Despite the dust only just beginning to settle on both BMW's shock exit announcement and Nelson Piquet Jr's outburst about his treatment at the hands of Flavio Briatore and Renault, the rumour mill is already suggesting that the two stories could already be linking up to provide the Brazilian with an extension to his F1 career.

Reports in two of Brazil's foremost newspapers claim that Piquet's three-time world champion father is poised to form a partnership with Peter Sauber to rescue the remains of the BMW team that the Swiss team owner retains a 20 per cent share in, thereby providing a tailor-made opportunity for Nelsinho to remain in the top flight longer than anyone reading his lengthy diatribe would have believed possible.

According to both O Estado Sao Paulo and O Globo, Piquet Sr is investigating the possibility of extending the family team which carried his son, successfully, through the junior ranks into F1, linking up with veteran team boss Sauber, who has expressed a desire to preserve the remains of the team which once bore his name, and maintain Switzerland's presence in grand prix racing after BMW's short-lived dalliance with a 'works' operation ends in Abu Dhabi in November. O Globo claims that Super Nova GP2 boss David Sears could also be involved in Piquet's bid.

Although still largely unconfirmed, the reports claim that the team - to be branded Sauber Piquet F1 - will revert to using Ferrari engines from 2010. The Sauber team is no stranger to relationships with Maranello, having used its V10s with Petronas badging for a decade before the enforced switch to BMW power following the German giant's acquisition of the Hinwil operation.

Despite having taken Piquet Jr as far as it could when the Brazilian graduated to F1 as GP2 Series runner-up to Lewis Hamilton in 2006, the family maintains a presence in the feeder series, currently running Spaniard Roldan Rodriguez and Brazilian Alberto Valerio and taking a surprise victory with the latter at Silverstone in June. As Piquet himself pointed out in his blast at Briatore and Renault, he was the first driver to claim a maximum score in the category, having been guided by the family team to F3 success in both his homeland and, after finishing third overall as a newcomer, in the highly-competitive British series in 2004.

While neither Piquet has made any public claim to being involved with Sauber or BMW, the team's former owner this week admitted that he would do all he could to preserve its legacy, if only to protect the jobs of those working at the hi-tech Hinwil base that he set up and preserve Switzerland's role in F1.

"The best solution would be a Ross Brawn-type solution at Honda," Sauber told a press conference in the wake of BMW confirming its impending exit.

"You need at least ten years to amass a team which can produce an F1 car to the level required and, if we let this team fall apart, the chances are that Switzerland will never again have such an opportunity.

"I will do everything humanly possible to save the jobs of my former co-workers, but I have to say that I cannot achieve miracles - and I will not return to the pit-wall as team principal.

"Instead, I have said that I will use all of my contacts to see if I can find a solution, although nothing is guaranteed. I am only an advisor [at BMW Sauber] and, in the long run, only BMW in Munich can decide [how the team will continue in future].

"While I must say that I have already solved bigger problems than this in my 17 years in F1, as time passes, a solution must be found as quickly as possible..."


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