It was a day of mixed fortunes for Team Brazil as it first celebrated Nelson Piquet Jr's podium finish in the sprint race at EuroSpeedway in Germany, and then had to endure the disappointment of a retirement in the afternoon's feature race.

In the sprint race, Team Brazil started third on the grid behind France and the USA although a mistake at the start by the double Brands Hatch winner meant that he set off in the wrong gear and fell to sixth. However a first corner incident between the American and British cars saw the Brazilian entry reclaim third behind France's Nicolas Lapierre and Switzerland's Neel Jani.

Piquet Jr stayed close to Jani's tail for the remainder of the 18-lap race, but was unable to overtake, therefore finishing in third place and filling the final step of the podium. Crucially, Piquet Jr set the fastest lap of the race, which would prove to be the difference maker in terms of overall championship positions come the end of the day.

At the start of the 35-lap feature race, Piquet Jr got a great start, initially moving up to second but then falling to fourth to avoid a very committed Malaysian entry driven by Alex Yoong. Settling behind Switzerland, Malaysia and France, a mistake from Yoong on lap three saw Brazil retake third and begin closing on the Swiss entry until it all came unstuck during the compulsory pit stop.

The Brazilian team elected to bring Piquet Jr in for his stop on lap seven, where a recurrence of the problem that afflicted them at Brands Hatch saw team loose many seconds and resulted in Piquet Jr returning to the track in 18th position. Adding insult to injury, the team were then penalised for having too many people working on the car during the stop, an offence that required a drive through penalty.

A late safety car period initially seemed to be a saving grace for Brazil, with Piquet already back up to tenth position and now in a position where he could easily gain several more spots and increase Brazil's lead in the standings. However when the green flag flew Piquet Jr found himself sandwiched between the Japanese car of Hideki Noda and Czech Republic driver Tomas Enge on the run into turn one. With Noda in an uncompromising mood contact was inevitable with Piquet Jr bouncing over the right rear of the Japanese car and into Enge, putting both himself and Enge out of the race while Noda continued unscathed.

Although he failed to score for the first time this year, Piquet Jr's fastest lap from the sprint race would prove to be the fastest of the whole day, guaranteeing Brazil a bonus point and the championship lead for the second straight week by a single point over EuroSpeedway double winners France and the consistent New Zealand entry.

"It was a bit of a difficult weekend, but there are still a lot of positives and at least we know we are quick and still in the lead in the championship," said Piquet Jr afterwards. "In the first race I did a little mistake at the start and went out with the wrong gear and lost a lot of positions, but the cars that crashed were unlucky and I gained the positions I had lost at the start.

"Throughout I was quicker than Jani but it's difficult to follow on this track and it's not easy to overtake. I tried sometimes to make some gaps and do a fastest lap, which I did, so that's something good.

"In the second race I made a good start but then the car choked, I don't know why, and I fell back a bit. I was quick and really thought I could do well but then we had the bad pit stop and the drive through. When the safety car went back in I was in the points but the Japanese guy made a silly, inexperienced mistake and put me out. Now we look forward to Estoril and try to increase the lead we have there."

"The best thing is that we are still leading the championship, although this afternoon was really disappointing," said Brazilian team principal Emerson Fittipaldi. "Also, we know that we were the fastest car on the track in both races, and got the fastest lap in both. In the first race Nelson was clever to avoid the incident at the first corner. He was the fastest man but he couldn't get past Switzerland. He still finished a strong third though and I really think with each race he is getting tougher.

"In the second race we had a difficult pit stop and then we were penalised, so we lost a lot of ground. Nelson did a fantastic restart after the safety car came in but he got squeezed by two cars and had nowhere to go when the Japan car turned in on him. He is lucky the car didn't end up upside-down."

 

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