Nelson Piquet Jr has admitted that he doesn't expect people to forgive him for his role in the F1 race fixing scandal as the Brazilian now faces up to the prospect of re-launching his career 'from zero'.
Piquet, who left the Renault team in acrimonious fashion earlier this season, was ordered to crash during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix in order to aid team-mate Fernando Alonso – who was unaware of what was occurring and benefitted from the resulting Safety Car period to win the race.
The saga has seen both Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds lose their roles with the team and be hit with bans, while Piquet himself has escaped punishment having been granted immunity by the FIA for giving evidence against his former employers. Renault themselves have been handed a suspended two-year ban from the sport.
While he didn't speak to the media on exiting the World Motor Sport Council meeting in Paris, a statement issued by Piquet shortly afterwards said the Brazilian was pleased to see the matter come to an end and that he regretted his actions every passing day.
“I am relieved that the FIA investigation has now been concluded,” he said. “Those now running the Renault F1 Team took the decision, as I did, that it is better that the truth be known and accept the consequences. The most positive thing to come from bringing this to the attention of the FIA is that nothing like it will ever happen again.
"I bitterly regret my actions to follow the orders I was given. I wish every day that I had not done it.
"I don't know how far my explanation will go to making people understand because for many being a racing driver is an amazing privilege, as it was for me. All I can tell you is that my situation at Renault turned into a nightmare. Having dreamed of being a Formula One driver and having worked so hard to get there, I found myself at the mercy of Mr Briatore. His true character, which had previously only been known to those he had treated like this in the past, is now known.”
Piquet again hit out at Briatore, who he claimed had been his 'executioner' at the time of his departure from the team, and said that what occurred under the lights of F1's first night race had been the lowest point of his life.
“Mr Briatore was my manager as well as the team boss, he had my future in his hands but he cared nothing for it,” he said. “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. Now that I am out of that situation I cannot believe that I agreed to the plan, but when it was put to me I felt that I was in no position to refuse. Listening now to Mr Briatore's reaction to my crash and hearing the comments he has made to the press over the last two weeks it is clear to me that I was simply being used by him then to be discarded and left to ridicule.
“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.
“As my final words on this matter, I would like to repeat that I am so sorry to those who work in Formula One (including the many good people at Renault) the fans and the governing body. I do not expect this to be forgiven or forgotten but at least now people can draw their conclusions based upon what really happened.”