Nelson Piquet Junior has hit out at claims he escaped lightly and not being punished for his role in the Singapore Crashgate scandal by saying that no-one has been punished more than he.
The Brazilian has come in for criticism recently, as commentators have said he was a grown man and ought to have refused point blank the request to crash his car that allegedly came from upper management. That, as well as Piquet getting off scot free in return for his testimony, has angered critics of the 23-year-old.
“Some people have suggested I should have been punished by the FIA but, in reality, no one has been punished more than I have,” Piquet told The Times.
“I am at the beginning of my career, unlike the others who have been punished in this case. I am going to have to overcome many obstacles. I more or less have to start my career from scratch in Formula 1 or justify myself in whatever category I might race in.”
Piquet went on to blame the speed of the chain of events for his lack of perspicacity.
“It all happened so quickly, I must confess that I could never possibly have weighed up the consequences,” he said. “I was in a difficult position at the time and the renegotiation of my contract was in play if I didn’t accept the strategy. I was taken by surprise by the request of the two most important people in the team â€” after all, one of them was my manager.
“The crash plan was only made hours before the race, I did not have time to think straight. If the proposal had been made during free practice I would have had more time to think and to act in another way.”
No Piquet story would be complete without his referring to the mental angst he suffered at the hands of Flavio Briatore, who he alleges constantly threatened him with the sack.
“At each race it was always the same story of threatening to withdraw my contract or the renewal for the next season…as a result of Renault not being very competitive, Briatore channelled all his unhappiness on me. He preferred to take it out on me during the two and a half seasons I was in Formula 1. I never saw other rookies being pushed as hard as I was. The pressure for results is normal, but the mental harassment is another story.”
He also denied that he had waited til he was sacked before breaking the story of Crashgate.
“Some people have suggested that I was blackmailing Renault to continue my career but the situation was more complicated for a long time before.”
Piquet remains a reasonable bet for a seat with one of the new teams due to join F1 in 2010, but has not ruled out the prospect of racing in other formulae.