Three-time F1 world champion Nelson Piquet has hailed the success of his son Nelson Jr in becoming the first-ever FIA Formula E champion, saying he "has always been very fast".
Piquet Jr sealed the Formula E title after a breathtaking finale in London, where he carved through from 16th on the grid to finish seventh to take the championship by just one point.
After a turbulent time in Formula 1, where he was dropped midway through 2009 by Renault and then blew the whistle on 2008’s Singapore ‘crashgate’ scandal for which others were banned from the sport, Piquet Jr reinvented his career in the United States.
After running successfully in NASCAR and Global Rallycross, he returned to the international single-seater arena this season in Formula E.
He scooped the title at his first attempt with NEXTEV TCR, formerly known as Team China.
In an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com, Piquet Sr said: "Nelsinho has always been a very fast driver. I think he did not have much of a future in Formula 1 by the way he came in, and the problems he had.
“But in all the categories he ran [previously] he won. In karting and Formula 3 he won. Only in GP2 he was runner-up to [Lewis] Hamilton. And he did not win that because our team twice ran him out of fuel. He could have won that too.”
“I think he surprised many people”
Piquet Sr believes his son has matured into a “great” driver.
“I think, over time, he became more concentrated on everything,” he said. “He's doing great.
"I think he surprised many people. I was in Europe at the Austrian Grand Prix, and all spoke highly of him there. Alain Prost [chief of e.DAMS team that ran Piquet’s title rival Sebastien Buemi] told me that today he is the best driver on that grid.
“He understood the car, the problems of batteries… And he has now succeeded."