Formula One: Renault dismisses Piquet, Schumacher barred from practising

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Nelson Piquet, Jr. is looking for a new team

Formula One racing team Renault F1 has dismissed Nelson Piquet, Jr., whose father Nelson Piquet, Sr. won the world championship three times, after his failure to obtain any points this season. WilliamsF1 have separately announced that they will not allow Michael Schumacher to practise with the current car of rival Scuderia Ferrari as he returns after nearly three years of absence.

Piquet released a statement criticising his former team and its manager, Flavio Briatore. "I feel a sense of relief for the end of the worst period of my career, I can now move on and put my career back on the right track, and try to recover my reputation of a fast winning driver," he said.

Piquet said of Briatore "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." He gained nineteen points last season but has failed to win any in the ten races of the 2009 season.

Piquet and Renault are both looking to move ahead. Piquet is seeking a new team, while it is unknown who Renault will hire to replace Piquet.

Schumacher, meanwhile, will not get behind the wheel of the current Ferrari car until his first race since coming out of retirement, the European Grand Prix on August 23 in Valencia, Spain. Ferrari had written to the sport's governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), as well as the other eight members of the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) hoping to have him exempted from a ban on in-season testing.

Schumacher's last F1 race was in 2006. Since confirming his comeback he has had a chance to practise in a 2007 Ferrari race car, but new technology featured on the modern version remains unused by Schumacher.

Schumacher (right) racing in 2005

Seven members of the FOTA agreed Schumacher should be exempted but Williams saw no reason to do so. Williams pointed out that 19-year-old F1 newcomer Jaime Alguersuari got no chance to practise with a modern F1 car before his first race.

"While we welcome Michael Schumacher back to Formula One, the fact is any form of in-season circuit testing is strictly prohibited, a regulation clearly laid out by the FIA and adhered to by all of the teams," explained the team. "It was for this reason Alguersuari … did not have the opportunity to familiarise himself with the Scuderia Toro Rosso [team's car] before he made his race debut."

Schumacher, seven-times world champion, has returned to his old team to fill in for Felipe Massa, who suffered life-threatening head injuries after striking a spring which had detached itself from Rubens Barrichello's Brawn GP car. Massa was flown back home to Brazil today and said he was looking forward to life returning to normal, as well as to racing his Ferrari F1 car again. He remembers nothing of his high-speed crash.

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