Nelsinho Piquet has revealed that he could have returned to F1 in 2010 had he wished to, with an undisclosed team having made him the offer of a drive – but instead he chose to close the book on a part of his career that had only left him feeling 'sick and tired'.
Piquet will begin a new career across the Pond in NASCAR this year, following a promising test with Camping World Truck Series outfit Red Horse Racing last autumn. That came after he left F1 in ignominious fashion, having sensationally blown the whistle on the shocking 'Singapore-gate' race-fixing scandal, in which he had been instructed to deliberately crash out of the sport's inaugural night-time race in 2008 in order to enable Renault team-mate Fernando Alonso to triumph.
The perpetrators of the crime – former Renault F1 managing director Flavio Briatore and the team's executive director of engineering Pat Symonds – were both initially banned from all future participation in the sport by governing body the FIA, before the French High Court earlier this month overturned their punishments, concluding that the World Motor Sport Council's procedures had been 'irregular' and, worse still, 'illegal'.
Piquet, meanwhile, was described by BBC F1
commentator Martin Brundle as having rendered himself 'unemployable' in the top flight for having originally gone along with the conspiracy only to blow the covers off it once he was sacked mid-season in 2009 – but the Brazilian insists that he did have a chance to stay, with the troubled Campos Meta 1 operation ostensibly the most obvious interested party.
“I could have been there if I had wanted to,” he told SPEED TV
. “A team offered me [an opportunity] to be there. I just thought I was sick and tired of all of the stuff over there, and I took a decision of starting a new step in my career and a new challenge in coming to NASCAR.”
Whilst some have opined that Piquet's switch from single-seaters to either stock cars or trucks at the tender age of 24 is a hammer blow to all the career aspirations he might once have nurtured as Lewis Hamilton's closest rival in the GP2 Series in 2006, the son of three-time F1 World Champion Nelson Piquet refutes any notions that he is taking a backwards step.
“For a lot of people who are outside of America, it's a downgrade,” he reflected, “but in terms of career, of how big the sport is in a lot of ways, it's an even tougher step than F1. The level of competition and the seriousness and the business of both series' are very, very high. I got a very, very good opportunity to start my career here – and I'm here.”