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Motor Racing

Piquet slams Briatore as the 'executioner'

Nelson Piquet is determined to restore his career and a reputation he feels was wrecked by a man he has slammed as his "executioner".

Piquet was yesterday released from his contract by Renault after 28 races, bringing to a close a "black period" in his life, and named Briatore as the chief figure responsible.

The 24-year-old has accused the Renault team boss, who also served as his manager, of making threats, breaking promises and treating him as a second-rate citizen in comparison to team-mate Fernando Alonso.

In signing up with Briatore, Piquet believed the Italian was "an excellent option with all the necessary contacts and management skills".

But as far as Piquet is concerned, it was the worst decision of his life as 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."

After scoring 19 points in his debut year for Renault last season, Piquet claims he was forced to sign a performance-related deal by Briatore for this year.

Briatore demanded Piquet win 40 per cent of Alonso's points by the midway mark of the season, and the 24-year-old felt it was achievable.

But after a poor pre-season in comparison to Alonso, a lack of in-season testing and with the double world champion consistently being given the better car, Piquet found himself swimming against the tide.

With no points to his name and after being out-qualified 27-1 by Alonso, Piquet now finds himself searching for a seat for 2010.

Admitting to "a sense of relief," he added: "I've the possibility to now move on and put my career back on the right track and try to recover my reputation of a fast, winning driver.

"I am a team player and there are dozens of people I have worked with in my career who would vouch for my character and talent, except unfortunately the person that has had the most influence on my career in Formula One (Briatore).

"But I believe without doubt in my talent and my performance.

"I didn't get this far by getting bad results. Anyone who knows my history knows the results I am having in F1 do not match my CV and my ability.

"The conditions I have had to deal with during the last two years have been very strange to say the least, and there are incidents I can hardly believe occurred myself.

"If I now need to give explanations, I am certain it is because of the unfair situation I have been in the past two years."

Whether any doors open up for Piquet remains to be seen, but he is not about to let his career drift away.

"Being under pressure is not new to me," he added. "I have had criticism throughout my career and have also had a lot of expectations put on me due to my name.

"Up until now I always met those expectations, surpassed them even.

"I have never before felt the need to defend myself or fight back from rumours and criticism because I knew the truth and I just wanted to concentrate on racing. I didn't ever let it affect me.

"Fortunately, I can now say to those people who supported me through my career that I'm back on the good tracks and considering the options for a new start in my F1 career in a fair and positive way."