Formula 1: The many errors of Nelson Piquet
The excitement in Formula 1 is great: Nelson Piquet racially insults Lewis Hamilton and reaps an unparalleled shitstorm. “Nelson Piquet Senior just disgusts me,” comments McLaren’s longtime communications director, Matt Bishop. Many fans around the world are shocked by the Brazilian’s behavior, others tweeted with regard to Piquet’s inglorious history: “He was always a complete idiot.”
Because on closer inspection, it is actually no great surprise that with Piquet, of all people, the man whose list of hostilities and verbal abuse in Formula 1 is even longer than his undeniably great successes (world champion 1981, 1983 and 1987).
In 1982, the pictures of Piquet’s fist fight against Eliseo Salazar after a collision in Hockenheim went around the world. But Piquet’s rivals usually get a real beating when the 23-time Grand Prix winner switches to the verbal fast lane: Piquet was already considered an unsympathetic and master of psychological warfare during his playing days, always below the belt.
Particularly often the target of Piquet’s attacks: ex-teammate Nigel Mansell. From 1986 both drove together for Williams, the feud quickly became personal and dirty. “If my wife were as ugly as Mansell’s, I would drive a Grand Prix every day so I wouldn’t have to be at home,” Piquet publicly etched, calling Mansell an “idiot” and an “asshole.”
Legendary: When Mansell suffers from Montezuma’s revenge at the Mexico GP, Piquet hides the toilet paper from his colleague and laughs: “Mansell only simulated, he wanted to prepare the excuses for his impending defeat. That’s why I stole the toilet paper. When he noticed that there was none, he roared like a lion (Mansell’s nickname; ed.).”
Alain Prost, who still benefited from the hate duel between the Williams drivers in 1986 and dusted off the world title, also gets his fat off the Brazilian. “This guy ended the marriages of three pilots who were friends with him: Didier Pironi, Gerard Larrousse and Jacques Laffite,” Piquet rumbles. “He’s a lumberjack who goes into his friends’ house and steals their wife. That’s the only way he can achieve something because he’s very ugly.”
His compatriot, who is eight years his junior, is the new rising star in the Formula 1 sky and the darling of all Brazilians. Piquet’s reaction: He tries to discredit Senna, spreads rumors about journalists in the media. “Senna isn’t that into girls, his business is big boys. I’ve never seen him with a woman,” explains Piquet.
It was only after Senna’s death in 1994 that Piquet was purified, saying: “I guarantee that the loss of Senna hit me in a way that I could never have imagined. He was a very tough opponent and the greatest natural talent I’ve ever had seen in Formula 1.” Only to find a blunder again a short time later. “A journalist once asked me who is the best: Senna or me? All I can say is: I’m still alive,” says Piquet in a TV interview.
Piquet himself had a bad accident on Senna’s Tamburello death curve in 1987, the consequences of which he said he never fully recovered from. In 1992, Piquet also had a serious accident while training for the Indianapolis 500 and sustained serious leg injuries. After that, his sporting career is more or less over. Piquet then made a fortune as a businessman in his homeland by selling tracking systems for trucks, cars and ships.
Hamilton put it in a nutshell with his reaction to Piquet’s dropout, tweeting in reference to the racist comments: “There was enough time to learn. Now is the time to act.” In Piquet’s case, one has to realize that the Brazilian will be 70 years old on August 17 – and is still not the least bit wise.