Despite enduring a troubled start to his Formula 1 career, Nelsinho Piquet has insisted he is not unduly concerned, stressing that he needs to follow in the wheeltracks of his predecessor at Renault Heikki Kovalainen, who turned his season around in dramatic fashion last year.

The 22-year-old has only finished one of the opening three grands prix of the new campaign - taking the chequered flag in Malaysia - and unlike double world champion team-mate Fernando Alonso, he has yet to break the top ten in qualifying.

Whilst the Spaniard has six points to his name so far, the young Brazilian has none, though he at least has the saving grace of Renault MD Flavio Briatore taking a somewhat softer line than was the case twelve months ago, when the famously irascible Italian suggested Kovalainen's future was under threat should he fail to improve - and fast.

"I am frustrated," Piquet admitted, speaking to French magazine Autohebdo, "but I am not disappointed.

"I would be disappointed if it was a really different story for Alonso, but when you see how difficult it was for him to get to Q3 in Bahrain, and how he couldn't secure points in the race, then my position is also understandable. That doesn't satisfy me, but it takes some pressure from my shoulders."

The former GP2 Series vice-champion added that Renault's problems were wide-reaching, covering 'engine, chassis, aerodynamics', but he remained confident he could emulate Kovalainen in climbing up the Formula 1 grid as the season progresses - with Briatore's support.

"We have talked quietly," he acknowledged, "and he says that I should remain calm and that things will get better. Kovalainen also had problems at the beginning, and then he was able to get stronger. I have to do the same."



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