Former F1 driver Nelson Piquet jr says he never intended for his actions to deprive fellow Brazilian Felipe Massa of the 2008 title.
Retired Massa, 41, is looking into his legal options after former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone admitted both he and then FIA president Max Mosley knew about Piquet’s deliberate crash in the 2008 Singapore GP.
“It was a team order to help someone within our team,” Piquet, the son of triple world champion Nelson Piquet, told the Pelas Pistas podcast.
“It wasn’t to harm Felipe Massa. It was nothing like that,” he insisted.
“Yes, it was a mistake. But, in the position I was in, dreaming of being in F1 for so many years, Singapore arrived and they put me against the wall psychologically.
“Many people ask me ‘Would you do it again?’ and my normal answer is ‘obviously not’. But at that age, under that pressure.
“I had no one with me in Formula 1 except a bully, and a bully like that, always complaining, always pushing, always warning ‘This is your last chance’.
“I had the feeling that everything was going backwards, because I was supposed to have done more tests, I was another teammate not strong enough for Alonso, like Kovalainen.
“Alonso then wanted to take over the world – he had a knife between his teeth. If Fernando drives like he does today, in 2023, imagine what he was like 15 years ago.
“So yes, I made a mistake,” Piquet admitted.
As for the crashgate ‘bully’, he is clearly referring to then Renault boss Flavio Briatore.
“My father did not go to any races in this first year,” said Piquet. “I only had Flavio, who was the team boss and my manager. And not only my manager, but six other drivers on the grid.
“And then, Briatore’s grotesque way was not just how it is on TV – it was much worse. I was alone and it destabilised me in such a way that sometimes people don’t understand everything I went through.
“We stayed for 2009 and then the story came out,” he explained, referring to the ‘crashgate’ scandal that only emerged during the 2009 season – too late to overturn the Singapore result and crown Massa champion rather than Lewis Hamilton.
“They broke my contract and said Grosjean is taking my place. They treated me like a dog. That’s when I said ‘since you’re kicking me out as trash, I think we need to set the record straight here’.
“That’s when everyone found out about the story, which, for me, was horrible. It was very traumatising, and it still is, because a lot of people judge without understanding the story.”