Nelson Piquet Jnr has spoken of the 'fantastic opportunity' presented to him by Renault in awarding him a race seat next year, as the Brazilian gets set to follow his father into the uppermost echelon.

Piquet Snr, though, was rather more used to racing against Renault-powered cars en route to his three world drivers' titles in 1981, 1983 and 1987. Now his son has stepped up from the role of test and reserve driver that he occupied throughout 2007, and it is a challenge the former GP2 vice-champion is clearly relishing, particularly as he will be able to renew combat with Lewis Hamilton - the man who beat him to the GP2 crown - whilst learning the tricks of the trade from none other than McLaren refugee Fernando Alonso.

"First of all, I want to thank Flavio [Briatore] and Renault for putting their confidence in me for 2008,"enthused 22-year-old 'Nelsinho'. "It is a fantastic opportunity to make my Formula 1 debut with one of the top teams on the grid, and alongside one of the very best drivers in the sport.

"This drive is something I have been working towards since the end of 2006, and I am proud that my performances as test-driver have earned me this position. I am looking forward to teaming up with Fernando and learning from him. As a rookie, there is no better way to start your career than to have a double world champion as your reference point."

Piquet Jnr will make his F1 debut in the 2008 Australian Grand Prix on 16 March.



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