Nelsinho Piquet's future in Formula 1 remains balanced precariously on a knife-edge, it would seem, despite what was arguably the finest performance of the young Brazilian's fledgling career in the top flight in the Japanese Grand Prix last weekend.
Following a bright start, Piquet ran inside the points-scoring positions from the 'off' at Fuji Speedway, and would ultimately convert just twelfth spot on the grid into fourth place at the chequered flag – looking like he might even have a chance of a podium in the closing stages – after all-but matching the lap times of team-mate and race-winner Fernando Alonso throughout.
The result – what famously demanding Renault managing director Flavio Briatore acknowledged was the product of a 'great drive' [see separate story – click here
] – lifted the 23-year-old up to twelfth position in the points standings with two grands prix left to run in the campaign, but it has not necessarily saved his seat at the Régie
With the Italian team boss having acknowledged before Japan that Piquet had 'not had a good season' in 2008, and with persistent rumours that GP2 Series front-runner Lucas di Grassi could be in-line to replace his under-fire compatriot, it appears Fuji may have been a case of too little, too late.
“We will decide only at the end of the year what we are going to do,” Briatore told Dutch publication Formule 1 Race Report
“A single race is not really going to change our thoughts. It seems to me only natural that he should be performing.”