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JULY 30, 2009

Piquet and Briatore - trench warfare ahead

The word in Formula 1 circles is that things are going to get messy if Renault F1 boss Flavio Briatore decides to drop Nelson Piquet from the team. Nelson Piquet Sr is no slouch when it comes to the politics of Formula 1 and he knows that if Briatore decides to drop Nelson Jr there may not be much that can be done about it, except to make sure that Piquet gets an appropriate settlement. The Piquets seem to think that Nelson was not given the same opportunities as Fernando Alonso. Some of this is fairly well documented and that means that Briatore and Renault could be open to the charge that they damaged Piquet's reputation in an unfair manner. Given what successful F1 drivers are paid a legal victory in such a case could cost Briatore a great deal of money if Piquet found a sympathetic judge. There might even be grounds for an injunction to stop Piquet being fired, depending on the legal status of the contract (ie in which jurisdiction it was concluded). The signs are that the team will drop Piquet and put test driver Romain Grosjean in the car. The team was due to test yesterday on the runway of the Imperial War Museum Duxford, just to the south of Cambridge, using Grosjean. The test was, however, dependent on the direction of the wind on there are questions of noise abatement involved and the test was put back to today. There is the added complication as not knowing whether the team will be racing in Valencia because of the penalty applied in Hungary and Renault's appeal.