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Piquet ready to commence new chapter 06 Sep 2006

Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Piquet Sports (Right) celebrates his victory with his father Nelson Piquet (BRA) (Left). British Formula Three Championship, Rd 5, Race 9, Silverstone, England, 25 May 2003. World ©  Paul/Sutton.

Nelson Piquet Jr is a step closer to emulating his famous father following Wednesday’s news that he is to become an official Formula One test driver. Piquet - who could become GP2 champion this weekend - will work alongside fellow Brazilian Ricardo Zonta at Renault next season.

“I am so happy to have signed as a test driver for the Renault F1 Team,” said the 21-year-old. “I have worked my whole life to get to this level and it feels like it is the start of the next chapter of my career. I am very much looking forward to working with the team and the other drivers.

“I know Heikki (Kovalainen) from GP2, Ricardo is a friend and both he and Giancarlo (Fisichella) are very experienced, so I will be able to learn a lot from them. I will be putting all my efforts into working hard, learning everything I can and doing a good job for Renault so that I can help the team as much as possible.”

Piquet began his motor racing career in karting at the age of eight. He graduated to single-seaters and the South American Formula 3 championship in 2001, taking the title a year later. A move to the UK and the British F3 championship followed and in 2004, racing for his own PiquetSports team, he became the youngest ever winner of the series, aged just 19.

His success in F3 secured Formula One tests with Williams in 2003 and 2004, and another with BAR at Jerez in February 2005. Most recently Piquet has impressed the paddock with confident drives in his second season in GP2. After four victories this year, he goes into this weekend’s title decider in Italy only 10 points adrift of championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

Piquet’s father, Nelson Senior, was Formula One world champion on three occasions, winning the title twice with Brabham in 1981 and 1983, and again with Williams in 1987.