Nelsinho Piquet should still be in F1 as he has more to offer the top flight – that is the opinion of Roberto Moreno, who partnered the young Brazilian's father Nelson Piquet at a Flavio Briatore-led Benetton back in 1990 and 1991.
Piquet Jnr left F1 with his tail between his legs last year to pursue a 'second career' of sorts in NASCAR circles across the Pond. His ignominious departure from the sport which he had strived to reach for most of his adult life – and in which he lasted less than 30 grands prix – came after he was unceremoniously booted out of Renault midway through the 2009 campaign for a lack of performance, though Piquet himself has always maintained that he was never given an equal opportunity to do so.
What followed was particularly unpleasant, as the 24-year-old and his three-time world champion father went on to blow the whistle on one of the most scandalous examples of cheating in sporting history, by informing governing body the FIA of a conspiracy in which Nelsinho was instructed by then Renault F1 managing director Briatore to deliberately crash out of the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix in 2008, to enable team-mate Fernando Alonso to triumph from a disadvantaged grid position.
The fall-out was spectacular, and some opined that his actions had rendered Lewis Hamilton's former GP2 Series sparring partner and title challenger 'unemployable' at the highest level. However, Piquet has since admitted that he did have options to remain in F1 into 2010 – most likely, it would seem, with either troubled newcomer Campos Meta 1 or else Force India – before ultimately deciding to draw a line under the whole period of his career and instead commit to Red Horse Racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, for whom he had tested late last year. A lost talent, Moreno contends.
“I think Nelsinho should have stayed in Formula 1,” the former Champ Car race-winner – affectionately dubbed 'Super-sub' within the paddock – told Crash.net Radio
. “I think he still hasn't done as much as he could in Formula 1. I hope he misses it and comes back again, because he is still young enough to do it – but if he doesn't, he's going to have a great time in the US.
“NASCAR is very different, a great world, a lovely country and lovely racing – and once you get used to it, it's fantastic. He'll probably have a lot of fun there. I love NASCAR and I love America – but I think at his age, Nelsinho still had a lot to do in Formula 1.
“I don't like to see the way he left the scene; I thought it was unjust that Briatore fired him. It's just a shame that he trained for his whole career to get to F1, and then got involved in a scenario in which he could not perform.”