Born to a Three-Time World Champion with the same name, Nelson Piquet has an incredible family legacy to live up to. Numerous critics have already stated that this Formula1 rookie’s season will be exciting from the word go as he is naturally talented and extremely skilled in his profession. Nelsinho started his career under the able and watchful eyes of his father, the great Nelson Piquet. He had almost everything he needed to start as he took a seat in the Brazilian Karting Championships, in 1993. For about 8 years, till the year 2000, Nelson participated in Kart racing and was also crowned the national champion on 3 occasions. He graduated from Karts, onto single seater racing in 2001, when he took part in the South American Formula Three Championships.
After a first season which was mostly spent in acclimatizing to the new racing format, with his father’s team – Piquet Racing, Nelson went into 2002 with firmer determination and came out victorious. He qualified at pole position on 16 occasions and won an incredible 13 races.
This encouraged him to move to Europe, the home of all the big names in Formula1 racing. Of course, to get noticed, Nelson would have to participate in lesser versions of the sport and aided again, by his father’s racing outfit, the Brazilian took part in the British Formula Three Championships. In his first season, in 2003, he made his mark on the British Championships by taking the overall third position with 6 wins. His wonderful performance in his first year led him to testing with Williams during the winter of 2003. Nelson had had a taste of what was in store for him, in the coming years.
History repeated itself in 2004 as Piquet became the British Formula Three Champion in his second year, a feat he had achieved in 2002, in his second year in the South American Formula Three series. Piquet was the youngest ever winner of the series, at 19 years and 2 months. Williams was back to him for more testing duties and his performances in the Formula Three championships invited the A1 Series’ Brazilian team to Piquet’s doorstep. In 2005, Nelsinho was representing his country on the tracks of the A1 Grand Prix. His schedule for 2005 was extremely busy as he also took part in the newly formed GP2 series. He finished the GP2 series at 8th place and got a more respectable 6th place finish in the A1 Series. BAR came calling this time for a round of testing, something that Nelson Jr. was getting quite accustomed to. His stint at the A1 series was rather fruitful as he finished with 71 points and 2 wins as well. 2006 was the year that everyone saw a future F1 driver in him. He had a marvelous GP2 season and only Lewis Hamilton’s hard fought first place overshadowed him. However his second place was in no ways an indication that he was not prepared for the biggest stage of them all. In fact, Renault came to him for testing duties, not once, but twice, to ensure his competence behind the wheel of an F1 car.
In 2008, Nelson Piquet Jr. is on the Formula 1 circuit and in his very first season, will be driving next to double World Champion, Fernando Alonso, for the Renault Formula1 team. The young Brazilian was upbeat about his chances and stated that he wont play second fiddle to Alonso and instead would fight things out as hard as he can.
Despite receiving a lot of aid from his father’s legacy and wealth in his formative years, Nelsinho has proved his worth at the big stages and now, that Formula1 is on his doorstep, 2008 will determine whether this young man can live up to the reputation that he has created or whether he will fade away in trying to match his father’s performances.