Team Brazil are coming under increasing pressure from Great Britain and New Zealand for their third place in the standings after a difficult day in the A1 Grand Prix championship around the streets of Durban, South Africa.

With Nelson Piquet Jr at the wheel, the GP2 racer qualified eighth and raced comfortably in that position for the majority of the race behind Matt Halliday in the New Zealand entry.

However, with just three laps to go, Nelson clipped the wall on the exit of the hairpin with his right rear wheel and spun slightly. He was unable to restart the car, signalling the end to their race. The team was classified 19th, and therefore started from the 10th row for the feature race.

With 40-laps to make up places on the narrow street circuit, Piquet Jr had his work cut out to make an impression on the race but a very late pit stop and fastest lap of the race, meant that Brazil emerged from the pits in ninth place, collecting two points. His fastest lap also meant he picked up a bonus point.

"We were a bit careful in the first race, because it's so easy to make a mistake here and we wanted to make sure we had a good grid position for the second race," Piquet said. "Unfortunately right near the end I tapped the wall and stalled, which meant I was at the back for the second race."

"It was a long race and starting so far back to get ninth is okay, but we could have done even better. We thought it would rain so we held on to do our pitstop but in the end it didn't rain. But we were very fast which we can take away as a positive. We were half a second quicker than Switzerland per lap and our race pace was faster than France in qualifying."

Despite losing even more ground to France and Switzerland in the points, team boss Emerson Fittipaldi was in a positive mood about Piquet's performance.

"I am actually very happy with the race because Nelson's performance was incredible, he was so fast and the car set-up was very good," he said. "We took a big risk with our pitstop strategy as we thought it was going to rain, and if we waited until then to change tyres we had a real chance of winning as most of the other teams pitted on the first lap."

"Unfortunately that didn't happen but we still did a very strong performance and we set a very good lap record. The crowds here in South Africa were unbelievable, there was not a single seat vacant in the grandstands and the atmosphere was amazing."

 

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