Is it just me, or is it strange that Flavio Briatore has signed Nelson Piquet Jnr at Renault for another year? Or is it not so strange? Maybe it’s not so strange at all.
I usually get too deep into figures in these blogs, but don’t panic, this one has only one figure: 0.513. That’s the average amount Nelson Piquet Jnr qualified behind his team mate Fernando Alonso during the season this year. Over half a second. That is bad. The final tally, head-to-head, was 18-0. Oops, there are another two numbers. Sorry.
Of all the team-mate qualifying battles in 2008, it was the only 18-0 on the grid. Even David Coulthard
managed to outqualify Mark Webber twice. The next closest were a trio of 14-4s for Rosberg over Nakajima, Trulli over Glock and Hamilton over Kovalainen. Utter, utter domination of the rookie by the Spanish master who never surrenders. Even for a rookie, Nelson is poor.
Perfect team-mate for Alonso, then? Yes indeed. Reckon that was a stipulation for Fernando renewing
his Renault contract for another two years? I can imagine Fernando saying it: “sure, I’ll sign for two years, Flav-Baby, as long as I get to race alongside Nelson. He’s rubbish and a lot different to Lewis and I love him the most.”
But surely it’s not good for Renault as a team? Nelson only got to the final qualifying top-ten shootout twice in 18 races, while Fernando did it 15 times. What a contrast! That’s why Jamie here on the topgear.com team reckons Nelson will be on some sort of performance-related contract. I’m not so sure. I think Renault knows it won’t be fighting for the constructors’ title and is happy to put itself firmly behind Alonso. And that means giving him a team-mate who is shat.