After a tough start to his rookie Formula One season, Nelson Piquet Jr is hoping that finally scoring at the French Grand Prix a fortnight ago will be the catalyst for a stronger team showing from Renault in the remaining races.

Mirroring predecessor Heikki Kovalainen, Piquet struggled in the shadow of a more experienced team-mate at a struggling team until mid-season, finally getting on the board at Magny-Cours a fortnight ago, but reckons that that result - where he finished seventh ahead of double world champion Fernando Alonso - could be a turning point as he battles to keep his place in the line-up.

"It felt great to score my first points as I have been waiting for this moment since the beginning of the year," the Brazilian admitted, "It took a bit longer than I would have liked, but the early races were not easy for me or the team. In France, everything just came together for us - we ran without any problems and improved the car throughout the weekend, and so I was well prepared for the race and felt comfortable with the car.

"Now I hope I can carry this momentum into the next part of the season, starting with the next race at Silverstone, but this result hasn't changed anything inside me - I knew what I was capable of and that things would come right eventually. I think I will have a stronger second half of the year as I have more experience to draw on and I have learnt an enormous amount from the first eight races. Every second you spend in the car, you learn a bit more, and you become a bit more confident: it's just a natural learning process and it takes time."

Piquet will head to Silverstone well versed in the nuances of the UK circuit, having raced there for a large portion of his junior career, finding success in British F3. With Renault confident that it can again field a point-scoring version of the R28, the Brazilian is aiming to come out on top in the increasingly-heated midfield battle with Williams, Toyota and Red Bull.

"I guess it will feel a bit like a home race for me - I like the track and we tested there last week, so we have the car quite well sorted already," he claimed, "Obviously, the aim is to score more points and to be matching my team-mate but, as we saw in France, the midfield pack is very competitive and a lot of the cars are fighting on the same level - just a few tenths can be the difference between qualifying in eighth or 16th. And qualifying will be especially important at Silverstone because overtaking is not easy due to the high-speed nature of the track. I will just approach the race in my normal way by pushing to the maximum all weekend and aiming for another points finish."

Although the Renault hierarchy was disappointed with seventh and eighth places in France, technical director Bob Bell insists that Piquet's result was a positive one, and should bode well for the remainder of the campaign.

"Although we're obviously very pleased to see both cars finish the race in the points, I don't think we can be totally satisfied with the result," he insisted, "I think Nelson got as much out of the race as he was ever likely to given his starting position, but it was obviously a great disappointment that Fernando was unable to bring home a potential podium finish, which is ultimately what we were aiming for.

"I think that Nelson did a very creditable job though, and he kept improving throughout the race weekend. In the practice sessions on Friday he was quite a way off Fernando and, yet, by the end of the weekend, he was right up there with him and ultimately brought home more points.

"It was a really positive weekend for him, which is great for his self-confidence. Hopefully, it will act as a launch pad for the second half of the year as we travel to some of the European tracks that he has raced on before. I think this is a real opportunity for him to show his true colours."

 

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