Piquet ready to impress
Talent runs in the genes of the Piquet household with a triple world champion in '81, '83 and '87, Nelson Sr. made his mark with a flamboyant driving style on the track and a charismatic presence off it. As a rival of Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna, among others, he stood out with his passion for free speech and as such he became a darling of the sport’s media.
The name ‘Piquet’ certainly made an impression, so therefore it comes as no surprise that it brings with it a certain level of expectation when it’s attached to a new young sportsman!
Ever since his first laps, Nelsinho has given ample proof that he has inherited his father’s prowess behind the wheel. But this year, the young Brazilian will pass another milestone as he becomes test driver for the Renault F1 Team. Although the talent may be inherited, the media will have to look elsewhere for the brazen declarations of his father: Nelsinho is a shy young man. Discreet and hard-working, he prefers the quiet of the motor home to the flash of photographers’ cameras.
The Brazilian made his racing debut in go-karts at the age of 8. Several national titles followed.
“I didn’t enjoy school,” Nelsinho remembers. “I got home around 3pm, and immediately went to the go karting track. Once I got there, I drove until it got dark!”
Little by little, he climbed the ranks of junior motorsport. Firstly in South American F3, then the prestigious British championship, with his father on hand for personal and logistical support.
In 2005, Nelsinho made his debut in GP2, and it was the following year, just after his 21st birthday, when Flavio Briatore called. The Renault F1 Team’s Managing Director had been impressed by his battles with Lewis Hamilton, and offered him the role of test driver for 2007. Suddenly, his career rose to the next level.
This young driver is still little known to the wider world.
“A lot of people get the wrong idea about me,” admits Nelsinho, shrugging his shoulders. “I think it comes from my father’s name. When people know the name, they mistake shyness for arrogance.”
He is under no illusions about his new job, though. It will require excellence.
“Otherwise, people will say I’m only the shadow of my father…” he smiles.
His first drive for the Renault F1 Team came at Silverstone several days after the 2006 Italian Grand Prix. Since then, he has had several opportunities to begin learning the subtleties of his new job. He has shown himself to be determined, quick and industrious. All three are qualities that merit comparison with his father, while the world waits for the opportunity to compare their achievement. Renault