Piquet: Ayrton Senna would not have won anything in F1 today

Nelson Piquet Senior with Ayrton Senna on the podium after the 1987 USA GP in Detroit

Aug.22 (GMM) Having already questioned the talents of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen earlier this week, Nelson Piquet Junior is on a roll and turned his critical attention to perhaps the most revered Formula One driver of all time.

Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault R28 crashes into the wall. Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Race, Singapore, Sunday 28 September 2008.Now in the second-tier NASCAR categories, Piquet – who left F1 amid the 2008/9 Crashgate scandal – has now aimed fire at his late, great countryman Ayrton Senna.

He mentioned Senna as an example of a talented driver who might struggle in modern formula one, due to the change of emphasis since the 80s and early 90s.

“Someone like Senna would not have won anything in F1 today,” he is quoted by Terra. “He was very fast but he had no talent in terms of the technical and mechanical.”

Senna won three titles, 41 races and 65 pole positions until his death in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, and Piquet Junior’s  father, also Nelson, had a big rivalry with Senna in the eighties and nineties with the pair openly hostile.

Earlier this week, referring to the current drivers at his former employer, the ex-works Renault team that is now Lotus, Brazilian Piquet said Grosjean “has been lucky because he came [back] at a time when he had a slightly weaker teammate [Kimi Raikkonen] and a very good car”.

Subbed by AJN.

  • John

    I don’t know where to begin. Nelson Piquet would obviously be a multiple world champion by now if he’d still been in F1!?!

    I was always under the impression that Ayrton was quick because he was fitter and knew more about the mechanics of the car than his peers of the time.

    Kimi is quick; he just doesn’t do the BS like other ex-F1 drivers. ;-)

  • Bec

    What is Nelson Piquet Jr’s problem?

    Oh yeah, he’s a bitter and twisted, and too slow for top flight motor sport.

  • Butterfly

    Hey, I’m starting to like this guy.

  • McLaren Fan

    Piquet it seems has a problem with F1.
    But what he forgets is that he hasn’t a clue, he has never driven one of these cars so he should cut the BS and crawl back under his rock.
    Who knows what Ayrton Senna might have done with today’s car he might have already racked up 250 points.
    Piquet STFU

  • F1Follower1991

    Piquet has seemingly done a Jacques and gone on a complete rampage in order to get both fans and drivers backs up – I do see where he is coming from in regards to Senna, however to say he would win “NOTHING” is a complete exaggeration.

    Of course Senna has been known for his huge talent behind the wheel, however what he does say in regards to his car set up skills and technical knowledge does ring through. I am no way demoting Senna in any way just bare with me.

    The late 80’s when Senna was in his prime, cars were not really set up based, the turbo cars needing more of a hustling type nature from behind the wheel, meaning technical knowledge of cars was not a necessity like it is today to be successful. This is because cars didnt recieve huge aero dependant upgrades due to them having no aero downforce back then compared to modern standards

    Obviously nowadays where cars rely on aero downforce alone, drivers need that precise knowledge of their car, how it works and what each individual piece does in order to give back the correct feedback to develop the car – remember no unlimited testing anymore. Remember the reason Ferrari were so good for so many years was not only because of the back room staff, but also the technical expertise Schumacher offered when testing in order to perfect every aspect of the car.

    Times change and so do drivers, the needs and expertise changing in every aspect, During the 80’s drivers were basically well just drivers, and Senna was considered the best of them, now drivers have to be engineers and technicians and well that was something Senna really did not have much experience in.

  • Steve Maximus

    Senna was the driver that engineers hated, because 1 am the night before the race he would still be going over technical data from the practice and qualifying sessions. Piquet Jr is talking total garbage.

  • F1Follower1991

    @Steve Maximus

    That is true, however he would only be doing that for his own benefit as a driver, analysing the telemetry from the onboard computer to see where he could make time up from his laps when driving.

    That does not necessarily sit in the same category as obtaining a great technical knowledge of the car in development. That is what Piquet is talking about, set up work and developing a car. It is why Prost and Senna were both considered the “dream team” during the late 80’s. Senna the fastest driver and Prost the calculated technical genius.

    Prost was a mastermind and was not called “The Proffesor” for no reason. He possessed technical knowledge that far outweighed Senna’s. It is famously stated that Senna would wait during Practice and Qualifying for Prost to go out during 1988 in the MP4/4 to see how he would set up his car, instead of fine tuning his own setup, Senna would go and use Prost’s instinct to set up his own car. Gerhard Berger too was extremely good at setting up a car.

    That is what Piquet means, in this day and age, car development and technical knowledge is king, it is why both Schumacher, Alonso and Vettel have gone on to become so successful, because they are considered to have that technical understanding alongside the ability to drive a car fast. Senna on the otherhand was just a complete genius in driving a car, not setting one up and the meeetings he had with engineers was purely for his own benefit in understanding where he could go faster, not the car.

  • Fuzzy


    You simply DO NOT have a clue about the technical state of F1 (in any era) or how Senna worked.

  • kaka007

    Who cares about this garbage coming out of a garbage driver

  • F1Follower1991


    How can you say that? It is a well known fact that upgrades during that period were always mostly mechanical in regards to engine power and differential etc. Only minor aero modifications were made to cars during the 80’s period. That is because aero was nowhere near as important as it is now after ground effect, I dont see how you can argue that? It was all mechanical downforce.

    Feel free to explain otherwise?

    It is generally accepted by many that Ayrton Senna did not contain the huge technical expertise of Alain Prost for example, That is why they were considered the dream team back during the late 80’s. Prost had all the technical expertise in setting up cars and development, whereas Senna was the true bred all out racer. They complimented each other beautifully?

    It is also been rumoured that Senna would wait for Prost to set up his car during their McLaren days on a race weekend and then use Prost’s expertise to set up his own car, only making minor adjustments to suit his style. To say Ayrton Senna was not the best at car development and technical ability as some would be totally correct. His main aim was just to focus on driving to the absolute limit in any car he was given.

    Yes Senna would keep his engineers up all night going over telemetry from previous sessions, however that was always for mostly his own benefit in chasing that “perfect lap” he always craved, working out where he could have lifted, where he could of gone faster and understand where he could improve, it was not really for the benefit of the team to bring upgrades to the car etc.

    Have you not heard the story about Prost? He used to exclusively test the new McLaren cars because of his technical expertise on test days. Producing laps thousandths of a second apart.

  • Sohail Khan

    Lousy comments from a Lousy chap…..Total Rubbish.

  • Speedo

    This rat who ratted got kicked out and now making some noise to be heard.

  • fools

    “He was very fast but he had no talent in terms of the technical and mechanical.”

    I stopped reading and lost all respect for this individual right after I read that comment Jr.

  • fools

    If AERO DYNAMICS had nothing to do with F-1 in the 70′ 80’s tell me why the heck they had big front spoilers and rear spoilers?

    It may not be as Aero TECHNICAL as in 2012. However it still was AERO DYNAMICS and also technical and mechanical set-ups…

    It is because Senna new the right balance in addition to having a limitless racer heart in him that made Senna UN-touchable compared to his rivals. Prost raced many times against Senna and humiliated him especially in the rain where Senna was Rain God Racer…Lapped cars…drove his car to victory in 6th gear. Etc…

    I dont hear Prost doing such things.

  • Aaron

    I had the pleasure of meeting Nelson Piquet Jr a few years ago in Dubai. He seemed very intense and frustrated in his mannerisms. Maybe it was just another roadshow but thats the impression I had. He signed the Renault T-Shirt I had on and I said to him “Good Luck in China” the next GP. He grinned and winked at me and proceeded to crash out in that race!

    He’s been in the famous Alonso Shadow with no hope..He has Rosberg and Bruno Senna who work hard to keep their name despite the weight and he failed.

    He had the talent but the immaturity of these comments and to judge senna makes me sick. I wish him well and hope he changes his attitude or even the yanks won’t have him!

  • Tamburello_1994

    Lots of talk coming from someone who only in the sport because of his father’s name.

    I also find it in poor taste to be critical of someone whom has absolutely no way of defending himself.

  • ?

    Piquet might be right, but if Senna doesn’t win anything if he was racing today it would be because he would’ve been past his best, or at least that’s how teams will look at him, having seen how Schumacher is doing

  • George K

    Remind me again- just how many titles has Nelson Piquet won?
    This guy is a douchebag. He should just go away. Anyone who has been shamed like he has should disappear altogether.

  • Michael

    I can’t believe the comments made by this pretender whom has no credibility after deliberately crashing out to aid his team mate at the time. Nelson Piquet Junior you are a joke. How dare you even try to predict the capabilities of Ayrton Senna if he was still around today. You’r not only a disgrace to yourself but to Brazil too. Why don’t you just mongrel off keep your comments to your pathetic self. No one cares what you have to say.

  • jmartinez2767

    who is this guy?

  • Matt

    F1Follower1991 Has no clue what he is talking about, Not a clue.

  • F1Follower1991


    Please explain how exactly I am so incredibly wrong? Why apparently I know nothing about what I am talking about? You read any respectable Formula 1 book, you will read the story about Prost’s testing expertise just like I stated, and hear about how Senna on his day was untouchable in raw speed compared to any other driver on the grid.

    Does that mean he did not contain as much technical or mechanical expertise as some other drivers on the grid? Correct, Perfect example to look at his ALonso and Hamilton, they are probably the Prost and Senna of today – Alonso the complete mastermind, with incredible technical and mechanical ability, whereas Hamilton is the all out bin it or win it racer, who is up there in sheer speed as the fastest on the grid.

    To deny I dont know about ANYTHING that I am talking about I can only assume you are a die hard Senna fan who doesnt like anyone that doesnt praise Senna from the high hills in the same way you do.

  • Hawk

    I was following your argument until you said that Hamilton has no technical ability. In this day and age I believe there is no driver on the grid who has no technical ability. You remember when it was said that Jenson was smooth and looked after his tyres as opposed to Lewis? What happened afterwards? Whose tyres drop off first? Recently Jenson himself said that he will learn from Lewis’ setup. When you listen to Lewis or any driver speak you will know that they all have technical ability, only that some are more listened to than others. Last night I was watching a rescreen of some Top Gear episode of the time when Lewis had just won the championship. On a wet and oily track Lewis made a time which was faster than Webber’s and Jenson’s in the dry! It was only 1 tenth of The Stig’s lap time in the dry! and he was laughing all the way while at it!

  • F1Follower1991


    Oh no I did not mean Hamilton does not contain any technical ability, of course in this era every driver has to contain a huge amount of mechanical and techncal understanding as that is how the cars have taken shape now. What I was saying was that he perhaps does not have the same depth of development skills or technical ability of Alonso for example, he does have it just not as much if you understand where I am coming from?

    I am no way an Alonso fan, however I do believe his technical understanding is probably only second to that of Schumachers on the current grid with Hamilton and Vettel probably next up. I was not trying to imply Hamilton had none.

    It is nice to see somebody have some sense on here though and understand my arguement with Senna.

  • Forza Ferrari

    I find it funny how all the guys who have been kicked out of Formula 1 try to talk some sh*t in order to get everyone riled up and then get some attention by doing so. The list of attention seeking ‘has beens’ is pretty long…Nelson Piquet Jr., Eddie Irvine, Jacques Villeneuve, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Johnny Herbert (not so much anymore), Mika Häkkinen and I’m probably forgetting someone. All of these guys have said something one time or another about someone or something just to get a little bit of attention and remind themselves to people. I mean we’ve all seen and heard Eddie Irvine’s crazy rants about Schumacher right? Such desperate attention seeking is pretty pathetic in my opinion.

  • Superwoman

    How can a junior boy like you who has achieved nothing and won nothing in the world of formula1 even begin to think about making judgement or comments about a formula one giant like Senna who, i should remind you, have won 41 grand prix, 65 poles and 3 world champions and no doubt, in the mind of entire formula1 world, would have won many many more races and championships had he not been killed in that unfortunate accident. Senna in the eyes of millions and millions and millions of formula1 fans, drivers, experts was and is the best formula one driver ever known to mankind. – IO

  • Hawk

    @Forza Ferrari

    I am tempted to think that you intentionally left out Rubens..

  • usman

    publicity stunt

  • Malcolm

    He has totally lost his ******* MIND!!

  • chris

    piquet got no credibility. he won nothing in f1 and criticized the great senna.poor guy

  • alicemr2

    Christ, we have another Floyd Landis!!

  • Alex morrison

    What has he done??? He can’t drive Ayrton is a legend he hasn’t done anything

  • Colly

    F1follower 1991:

    Wow. So you think you know EXACTLY what went through Senna’s mind. Also that there is ‘no driver’ out there without technical ability these days.
    …So let me get this right, every single one of the drivers is a technical genius and you slate, slate, slaaate away popular opinion on this forum if anyone dares disagree with your highly opinionated views. It is clear to us that you are the one with a problem with Senna. If the man was alive today, he would let his driving do the talking – as always.
    P.s With your ‘super knowledge’ why don’t you apply for a job chief engineer for F1? Lets see if they agree.

  • Gary Osborne

    It just goes to show what type of a guy he is to go public with that comment. Fair enough, there was (and still is) many Chinese whispers in F1, but some comments are best left to one side. But Senna was a technical F1 driver, he was a perfectionist. On many occasion, he could drive a car loaded with problems, even one time driving a car in top gear as the gearbox had jammed to finish a race. He also helped Honda with the development of the NSX. It doesn’t do any favours for F1 and for Senna. But Senna’s legacy will always live on, which is what matters to his family and to his fans.

  • tracey pygall

    piquet jnr? lol lol. the guy at the centre of crashgate that time. the man is a complete fool and not fit to dare judge ayrton senna. the guy knows nothing let alone how ayrton would have fared today. everyone knows senna was a talent in both driving and the technical side. like someone has already stated he was up at 1am going over the techs and wanting to learn even more. senna was a legend and a genius so shut up you fool piquet jnr.