Every driver who has prepared for his Formula One competition debut is impatient for the moment to arrive and Nelson A. Piquet is no different in that respect. After spending a year as Renault's third driver he now steps up to race for the French squad in 2008, and will spend his rookie season as teammate to double-champion Fernando Alonso.
"It's hard to put into words," Piquet told the team website about how he feels. "People don't see that behind every young driver, there are a lot of years of hard work, dedication and focus to make it to Formula One. I have dreamed of competing in Formula One since I was small, and I have finally made it. It is the start of a new phase, and I can't wait for the season to begin."
Of course, the name Piquet is not new to F1. Nelson Piquet was world champion three times in the Eighties but while the son readily acknowledges the support of his father, he points out that a well known name is no guarantee of getting a drive. "To get into Formula One you need much more than a famous surname," he said.
"Renault have given me the chance to race for them, and that is because I have the talent and potential to do so. The team knows how we perform in the tests, what configuration the car is in, and our character. That is what counts in Formula One."
"Ever since I started racing, I have felt the pressure of being Nelson Piquet's son. My father is a legend in the sport, and that makes me very proud, just like it does for his many fans around the world. If I am here today, it is because I have the talent and have worked hard, with the right motivation, to become an F1 driver. Now, I hope to give people plenty of reasons to be proud of me."
After back-to-back championship-winning seasons, Renault had a bit of a rude awakening in 2007. The team struggled and was never in the title fight, although things improved enough for it to score third overall in the constructors' championship by the end, after McLaren's exclusion. So it's hard to guess how things might go next year but Piquet is confident about his own performance.
"Throughout my career, I have been very focused on achieving the best possible results -- and that's how I intend to approach Formula One as well," he said. "I am confident that I can reward the faith Renault has placed in me by being clear-headed about the car's potential at each race, and working hard. I go to every race aiming for the best possible result, but with my feet firmly on the ground."
The new R28 is due to make its test track debut at Valencia in late January and will be officially launched in Paris on January 31st.