Delhi gets that F1 feeling

November 10, 2008

WITH A pair of goggles and a cap, an ING Renault team T-shirt on his torso, Nelson Piquet didn’t quite look the gritty customer he usually is in images beamed from the pits on racedays. On Sunday, at the Rajpath, he looked boyish, rather chocolate-faced in his role of Renault’s top driver at the roadshow.

With no Alonso here, Piquet was the hot property as he, although sparingly, and Lucas Di Grassi showed Delhiites what Formula One was all about. Just a couple of days ago, 2009 with Renault was secured for him, and he came with a freer mind than he would have a week ago. Although he finished 12th with 19 points in his rookie season, pulling up well in the latter half of the season, he would be a bit disappointed.

“But I am happy and we plan to do well next year,” said Piquet junior, whose father and namesake was a three-time world champion. “The developments we have made in the second part of this year have been impressive and we know we can do better next year. The new car will be unveiled in January and you better watch out for us as we will be driving with less downforce in the new car.”

The ING Renault team picked up pace in the latter part of the season after making some technical changes to the car with Alonso leading the way with two wins and one second-place finish. “The car changed a lot from 2007. That is why in the beginning it was a big shift while we were still developing a lot.

“Next year, there is going to be another big change but mechanically, suspension, (it) is not going to change that much. So I think we won’t need time to adjust to the changes.

“We’ll target more podium finishes next year. This year I wanted to be in the top 10, I finished 12th. I’d like to be top six in the championship.” One of Piquet’s memorable experiences this year, apart from his second-place finish in Germany, was the night race in Singapore that he thought was very well-managed. “It is something that we think can have a long-term future. I think many venues can do it. Formula One needs new things like this.”

Asked on the standard engines being mooted for the 2010 year, the Garmany-born Brazilian had mixed views. “The standard engines will give the smaller teams a level-playing field. They will be able to compete better with the bigger teams. However, the bigger teams will feel short-changed as they bank on engine development.. But then, you can never keep innovations out. Development will continue in some form and that’ll be good for the market.”

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