At Las Vegas in 2004, during a chat with Justin Wilson, I asked him whether he could gauge how much progress he had made over the course of his maiden Champ Car season. After all, as an ex-F1 driver, I figured his teammates at Conquest Racing - first Alex Sperafico, then Nelson Philippe - weren't going to produce much worthwhile data with which he could learn.
Wilson swiftly corrected me. "Nelson's all right, actually," he said, "he's just very inexperienced. He's 17, and it's only his second year in cars. If he gets more races under his belt, he'll be fine. If he learns as he's going along, he should be pretty good. He's not a wanker."
I heeded Wilson's advice: I had tried to make a judgement too quickly. After all, by the end of 2004, Philippe had just 11 Champ Car starts under his belt - five with Rocketsports Racing, and then six as Wilson's teammate at Conquest Racing. When Eric Bachelart decided to keep Nelson for a second term at Conquest, that was a second person in a better position to judge than I, revealing his belief in Nelson's potential.