AUGUST 23, 2006
Piquet Jr and Renault
Nelson Piquet Jr has had tests with several F1 teams to date and the whisper in the paddock was that while he was relatively quick, he was rather too petulant and cocky for the taste of those involved. But Piquet Jr is well-connected. His father Nelson Piquet Sr drove for Bernie Ecclestone for many years and ended his career as a driver with Benetton, managed at the time by Flavio Briatore. The word on the street is that Nelson Jr will be given the Renault test drive next year when Heikki Kovalainen is promoted to a racing seat alongside Giancarlo Fisichella.
This makes a lot of sense apart from one important point. In recent years the Renault test driver has usually been managed by Flavio Briatore's management company (this was true for Kovalainen, Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber) and there is no sign that Nelson Piquet Sr is going to be willing to allow his son to give away a large percentage of his income for years to come to Briatore just to get him a test drive when there might be other opportunities elsewhere which might not involve such a price.
It is true that Renault's next generation young drivers Jose Maria Lopez and Lucas di Grassi have not been very impressive this year in GP2 and do not seem to be ready to move up the ladder so Renault might need to look elsewhere.
It is also worth considering the possibility that decisions are being made by different people. Briatore, it should be remembered, still does not have a new contract with Renault for 2007.
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