Nelsinho Piquet has hit back at those who claim F1 governing body the FIA was wrong to grant him immunity from punishment over the 'Singapore-gate' race-fixing scandal that has rocked the top flight in recent weeks – arguing that 'no-one has been punished more than I have' and contending that in some cases, two wrongs do make a right.
After being unceremoniously dismissed by former Renault F1 managing director Flavio Briatore at the end of July, Piquet disclosed to the governing body that he had been instructed by the Italian and the Enstone-based outfit's erstwhile executive director of engineering Pat Symonds to deliberately crash out of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix in order to enable team-mate Fernando Alonso to triumph in the sport's inaugural night race from a disadvantaged grid position following an engine failure in qualifying around the Marina Bay street circuit.
The fall-out has not only cost the jobs of two of F1's highest-profile figures from the last two decades, but indeed saw both men banned from all involvement in any FIA-sanctioned form of motorsport – Briatore indefinitely and Symonds for five years – as Piquet conversely faced no sanctions, having been protected by the governing body for revealing all that he knew.
commentator Martin Brundle and a number of other respected observers have opined that at the age of only 24, the young Brazilian is now 'unemployable' and all-but finished as an F1 driver, with his reputation as badly tarnished as that of his co-conspirators in the plot, most notably for having agreed to go along with the potentially dangerous plan and then blowing the whistle on it once he had been sacked.
Having been linked with a possible future the other side of the Pond in NASCAR [see separate story – click here
], the son of three-time F1 World Champion Nelson Piquet agrees that he has a lot of bridges to rebuild if he is ever to get his career truly back on-track.
“Some people have suggested I should have been punished by the FIA but, in reality, no-one has been punished more than I have,” he told Brazilian network TV Globo
. “I am at the beginning of my career, unlike the others who have been punished in this case. I am going to have to overcome many obstacles on and off the track to prove my worth.
“I more-or-less have to start my career from scratch in F1 or justify myself in whatever category I might race in. Despite all the trauma, I have learned much with what's happened and I have come out of it stronger and wiser.”
Piquet went on to point out that, despite the wholesale breakdown in relations with Briatore that led to his premature and ignominious departure from Renault during the summer – following which he labelled his former manager and mentor an 'executioner' who had put him under undue pressure and 'doesn't know sh*t' about F1' – his motivation in bringing the incident to light was not to get back at the disgraced QPR co-owner but rather so that nothing similar would ever be allowed to re-occur in the future.
“I made the allegation so that no other driver would go through what I went through and, more importantly, so that the whole episode would be clarified in the way it has been,” he explained. “I committed a mistake in accepting what they asked me to do in that situation – but I would have made another mistake if I hadn't brought it to the public.”