better for you piquet or go to indy, follow jpm mayb nascar they can survive a few crashes and then finish the race

  10. The Limit said on 4th August 2009, 5:17

    Its too easy to read Piquet’s words and think that they are all just excuses, but we have seen the wrath of Flavio Briatore before. Just look what happened to Jarno Trulli’s Renault career after the 2004 French Grands Prix to see what I mean?
    Briatore has always operated a ruthless operation at Renault, and Benetton before that. I can remember the huge row he had in the pits at Silverstone in 1994, after Michael Schumacher was black flagged. Classic stuff!
    We all know that Flavio, and he is not alone, likes to build his team around one star driver, which for the last five years has been Fernando Alonso. In many ways, the situation with Piquet reminds me of Alonso towards the end of the 2007 season, openly blasting McLaren principal Ron Dennis for not ‘supporting him enough’.
    A factor that those predicting an Alonso/Ferrari partnership must bear in mind. The relationship between Briatore and Alonso appears one of the most solid in
    Formula One, possibly stronger than the one Hamilton enjoys at McLaren.
    Alonso knows that he can count on Briatore, and that his opinion and ego are listened to and respected. He made the fatal mistake of believing that Ron Dennis would behave in the same way, and paid the price.
    As for Piquet, his future looks very iffy at best. Its true that his family are one of the richest in Brazil, so he has the money behind him, just not the results.
    It is one thing to be successful in other formulas, but the entire grid were successful at some stage in Formula 3000, GP2, and the like. Those statistics are not going to impress F1 supremos risking their own jobs in choosing a long shot.
    The bottom line, as with Bourdais, is that Piquet had a season and a half to show the world his true mettle. 2008 was patchy, but he did just enough with the machine he had to keep his drive. 2009 killed him, as it did with Bourdais. Its sad, but thats F1 for you.

  11. The_Pope said on 4th August 2009, 8:05

    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.

  12. Clay said on 4th August 2009, 9:49

    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?

  13. Rui said on 4th August 2009, 9:59

    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

  14. Adrian said on 4th August 2009, 10:39

    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.

    • Patrickl said on 4th August 2009, 10:50

      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.

  15. 000o0 said on 4th August 2009, 11:00

    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.

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