Nelson's Column

Triple Formula 1 World Champion and AUTOSPORT magazine columnist Nelson Piquet is looking forward to the Brazilian Grand Prix and the British Formula 3 debut of his son Nelson Angelo this weekend. Due to the blokes on the magazine getting their deadlines confused last week, we present a one-off chance for readers to sample Nelson's unique, incisive and sometimes leftfield punditry. Enjoy! Nelson's Column will return to its usual place in the magazine when he previews the San Marino Grand Prix in a fortnight's time.

Nelson's Column

Anybody home?
McLaren did it again in Malaysia! While everybody was out there guessing, they arrived with a very down to earth, no-nonsense attitude and Zap! One hundred percent in 2003! Just like an honest, home-type food restaurant that gives an infinitely better meal than some fancy places with foreign names. Renault also came close to boiling things up even more by making a very nice pole position, leading the race and giving Alonso a good stage to put his act together. F1 has given us more things to think and cheer about in only two races than we have had in a long time, and I bet it will surprise us even more this weekend.

Brazil is just like dancing samba, for instance. You like the idea at the first moment but then you have to really get into the spirit to enjoy it properly. And, believe me, you will like it so much that you will even become addicted to it. Yes, I am talking about the country that has the courage and inspiration to have a pop star as a Minister of Culture and no, I am not talking about the Interlagos track, that has nothing to do with what it once was. Anyway, in Interlagos there are still the overtaking spots that will keep hopes for a good race very high. Mainly, Brazil hopes of seeing a homeboy doing well - even if this homeboy comes from Colombia (it's a neighbour country after all) in the shape of Juan Pablo Montoya. After all, he is South American and there will be thousands of Colombians present to support him. But don't forget Big Schummy is a fine sportsman and he will be playing a promotional game at the Santos Football Club (together with the new Brazilian superstar Robinho) and has more than enough rhythm to fight and establish his superiority again.

Since 1979 I have been at Interlagos for every Grand Prix. After I quit racing as a professional, the Interlagos visit was my way of touching base and seeing old friends. It was my way to hear the 'inside stories' and to learn a 'secret' or two. Well this year I will be in England watching the GP on the telly, after the first two Formula 3 races that my son Nelsinho contests in the British Championship at Donington Park. So, instead of F1, I invite you all to support Piquet Sports on Sunday. Then we all can go home and watch the GP comfortably, OK? Memories of past Brazilian GPs will, for sure, be racing through my mind, but only a little because I am very practical, as always, and focused on the F3 race.

The best-kept secret nowadays is the fuel weights for qualifying and the race. Just like in any good recipe, the quantities are fundamental to achieve the results and in Sepang they were burning 3.1 kilos per lap. That means that with three laps of qualifying, plus one lap to the grid and another parade lap, about 15kg of fuel was consumed before the GP even started. I was told that the calculations showed that Alonso started with 60kg, Trulli 65kg, Big Schummy 80kg, Barrichello 83kg, Lil'Schummy 80kg, Montoya 86kg, da Matta 65kg, Panis 50kg, Heidfeld 50kg, Frentzen 70kg, Fisichella 70kg, Raikkonen 75kg, Button 70kg and Villeneuve 76kg. Good show for Renault (less power, softer compound tyres) and for McLaren, who were close by and also on softer Michelins. This is the new game we are all learning to play, and now that the ban on the ban of the electronic devices has happened, it is a game where everyone will have to be more attentive than ever.

Well, this time I was fantastic, wasn't I? I said Raikkonen would clear the table and win. He didn't get pole position, but having Alonso there almost made up for it. Hehehehehehe - I am getting better at this game! Wait for me - in Brazil BMW Williams will finally understand the car better and take all the profit from the Michelin tyres. Montoya and Lil'Schummy one-two. McLaren? On the podium. Renault? Right there also. Ferrari? Big Schummy? I told you already, one needs more than talent and rhythm to be a good Samba dancer.

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