It has been demonstrated in the articles published in the past that are devoted to the champions of the world of motorsport that there is an abundance of anecdotes and interesting facts regarding his life before, during, and after his career.
Even though he did it after Emerson Fittipaldi, he was one of those who helped pave the way for Formula 1 in Brazil in the 1980s with his world titles.
We are discussing Nelson Piquet, who hides a multitude of complexities despite the simplicity of his surname.
The following lines of this new Motorbli post will include that information and several others like it.
After this brief introduction, intended to contextualize his figure a little bit, it is time to talk more concretely about everything that surrounded Nelson Piquet’s career in Formula 1, including his beginnings and what he has done since he retired as a driver for the sport.
This will follow this brief introduction that is intended to contextualize his figure.
The Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro is where Nelson Souto Maior, more commonly known as Nelson Piquet, was born on August 17, 1952.
The fact of the matter is that he was raised in the lap of luxury by a wealthy family, and his father, Estácio Goncalves Souto Maior, held the position of Minister of Health in his birth country of Brazil.
Despite what it may appear, young Nelson did not start behind the wheel of a car at an early age.
He had a bright future as a tennis player in his country’s developmental competitions. Additionally, tennis was the sport in which his father excelled, and it was this passion for the game that his father instilled in him from a young age.
Later on, however, everything was different. When he was 16 years old, he moved to the United States to further his tennis training.
However, while he was there, he realized that the sport of auto racing was more to his liking. At 14, he had his first experience driving a go-kart, and he has been hooked since then.
This concept was not well received by his parents, which resulted in our protagonist choosing to use the surname Piquet, which his mother previously held before she married our protagonist’s father.
Since he had already been crowned the Brazilian karting champion before enrolling in university to study philosophy and engineering, his advancement was as rapid as he showed himself to be on the tracks. His progression was as fast as he showed himself to be.
He ended up winning a total of two national championships, bringing him a great deal of attention.
Following that, he re-edited successes in Formula Vee, a competition from which Emerson Fittipaldi himself also emerged, in the edition that took place in the year 1976.
This was his final significant accomplishment before moving to the old continent to follow in the footsteps of his hero Fittipaldi and make it to the pinnacle of Formula One racing.
After moving to Europe, he competed in the British Formula 3 championship, which he eventually won in 1978. He became the champion shortly after moving to Europe.
In addition, he did not triumph in any way, despite breaking the record for the most victories in a season, which Jackie Stewart had established.
Because of his hard work, he was allowed to make the last crucial move before entering Formula 1.
During that eventful year, he debuted in the Grand Circus with the Ensign team for the first time.
Nelson Piquet competed in the highest level of motor racing for the first time at the German Grand Prix, which was held at Hockenheim on July 30, 1978.
Unfortunately for him, a problem with his car’s engine forced him to call it quits, which was a cruel twist of fate.
This was the only race that he competed in with Ensign. The next time he was in a single-seater, he drove for BS Fabrications, a team that raced a McLaren M23.
He was successful across three competitions: Austria, the Netherlands, and Italy.
In the first two races, he experienced the same result as he did in his first race: he could not finish the race. However, in the third and final race, he finished ninth on the Monza track.
Piquet’s life took an unexpected turn at the end of that year when he received a call from Bernie Ecclestone offering him a spot on the Brabham team and the opportunity to compete alongside Nicki Lauda. This Austrian driver already held two world championships to his name.
He eventually agreed to accept a proposition and started to assume in the final two races held in the United States and Canada, in which he finished eleventh in both of those competitions.
Their beginnings with Brabham were not exactly smooth sailing due to the unreliable performance of his first car with the team, the BT48, which was powered by an Alfa Romeo V12 engine.
His time with Brabham was not without its challenges.
The scales tipped that six drivers had to retire because of mechanical problems, and five drivers had to retire because of collisions with other single-seaters. I
t was so unreliable that in 1979 it could only finish three out of a total of 15 races.
As a result, it was only able to score three points and finished in 15th place, despite having achieved its best result up until that point in the Netherlands, where it finished fourth.
Nicki Lauda decided to call it quits at the end of 1979, which resulted in Nelson Piquet becoming the unchallenged leader of Brabham.
The negative dynamic that plagued the Brazilian driver in Formula 1 was turned around thanks to the convergence of several factors, which will be discussed further.
Since Alfa Romeo had humiliated them in the past, Gordon Murray decided to switch engine suppliers and rely on Cosworth for the BT49 he raced in the 1980 season.
This decision was made after Murray realized that the design of the BT49 had been executed correctly.
And then the great driver who promised to be in F3 and karting was already seen, as he got his first victories (3) and podiums when he competed in those categories (6).
In addition to that, he was consistent throughout the championship, as evidenced by the fact that he finished in the points in as many as ten of the races.
This helped him win the championship. Already in the first race in Argentina, he demonstrated his intentions by finishing in second place.
He made his intentions abundantly clear when he won the fourth race in Long Beach (United States, California) with pole position and a difference of 49 seconds over Riccardo Patrese, who finished on the second step of the podium.
These impressive results helped him to finish in second place, behind only the British competitor Alan Jones (Williams).
And the year after that, in 1981, he touched metal and became a member of the elite club of Formula One champions.
The primary adversary was Williams, who, besides having Jones on its team, also counted Carlos Reutemann among its members. Reutemann was only one point behind Piquet.
The nightmares with the engine returned the following year, so Brabham decided to switch to BMW so that it could maintain its dominant position in the Grand Circus.
In 1982, naturally aspirated engines were still in use by some teams, even though turbocharged engines had already made their debut. These teams’ power output was significantly lower.
The turbocharged Ferrari and Renault were able to bring the weight down to a minimum of 580 kilograms, but the other block was equipped with water-cooled brakes, resulting in a weight loss in practice throughout each race.
They did this by installing water tanks in the side pontoons filled before each race to reach those 580 kilograms.
However, the gas was evaporating, which gave the atmospheric single-seaters a significant advantage over the turbo ones.
Following each Grand Prix, coolants had the opportunity to be refilled before the weight was given.
Piquet was robbed of the victory in Brazil by the turbocharged teams after they voiced their displeasure.
Despite having more extraordinary power, the BMW engines were not very reliable, so they were quickly replaced by naturally aspirated Cosworths.
However, even with those engines, the 1982 season could not be saved for Brabham.
And the Brazilian could only come in eleventh during the year he was attempting to defend his title, even though he did win one race (in Canada).
The following season, he upgraded the engine in his BT52 so that it was turbocharged, and he used this advantage to win the championship for a second time.
However, this did not come without hardship on his part, as he had only won one race out of the remaining three. He had a fantastic stretch run at the end of the season, winning in Italy and at Brands Hatch, which at the time was the location of the European Grand Prix.
In the race that decided the championship, which took place in South Africa, he finished third, taking advantage of the fact that both Alain Prost (Renault) and René Arnoux (Ferrari) retired from the competition.
Due to the unreliability of the BMW engine in the first year and the poor adaptation of the single-seaters to the Pirelli tires, which proved inferior to the Goodyear tires used by the leading teams, Brabham went back to having a poor dynamic in the years 1984 and 1985.
This happened like a pendulum swinging back and forth.
Even if he were offered twice as much money, he would not have renewed his contract, so he went to Williams instead.
A young Nigel Mansell, who was only in his second year of Formula One but had an enormous hunger for success, was driving for Williams.
That FW11 with the Honda engine was a perfect car, but the ongoing controversies between the two teammates dynamited everything, as has recently occurred in other similar situations.
They arrived with title options to the final race of that season in Australia in 1986, but the Englishman had to pull out due to a puncture, and the team was afraid that Piquet would suffer the same fate, so they told him to go to the box.
This fear propitiated Alain Prost to take the cat to the water and win the title.
The following year, 1987, was when the tri-championship was won by a Williams that was still competitive.
And a Mansell who did not make it easy for him, as he won twice as many races as him (six vs. three), but an injury to the Englishman in practice for the Japanese Grand Prix and that regularity reflected in his seven-second places tipped the balance in his favor.
At the top, Nelson Piquet left Williams to replace Ayrton Senna at Lotus and take on the leading role he felt he deserved.
He believed that he deserved it. It appeared to be a wise choice when he started off the season with podium finishes in Brazil and San Marino. Still, he could not keep up that momentum and eventually retired seven times.
In the end, he placed sixth overall and earned three podium finishes.
Instead of improving, the Judd engines equipped Lotus in 1989 were underpowered. This prevented him from enjoying the sweet taste of success and ultimately led to his departure from the company.
Benetton, with whom he signed a contract conditioned on the results of the races, provided him with a dependable and consistent car powered by Ford, despite the fact that it was not as quick as some of the other competitors’ cars.
This helped him win the races. He brought home two victories in both Japan and Australia to celebrate.
In the final season of his career, he worked on the same team as a certain Michael Schumacher, which he was blissfully unaware of at the time.
It was in 1991 that he said his goodbyes in a somewhat ironic manner, as he won the Canadian Grand Prix by taking advantage of Mansell’s gearbox getting stuck on the last lap while waving to the crowd celebrating an almost certain victory.
This allowed him to win the race and end his career on a high note.
After he retired from Formula One racing, he challenged himself by entering the Indianapolis 500 Miles in 1992 and 1993, even though his participation was kept under wraps.
In 1996 and 1997, he participated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with BMW. He finished eighth in the first of those years, but the following year, he dropped out of the race. Legend.
He became heavily involved in the career of his son Nelsinho and founded his team, Piquet Racing, to compete in various competitions, such as Formula 3000, GP2 (now F2), and British F3.
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