Jan 18, 2010
Yet another racing boot has dropped in the ongoing story revolving around the Renault crash scandal that rocked Formula One racing. In the most recent installment, a French court overruled Formula One’s lifetime ban of former Renault team boss Flavio Briatore, although F1 has pledged to appeal. Now comes word that Nelson Piquet Jr. -- the driver named in the scandal, directly resulting in the banishment of the guys who fired him -- has decided that he will set his sights on driving on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit. As he told The Associated Press, because his first 18 months in F1 did not go as planned, he has decided “to focus on something different and has chosen to take a route in America.”
It will be interesting to see which, if any, NASCAR team rolls the dice on signing Piquet Jr., who was fired by Renault in the middle of last year’s F1 season and then blew the whistle on his team bosses. Piquet competed in 28 F1 races without a victory, though he did finish second in the 2008 German Grand Prix.
The Brazilian driver will live in infamy for the unthinkable act of deliberately crashing his car at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to help teammate and future F1 champ Fernando Alonso win the race. Interestingly, though Piquet’s testimony was the linchpin that resulted in the sanctions against Briatore and Renault executive director Pat Symonds, some in the Renault camp, including Symonds, claim that it was Piquet who cooked up the idea of crashing on purpose to aid Alonso’s chances.
In a letter to the World Motor Sports Council, which oversees the fairness and ethical nature of Formula One competition, Symonds wrote that Piquet came up with the deliberate crash scenario. “I was the one who, when the idea was first suggested to me by Nelson Piquet Jr., should have dismissed it immediately,” he continued. “It is to my eternal regret and shame that I did not do so. I can only say that I did it out of a misguided devotion to my team and not for any personal gain whatsoever.”
So now Piquet Jr. wants to try his hand at Sprint Cup, a form of racing that has humbled several former F1 shoes. It will be interesting to see where this path takes him.
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