Nelsinho Piquet's father and manager Nelson Piquet has insisted that the pair have nothing to fear from the legal action being taken against them by ousted former Renault F1 managing director Flavio Briatore, suggesting the Italian got so powerful that he 'believed he could walk on water' and was beyond reproach.
It was announced yesterday (Wednesday) that Briatore had parted company with Renault, the team with which he has been largely synonymous throughout his 20-year career in the top flight, originally coming in with the Enstone-based outfit's predecessor Benetton back in 1989.
Whilst it is being reported that the 59-year-old could well face criminal charges of his own for endangering lives and deliberately manipulating the result of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix [see separate story – click here
], he has also initiated court proceedings against the Piquets for 'the making of false allegations' and 'blackmail'.
'Nelsinho' was unceremoniously fired by Briatore at the end of July off the back of a string of lacklustre performances in the second Renault throughout 2008 and the opening half of 2009, with his dismissal proving to be the catalyst for a vitriolic war of words between the two in the media. Piquet described Briatore as his 'executioner' and a man who 'doesn't know sh*t' about the sport, with the latter hitting back by accusing the Brazilian of constantly making excuses for his lacklustre performances, and vehemently denying that there had ever been any disparity in equipment between his two drivers, as the 24-year-old had alleged.
Piquet Snr – who similarly drove under Briatore's leadership at Benetton at the turn of the 1990s – is confident that the Queens Park Rangers co-director has no case against him and his son.
“I have the money in order to get the best lawyers,” the three-time Formula 1 World Champion told German magazine Auto Motor und Sport
. “And about what does he (Briatore) actually want to complain? About the truth?
“After a certain point people like Flavio get so much power that they believe they can walk on water. Despite the clear evidence, he actually assumed nothing could happen to him.”
The 57-year-old also sought to distance himself from claims attributed to him that two-time F1 title-winner Fernando Alonso – who benefitted from Piquet's 'staged' crash around the Marina Bay street circuit twelve months ago by going on to win the sport's inaugural floodlit grand prix – had been in on the conspiracy.
“All I said was that an intelligent driver like Alonso would ask questions if his team told him to come in to pit after 12 laps from 15th on the grid,” stressed Piquet Snr. “As a driver I would have suspected something, so I can imagine only with difficulty that Fernando didn't know anything.”