Text by Sergio Álvarez.
Judging by our meeting with Pedro Piquet, it looks like the Trident driver has been gifted with the same straightforward approach that he attributes to his father. At least he’s quite opinionated for such a Young driver progressing through the motorsport ladder. But decide for yourself after you read his comments…
In first place, we would like to know what’s your own review of this first half of the season. How do you evaluate yourself?
Pedro: At the first races, we had a good car but a lot of problems in qualifying. The results were not coming. I had to learn the tyres. Afterwards we’ve had really good results, we’ve had points in all last three rounds [before Hungary], three podiums… and now we want to keep pushing.
If you had to choose the single best moment of this first half, which one would you pick up?
Pedro: I think the second race in Silverstone was nice; the one I won, of course. But the second race in Austria was also really good for me. I didn’t win, I came second, but it was really delightful.
Was something particularly special to win after a fight with a Sunday’s master in GP3 like Giuliano Alesi?
Pedro: No, not really. He has a lot of experience but I concentrated on keeping in front up till the end.
And if you had to choose the worst moment?
Pedro: I think that it is when I crashed at Barcelona. It was wet and the race was coming to me, but I lost the car. That was really bad.
You are one of the drivers that competed in the Toyota Racing Series at New Zealand. What did you learn there?
Pedro: Aah.. It’s really nice. You do a lot of races, 15 races in a month, which means a lot of free practices, qualifying sessions… you drive a lot. It’s a really good preparation. Now I would admit that maybe the car is a bit too different and you learn a lot of staff that does not help you, but it’s a really, really good championship.
Why do you think that there are no Brazilian drivers currently in formula 1?
Pedro: I think it’s a mix of factors. First of all, in Brazil there’s a bigger… how I would say? There’s more support for the touring cars. There are no formula championships going on. So the Young drivers don’t have to go to Europe, they generally stay in Brazil, they race in touring cars and stay in that category. So there is one of the reasons. Brazil does not promote formula cars, just touring cars. The other one is that, in the last few years, we lost some of the sponsors, which in the end we cannot justify completely because some drivers need to be there using their own means, but a lot of F1 drivers have a company behind.
Why has racing in Brazil evolved towards touring cars instead of keeping the usual route?
Pedro: Overall, we have a championship in Brazil for stock cars, in which a lot of sponsors are involved. Maybe they just focus on the junior categories for the stock cars and they don’t create any formula series. They are also much more expensive. A touring car made in Brazil is bought in reais (our own currency), but to bring an F3 car is four times the stock car’s price and in euros, so it’s very expensive.
Now that you talk about formulas… As a driver, what’s your view on the merge between F3 and GP3? Does it suit your interests?
Pedro: I think F3 Europe is quite important. And F3 car is quite unique, it’s really fast through the corners but it has a bit less power… and probably we’ll lose that next year. I also think about the Macau GP. I don’t think it’s possible to race a GP3 car there. It would be too fast on the straights. Not sure if it would be suitable and safe. But I’ve never driven a GP3 at Macau so… I don’t know. I think there should still be F3 cars, with a bit less power and lot of downforce. In the past we had thousands of categories and it wasn’t a problem, but now they want to sort everything up.
Are we going to see you testing an F1 car?
Pedro: No. 90% of the drivers who test F1 cars is because of their budgets. They are sponsored so they got there. But… we’ll see. I’ll just focus on GP3 and let’s see next year.
I was going to ask you about the design of your helmet, but now I see that you also have the characteristic drop as a tattoo. Do you feel part of the tradition?
Pedro: I wear it obviously as a family sign. I was inspired by my father a lot from the start. I use his same design, same colours. It’s nice to have something of your own, something that’s always you and refers to you. Some drivers change their helmets and you think: “What’s the difference between this guy’s helmet and this other?” So you don’t know which driver you’re watching, and in addition the halo makes things harder.
Nowadays is very difficult to differentiate them by the helmet!
Pedro: Before they had a single design for their whole life.
So you mean that this way people can identify you better?
Pedro: Now a lot of drivers adapt the colour of their helmet to that of the car: If the car is yellow the helmet is yellow. But in the old times, look at Senna: If the car was black, his helmet was yellow. The car of my dad was blue and his helmet was red.
Do you agree with the measure of imposing halo?
Pedro: I don’t really agree, because F1 cars and support series cars need a cool design, and now you have a thing on top of the F1 car. If you look at all those guys who died in the last few years, had Bianchi had the halo it would have been the same thing, because the problem was acceleration. Both Henry Surtees and Justin Wilson died because a wheel went off [Wilson was hit by a piece of bodywork from another car – Ed.], but now it’s impossible to break the wheel-teethers… I honestly don’t see it. It’s a sport in which drivers earn a lot of money, a whole more than before. In MotoGP they risk their lives all the time, and they don’t earn as much money as F1 drivers. We need a bit of risk.
Do you receive any advice of your father? What does he tell you?
Pedro: Yeah, we talk a lot, especially about the set-up of the car. In GP3 it’s really important, because everytime you’re trying to change something to improve. Through most of free practice and qualifying both the car and the track change a lot. And he has a lot of experience setting cars up. He comes to most of the races, although he’s not here this weekend.
Could you describe him in three words?
Pedro: Straightforward. No more words!
Could you do the same with your brother Nelson Angelo?
Pedro: No, I would need more words… He’s a really fast guy. He triumphed in junior formulas. In GP2, he started five times from pole. He’s had a professional racing driver career.
And with your sisters Julia and Kelly?
Pedro: I’m a neighbour to Kelly and Daniil Kvyat. We live close to each other, in the same building in Monaco. Julia is often doing working stuff. She’s really into racing, but she lives in the US, so I don’t see her a lot. We are a big family, with five brothers and two sisters!