Nelson Piquet Jnr

Nelson Piquet Jnr
Country: 
Full Name: 
Nélson Piquet Souto Maior
Birth Date: 
16 August, 1952
Birth Place: 
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Driver Status: 
Former
Status Text: 
Single
28
Races
0
Wins
0
Poles
0
Titles

Nelson Piquet Jnr Biography
 

Many sons of famous fathers attempt to follow in similar footsteps, and the motorsport fraternity is no exception when it comes to youngsters trading on the family name, but , although talented, Nelson Piquet Jr may just become another example of failing to live up to the hype.

Born in Germany, and to a Dutch mother, it is maybe surprising that Piquet's formative racing years were spent in Brazil, but that is how things worked out after he was sent to live with his father several years after his parents split up.

Like the majority of Formula One aspirants, Nelson Jr or Nelsinho as he quickly became known started out in karts, but the ten-year old rookie was aided by the fact that dad was a three-time grand prix world champion.

Two quiet years were spent finding his feet, before Nelsinho began to show sparks of potential, claiming the Brasilia Federal District and Brazilian national titles in 1997, repeating the former success in each of the two following seasons, and adding the Copa Brazil and Sao Paolo State titles in 1999. The following season, his last in karts, proved to be his most fruitful, with no fewer than three national crowns prompting the Piquets to make the step into cars.

Still aged only 16, Nelsinho eschewed the starter formulae to plunge straight into to the 2001 South American F3 championship. However, he showed that he was far from out-classed by the jump, claiming one win, one pole, three fastest laps and five podiums in a seven-race half-season to claim fifth in the standings and rookie of the year honours.

That sort of debut performance naturally made Piquet Jr a hot property for 2002, especially with Nelson Sr's clout likely to attract publicity and, therefore, backers. However, the family money also allowed the Piquets to form their own team, and this is where Junior continued with further success.

He swept to the 2002 Sud-Am title on the back of 13 wins, 16 poles and 14 fastest laps in 18 races, claiming the crown with four races to go and allowing himself to explore future possibilities. The record-breaking season not only saw Nelsinho become the youngest series champion and set new marks for consecutive poles and race wins, but also served to widen the appreciation of his abilities.

Despite having various offers on the table, following in father's footsteps saw Nelson Jr head to the British F3 Championship for 2003. Again running with the family team this time an operation specifically set up in the UK the season was meant to be one for learning, but Piquet still managed six wins, eight poles and six fastest laps as he stormed to third place in the standings. He also took pole and finished second in the Marlboro Masters at Zandvoort, and claimed a podium in the Korean Superprix, but missed out in Macau.

Receiving a second Golden Helmet award from the Brazilian media and two test outings with the Williams F1 team, he was immediately listed as favourite for the 2004 title, and did not disappoint. With team and driver now familiar with the British circuits and weather Nelsinho again racked up six wins, backed up by five poles and eleven fastest laps to see off the British challenge of Adam Carroll and James Rossiter and reprise the honour of being the youngest ever series champion, even if success in the international races again eluded him.

Again, F1 interest was stirred and, despite an underwhelming display with Williams when he was outshone by Nico Rosberg twelve months earlier - Piquet was called up for a pre-season try out with BAR-Honda, running alongside regular drivers Jenson Button, Takuma Sato, Anthony Davidson and Enrique Bernoldi.

Again the test did not lead to anything permanent, leaving Piquet free to concentrate on the next step in his career the inaugural GP2 Series. Replacing the fading FIA F3000 championship, GP2 presented a level playing field for all concerned, but Piquet and the hastily-arranged Hitech/Piquet Sports combination - was again new to some circuits and had to settle for eighth in the final standings, with one win and four podiums to his credit.

In between races, Nelsinho also earned national recognition when selected to represent Team Brazil in the equally new A1 Grand Prix series, sweeping the opening round at Brands Hatch and claiming a further three podiums before the team's title challenge faded.

A1GP was also on the agenda for 2006, but Piquet Jr contested jut one meeting, deciding instead to focus on his GP2 Series title assault. The decision was well-made, with the now renamed Piquet Sports operation able to run at the front. Although inaugural champions ART Grand Prix looked set to propel Lewis Hamilton to an easy title, solid late-season form from Piquet took the fight all the way to the last round.

In all, the Brazilian racked up four race wins including a stunning wet-weather display in Hungary and five poles helping secure a 102-point haul. He also took in his first Le Mans 24 Hours with Team Modena and ended the year with victory in the 50th anniversary Mil Milhas on home soil in Sao Paolo.

Figuring that he had more to lose than gain by remaining in GP2 for a third year, Nelsinho accepted the offer to replace Franck Montagny as Renault F1's official test driver for 2007, providing back-up to race regulars Giancarlo Fisichella and former GP2 rival Heikki Kovalainen.

It was a largely quiet year, but Piquet did enough to keep his name in the frame and when the machinations of the 2007 season had worked out primarily with Fernando Alonso returning to Enstone he was in pole position to land the second seat, allegedly because Alonso was wary of Kovalainen's prowess after spending a tough year alongside Hamilton at McLaren.

Whether 2008 presented the double world champion with another headache depended on how quickly Nelsinho got to grips with life as an F1 race driver, but the Spaniard need not have worried.

Piquet Jr’s long-awaited F1 debut was a huge anti-climax, qualifying poorly and then suffering accident damage in the race and it didn’t get much better as the season unfolded. A torrid opening spell saw everything seemingly go against him, to the point where the rumour mill suggested that he may be dropped by mid-season. His future was secured, however, by his first points, at Magny-Cours, and a surprise second place at Hockenheim when a one-stop strategy was aided by a safety car intervention.

Further competent performances on the run-in, and maybe the ‘accident’ in Singapore which allowed Alonso to take victory for the regie, were enough to keep the Brazilian who ended the season twelfth overall with 19 points - in the second seat for 2009, but the pressure remained, both the prove his potential and live up to his illustrious father's record.

With GP2 star Romain Grosjean waiting in the wings, and with the apparent backing of Renault top brass looking for a Frenchman to carry the marque into the future, Piquet needed to perform, but opened the season with just one top ten finish in ten races and was finally dropped during F1's summer break. He then decided to speak out about the previous season's incident in Singapore, unleashing the 'crash-gate' furore that not only appears to have consigned him to the F1 wilderness, but also accounted for Renault boss Briatore and tech chief Pat Symonds, who he claimed had instructed him to spark the safety car incident that gave Alonso and the team victory.

Despite being linked to a handful of seats during the off-season, Piquet Jr has decided to take his talents to the other side of the Atlantic, embarking on a season in NASCAR's development series.