x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Piquet's point to prove

The Renault driver remains upbeat, and he cites Jenson Button as an example of how quickly fortunes can turn around.

Renault's Nelson Piquet Jnr in action yesterday during practice for the Turkish Grand Prix.
Renault's Nelson Piquet Jnr in action yesterday during practice for the Turkish Grand Prix.

ISTANBUL // Burdened by the exploits of a famous father, it has been a frustrating two years in Formula One for Nelson Piquet Jnr. Hopes were high when the son of the three-time former world champion Nelson Piquet made his debut in the sport in March 2008 for Renault. But it has been a rough ride for the Brazilian, who is already fighting to salvage his career having failed to score a point this season with a best finish of 10th in Bahrain, and rumours continue to abound that he may be replaced by third driver Romain Grosjean if performances don't improve as he struggles to match up to teammate Fernando Alonso.

Piquet Jnr remains unmoved and upbeat about tomorrow's Turkish Grand Prix and mentions Jenson Button, the runaway world championship leader, as an example of how fortunes can change quickly. After struggling last year and scoring only three points, the Brawn GP driver is going for a sixth win in just seven races this season in Istanbul. "I am not here because of the name," says Piquet Jnr, who scored 19 points and finished 12th in last year's championship. "It has been a difficult season, I know that. I didn't imagine coming to the seventh race without any points. Criticism is going to be around my whole life so it's nothing that bothers me; it won't make me go quicker or slower.

"There are plenty of other drivers hitting the door wanting to come in so it's normal for a team to put pressure on the driver. But I put the pressure on myself. "Drivers don't dream of just being in Formula One, drivers dream of winning. "We always want to fight and always to be at the front. Every category in my life, in karting, Formula 3, GP 2, everything, I have been quick and winning. Honestly, this is not enjoyable right now.

"Formula One is enjoyable when you win races, when you are at the front like Jenson is this year. I am sure when he was going through last year he didn't enjoy it at all. "He was sitting there doing his job, but I am sure it was the most frustrating year in his life. "That kind of change can happen to anybody. I am sure my day will arrive when I get more comfortable, get more experience and Renault progress into a better shape or I get into a car that is quicker."

Piquet Jnr admits he is learning with every moment and, with talk of a breakaway championship following the budget cap row, he believes nothing can replace the magic of Formula One. He adds: "Formula One is a whole different world. Even with a budget cap for the teams, it's going to be a different level. "I want to be part of this obviously. It's the top of motorsport and there's nothing else tougher than this. It's what I fought my whole life for to get here and winning races must be the most amazing feeling ever. I want that."

akhan@thenational.ae