Posts Tagged ‘piquet’

The Renault verdict: Briatore banned for life

September 21st, 2009 No comments

RenaultThe World Motor Sport Council met in Paris today to decide Renault’s punishment for asking Nelson Piquet Jr to deliberately crash during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

They got off pretty lightly, I think.

Even though the FIA thinks that “offences of this severity merit permanent disqualification from the FIA Formula One World Championship”, that penalty was suspended for two years.  All Renault had to do was admit it was wrong, say sorry and sack the people responsible.  Oh, and make a “significant contribution to FIA safety-related projects.”

So, no fines, no loss of constructors points and no real ban for the team.  I suppose it is understandable.  After the loss of Honda and BMW, the FIA will do just about anything to prevent any more constructors pulling out of Formula One.  If Renault were to be forced out it would also negatively impact teams like Red Bull who are engine customers.

But if Renault as a team were let off lightly, the FIA really threw the book at Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds.

Briatore got, in effect, a lifetime ban from professional motor sport:

for an unlimited period, the FIA does not intend to sanction any International Event, Championship, Cup, Trophy, Challenge or Series involving Mr. Briatore in any capacity whatsoever, or grant any license to any Team or other entity engaging Mr. Briatore in any capacity whatsoever. It also hereby instructs all officials present at FIA-sanctioned events not to permit Mr. Briatore access to any areas under the FIA’s jurisdiction.  Furthermore, it does not intend to renew any Superlicence granted to any driver who is associated (through a management contract or otherwise) with Mr. Briatore, or any entity or individual associated with Mr. Briatore

So not only is he banned from all FIA events, he can no longer even manage drivers.  The WMSC have cast him out of the FIA paradise, utterly.

Pat Symonds gets it a little easier, but not much.  Due to him expressing his “eternal regret and shame” that he participated in the conspiracy, he gets a 5 year ban.

Fernando Alonso was cleared of any knowledge of the plot.

After the judgement, Renault F1 Team president Bernard Rey issued the following statement:

Today, we fully accept the decision of the Council. We apologize unreservedly to the F1 community in relation to this unacceptable behaviour. We sincerely hope that we can soon put this matter behind us and focus constructively on the future.

And what of Nelson Piquet Jr?  In a statement on his blog he said:

I bitterly regret my actions to follow the orders I was given. I wish every day that I had not done it.

Mr Briatore was my manager as well as the team boss, he had my future in his hands but he cared nothing for it. By the time of the Singapore GP he had isolated me and driven me to the lowest point I had ever reached in my life.

I feel sorry for Piquet.  Obviously he should have refused to crash his car but he was clearly under intense pressure and it didn’t help that his team boss and his manager was a total ass-hat.

Who knows what will happen to him now?  He has immunity from the FIA so in theory he could race again, something he clearly wants to do:

I have had to learn some very difficult lessons over the last 12 months and reconsider what is valuable in life. What has not changed is my love for Formula One and hunger to race again. I realise that I have to start my career from zero. I can only hope that a team will recognise how badly I was stifled at Renault and give me an opportunity to show what I promised in my career in F3 and GP2. What can be assured is that there will be no driver in Formula One as determined as me to prove myself.

The trouble is, there are so many talented drivers and so few seats in Formula One that if you screw up just once, that’s it.

Full WMSC statement.

Categories: News Tags: , , ,

Piquet’s out

August 4th, 2009 No comments

Nelson Piquet Jr, Germany, 2009“Flavio is a business man, but he doesn’t understand shit about F1.”

When Nelson Piquet Jr said that, we knew he wasn’t much longer for Renault and on Monday he confirmed that he had been told his services would no longer be required.

All season there has been a question mark over the young Brazilian and his future in Renault and Formula One.

At the Hungarian Grand Prix Flavio Briatore was seen leaving the circuit after Alonso had retired but Piquet was still running.

There has been no official comment from the team but Piquet posted a lengthy statement on his website:

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.

Piquet confirmed that he had signed a contract requiring him to score 40% of Alonso’s points by mid-season but said that the development of his car was always one race behind the double World Champion’s:

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.

It has been suggested that Piquet’s three-time World Champion father could take over the BMW Sauber team when BMW withdraw from Formula One at the end of the year.  He has had experience running the Piquet Sports team with which Piquet Jr raced in F3 and GP2.  In 2006, Piquet Jr came second in the GP2 Championship, just 12 points behind Lewis Hamilton.

I feel sorry for Nelsinho.  In fact, I feel sorry for anyone who has to work for Flavio Briatore and I hope he gets another shot at Formula One next year.  His performances in other racing series suggest he is a talented driver and with 56,000 twitter followers he is clearly quite popular.

But then again, how many other talented drivers are out there?  With only 26 seats available people are always going to miss out.

Categories: Drivers Tags: ,

Formula One drivers on Twitter

July 18th, 2009 No comments

According to a Nielsen survey, from February 2008 to February 2009 Twitter grew 1,382 percent and now has close to 2 million users.

And it’s not just your mates tweeting about what they had for breakfast, either.  Everyone from Barack Obama to Paris Hilton is using Twitter and a few Formula One drivers are, too.

There are official team Twitter pages like McLaren and Brawn GP, but some of the drivers also have their own Twitter accounts which can be a bit more personal.

Today there was this little exchange between Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello and Nelson Piquet Jr:















You can follow F1 Buzz on Twitter, too.  If you know any other drivers that are using Twitter I would love to hear about it in the comments.

Categories: Drivers Tags: , , ,