by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 58
Falling out of love: Nelson Piquet Jr expected a lot from his management agreement with Flavio Briatore, above, but now feels betrayed. Piquet and Lewis Hamilton were close, and fierce, rivals in GP2, right, but haven’t gone wheel-to-wheel much in F1. A SPEC series is the best way to sort out the men from the boys, right? Equal equipment; the same chassis; tyres; engines – it’s all about the driver. No margin for error, no room for excuses. Succeed or fail. It’s as simple as that. GP2 has given us some fine drivers, of that there can be little doubt. Lewis Hamilton, the championship’s 2006 winner, is thus far the only driver in history to have been crowned champion in an F1 feeder category and then go on to repeat that feat in Formula 1. No Formula 2, nor Formula 3000, champion before him ever achieved it. He is the youngest Formula 1 champion in history and, it is difficult to argue, one of the most talented drivers of his generation. It should follow, then, that the men against whom he fought and whom he held as his greatest rivals in the championships outside Formula 1 should also possess such talent, and should also be held in our highest regard. If Lewis respected or feared them, if he competed wheel-to-wheel with them, and on occasion came out second best when racing the same car, does it not follow that these drivers may also be on a par with him? It’s an interesting question, and one given extra weight by the apparent Formula 1 shortcomings of arguably his most bitter rival in his pre-F1 days – Nelson Piquet Jr. Nelson’s record in GP2 was pretty astounding. In that 2006 season, he took six pole positions, over 50 percent of those on offer that year. Hamilton scored just one. Those six pole positions in one year stand as a record to this day, which places Nelson as statistically one of the fastest men over one lap and under the intense pressure of a half hour qualifying session, that the championship has ever seen. And yet it has been in qualifying that he has been perhaps the most disappointing in his Formula 1 career, outclassing team-mate Fernando Alonso just once in a season and a half. Did Nelson just lose that innate ability to put together a perfect lap overnight? Until the German round of the 2009 GP2 Series, Nelson was also the only driver in GP2 history to have recorded a perfect weekend of 20 points– two for pole, 10 for Saturday win, six for Sunday win and the two bonus points for netting the fastest laps in the two races. He did it on a weekend in which he out-psyched Hamilton to an extent that even Alonso never managed in a season at McLaren. The Piquet-Hamilton rivalry saw absolutely no love lost. They genuinely didn’t like each other. At times, such as that perfect weekend in Hungary, it brought the best out of Nelson. And at other times, such as that infamous race in Turkey the round afterwards, it brought the very best out of Lewis, too. In Formula 1 terms, however, Nelson has simply failed to shine. In his 28 races as a Renault driver he scored just 19 points. His best grid position was seventh and he recorded just one podium, after an impressive, if fortuitous, drive at Hockenheim in 2008. When his team-mate has been able to take pole positions and race wins in the same space of time, Nelson’s results have just not stacked up. And if Nelson really was on a par with Lewis, then surely he could have taken the fight to the Spaniard as did Hamilton in 2007?