'Singapore-gate' protagonist Nelsinho Piquet has definitively confirmed that he will not
be returning to F1 in 2010 – if, indeed, ever again – after all-but inking a deal to compete across the Pond in NASCAR instead, where he hopes to find 'happiness' to replace the 'ambition' that led to him getting so badly burned.
Last summer, Piquet sensationally blew the whistle on one of the most outrageous examples of cheating in the history of sport, and earned his former Renault
F1 bosses Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds bans from F1 for having instructed him to deliberately crash out of the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix
in 2008 in order to enable team-mate Fernando Alonso
to triumph in the top flight's first-ever night race from a disadvantaged grid position.
Those bans have since been overturned by the French High Court [see separate story – click here
], freeing up Briatore and Symonds to return to working in the top flight should they so desire, but for Piquet – who BBC F1
commentator Martin Brundle described as 'unemployable' in the immediate wake of the scandal, notwithstanding the FIA's guarantee of immunity from punishment in exchange for revealing all that he knew – it seems the chapter is firmly now closed.
Despite having been linked to a number of vacant seats for 2010 – most notably the second cockpit at Spanish newcomer Campos Meta 1 alongside Bruno Senna, another driver with a famous surname – the Brazilian has revealed that he has elected to pursue the route that he first set foot on back in October, when he tested a Toyota
Tundra for NASCAR Camping World Truck Series outfit Red Horse Racing in North Carolina.
“I have spent the last few months carefully evaluating my options for this year,” the 24-year-old wrote on his personal website. “I had to choose a path, and it was a difficult decision to make. Being successful in Formula 1 was always my goal, but I have learnt that happiness is just as important as ambition, and after my first 18 months in F1 did not go as planned I have decided to focus on something different and have chosen to take a route in America.
“NASCAR is hugely challenging, and nobody has ever come in as an outsider before and gone on to win it – it will be the ultimate challenge. I will let you know more details on the exact programme soon. This will be an awesome new challenge for me, and a healthy one. I have always been open to new challenges, and I will be putting everything I have into this.
“I have found a good group of people that are really willing to help me in my career, and I am grateful that they are there for me. I think it will be a positive environment and a good life experience. I am sure this year is going to be fantastic, and I am very excited at the prospect of my future. I will miss Europe and all the friends I have there, but I will always have my successes there to be proud of.”
Although a truck racing bow appears to be the most likely option, Piquet's spokeswoman told the BBC
that he is still 'firming up the details' – whilst he did hint at a possible European return in the future as 'I have a lot of ambitions in my life, one of which has always been to win the Le Mans 24 Hours'. The son of three-time F1 World Champion Nelson Piquet also made a point of thanking 'every single person that has supported me in my career so far, especially my team in GP2 and the guys at Renault'.
Piquet's best finish in 28 grand prix starts in F1 was the runner-up spot to former GP2 Series title rival Lewis Hamilton
in the 2008 German Grand Prix