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Has Nelson Piquet Jr Saved His Bacon?

Has Nelson Piquet Jr Saved His Bacon?

Nelson Piquet Jr. has endured a disastrous start to his Formula One career, especially when his results are compared to his team mate. Heikki Kovalainen last year had a tough time in the Renault, but the Finn eventually got to grips with the car in ended up hauling in more points than his then-team mate Giancarlo Fisichella. While I don’t think Piquet will be able to reign in Fernando Alonso this year, was the French Grand Prix the race that saw Piquet turn his fortunes around?

The Brazilian driver arrived in Formula One with a lot of promise, many people believing he would blow Alonso away. Needless to say that hasn’t exactly happened and the poor Renault pilot has struggled to get to grips with the R28. It is also worth noting that the 2008 Renault isn’t a great car and comparing Piquet to Alonso is a little unfair; Ecclestone recently rated Fernando as the best all-round driver on the grid. And with two championships behind him already, it is hard to disagree with the diminutive Brit.

Piquet passed Alonso in the closing stages of the French Grand Prix and went from eighth to seventh and demoted his team mate down the points order. After finishing the race Piquet was naturally exuberant with his first point-scoring result in Formula One, as was team boss Flavio Briatore, a man who has been almost unnaturally calm following Piquet’s troubled start to 2008.

It’s the first time that everything has gone without any problems for me. The car and the team’s strategy worked well and I was able to score my first couple of points today. I am happy and I hope that we can continue like this for the rest of the season. Nelson Piquet Jr.

Nelson had a remarkable race, very consistent and aggressive, and I am very pleased to see him score his first points today. Flavio Briatore.

However, while Piquet’s points will be enjoyed for the next two weeks, is it enough to quell the concern at Renault HQ. Last month Steve Nielson was critical of Piquet and refused to deny that his position was under threat.

I think rather than say he’s had a disastrous start to the season, it’s a bit of a curate’s egg – there are good bits and bad bits.

But he needs to start having more good bits than the bad bits, and he needs to start doing that as soon as he can because F1 is a business, it’s a very cut-throat business, and if people don’t deliver they go the obvious way. Steve Nielson.

Piquet has been testing a lot recently, and generally he has appeared to be more consistent at recent races. But is it already too late? Kovalainen scored points in only his second Formula One race last year, and then he scored again in Spain before starting a string of good finishes from the British Grand Prix onwards.

KOVALAINEN (2007) AUS
10
MAL
8 (1pt)
BHR
9
ESP
7 (2pts)
MON
13
CAN
4 (5pts)
USA
5 (4pts)
FRA
15
PIQUET JR (2008) AUS
Ret
MAL
11
BHR
Ret
ESP
Ret
TUR
15
MON
Ret
CAN
Ret
FRA
7 (2pts)

Therefore, I think it is fair to say that Piquet needs to continue his result from France to push for more during the middle of the season. He needs to minimise his retirements and stick to Alonso like glue.

Image © Glenn Dunbar/LAT.

Oliver White

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