Nelsinho Piquet admits he is 'really looking forward' to his first home grand prix at Interlagos this weekend – and under no greater pressure than usual, even though some are suggesting it could be his last grand prix full stop.
The Brazilian rookie endured a torrid first half to his maiden campaign in Formula 1 this year, littered with spins, poor qualifying performances and sheer bad luck. Whilst both his consistency and his fortunes have come on considerably in recent weeks – with impressive outings in particular in the most recent two grands prix in Japan and China – Piquet acknowledges that he still has some work to do on his Saturday afternoon form on home soil if he is to deliver the kind of showing on race day to make his supporters proud.
"These are encouraging results," the 23-year-old reflected of his Fuji and Shanghai points-scoring finishes, "but I'm happier about the pace that we had and the strong race performances.
"The car has improved a lot recently; it's easier to drive and I therefore feel more comfortable with it. My priority now is to improve my qualifying performance to be better-placed on the grid, and that is what I will be concentrating on doing at Interlagos.
"It's a circuit that is renowned for being particularly bumpy, so the suspension settings will be very important. You need a car that is supple enough to ride the bumps and the curbs in the second sector, while at the same time being reactive in the tight corners and having good change of direction. We will work on the set-up of the car and the suspension during the three hours of practice on Friday."
Whilst not denying that the Brazilian Grand Prix will carry extra significance for him, Piquet did insist that he will not be putting himself under any extra pressure – as he seeks a third consecutive strong result to boost his chances of remaining at Renault in 2009.
"I'm really looking forward to it," the former GP2 Series Vice-champion enthused. "I know that it will feel great to drive in my own country in front of my family and my friends – it's definitely a big source of motivation, and I'm really determined to get the most from the weekend.
"I will do my best to remain concentrated [and] work hard with my engineers to try and make sure we have a really good race in Interlagos. I'm determined to have a great race, but I'm not putting more pressure on myself because it's the Brazilian Grand Prix and my home race.
"Instead I'm approaching this race calmly, and I will use the practice sessions to gradually improve the set-up of the car so that I am in the best shape possible for qualifying and the race. I'm approaching the weekend one step at a time to try and deliver a great result."