Nelson Piquet Jr reminisces family success at Long Beach

If one family has a greater affection for the streets of Long Beach than most it is the Piquet’s.

In 1980, Nelson Piquet Sr took his first of 23 Formula 1 Grand Prix wins for Brabham claiming victory by over 50 seconds from Ricardo Patrese.

Fast forward 35 years and Nelson Piquet Jr would follow in his father’s footsteps taking the chequered flag for his first win in Formula E, a win that would become the launch pad for the Brazilian to go on a become the series’ inaugural world champion.

“It was a huge moment winning our first race at Long Beach,” he said. “It was the turning point of our season. We had a few good races and then won that event and it was at that moment that I thought we had a chance at the championship.

“The competition really got exciting then right until the very last corner of the last race,” Piquet continued.

“It was high pressure for us that were involved in the championship race but it must have been good for spectators and those watching on TV, as the battle really went down to the very last seconds of the season.

“The most thrilling moment was finding out after the finish of the last race in London that I had won the world championship. We worked so hard as a team and we did it.

Ahead of the first ePrix, Piquet had acknowledged the importance of Long Beach to his family by running a replica of his father’s Formula 1 helmet from the race 35 years prior.

Looking back on the day 12 months ago, Nelson Jr believes everything just fell into place for him to add to the Piquet legacy on the Calfornian streets.

“It was very special. For a few races I knew we were competitive enough to achieve it and we were just waiting for that win,” he said.

“It almost felt like it was meant to be that weekend, it was a great moment.

“I also won my first FanBoost, so it was a very key weekend. In the race I had everything under control, the start was amazing, the car was great and we found something that won us the race.”

This Saturday Formula E returns to the California coast for the second edition of the Long Beach ePrix though, sadly for Piquet and his NEXTEV team, circumstances are much different.

The Chinese outfit lie bottom of the Constructors’ standings with just 14 points from the first five races, with Piquet himself only scoring four of those points in Malaysia. Indeed Simona de Silvestro is the only driver behind him of those who have competed in every round so far.

Despite the woes, Piquet is hoping a trip back to the iconic street circuit can reinvigorate his season.

“Our reality this season is that we won’t be fighting at the front unfortunately so we will go and do the best that we can,” he admitted

“We have the same approach to each race this season. We are working hard to see what improvements we can make race-to-race and we are trying different strategies to try to get the best possible out of the weekends.

“If we can finish in the points it would be good for us.”

For Piquet Jr. the love for America goes much beyond just his family’s history at Long Beach. The Brazilian competed in NASCAR for four years following his spell with Renault in Formula 1 and says it “feels like a home track” every time he races in the States.

As a result, Piquet can certainly depend on plenty of local support and perhaps receive the FanBoost once again this weekend as he look to turn around what has been a disappointing defence of his title so far.

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