F1’s underrated free spirit who stood up to Ecclestone
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Formula 1 Special feature

F1’s underrated free spirit who stood up to Ecclestone

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Nelson Piquet loved racing, hated gladhanding sponsors, and wanted to be adequately compensated for his talents. Nigel Roebuck recalls how that set Piquet on course for conflict with a team boss he felt was exploiting his loyalty

After winning karting and Formula Vee championships in his native Brazil, Nelson Piquet came to Europe in 1977, winning innumerable F3 races before making his F1 debut with Ensign at Hockenheim the following year. After further grands prix in a privately entered McLaren, there came an invitation to drive a factory Brabham-Alfa at the final race, Montreal. It was the start of a long love affair.

Piquet was always a maverick in F1, as also was Bernie Ecclestone’s team: over the next seven seasons there were 13 victories, and twice Nelson won the world championship.

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