Both Renault and Nelsinho Piquet have moved to deny reports hinting that the Brazilian is unhappy with his situation within the team, claiming comments made by the driver in an interview with a British magazine were subsequently 'completely distorted' out of context as a result of 'an extremely poor translation' by Spanish media.
Piquet is in his second year in Formula 1 with the Régie
in 2009, but is already finding himself on the back foot and having to defend his form after qualifying just 14th and 17th for the opening two races, and failing to finish inside the top ten in either. That is in stark contrast to double world champion team-mate Fernando Alonso, who currently sits sixth in the drivers' standings and has made the top ten Q3 shoot-out in qualifying on both occasions, despite suffering from a nasty ear infection last time out in Malaysia.
Piquet clung onto his seat at the French concern by the skin of his teeth following a more promising end to a generally desultory maiden campaign in the top flight last year. The season was stymied by suggestions that the team was focussed almost entirely on Alonso to the detriment of the former GP2 Series Vice-Champion, and comments reported in Spanish newspaper AS
seemed to hint that all is still not well at Enstone.
“It is very hard, yes,” the 23-year-old is quoted as having said. “I would like a situation in which the team looks towards me. Fernando wanted the most amount of time for [pre-season] testing, and the team wanted it as well because they thought it was the fastest way to develop the car.
Piquet was also quoted as having criticised Renault F1 managing director Flavio Briatore, saying of the famously fickle and irascible Italian: “He is not always right, and he can be very hard. You have to be able to ignore the bad things and absorb the good ones.”
Now, however, both team and driver have sought to dispel any such speculation, by explaining that the comments – initially reported in British magazine F1 Racing
, in response to readers' questions – had been taken entirely out of context and misconstrued.
“The ING Renault F1 Team would like to deny the negative comments attributed to Nelson Piquet by the Italian and Spanish press, who were referring to an article published in the UK edition of F1 Racing
magazine,” read an official team statement.
“The comments are completely distorted as a result of an extremely poor translation from English, and were reported out of context as Nelson responded in a light-hearted manner to irreverent questions submitted by the magazine's fans.”
“I'm amazed how my words have been completely misrepresented by the press,” added Piquet. “I was trying to be funny and amusing to stay in-tune with the cheeky questions I was asked. It's a pity that I have to find myself clarifying what I said.
“I'm a very happy member of the ING Renault F1 Team and I have an excellent relationship with everybody, including Fernando and Flavio. I've never had any reason to believe that I was treated in an unfair way, and I have no doubt about the team's support. I'm confident that we will have a good year together, and I'm looking forward to the upcoming races with the sole focus of doing the best job I can for the team.”