Piquet defends 'crashgate' actions

Nelson Piquet Junior claims his former team Renault had "threatened" to withdraw his contract unless he agreed to purposefully crash during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

In what has become known as 'crashgate', the French manufacturer was last month found guilty of causing an accident to aid the cause of their driver Fernando Alonso, who went on to win the race.



The allegations cost former Renault team principal Flavio Briatore and executive director of engineering Pat Symonds their jobs, with the pair stepping down from their posts shortly after details of the incident were made public.



Renault were subsequently given a disqualification suspended until the end of the 2011 season for their role in Piquet Jr's crash.



The 24-year-old has since spoken of his regret at agreeing to the conspiracy, but in an interview with Brazilian television, which was published in The Times, Piquet Jr claimed his Renault contract was under threat unless he agreed to the crash during last season's race in Singapore.



"Some people have suggested that I was blackmailing Renault to continue my career but the situation was more complicated for a long time before," he said.



"At each race it was always the same story of threatening to withdraw my contract or the renewal for the next season.



"I made the allegation so that no other driver would go through what I went through and, more importantly, so that the whole episode would be clarified the way it has been."



Piquet Jr also admitted he did not consider the impact the incident would have on his career, with the Brazilian coming in for a great deal of criticism from several figures in Formula One.



"It all happened so quickly and I must confess that I could never possibly have weighed up the consequences," he continued.



"The crash plan was only made hours before the race. I did not have time to think straight. I didn't have a great qualifying and this was also a contributory factor to me accepting the strategy late in the day.



"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.



"Some people have suggested I should have been punished by the FIA but, in reality, no one has been punished more than I have.



"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 One."



Despite his role in the events in Singapore, Piquet Jr insist he has no regrets about blowing the whistle on his former team.



"Today I am just trying to carry on with my work. Motor racing is my passion and I've got to work hard to prove my worth on the track," he said.



"I know that I committed an error but I would have committed another if I hadn't gone public with everything that happened to me."



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