Piquets first podium boosts Renault morale 20 Jul 2008
In the uber-competitive world of Formula One racing, when you qualify down in 17th you dont normally expect to score points - let alone a podium. But Renaults Nelson Piquet managed just that in Germany on Sunday, after good fortune and a sterling drive saw him take second place to clinch his first top-three Formula One finish.
Piquet lost a place to Hondas Rubens Barrichello at the start, but the crucial point for the Brazilian came on Lap 35 when Toyotas Timo Glock collided with a wall and brought out the safety car. On a one-stop strategy, Piquet had just emerged from the pits, giving him an advantage over the rest of the field, who still had stops to make.
Third at the re-start, Piquet took the lead of the race after the two men ahead - McLarens Lewis Hamilton and BMW Saubers Nick Heidfeld - stopped. He was unable to resist the hard-charging Hamilton in the closing stages, but kept his cool to stay ahead of the chasing Ferrari of Felipe Massa.
I am obviously very happy! said the Brazilian. After qualifying yesterday I was thinking that my weekend was over, but we opted for an aggressive strategy in the race and the team made some great decisions when the safety car came out. Then I had to concentrate to keep my pace up and look after my tyres as much as possible towards the end of the race. I knew that Lewis was much faster than me, so I did not want to take any pointless risks. This second place today is a great reward for the whole team.
Piquets maiden podium was also Renaults first of the season. They last scored a top-three finish in 2006, courtesy of Heikki Kovalainens second-place run at the Japanese Grand Prix. And team boss Flavio Briatore was thrilled with Piquets Hockenheim success.
Nelson had an amazing race, said Briatore. He proved to be very fast towards the end of the race and was able to remain strong under enormous pressure. He was not able to hold off Hamilton who was much faster, but he was able to defend his second place strongly. I am delighted for him and for the team who really deserve this result.
Fernando Alonso had a disappointing race in the second Renault and finished down in 11th. Nevertheless, Piquets eight points means the French team have moved seven points clear of Williams in the constructors standings to place them sixth, just one point behind Red Bull.