Nelson Piquet Jr has claimed that next year's Formula One
cars may not be the test of skill a lot of insiders are suggesting, after comparing last week's Renault
test to his memories of GP2.
Speaking to Renault
F1's official website, the Brazilian – who hopes to land a race seat in F1 for 2008 – admitted that he found an F1 car fitted with a soon-to-be-banned traction control system an easy beast to get to grips with, but also remarked that he felt the new breed of car, which will have a lot of its electronics removed, was also less of a handful than the GP2
machine he took to second in the 2006 championship.
“I was surprised how easy it was with the driver aid - the car was less twitchy and it was possible to tackle the kerbs without hesitating,” Piquet, who has track tested the 2008-spec GP2
car, remarked, “I stayed on line and I could really nail the accelerator. The ECU took over and dosed the power according to the grip. It was very good for the times, but didn't really require a very special talent.
“I thought it would be very difficult [without traction control so] I was pleasantly surprised. In fact, I come from the GP2
category in which the car's got fairly heavy downforce and slick tyres without driver aids. It keeps you very busy behind the wheel, I can tell you!
“In a certain sense, mastering an F1 car without traction control is easier than taming a GP2. It's also true that the change to the V8 engine eased the transition for the F1 drivers. A V10 without traction control would have been a lot more brutal and more difficult to drive.”
Piquet, who tested with Renault
at the most recent group session in Spain but could lose out to Fernando Alonso
should the regie
opt for the Spaniard and Heikki Kovalainen
next year, admitted that he had had to alter his driving style to accommodate the 'simpler' F1 car.
“For sure, you don't drive a 2008 car like a 2007 one!” he smiled, “You have to be much more careful where you place it, which was much easier before. You have to really control the way it slides and pay attention to your right foot. It's much more fun for the drivers.
“Of course, lap times won't be quite as quick for a while, but I'm sure that that they'll gradually come back to those of last season. You'll just have to get used to the new set-up and find your marks.
“It'll be necessary to have softer rear suspension to maximise traction, [and] tyre wear will also have to be watched very carefully when you follow another car and try to overtake.
“A good car with traction control will still be a good car without it!”