Young Piquet has great support act
Great names have graced the windswept tarmac of Teretonga Park over the years - Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Bruce McLaren, Jack Brabham, Stirling Moss, Jackie Stewart and Denny Hulme to name a few.
You can now add the surname Piquet to that list, although it will be 15-year-old Pedro competing in the opening round of the Toyota Racing Series starting on Saturday rather than the brilliant Brazilian Nelson, who won the last of his three F1 world championships in 1987.
Despite building a successful business career since retiring from racing, Nelson's heart remains very much in the sport.
Four of his sons have gone on to be race drivers and Nelson will be watching from the Teretonga pits this weekend after arriving in Invercargill in his private jet earlier this week.
"They like it. The last one doesn't like motor racing, doesn't like cars, doesn't like speed, but only the last one. The rest of them like it."
Nelson, who drove for McLaren, Brabham, Williams and Bennetton, said he was careful with the advice he gave to his sons.
While Nelson started racing at 18, Pedro has been behind the wheel since he was 8-years-old.
"It depends on the timing and it depends on the kid. Pedro is very talented, drives well but I don't think he's aggressive enough. All the time I'm saying ‘be more aggressive, go forward'. I'm trying to push him a little bit more because I think he's too ‘good' to be a racing car driver, too kind."
Pedro enjoyed testing at Teretonga yesterday.
"The track is very good, a very fast track and I liked it very much. The car is also a great car to learn in, a very fast car and I hope to get a lot of experience here."
Coming from a famous racing family - Pedro's half brother Nelson jnr is also a former F1 driver - had inspired him, but also meant he raced under a spotlight.
"The family, all the brothers racing, my father racing, it's something that got me into it. I liked it very much," he said.
"I think it's a little bit tough. The name [creates] a little bit of pressure. In karting I had all that, it was big pressure. At the end, I think I'll win more than I lose."
The step up from karting to the open-wheeled Toyota Racing Series is an important progression for Pedro.
"This is the best championship I can do. I don't lose a lot of school and I can do 15 races, just the same as a full season in Europe."
Nelson said the series, which runs for five weeks and includes three rounds this weekend, provided an ideal gauge.
"He's done very well in karts, won championships, but he's still learning," Nelson said. "It's very good. All the cars are quite the same and to be able to do, in five weeks, 15 races, that's very good. That's learning all the time, you can compare one driver with another one, all the data, what he's doing and trying to improve all the time."
- The Southland Times