Although he doesn't expect Piquet to challenge for the title this year – neither in a Renault car, not in a Ferrari – Briatore hopes the Brazilian driver will grow and provide him with enough arguments to extend his deal at the end of the year. Piquet's contract with Renault F1 currently runs out at the end of the 2009 season.
“At the moment he would not win the world championship in a Renault or a Ferrari. He is a mysterious character. His last name is not going to make him any faster. I have tried once again to develop a young guy into an established driver. This year will show us whether we chose the right young guy,” said Briatore, according to Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport.
Although he was the first to score a podium for Renault F1 last year – during the chaotic German Grand Prix at Hockenheim – Piquet finished the 2008 season some 42 points short to teammate Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard managed an incredible second part of the season, scoring back-to-back wins in Singapore and Japan.
However, Piquet's problems this year might be related to the Renault R29, as the French manufacturer's 2009-spec machinery is currently lacking on-track performance. Having completed the first 2 testing sessions at Jerez this week, Piquet ended both days with the poorest time of the 7 teams present at the Spanish track. He is expected to make one more appearance in the R29 cockpit today, before being replaced by Alonso.