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GP Week : Issue 16
complete team. They bought an English F1 plant, hired an Italian boss and gave birth to a Spanish world champion. It worked! Nevertheless you will understand why I have enormous philosophical difficulties in calling them a French team! Last but not least, the recent French GP issue is the icing on the cake in order to demonstrate that we are not rated as the sharpest tools in the paddock box. Magny-Cours has lived for 10 years under a permanent threat. You know what? We never did anything to improve our event. But we will, we promise, eternally optimistic, even if we officially only work 35 hours a week … At the end of the day, you should never forget that apart our very romantic but useless habit of talking instead of doing (Jean Todt should prove to me that he is really French), we represent perfectly our official sporting symbol, the rooster … the only animal on earth able to keep singing while its feet are in the shit! NELSON Piquet’s drive to seventh place in the French Grand Prix was the sort of drive I’d been waiting for from the Brazilian. I have a firm, some say misguided, faith in Nelson and his skills, and to see him racing so well after such a difficult start to his Formula 1 career brought an enormous smile to my face. Nelson is not the most universally popular driver in the F1 media. Many think he’s arrogant, and even more hold the belief that he’s only got to where he has thanks to his father and that surname. I first met Nelson in 2005 and on first impression found him to be one of the most difficult people to talk to that I had ever met. I, too, thought him to be arrogant and difficult. But then, little by little, he opened up and the man I discovered was a very witty, incredibly shy, hugely driven and frighteningly focussed individual. It is a fact oft overlooked that, although Nelson always had the advantage of running in his own team’s car in junior level racing, the young Brazilian was charged with making many managerial decisions as to the direction of the team. All this he did whilst racing for the team, leading them on set-up decisions and ultimately taking the vast majority of points the team scored. He did all this, and more. He is still the only man I have ever seen to work his way into the very base of Lewis Hamilton’s head. Not even Alonso managed that. He worked away at Hamilton until he broke, spectacularly, at Hungary in 2006. Piquet managed to take Hamilton to the wire in a spec series where Hamilton was driving for the best team on the grid. That alone singles him out as a talent in my books. And yet all season we have heard rumours that Piquet will be replaced mid-season. For his sake, for Renault’s sake, and for F1’s sake, I hope this does not come to pass. People are so quick to judge in this sport; so quick to place blame and to dismiss people before we’ve given them a fair shot. I’ll put my hand up and say I never expected Massa to be leading the championship this, or any year. I, as many of my colleagues, was openly critical of him after Malaysia. But what a turnaround he has made, and I have no doubt in claiming that, for me, he is by far the more impressive Ferrari driver this season. With that in mind, I hope that Nelson continues at the same level we saw at the French Grand Prix. I hope he has a number of good results with some strong battles and that, just as with his countryman Massa, the doubters will acknowledge his turn in form and give him the acknowledgement he deserves. The results are up to him. And on the basis of the French Grand Prix, I doubt we’ve seen or heard the last from Nelson Piquet in Formula 1. GPWEEK OPINION >> Bravo Nelson! o p in io n Will Buxton GPWeek Editor 21