Renault’s sacking of Nelson Piquet means that the Brazilian follows Sébastien Bourdais in being dropped for performance reasons in the middle of his second season.
In the past a similar fate has befallen the likes of Cristiano da Matta, Scott Speed and Jan Magnussen, none of whom have raced again in Formula 1.
Piquet (right) went public on the team’s decision to drop him with a statement of astonishing frankness on his own website, which Renault did not see fit to reply to. Of team boss and personal manager Flavio Briatore he said: “I always believed that having a manager was being a part of a team and having a partner. A manager is supposed to encourage you, support you, and provide you with opportunities. In my case it was the opposite. Flavio Briatore was my executioner.”
He also revealed that for 2009 he had been made to agree to a performance clause in his contract that stated he must score 40 per cent of the points of team-mate Fernando Alonso by the middle of the year.
Piquet is far from the first driver to have left Renault/Benetton on less than amicable terms with Briatore, the list including such as Johnny Herbert, Alex Wurz, Jenson Button, Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen. But none has ever been so frank in public about their previous employer.
The Piquet family has been linked with a takeover bid for the Sauber team. If that doesn’t succeed it’s hard to see Nelsinho landing a job elsewhere, unless he can take some funding to one of the new teams.