2004 British F3 Champion Nelson Piquet took his first Formula One podium at the German Grand Prix yesterday with a brilliant tactical drive from 17th on the grid to take the best finish of the year for the ING Renault F1 Team and finish nine places ahead of teammate, and double world champion, Fernando Alonso.
As the race got underway Piquet had a difficult start, his car fuelled heavy for a long first stint as the team adopted a one stop strategy and pitted just after half distance, shortly before the safety car was deployed on lap 36.
The majority of the field headed for the pits to make their second stops under the safety car but Piquet, who already made his one stop, remained out on track, gaining track position and rising through the field. When the race resumed, his one stop strategy continued to play into the team's hands as he emerged in the lead of the race in the closing stages.
In an exciting climax to the race Piquet held strong at the front, but the pace of Lewis Hamilton's McLaren proved too much as he passed the Brazilian seven laps from home. Piquet was easily able to hold onto second ahead of Felipe Massa to take his first podium in Formula 1 and scoring 8 points for the team.
Nelson Piquet said: "I am obviously very happy! 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."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director ING Renault F1 Team, said: "Nelson had an amazing race. 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."