Nelson Piquet Jr. To Make Swift Return To F1?

Gareth Llewellyn-StevensCorrespondent IDecember 29, 2009

PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 21:  Renault Formula One team former driver Nelson Piquet Jr leaves the F.I.A headquarters after attending the World Motor Sport Council hearing on September 21, 2009 in Paris, France. Renault will not contest the charges that Nelson Piquet Jr. was ordered by management to deliberately crash his car during the Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix, the crash caused the deployment off the safety car, due to team mate Fernando Alonso's race strategy he was able to win the race. The incident has already seen the resignation of  team principal  Flavio Briatore and Director of Engineering, Pat Symonds. The punishment from the FIA could be exclusion of the team from F1, a large fine or a suspended ban.   (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Disgraced former Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr. could be back in Formula One next season in an all-Brazilian line up at Campos Meta.

Piquet, who was guilty of deliberately crashing at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, is rumoured to have agreed a three-year deal with the Spanish outfit, and would race alongside compatriot and former GP2 rival Bruno Senna in a potential marketing dream.

Piquet's father won three F1 world championships in the 80s, while Senna's uncle Ayrton won the same number in 1988 and the early 90s, and a lot has been said about the talent of their young namesakes.

After the final race of the 2009 season Bernie Ecclestone told The Daily Telegraph that Piquet Jr should be given a second chance in the sport with Campos, following the Crashgate scandal and his giving evidence against his Renault team, "It'd be good wouldn't it, another good name," he said.

While Campos wasn't involved in F1 at the time of the crash, I don't think there is another team in the sport who would have Piquet Jr back so soon after disgracing himself and his peers.

Piquet Jr is very lucky to have his name mentioned at all when considering new drivers.

A Spanish website is reporting that Piquet has already signed the deal after his father took a 15 percent stake in the team, and a lot of sponsorship interest from Brazil if Piquet Jr. joins Senna at the team, and if true, it says it all really.

Only a handful of F1 and motor sport websites have picked this up, and of the major news agencies across the world, only Yahoo! seems to reporting it, and someone has kindly updated the Campos Meta Wikipedia page with the original Spanish article referenced.

Surely something this big would be sweeping the wires, but you can't fool the knowledgeable people of the Internet, a number of websites have mentioned that the story broke on Spain's equivalent of April Fool's Day, and while my Spanish might not be that great, it makes me chuckle to find that at the end of the original article now appears the words, Esta ha sido la inocentada de Motor21 para celebrar el día de los 'Santos Inocentes' confirming that it was a hoax.

Well done, Yahoo! And someone should make an edit to the Campos Wiki page highlighting that it was a hoax.

Regardless of whether Piquet Sr has bought into Campos Meta to buy his son a drive, Piquet Jr in a Spanish car alongside Senna will still be a big draw regardless of him deliberately crashing in Singapore, allegedly blackmailing Renault, and then testifying against them in court in return for clemency.

There are many people who have recovered from a tarnished reputation and gone on to succeed in F1, indeed a certain returning seven-times world champion is one F1 driver who is no stranger to controversial moves during races.

Long-time McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa had been nailed on to get a drive with Campos, providing the experience they were looking for alongside rookie Senna, but what de la Rosa can't bring is bucket loads of cash, personally or from sponsors, and while he would be a Spaniard in a Spanish team, it still wouldn't compare in stature to the offerings from Brazil.

It's an interesting situation for the team. Senna has been given car No. 21 for 2010, which suggests Campos are in the market for a "No. 1" driver to take No. 20.

Piquet, although he has F1 experience is not the man to do that lead driver role for a team so young, and it would be rather cheeky of them to expect Senna to treat Piquet, a contemporary, as a No. 1 driver in a new team.

My money is still on de la Rosa joining once all of the sponsorship negotiations are sorted out. Campos would love a Spanish driver, and de la Rosa while not the most successful current Spaniard in F1, he is certainly the most experienced Spaniard around, which is exactly what the team and Senna need.

With Fernando Alonso aiming for another world championship with Ferrari, Spain hosting two Grands Prix at Barcelona and Valencia, and now a new Spanish F1 team, it can only serve to further boost interest in the sport in the country.

As for Piquet Jr, the website behind the "Day of the Innocents" article has brought his name back into the mix with several seats still vacant ahead of next season.

He might be forgiven for his actions in the future, but he should not be allowed to return to the sport quite so soon.

Renault bosses Flavio Briatore and Pat Symmonds are rightly serving bans for their role in Crashgate, and Piquet Jr. should also serve time away from the sport, although in Piquet Jr.'s case, a ban universally imposed by the current teams until sufficient time has elapsed that he has served his punishment, whatever that may be.