Some three years after leaving Formula 1 in disgrace, Nelson Piquet has finally hit the headlines for the right reasons, claiming his maiden win in the NASCAR Nationwide Series last weekend at Road America.
The 26-year-old Brazilian, son of three-time F1 World Champion Nelson Piquet, was a central figure in the ‘Crashgate’ scandal that rocked the sport in 2009, where he made allegations that he was ordered to deliberately crash his car during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, an incident which triggered a safety car interruption that ultimately helped his Renault team-mate Fernando Alonso to victory.
The scandal lead to the sacking of Flavio Briatore (Team Principal) and Pat Symonds (Technical Director) from their positions – along with lengthy bans from the sport for the pair – while Piquet found Formula 1 turn its back on him after a career that lasted barely 18 months and achieved little in the way of serious results.
Since 2010, he has concentrated on rebuilding his racing career in the United States, making his debut in the NASCAR Trucks championship, before graduating to the second-tier Nationwide Series. This culminated in pole position and a win last weekend at one of the most challenging road courses that the tin-top series visits.
His victory has since prompted Piquet Jr to reflect on what might have been in his F1 career, although his comments seem to offer little, if any, insight into the role that he played in destroying his F1 career.
"What could have happened (in F1)?” Piquet said. “I don’t know. Anything could have happened.
“It’s just timing, being in the right place at the right time. There is a lot of drivers that are there right now that have won races and championships that I raced with before that I’ve won championships on before.
"But it’s just being the right place at the right time and it didn’t happen for me, but maybe it’s happening now (in NASCAR)," Piquet added.
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