With motor racing in his blood, it’s no surprise that Nelson Piquet has continued the family tradition. He has a rich history in open-wheel racing with series wins in the South American and British F3 championships, the runner-up accolade in the prestigious GP2 Series and a stint in Formula 1 to his name.
Having made the move to stockcars in the USA, the Brazilian is competing full time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with a view to long-term success in the unrivalled NASCAR categories. Nelson has big ambitions, so get ready for one hell of a ride as you follow his career!
Date of Birth: 25 July 1985
Place of Birth: Heidelberg, Germany
Lives: North Carolina, USA and Monaco
1993-2000: Karting – Son of three-time World Champion Nelson Piquet, Nelson Jr. began karting at the age of eight in his native Brazil. He spent eight seasons learning his craft in the Brazilian karting series, and won three championships before graduating to cars in 2001.
2001-2002: South American Formula 3 – Nelson’s first half-season in cars came in 2001, when he entered that year’s South American F3 Series. Although he only completed half the races, he finished 5th in the championship, confirming a potential that flourished the following year when he won the championship with four rounds remaining. Having proved himself in South America, he headed to Europe – following in the footsteps of drivers such as his father, and Ayrton Senna.
2003-2004: British Formula 3 – Aged 17, Piquet took the unusual step of establishing his own team to enter the British F3 championship. His first year saw him finish third, take six wins and eight pole positions as he collected national recognition and earned a Formula 1 test with Williams. His second season proved even stronger, as he became the youngest ever driver to win the British F3 title, taking six race wins and five poles on the way to the title. His exploits earned him a further test with Williams and the Lucky Strike B.A.R F1 Team.
2005: GP2 Series and A1GP World Cup of Motorsport - The 2005 season saw Nelson earn further recognition from the F1 community before he even began racing: a test with Honda F1 in February. He then entered the newly-formed GP2 Series, designed as a feeder category to Formula 1. Although mechanical problems dogged his opening season, he took a race win in treacherous conditions at Spa and four podium finishes. At season’s end, he once again turned to pastures new for the 2005/6 winter in the brand-new A1GP Series. Racing for Team Brazil, Nelson dominated the series’ opening weekend with two races wins, pole position and fastest lap. He scored three further podiums until handing over driving duties to prepare for the GP2 Series.
2006: GP2 Series and Le Mans 24 Hours – Competing for Piquet Sports in the GP2 Series championship, Nelson was one of two drivers to stand out from the crowd in the hotly-contested championship. The Brazilian won four races, stepped on the podium a further four times and scored six pole positions. His dynamic performances once again caught the eye of the F1 community, and he signed as 2007 test driver for the Renault F1 Team. Nelson finished the season second in the GP2 Series. The year also saw Nelson make his debut at the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours endurance event. Racing with veterans David Brabham and Antonia Garcia for the privateer Team Modena in an Aston Martin DBR9, the crew took an impressive fourth place in the GT1 class, finishing ninth overall.
2007-2009: Formula 1, ING Renault F1 Team Test Driver – In spite of limited running under the 30,000 km annual testing mileage restriction, the Brazilian completed a solid apprenticeship as the ING Renault F1 Team’s test driver during the 2007 season. His work ethic, technical ability and strong performances earned him a race seat for the following season. Nelson made his race debut in 2008 alongside Fernando Alonso. The young Brazilian impressed with his speed and grew in confidence as the team steadily improved during the course of the season. His five points scoring finishes, including a second place podium finish at the German Grand Prix, helped the ING Renault F1 Team finish fourth in the constructors’ championship and secured his position for 2009.
2010: ARCA Racing Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series – For 2010, Nelson opted to pursue a career in the highly successful NASCAR ranks in the USA. He began his stock car career with a varied programme of ARCA Racing Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events and a one-off appearance in the Nationwide Series. He made his NASCAR truck debut at Daytona and proved just how talented he was at piloting a 3,400-pound full-bodied truck by navigating it to a sixth-place finish. He went on to earn a total of three top-10 finishes in only five Truck Series starts, with his Daytona finish remaining his best NASCAR finish in 2010. Nelson also made his Nationwide Series debut at Watkins Glen where he finished seventh.
2011: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – Nelson is competing full-time in the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with the championship-winning Kevin Harvick Inc team.