Piquet to be replaced by Grosjean UPDATE #8 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Renault on Tuesday morning confirmed that its Swiss-French reserve driver Romain Grosjean will replace Nelson Piquet with immediate effect.
The Enstone based team said Brazilian Piquet, 23, has departed following a "mutual agreement" that is "in the best interests of both parties".
Said team boss Flavio Briatore: "We would like to thank Nelson for his contribution during the time he has been with us and wish him all the best for the future."
Renault also announced that the Brazilian GP2 driver Lucas di Grassi will take over 23-year-old Grosjean's duties as reserve driver.
08/03/09 (GMM) Nelson Piquet's departure from the formula one team Renault is to be announced officially on Monday, according to the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S.Paolo.
His replacement will be the similarly aged 23-year-old Romain Grosjean, who is Renault's 2009 reserve and a current GP2 driver.
The Sao Paulo newspaper said Piquet and his famous father-manager and namesake will also make a press statement on Monday.
Depending on the outcome of the Renault suspension appeal on August 17, the Swiss-French Grosjean will make his F1 debut alongside Fernando Alonso at either Valencia or the subsequent Belgian grand prix at Spa. 07/28/09 (GMM) Romain Grosjean insists it is too early to say if he has been given the green light to make his formula one debut at the forthcoming European grand prix.
The GP2 driver and Renault reserve is reportedly first in line to replace the struggling Nelson Piquet, who according to strong speculation was issued his marching papers in Hungary last weekend.
The rumors then hit high gear when team boss Flavio Briatore walked out of the Hungaroring circuit while Brazilian Piquet, 23, was still racing in twelfth position following Fernando Alonso's retirement.
But when asked if he is already turning his attention to an impending F1 debut, the Swiss-born French driver answered: "No, not at the moment.
"I was focusing on the GP2 weekend which was the main point so let's see what's going on," Grosjean, 23, told GP Week.
However, he believes he is ready to make the step into formula one.
"Yes I think so. If you have the chance you will say yes. The car is getting much better and I think there are some more updates coming, so it's a good time for the team," Grosjean added.
He suggested that if he does get a chance to complete the season for Renault, it may be a prelude to a full-time seat in 2010.
Comparing his situation to the one at Toro Rosso where Jaime Alguersuari has replaced the ousted Sebastien Bourdais, Grosjean said: "If you can get some races for sure it's all good experience for the next season which is very good. We'll see."
Previous wars of words between Nelson Piquet and Renault team principal Flavio Briatore have appeared to continue whilst rumors of the Brazilian's departure from the French team remain in circulation. Since entering Formula One last year, Piquet's relationship with his team principal has remained strained.
With Brazilian Piquet having reported that team-mate Fernando Alonso is the team's favored driver, Italian Briatore has responded by commenting that both drivers in the team are presented with equal opportunities. "I've always been fair with my drivers," he told Autosprint. "I expected more from Piquet because this is his second year in a full-time drive; he has done less testing in comparison with Alonso but Webber tested less than Vettel because of his broken leg and look where he is now."
With the R29 of Alonso having contained more updated parts for the majority of the season and subsequent reports claiming an advantage of over half a second per lap, Briatore strongly contests the claims. "When a driver lacks results, he opens the book of excuses and begins with the weather, a spectator's sunglasses, a spin on the straight, this and that," he continued. "It's not true that there's a technical difference of seven tenths between Alonso and Piquet's cars. If that was true, we'd have a car capable of winning the title and that, unfortunately, isn't the case - the technical difference has always been minimal and never longer than one race."
"Flavio is a business man but he doesn't understand s*** about F1," Piquet is quoted as saying. "He is my manager but in his role of team boss he doesn't respect me; he only thinks about money, about how much money he can pocket in everything he's involved with - he's a man with no friends. Every day everyone asks me what's going on, so why should I always stay quiet?
"Webber (also managed by Briatore) has been in F1 since 2001 - he started in a different era, when testing wasn't limited. He's probably done more than 20,000 kilometers in testing so that is not a fair comparison. Now the situation is more difficult for a driver with little experience. Besides that, I have to fight against Briatore himself and Alonso, who is a fantastic driver - when I wasn't competitive in qualifying I was the first owing up to it but if Briatore doesn't understand that what can I do?"07/24/09 (GMM) The big rumor as evening fell and journalists debriefed at the Hungaroring on Friday evening was that Renault has indeed decided to drop Nelson Piquet.
The struggling Brazilian admitted 24 hours earlier in Budapest that his seat for the remainder of 2009 is in doubt, following a "conflict of egos" behind closed doors at the Nurburgring two weeks ago.
|Nelson Piquet Jr. is toast|
It seems the conflict was between his famous father and team boss Flavio Briatore, after the latter informed the Piquet camp that Germany was the 23-year-old's last race.
According to the Hungary speculation, triple world champion Piquet Snr insisted that his son's contract specifically prohibits Renault from axing him for performance reasons when the specifications of the two cars do not match.
Piquet's R29 has now been brought up to scratch with the updated specification enjoyed by Fernando Alonso at the Nurburgring, moving the Renault camp to issue another round of notice that he will be imminently departing the team.
His replacement at Valencia and beyond will be the Swiss-French rookie Romain Grosjean, who had a big crash during GP2 qualifying at the Hungaroring on Friday afternoon.07/23/09 (GMM) Nelson Piquet on Thursday acknowledged that his future in the Renault cockpit beyond the Hungarian grand prix remains in doubt.
The struggling Brazilian fended off intense speculation to be confirmed for this weekend's Budapest event, but Renault figures remain coy about the subsequent seven races in 2009.
It is believed part of the reason the 23-year-old was given the nod for Hungary was because, after driving at the Nurburgring two weeks ago in a lesser specification, his R29 will feature the same updates as teammate Fernando Alonso at the Budapest venue.
He confirmed that in Germany a "conflict of egos" did occur, and is believed to be referring to rumors of a heated row between his eponymous father and team boss Flavio Briatore about the specification of the two Renault cars.
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said on Monday that Piquet has been told that this race is his last chance, and Renault's official team preview quoted him as targeting a top-ten grid position and points in the race.
Asked by reporters if his seat is safe for the remainder of the season, he replied: "No, it is not 100 per cent settled." zzzz
Piquet said he is going to leave the worrying about the races beyond this weekend to his famous father, but acknowledged the risk that his contract will be broken.
"The problem is that these days a contract in F1 doesn't mean much, and we have seen several cases already of drivers and teams breaking contracts, and it just stays that way," Piquet, who will turn 24 on Saturday, added.
07/20/09 (GMM) Nelson Piquet's future in the Renault cockpit beyond the Hungarian grand prix reportedly remains in doubt. The team's official race preview confirmed the 23-year-old Brazilian has retained his seat for now, but no mention was made of the subsequent seven races in 2009.
It is believed Piquet was given the nod for Hungary because, after driving at the Nurburgring two weeks ago in a different specification, his R29 will feature the same updates as teammate Fernando Alonso at the Budapest venue.
Speculation suggests Piquet has been told Hungary is his last chance, and the official document quoted him as targeting a top-ten grid position and points in the race.
Depending on the result, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport raises the possibility of a driver change after Hungary and over the 'summer break': a forthcoming three-weekend lull in the formula one calendar prior to the European GP at Valencia.
"The Brazilian must show in Hungary why Renault should keep him," said the report.07/17/09 (GMM) Renault on Friday confirmed that Nelson Piquet will contest the Hungarian grand prix next weekend.
It had been strongly rumored that the Brazilian would lose his seat due to a lack of performance, with Swiss-French GP2 driver Romain Grosjean waiting in the wings.
But in a team preview distributed by the Enstone based squad on Friday morning, Piquet was quoted as saying "points must be the target in Hungary".
In the subsequent team interview, the 23-year-old explained his difficult Nurburgring race as down to not having the same car updates as enjoyed by his teammate Fernando Alonso.
"I should have the same upgrades as Fernando in Hungary and I think I can be more competitive," Piquet added.07/15/09 (GMM) Nelson Piquet contested his final grand prix for Renault at the Nurburgring last weekend, according to a Brazilian television network.
SporTV claims the 23-year-old will be replaced at the forthcoming Hungarian grand prix, and for the remainder of the 2009 season, by team reserve driver Romain Grosjean, a French-Swiss GP2 driver.
The Brazilian source also said Lucas di Grassi will be drafted in to Grosjean's test seat.
However, the news has not been confirmed by Renault, with team boss Flavio Briatore last Friday answering "we don't know yet" when asked if Piquet will still have his seat in Hungary.
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport believes the decision has been left up to the French team's engineers, with the Brazilian hopeful of getting one more chance after racing without the improvements featured on Fernando Alonso's car in Germany. zzzz
The French sports daily L'Equipe believes Renault is free to oust Piquet if it wants to.
Noting that the Brazilian has not scored a single point so far in 2009, the publication said Piquet's contract required him to score at least 40 per cent the points tally of his teammate Alonso by mid-season.07/10/09 (GMM) Hot on the heels of similar rumors about Sebastien Bourdais, it is now rumored in the Nurburgring paddock that Nelson Piquet's seat at Renault is in imminent danger.
As with the Bourdais rumor - dismissed with a terse "no comment" by Toro Rosso chief Franz Tost on Friday - it is suggested that the German grand prix at the Nurburgring this weekend could be Brazilian Piquet's last.
His replacement would most likely be Renault reserve Romain Grosjean, the French-Swiss GP2 driver, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said.
The report said the 23-year-old's contract allows the Enstone based team to make a driver change based on his performance in the first half of the season compared with teammate Fernando Alonso.
Flavio Briatore said "we don't know yet" when confronted with the rumors, while Piquet's famous eponymous father said he planned to speak with the team boss about the speculation.