Piquet: I am the victim of 'crashgate'
|By Steven English||Monday, October 5th 2009, 09:04 GMT|
Nelson Piquet Jr claims that he has become the major victim of the Renault 'crashgate' scandal and admits it will be tough to begin his Formula 1 career all over again.
The 24-year-old says that despite team boss Flavio Briatore receiving a life ban and technical boss Pat Symonds being suspended for five years, he has been punished the most and could find it difficult to get another chance in F1.
"Some people have suggested I should have been punished by the FIA but, in reality, no one has been punished more than I have," Piquet said in The Times. "I am at the beginning of my career, unlike the others who have been punished in this case. I am going to have to overcome many obstacles. I more or less have to start my career from scratch in Formula 1 or justify myself in whatever category I might race in."
Piquet says the plan for him to crash to benefit team-mate Fernando Alonso's strategy was only made shortly before the race, claiming he did not have time to think it through and that he was under pressure for his place in the team.
"It all happened so quickly, I must confess that I could never possibly have weighed up the consequences," he said. "I was in a difficult position at the time and the renegotiation of my contract was in play if I didn't accept the strategy. I was taken by surprise by the request of the two most important people in the team — after all, one of them was my manager.
"The crash plan was only made hours before the race, I did not have time to think straight. If the proposal had been made during free practice I would have had more time to think and to act in another way."
Piquet suggested that had his father, Nelson Piquet Sr, been at the Singapore GP, the decision would not have been taken, and that Piquet Sr first told the FIA about the plot at the last race of the 2008 season.
"I don't believe the plan to crash would have been made [if Piquet Sr was in Singapore]," he said. "After that, my father began to go to all the races.
"The first confession was made to the FIA by my father during the Brazil Grand Prix in 2008. During the first half of 2009, both myself and my father spoke to other people about the subject. But the formalisation of the allegations only came afterwards. It was a very serious charge and, for that reason, we had to be very careful and take careful steps."
He denied that he ever used the threat of implicating Renault to try to keep his place in the team.
"Some people have suggested that I was blackmailing Renault to continue my career but the situation was more complicated for a long time before. At each race it was always the same story of threatening to withdraw my contract or the renewal for the next season... I made the allegation so that no other driver would go through what I went through and, more importantly, so that the whole episode would be clarified the way it has been."
Piquet also claimed that he had been the victim of Briatore's frustrations at the team being unable to return to its title winning form of 2005 and 2006, but says Alonso was not part of the plan as far as he knows.
"As a result of Renault not being very competitive, Briatore channelled all his unhappiness on me. He preferred to take it out on me during the two and a half seasons I was in Formula 1. I never saw other rookies being pushed as hard as I was. The pressure for results is normal, but the mental harassment is another story.
"Alonso did not participate in the meeting when the idea of a crash was developed. If he knew or not about the plan, is a detail that I do not know."