Nelsinho Piquet has brushed off comments made by his three-time world champion father that Renault is putting 'too much pressure' on him to perform in his second season of Formula 1 in 2009 – arguing that the only pressure he is under is from within.
The young Brazilian has endured a torrid start to his sophomore campaign in the top flight – one that despite significantly higher expectations at the outset, is rapidly beginning to mirror his unconvincing rookie year in 2008. Four races in, and not only has he yet to get off the mark in terms of points, but he has quite literally paled in comparison with team-mate Fernando Alonso and has only once made it beyond the initial Q1 stage in qualifying in Bahrain, even then falling at the Q2 hurdle and lining up a lowly 15th in the desert kingdom.
There are already rumours doing the rounds within the paddock that the French outfit's famously irascible managing director Flavio Briatore is looking to replace Piquet with reserve driver Romain Grosjean, who has been an ever-increasing presence on the pit wall at grands prix of late.
Nelson Piquet Snr has suggested that rather than public criticism, Briatore would do well to 'cover' his son from the media glare and allow him to develop away from the limelight – but the fact that the 23-time grand prix-winner has been at every race thus far in 2009 perhaps speaks volumes. 'Nelsinho' has acknowledged that though the pair 'don't really talk about driving, it's good to have his advice and support as he has a lot of experience in motorsport'.
“I don't think the team is putting too much pressure on me,” the 23-year-old urged in an interview with Eurosport
. “If anything I am putting pressure on myself because I am so determined to do well and help the team.
“I have no doubts about the support of the whole team and I get on well with everyone. It's not really a psychological issue, but it's important that I start scoring points to help the team in the constructors' championship.”