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GP Week : Issue 43
> F1NEWS> The heat is on for Piquet Pressure is on Nelson after struggle with form – and he’s not the only one ... THE F1 rumour mill and silly season has begun a few months early in 2009, following an under par start to the season by some of the sport’s drivers. Under fire Renault driver Nelson Piquet is believed to be the most at risk, despite assurances from team- boss Flavio Briatore over the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend that his driver had the full support of the team. “It’s a difficult moment for him,”he said. “In a moment like this you don’t need to kill anybody – you need to support and to hope, hope he’ll do better.” This hope may be short lived however. GPWeek understands that Piquet has a clause in his contract guaranteeing him half of the current season as a Renault F1 race driver. It is believed therefore that should he fail to impress when Formula 1 returns to Europe, the Brazilian could be ousted after the British Grand Prix. Likely replacements are 2008 GP2 Brazilian stand-outs Lucas di Grassi and Bruno Senna. While di Grassi has been part of the Renault Driver Development scheme for some time and is known to be judged at Renault as a calm yet quick talent, Senna has the backing of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone who may yet play a role in convincing Briatore to run him. Renault’s current reserve driver Romain Grosjean is another possibility, although GPWeek understands that Renault does not yet consider him to be fully ready to make his F1 debut. Other potential driver changes at mid-season are at Toro Rosso and Williams. Sebastien Bourdais is failing to match his rookie team-mate Sebastien Buemi, and Takuma Sato, who tested so impressively for STR over the winter, has been rumoured as a potential replacment along with the aforementioned Senna. Over at Williams, a tough start to the year for Kazuki Nakajima has led some areas of the press to speculate that his seat could be under threat from newly crowned GP2 Asia champion Kamui Kobayashi who, like Nakajima, is supported by Toyota. Kobayashi is coming Needs to beat Buemi 10