Nelson Piquet Jr is preparing to make a shock return to Formula 3 racing with Carlin by stepping into the British squad's vacant entry at Pau, which hosts the third round of the FIA European Formula 3 championship.
The reigning Formula E champion has been invited by the squad to offer guidance to Carlin's young F3 drivers and the Brazilian has wholeheartedly taken up the opportunity and is set to return to F3 racing for the first time in 12 years.
Piquet Jr, who stood in for Max Chilton at Carlin during last year's Indy Lights championship at Toronto where he claimed pole position and two top eight finishes despite never having raced the car or track, will line-up alongside Ryan Tveter, Alessio Lorandi and Peter Li as well as younger brother Pedro Piquet who competes for Van Amersfoort Racing.
“I'm really excited to get back behind the wheel of a Formula 3 car, which holds so many great memories for me,” the former British F3 champion said. “I had a great time working with Carlin in the Indy Lights car in Toronto last year, and I'm happy to help the team again this weekend in Pau.
“Any experience gained on street circuits is beneficial for my Formula E campaign and I relish the challenge of adapting to another category this season.”
Piquet Jr will jump into Raoul Hyman's drive, who is currently seeking sponsorship support from his native South Africa, and the Brazilian is ultimately targeting a race seat for the Macau Grand Prix later this year.
Team owner Trevor Carlin has welcomed Piquet Jr with open arms after being thoroughly impressed with the ex-F1 driver's exploits as a stand-in at Toronto last year.
“Nelson is a real racer. He's unafraid of competition at any level and is reminiscent of the era of drivers like Jim Clark who would take part in races from various categories, just for the love of racing,” Carlin said. “Nelson really impressed the team last season when he jumped into an unfamiliar Indy Lights car and put the car on pole on a track he had never visited before.
“His championship winning credentials in Formula E perfectly reflect his talent on street circuits. We believe he will be a great asset to the team and our young drivers this weekend and we look forward to working with him in Pau and hopefully again in Macau later this year.”
The former F1 driver is currently combining his season with campaigns in Formula E and the World Endurance Championship. The Pau Grand Prix will mark his first return to F3 racing since 2004 when he claimed the British F3 championship.