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Blundell: Nelsinho Piquet 'still a huge talent'

“That's very difficult to swallow,” Blundell opined. “You can't just go and crash a Formula 1 car; if you sit yourself in a road car and point at a wall and say 'right, I'm going to drive into it', there's something called self-preservation built into you so that you don't actually do it. It's not an easy thing to do, so I'm yet to be convinced on both sides of the story.

“I think it's very difficult for Nelson Piquet Jnr, because many people will be wary of what might go on if things don't go according to plan as he sees them. We'll see. He's still a great driver, he has a huge talent – untapped in many ways – and we don't really understand what the pressures were that he was driving under. Saying that, to follow through on something like that, if that is the case – and I stress we're still yet to see whether it is the case – is quite difficult to understand.”

The 43-year-old acknowledged that the outcome of the WMSC reunion could also be pivotal to Renault's future and ongoing commitment to F1, with many musing that the Régie barely needs an excuse to walk away from competition – but if the team does remain, Blundell poured cold water on the notion of Prodrive chairman David Richards stepping into Briatore's shoes at its helm.

“Difficult to understand why that would happen,” he pondered, “but nothing ever surprises me in the world of Formula 1. Commercially it just wouldn't stack up in my mind, but then who am I to say? As I say, Formula 1 is a world unto itself, so let's see what happens.”

Turning his attentions back towards the on-track action, finally, Blundell concluded that he would 'love to see Jenson Button win' the world championship to make it back-to-back British drivers' titles at the highest level – refuting the suggestion that his compatriot has suffered from nerves and failed to cope well with the pressure of leading the standings over the summer and stressing that the Brawn GP ace remains firmly in pole position to clinch the coveted crown at season's end.

“It would be great to have a UK champion following on from Lewis Hamilton's victorious world championship last year,” he underlined. “I really do hope that will be the case, but there's a long way to go yet. There are still a few races and they're key races. As we are at this point, Rubens Barrichello is the biggest opposition to Jenson; they're both in the same machinery and anything can happen.

“I don't think Jenson quite got everything together as he wanted it [during the summer], and he's one of those guys who looks like he needs everything in-place to turn in the ultimate result. Once he gets back to that, you'll probably see Jenson winning another grand prix before the season is out, but he's doing a great job at the moment – he keeps knocking in the points – and that's all that matters.

“Unless something significant happens with Brawn, then Red Bull probably are out of the title chase, but I cannot emphasise to you more that anything can happen in F1. You can't put anything in writing now, because come the end of the season there will be a whole different thing to talk about.”

As to reigning champion Hamilton, finally – the man who is now certain to relinquish his title come Abu Dhabi at the beginning of November – Blundell was unequivocal, recognising that McLaren-Mercedes' talisman driver has endured far from the easiest of years, but convinced that it has only strengthened him and that the 24-year-old will bounce back in style.

“It's been a character-building year and he's had his ups and his downs,” reflected the former ITV-F1 pundit, “but he's come out the other end of it and is showing us still what he can do behind the wheel of a racing car, and that's the main thing. There are more world championships left in Lewis Hamilton.”

by Russell Atkins

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mart - Unregistered

September 19, 2009 9:40 PM

Team managers are supposed to help drivers find confidance and become better drivers not bully them and blackmail them so they keep there ride. If what piquet says is true Briatori should be banned from compation and brought up on charges.

cef911f1 - Unregistered

September 20, 2009 4:33 AM

For those of you who think NPJr is so bad that he doesn't deserve to be in F1, you should compare his 28 races to Felipe Massa's first 28. They both DNF's 11 times. NPJr crashed 8 times (once on purpose it seems) and Massa crashed 7 times. Using the current scoring method, NPJr scored 19 pts. and Massa 20. Almost identical records. I don't condone what he did, but I can understand it. Face it, 24 year olds don't always do the smartest things.

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