Nelsinho Piquet is not the only F1 driver whose career has been 'destroyed' by disgraced former Renault F1 managing director Flavio Briatore, S?bastien Bourdais has revealed - as the Frenchman admitted the famously irascible Italian was 'a big problem' for him throughout his time in the top flight.

Bourdais was unceremoniously dismissed by Scuderia Toro Rosso mid-season this year in favour of F1 rookie and 2008 British F3 Champion Jaime Alguersuari, following a string of lacklustre performances and a persistent failure to get the better of inexperienced young team-mate and namesake S?bastien Buemi, despite a strong end to his own maiden campaign at the highest level during which the record-breaking former multiple Champ Car king had come on in leaps and bounds and suggested he had finally got to grips with the very different driving style this side of the Pond.

Had it not been for Briatore, though, Bourdais' career might have panned out very differently indeed. As reigning International F3000 (now GP2 Series) champion in 2002, he impressively tested for Renault at Jerez in December, but after being unwilling to sign a management deal with the Enstone-based outfit's boss in addition to a testing deal, the role of test driver for 2003 went instead to compatriot Franck Montagny, leaving the man from Le Mans to head Stateside to ply his trade in Champ Cars, with outstanding success.

"There was a story with Flavio when the French [motor sport] federation decided to try and help a new and coming French driver to make it to F1," Bourdais told 422race.com, "but he only proposed a management contract with no guarantees. Unfortunately I had to decline the offer, because it was never going to work. It was crazy.

"Basically the French federation and Renault F1 had agreed to promote a French driver, and then they didn't agree on the terms of the agreement - so Renault F1 with Flavio went one way and the French federation tried to find the money, which they mostly did. Flavio was trying to repeat what he had done with [Mark] Webber the year before, when David Sears didn't need the money because he had the money from Vodafone - but this year he needed the money, because he had no sponsors. Flavio was trying desperately to make a deal with him, and I knew that wasn't going to happen because David told me 'I can't do it, there is no chance'.

"In the end the French federation succeeded in finding a lot of money, with the French government, Playstation and Renault - not Renault F1, just Renault, which pi**ed Flavio [off] even further - and so it happened. They made up the difference and I signed a management agreement with him, because it was part of the deal. Flavio got really angry about that, and from that point on he became a big problem for my career."

Briatore, of course has hit the headlines again of late - for all the wrong reasons - for having been found guilty of being one of the key architects of the 'Singapore-gate' race-fixing scandal that has rocked F1 in recent weeks and not only cost the 59-year-old his job, but also earned him an effective lifetime ban from all involvement in any FIA-sanctioned form of motorsport. Bourdais, unsurprisingly, has little sympathy.

"I don't care," shrugged the 30-year-old. "What should I care about? If he's done or not done what he's been found guilty of, it's his business. I never interfered in his business - it doesn't concern me. What do I think about it? He's been banned from F1 for cheating. Is it too much, not enough? I don't know. He's not there anymore.

"He destroyed me long enough. It's not about revenge or anything, it's nothing personal, but he has been a pain for me for so many years. I just tried to leave him alone and tried to make sure he was leaving me alone as well, but it wasn't quite this way..."

As to his own priorities, though currently competing for Spanish football club Sevilla FC in Superleague Formula, Bourdais makes no secret of his desire to 'try again' in F1 should someone see fit to give him a second chance. One of a number of drivers linked to filling the recovering Felipe Massa's Ferrari seat before first Luca Badoer and subsequently Giancarlo Fisichella got the nod, he admits that in order to put his reputation on the line again at the acknowledged pinnacle of international motor racing, the circumstances must be absolutely right this time.

"The list was like 30 drivers long," he mused of the Ferrari speculation. "If you name them all, of course you can be in it. I was a sensible choice because I had the experience, I was just coming out of [F1], I knew a few people at Ferrari, I knew the engine... It could have been good, but I think, as has been explained, it was very difficult for Ferrari to justify taking a guy who had been fired by Toro Rosso - simple as that. [His manager] Nicolas [Todt] was in discussion with Stefano [Domenicali - Ferrari team principal], I sent a few emails and stuff, but they decided to go another way. I respect that.

"I think Giancarlo is a good choice as well, but it also proved that the Ferrari is a difficult car to drive these days, because obviously he didn't became bad and then good and then bad again. He is another of those drivers who need the car a certain way and is struggling to get what he needs to perform. That's the biggest damage these days. People don't look closely enough. They forget too often and too quickly that it's always an interaction between the car and the driver. If the car doesn't suit the driver, it's not going anywhere - it doesn't matter how good the guy is.

"Nicolas is still my manager for F1 and if there is an opportunity where people want me in it and I see I can do well, then yes, I would like to try again. The start of my first season showed that if I feel well in the car and everything is right for me than I can get the job done - there's no question about it. I just cannot drive any car. I need a car a certain way; a lot of drivers are this way, [and] a lot of other drivers just drive whatever they are given. Everybody's characteristics are different."

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