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First points lift clouds over Piquet 23 Jun 2008

Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Race Day, Magny-Cours, France, Sunday, 22 June 2008 Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault R28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Race Day, Magny-Cours, France, Sunday, 22 June 2008

Prior to Sunday’s French Grand Prix, Nelson Piquet’s debut Formula One season had been a difficult one, with a string of disappointing performances prompting the media to question his very future with the Renault team. However, after scoring his first points at Magny-Cours - and beating team mate Fernando Alonso into the bargain - Piquet sees his fortunes on the rise.

The Brazilian narrowly missed reaching Q3 in qualifying, but was ninth on the grid thanks to others’ penalties. Despite a heavy fuel load, he made up a place at the start and was able to hold of the McLarens in the early stages. Towards the end of the race he took advantage of damp conditions to pass Alonso for seventh.

“It's the first time that everything has gone without any problems for me,” said Piquet. “The car and the team's strategy worked well and I was able to score my first couple of points. I am happy and I hope that we can continue like this for the rest of the season.”

Piquet admitted his first points could have come sooner, but insisted he had never lost faith in his abilities. “There was pressure, of couse, but I never let it turn into something negative,” he told Renault’s official blog. “I know what I am capable of, and I never doubted that I would have the chance to finish in the top eight. For me, the result today is just the first step.”

Renault boss Flavio Briatore was quick to praise his rookie driver, who helped the team to their first double points finish of 2008: “Nelson had a remarkable race, very consistent and aggressive, and I am very pleased to see him score his first points.”

Piquet’s French success leaves Force India drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil as the only men yet to score this season.