Get to know Nelson Piquet, the Formula 1 racer who became the name of the circuit


Nelson Piquet’s name is not as popular as his compatriot, Ayrton Senna. Even though they both have three world titles. Piquet was less popular because he never appeared as dominant as Senna.

In his era, Piquet also had to compete with legendary racers . Apart from Senna, there are Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell names. The four racers were flashy in the era of the 1980s to the early 1990s.

Piquet himself became a legendary Brazilian racer. Because of his prowess, the Brazilian government named the Jacarepagua Circuit the Nelson Piquet in his honor. Piquet is still the only Formula 1 driver to ever race on a circuit under his own name.

1. Inspired to enter Formula 1 after seeing Emerson Fittipaldi

Name Nelson Piquet was born on August 17 1952 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He has known car racing since he was very young. In fact, at the age of 12, Piquet became one of the best talents in Brazil.

He became more determined in his career in car racing when he saw Emerson Fittipaldi start competing in the international arena, especially Formula 1. Fittipaldi himself was the first Brazilian driver to win the Formula 1 world title.

Since then, Piquet has been actively participating in local racing events in Brazil. Then, he traveled to Europe to realize his ambition to Formula 1. In 1978, Piquet won the British F3 Series. Since then he has been eyed by Formula 1 teams.

2. The Beginning of Success with Brabham

After winning the 1978 British F3 Series, Piquet was offered several Formula 1 teams. In the same year, he even underwent several series for Ensign, McLaren, and Brabham.

The following season, Bernie Ecclestone who is the boss of Brabham gave him a full season contract. He was in a duet with Niki Lauda, ​​who at that time had the status of a two-time world champion.

Lauda, ​​who decided to retire at the end of the 1979 season, made Piquet appointed as Brabham’s main driver. He then won his first victory at the 1980 United States GP West. In the same season, he was runner-up behind Alan Jones.

In 1981, Piquet was able to appear solid with a collection of three wins. It also led him to become world champion for the first time. He repeated this achievement in 1983 after competing fiercely with Alain Prost. The title was also the last for Brabham.

3. Rivalry with Nigel Mansell and world title with Williams

After winning in 1983, Piquet had a not so good season in 1984 and 1985. In those two seasons, he was only able to finish fifth and eighth. That’s what made him choose to leave for Williams in 1986.

Williams in that era was one of the strongest teams in Formula 1. They had a very powerful Honda engine . In fact, in his inaugural race for Williams, Piquet managed to become the winner. He won the Brazilian GP in front of his supporters.

In 1986, Nelson Piquet had a duet with Nigel Mansell who was no less fast. Both of them completely dominated that season and almost became world champions. Unfortunately, the drama in the last series at the Australian GP actually gave rise to the name Alain Prost as world champion.

The failure was immediately paid for by Piquet a season later. Even though Mansell has more wins than him. However, Piquet, who appeared more consistent, was able to lock his third world title.

4. The only racer who races on a circuit with his own name

Circuits in Formula 1 often use the names of drivers in their honor. For example, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Canada in honor of Gilles Villeneuve. There is also the Hermanos Rodriguez Circuit in Mexico in memory of Pedro and Ricardo Rodriguez.

Even so, no one had the same fate as Piquet. He became the only racer to appear on the circuit that bears his own name. This happened after the Brazilian government changed the name of the Jacarepagua Circuit to Nelson Piquet after the driver won his third world title in 1987.

Before changing his name, Piquet was recorded as a winner at home twice. Meanwhile, after changing its name, Piquet was only able to finish fifth in 1988 and failed to finish in 1989. That was also the last time the circuit held a Formula 1 race. The Brazilian Grand Prix after that returned to the Interlagos Circuit.

Unfortunately, the Nelson Piquet Circuit can no longer be used because it was flattened by the Brazilian government. This is to smoothen their steps in holding the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

5. His son also raced in Formula 1

Nelson Piquet left Formula 1 at the end of the 1991 season at the age of 40. His steps in Formula 1 were continued by his son, Nelson Piquet Jr. The son started his career in Formula 1 in 2008 by defending Renault.

Unfortunately, his achievements at that time were not very satisfying by only placing 12th with 19 points. It was clearly far behind his team mate, Fernando Alonso, who was able to carve out two wins and finish sixth in the same car.

Piquet Jr’s career was then completely destroyed when the crashgate incident at the 2008 Singapore GP. At that time Renault allegedly ordered Piquet Jr. to crash his car into a wall so Fernando Alonso could win.

Meanwhile, with a collection of three world titles, his father, Nelson Piquet, deserves to be a Formula 1 racing legend. His name is also used as the name of the circuit as a form of respect for his great achievements.