Nelson Piquet Snr has renewed his damning verbal attack on Renault in the wake of the 'Singapore-gate' scandal that has rocked F1 in recent weeks, claiming that the team was 'not even managed by [Flavio] Briatore – it was managed by [Fernando] Alonso'.
Renault found itself on the receiving end of a two-year suspended ban from competition after the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) adjudged last week that the French outfit had 'fixed' the outcome of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix by instructing Nelsinho Piquet to deliberately crash out in order to enable his team-mate Alonso to triumph in the top flight's inaugural night race from a disadvantaged grid position.
Former managing director Briatore was handed an effective lifetime ban from working in F1 or any other FIA-sanctioned form of motorsport for his part in the conspiracy, with erstwhile Renault F1 executive director of engineering Pat Symonds – who similarly left the Enstone-based concern before the WMSC reunion – banned for five years.
However, Piquet Snr suggests that it was double F1 World Champion Alonso who really pulled the strings behind-the-scenes at Renault, and backing up his son's assertion that he was never treated equally within the team, the Brazilian argues that 'Nelsinho' was under so much pressure that the incident was ultimately 'inevitable' – and bluntly refutes Symonds' contention that the idea to crash was that of the driver rather than the team.
“This is not something that should exist in motor racing,” the 1981, 1983 and 1987 title-winner told Brazilian media. “In my career I would never have thought about doing something like this, but the circumstances that made him do it were inevitable. He was under great pressure.
“This year was really very bad due to the favouring in terms of cars that Renault gave to Alonso. The team was not even managed by Briatore; it was managed by Alonso himself.
“Two hours before the race [Briatore] said [to Piquet Jnr] 'If you want to help the team then you have to do this'. He accepted doing something under great pressure from Renault. He didn't have much else to lose in terms of his career.
“I knew that this was a crime – manipulating the result of a race is a criminal act. There is no room for this in sport, and especially when it is premeditated.”
Meanwhile, despite BBC F1
commentator Martin Brundle having opined that Piquet Jnr is now 'unemployable' at the highest level [see separate story – click here
] after being sacked by Renault and subsequently electing to blow the whistle on his former employer, there has been some interest from the new teams regarding the 24-year-old's services for 2010, and the sport's supremo Bernie Ecclestone advises never to say never.
“Piquet will get another drive,” the Formula One Management (FOM) commercial rights chief executive told British newspaper the Daily Express
. “He's a driver who does as he's told. That's what any team boss would want – and they don't all do that.”
Piquet's name has been linked most notably with Campos and Manor – though Alex Tai, who is expected to become team principal of the latter when it is rebranded Virgin F1, swiftly rebuffed the notion, insisting that the Yorkshire operation would never work with cheats.