What's in a name?



It is fair to say that carrying a well-known name into the motor sport arena is going to get you noticed, specifically a name that is iconic in the sport. There is a certain expectation that a young driver will follow magnificently in the footsteps of his father, solely from being branded with the same name. Furthermore, if these drivers don’t live up to expectations, if they don’t perform as well as we’d expect, then we are quick to criticise.

2009 Bahrain Grand Prix - Friday

The classic example of this currently is Nelson Piquet Jr, a driver slated for his under-par performances and poor results in Formula 1. His three-time World Champion father is sometimes described as a proud man, and so it is hard to imagine that Nelson Jr ended up in F1 solely through his own desires and ambitions. There is a worrying feeling that we are watching a son trying to prove himself to his father in order to gain respect. What is worse is that we become the uncomfortable spectators who cannot help but stare, even though we share the father’s expectations to some degree.

2009 Australian Grand Prix - Sunday

There’s no denying Piquet’s previous good form in karting, Formula 3 and then the GP2 series, but on the larger and more public stage of F1 young Nelson is not finding his way and is in real danger of being dropped by Renault in the not too distant future. There is no real explanation as to why he is struggling so much, and Nelson himself does not seem to have an answer. So where did it all go wrong?


Is this our fault? Did we expect too much? Are we too merciless in our demands for a successful racing dynasty? Or is this just further proof that we need to stop looking for talent in the genes and focus on the talent of the individual driver? It’s hard to say either way, but I can’t help but feel that this poor set of results wouldn’t seem as bad if Piquet Jr had used his real surname, Maior, to at least deflect some of the attention.

By Claire Lorenc

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