Dear Nigel,

Considering the speed Grosjean is demonstrating in relation to Kimi, and also the lap time differences shown by Piquet Jr and Grosjean in relation to Alonso when they were team-mates at Renault, what would have been, in your opinion, the chances of a good performance of Piquet Jr in F1 if it was not for the ‘Briatore affair’?

Antonio Seabra

Dear Antonio,

I’m afraid I never rated Nelson Piquet Jr at all, and it amazed me when Flavio Briatore offered him a Renault contract – that is, until I remembered that Flav was also his manager…

In the paddock Piquet was regarded as an arrogant, rather spoiled kid, who behaved as if his career was already mapped out for him. Alright, it’s never easy for a rookie to be the team-mate of a superstar like Fernando Alonso, but the fact is that Nelson Jr made a lot of mistakes, and was never particularly quick. His father’s name – and money – certainly helped him in the early part of his career, but at Renault they were thoroughly unimpressed with him, and Briatore replaced him with Romain Grosjean in the middle of the ’09 season.

It was after that, of course, that the ‘Briatore affair’ came to light – funny, that – but some might suggest it should more properly be called the ‘Piquet affair’: according to technical director Pat Symonds, after all, the idea came originally from Nelson Jr…