Q & A with Nelson Piquet
|By Jonathan Noble and Pablo Elizalde||Thursday, May 7th 2009, 13:54 GMT|
Q. Did your performance in Bahrain lift your spirits?
Nelson Piquet: It was the only normal race that we had, except for Australia, where we also had a dry race and we had a brake failure. It was a good race. The car was good most of the time, the strategy wasn't ideal: we could have gained a few more seconds if we had made some of the stints a bit longer, but it was a good race.
Nothing happened, really. The KERS helped me a lot to defend, to overtake, so I was quite happy. Obviously if I had qualified better I could have maybe reached the points.
Q. You think you needed a normal race to lift your spirits?
NP: Everybody needs a bit of a normal race. The two races before that had been crazy, so it was difficult to really get a clear result on the teams and the drivers. Whenever there is a normal race, dry, and you are fighting normally without rain or crazy strategies, I don't have a problem apart from not getting everything out of qualifying.
Q. Has the lack a in-season testing hurt you?
NP: I think that's also a part. Not getting pre-season (testing), not running low fuel, and then suddenly, when you put everything together, you can't get the maximum out of it. Or you push too much and you end up overdriving the car.
Q. If someone had said that after four races you and Felipe Massa would be level on points, you may not have believed it?
NP: Well, anything can happen. He's had a lot of bad luck. At the moment he has a bit of a quicker car than us, so probably he will start to score points.
Q. Do you think things will improve now we are back to the two-week schedule between races?
NP: It should be okay. Obviously if we continue in the midfield it's always going to be very difficult because it's going to be those tiny last milliseconds that's going to make a difference in qualifying and then you need to be lucky at the start. It's always going to be up and down because we don't have a car to be easily in the top six. You have to risk a little bit sometimes and it's going to be difficult, like last year.
Hopefully we will manage to have upgrades to try to move forward, but also we need to be careful not to spend too much time developing the car and then have a car that's not quick enough next year.
Hopefully the upgrades will continue coming and we will get quicker and quicker, but it's going to be difficult to fight teams like Ferrari, McLaren, who are for sure going to have bigger upgrades.
Q. Do you expect the big guns to fight back in Europe?
NP: I don't know. Obviously McLaren and Ferrari are going to have big updates here. We are going to have updates but I don't think they are going to be massive like we had in the last two races.
I'm hoping that we don't fall back, because if we do, it's going to make things even more complicated. We are still lacking pace. Red Bull has the same engine as us and they are nearly a second quicker, so we know that there's a lot that can be improved in the car.
Q. Can you see yourself improving and getting results in Europe?
NP: I think I need to get qualifying sorted. All the lack of testing at the beginning of the year and not running with low fuel and new tyres.. My strong point always in my career was qualifying. Of course it doesn't mean much in lower categories, but I have been the driver with the most pole positions all the years.
This year I'm struggling a little bit more. Last year it was okay because it was my first year. But this year I should have been much better in qualifying. But the lack of testing, the new tyres, a new car, new regulations, that kind of made it more difficult for me. So I'm hoping to get to a circuit with which I'm a little bit more familiar and maybe that helps me get a little bit more.
Q. Is the team giving you advice?
NP: They are trying to help me as much as they can. Sometimes they let me do whatever I want, but obviously they have an experienced driver, so for them it's a bit difficult to know what to do because they have to follow two different programmes sometimes.
Q. Do you think you need reassurance and confidence from the team?
NP: I think that's also a part of it. There's a lot of people in the team who don't like being cuddling (laughter). But the important people that we work with day to day, the engineers, they are trying their best.
I'm very happy to have them because they are trying everything possible to get my back into qualifying rhythm. I think I need to get my rhythm in qualifying back and once that's sorted in the races I'm more than capable of doing it.
Q. Is it easy to ignore all the speculation about your future?
NP: To be honest the only website I look on the internet once in a while is AUTOSPORT and I just look to see the results in A1GP and all my friends in F3 and GP2. F1 news really doesn't bother me much. Most of the times I get the news from my engineers or from my friends inside the team.