Nelson Piquet Jnr: was he lucky or good?

Nelson Piquet Jnr finished second at the Hockenheimring

Nelson Piquet Jnr finished second at the Hockenheimring

Nelson Piquet Jnr has not had the best of seasons so far. I picked him as the worst driver of the year so far when I ranked them all after the British Grand Prix and few of you seemed to disagree.

Today he gave Renault their first podium finish of the year. But how much of it was down to luck?

The safety car period that followed Timo Glock’s crash could not have been timed more perfectly for Nelson Piquet Jnr. He made his only stop for fuel – having qualified 17th – on lap 36. At the same time, Glock was burying his Toyota into the pit wall, causing a lengthy safety car period.

That left Piquet third on the road and, once Lewis Hamilton and Nick Heidfeld had made their pit stops, gave him the lead of the race.

When the race got back under way he was able to defend his position from Felipe Massa, who never really got close to him. He held the lead for six laps before Lewis Hamilton forced his way past. Piquet continued to lap quickly and Massa couldn’t get near to him to make a pass for second.

I thought Piquet showed a lot of maturity in the closing stages of the race. He didn’t throw the car off the track tying to defend his lead from Hamilton, and he set some of his fastest laps of the race to keep Massa at bay.

No, he wouldn’t have finished second on merit. But he took the opportunity that was presented to him and made the most of it – and sometimes that’s the best you can do in F1. How did you rate Piquet Jnr’s drive?

It was Piquet\'s first podium finish and Renault\'s first of the year

It was Piquet's first podium finish and Renault's first of the year

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75 comments on Nelson Piquet Jnr: was he lucky or good?

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  1. Internet said on 20th July 2008, 16:24

    He himself said he was lucky in the post conference. Although he did well to finish ahead of both Ferraris and 1 McLaren.

  2. Salty said on 20th July 2008, 16:40

    Lucky, but think he did a good job bringing home the Renault ahead for Massa. Alonso himself has suggested that the balance on the Renault is making it a tough drive and I think that is why Nelson has been struggling all season. He hasn’t just had to make the adjustment to the top formula, he’s having to do it in a car that seems to be walking a tight rope round most circuits. Alonso is an awesome driver, probably the only one in the field who is going to give Hamilton a serious challenge in equal hardware. Fair play to Nelsinho for a good finish today, let’s just hope Renault can provide him with a better car next year so he gets a fair chance to prove his place in F1.

  3. He was lucky in ending up in the position he did, but he showed some skill in keeping Massa at bay, although that Ferrari wasn’t on form at all. I still don’t think he’s very good, but I have a higher opinion of him than I did before the race.

  4. He was lucky. Not sure how Brundle could give him “driver of the day” after Hamilton effectively rescued the race after McLaren dug a great big hole for him.

  5. Internet said on 20th July 2008, 17:01

    @Jack: Massa was nowhere near Piquet. He didn’t need to keep Massa at bay.

  6. Rohan said on 20th July 2008, 17:03

    He was lucky to finish exactly where he did, yes. Having said that, he would most likely have finished in the points anyway with the one-stop strategy he was on, which takes some skill in making sure the tyres last for the whole of both stints.

    Although you were right, Keith, to put him as your worst driver of the season so far, I think he’s shown some marked improvement in the past couple of races and certainly deserves to keep his seat until at least the end of the season.

  7. Rob R. said on 20th July 2008, 17:09

    I was astonished to see him up there in 1st. And then I was appalled to see him give it up to Hamilton so easily.

  8. TommyB said on 20th July 2008, 17:11

    Would have LOVED to have seen Alonso in Piquets position. How hard would he have defended that lead from Hamilton :)

  9. qazuhb said on 20th July 2008, 17:20

    Alonso said to the Spanish press http://www.marca.com/edicion/marca/motor/formula1/es/desarrollo/1148069.html
    that “luck was against him in the decisive moments”, and that Nelsinho was JUST LUCKY: “…people like my team-mate that had some troble this weekend and couldn’t find the pace, and suddenly a safety car gives him the podium…” It is now clear that, as he can’t challenge Lewis to the WDC, he is trying at least to win the “Worst PR Championship”…

  10. Dan M said on 20th July 2008, 17:23

    Certainly lucky, but luck is one of the most underrated traits of a driver. Just ask Kimi.

  11. qazuhb said on 20th July 2008, 17:24

    “Worst PR Championship”: Hamilton is the strongest contender, for sure, only challenged by “bad luck” Fernando. Kimi also tried hard at his incident against the photographer…

  12. Dizzy said on 20th July 2008, 17:35

    He was lucky to get in a good position but didn’t screw up things then. The renault is not the best car on the grid, so let’s not downplay what was a decent driving in the end.

  13. Robert McKay said on 20th July 2008, 17:39

    He was lucky AND good, which is a nice combination.

    Once the SC went in Massa never looked like having a sniff of getting past him. He did make the same mistake as Massa and let Hamilton by too easily, practically jumping out of the way, but it made more sense for him to be conservative and take the second.

    I think Piquet has shown signs of improvement recently. He’s got into the top 10 a couple of times (though this weekend he had another Q1 knockout), and he’s raced fairly well in the last few GPs. Hopefully this will give him a bit of confidence and raise his game further (and annoy Alonso in the process).

    And we’ve seen quite a few luck-ins to podium positions this weekend, so he’s not the only one to get lucky.

  14. Sav22 said on 20th July 2008, 17:48

    It was a combination of luck and skill, luck because he ended up leading the race during the SC period due to his one stop strategy, but also skill because he comfortably managed to keep Massa at bay. And the Ferrari is supposed to be much faster…

    It was nice to see a new face on the podium.

  15. Loki said on 20th July 2008, 18:06

    I would’ve had him down to make a hash of things somewhere near the end, so to finish second, and ahead of a Ferrari, is a job done well – regardless of how he got there.

    No matter how much luck plays, it’s down to the drivers to play with that element of luck and not throw it away.

    Hopefully this will give him a confidence boost and help Renault throughout the next half of the season.

  16. Sri said on 20th July 2008, 18:19

    “When the race got back under way he was able to defend his position from Felipe Massa, who never really got close to him. He held the lead for six laps before Lewis Hamilton forced his way past. Piquet continued to lap quickly and Massa couldn’t get near to him to make a pass for second.

    I thought Piquet showed a lot of maturity in the closing stages of the race. He didn’t throw the car off the track tying to defend his lead from Hamilton, and he set some of his fastest laps of the race to keep Massa at bay.

    No, he wouldn’t have finished second on merit. But he took the opportunity that was presented to him and made the most of it – and sometimes that’s the best you can do in F1.”

    Sorry to quote some paragraphs, but what i had to say wouldn’t make half as sense otherwise. Nelsinho Jnr. kept his cool… The fact that it took Lewis 6 laps in a much faster car to overtake him and Massa who languished in 3rd place(i expected better from him) chasing him, speaks volumes about his performance today. My opinion is that he showed more talent today than he had luck on his side.

  17. Oliver said on 20th July 2008, 18:34

    He was lucky 2 or 3 times over.
    1) Qualified well outside the top ten and had a one stop strategy forced on him
    2) Had his pit stop just before the accident of Glock. The safety car then bunched up all the cars together, such that when the others pitted he ended up ahead of them.
    3)Massa was already experience problems with his brakes so could not push harder during the latter stages of the race.

  18. Oliver said on 20th July 2008, 18:40

    Sri you said it took Hamilton 6 laps to overtake Piquet. I hope u realize Hamilton wasn’t flying an airplane but was driving on 4 sets of wheels and tyres and coming from a long distance behind.

  19. Nelson Piquet did a good job today ….his performance today was great ! . He did more than what everybody expect from his car , i hope this is a good thing for him . In a normal day nobody can expect such a performance from Renault or other normal cars. There is a little luck involved , but still it was a good achievement . At least i am sure he will drive comfortably in the coming races , which adds some value to him .

    well , kimi didnt do much , his waiting at the pitlane costs some thing , still i belive ferrari was not the best car today

  20. Missouri Mike said on 20th July 2008, 20:17

    As others have said, Piquet got supremely lucky, but managed to take full advantage of that luck. After Lewis got by I was absolutely convinced that Massa would blow by him as well, resulting in a battle between McLaren and Ferrari for the win. How frustrated must Ferrari and the tifosi be that Massa was unable to catch up with the rookie in a Renault although he had several laps to close the gap!

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