Nelson Piquet stands tall as a legendary figure, revered for his prodigious talent, strategic brilliance, and fierce competitive spirit. With a career spanning from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, Piquet cemented his name in the annals of motorsport as a three-time World Champion, captivating fans and leaving his opponents in awe with his breathtaking performances on the track.

From the moment he burst onto the Formula 1 scene, Nelson Piquet’s unwavering determination and relentless pursuit of excellence set him apart. His journey to the pinnacle of motorsport was not without its fair share of challenges, but it was precisely these obstacles that forged the steely resolve that would define his illustrious career.

Piquet made his Formula 1 debut in 1978 with the Ensign team, showcasing his raw talent and earning the respect of his peers. However, it was his move to the Brabham team in 1979 that marked the beginning of a remarkable era in his career.

As we delve deeper into the remarkable career of Nelson Piquet, we will explore his most memorable victories, his fierce rivalries, and the unwavering determination that propelled him to greatness.

Nelson Piquet Birthplace and Childhood

Nelson Piquet was born on 17 August 1952 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and spent his early years in the neighborhood of Gávea.

Growing up in a country known for its passion for sports, Piquet developed a keen interest in motorsports from an early age.

As a child, he would often watch races at the local racetracks, captivated by the speed, skill, and adrenaline of the sport.

Where Did Nelson Piquet Receive His Education?

Piquet’s love for racing did not deter him from pursuing his education.

Nelson’s dad wanted him to take up professional tennis, a game he had started playing at 10 years old. T this end Nelson had win a scholarship at an American school in Atlanta.

Although he was a good tennis player it was generally agreed that he did nt have the talent to excel at the top levels of the sport.

Nelson Piquet’s Parents

Nelson Piquet was born to Estácio Souto Maior, a Brazilian government official, and Neide Piquet.

Estácio Gonçalves Souto Maior (1913–1974) was a Brazilian physician. Nelson’s family moved to the new capital, Brasília, in 1960.

He became the health minister in 1961–64.

The supportive environment provided by his parents contributed significantly to his growth as both an individual and an athlete.

Nelson Piquet’s Siblings

Nelson was the youngest of four siblings. His two brothers, Alexis, and Geraldo, and a sister Genusa.

Piquet’s success in motorsports brought immense pride to his family, and they cheered him on from the sidelines at races around the world.

Nelson Piquet’s Wife

Piquet’s personal life was marked by various relationships. He married Viviane, with whom he had three children.

Viviane stood by Piquet’s side through the highs and lows of his career, providing him with unwavering support and strength.

Nelson Piquet Daughter

Nelson’s daughter, Kelly, is in a relationship with 2 times world champion Max Verstappen.

Nelson Piquet Jr

Nelson Piquet junior is an accomplished racing driver in his own right. He used to drive for Renault until he became involved in the famous crash gate cheating saga.

To help Fernando Alonso win the Singapore GP Renault ordered Nelson Piquet Jr. to crash his car on lap 14. This was just after Alonso had pitted for new tires. They deployed the safety car and Alonso leapfrogged his rivals and take the lead. He went on to win the race, while Piquet Jr. escaped unhurt.

How Did Nelson Piquet Get into Motor Racing?

Nelson started karting when he was 14.

To get around that fact that his dad did not support his motorsport career he used his mother’s maiden name – Piquet.

Although he started studying engineering at university, he dropped out after 2 years.

When her returned to Brazil he (and a few friends) purchased a 20hp kart which they entered in several Brazilian karting events. This also included participating in the in the local 1976 Formula Super Vee championship.

How Did Nelson Piquet Get Into F1?

Nelson moved to Europe and entered into the F3 championship. He was hailed as a prodigy of Emmerson Fittipaldi and soon dominated the series. He broke Jackie Stewart’s record for the number of wins in a season.

Piquet’s ascent to Formula One began in 1978 when he made his debut with the BS Fabrications team with whom he raced for 3 events.

In 1978 he also drove on once race each for the Team Tissot Ensign and Parmalat (Brabham) Racing Teams. He remained a full-time driver for the Parmalat (Brabham) team until 1982.

He won the 1981 drivers’ championship with Parmalat.

In 1983 he moved to the Fila Sport F1 team (Brabham) where he won his 2nd world championship.

1984 and ’85 were spent with Brabham, under the guise of the MRD International and Motor Racing Developments Ltd sponsors. He only managed a 5th and 9th place finish.

Nelson Piquet Williams

In 1986 an ’87 he drove for Williams and achieved his 3rd drivers’ championship in 1987.

In the last 4 years of his F1 career he drove for Lotus and Benneton. His best result was 3rd in the drivers’ championship in 1990 driving for Benneton.

When Did Nelson Piquet Win the Formula 1 World Championship?

Nelson Piquet won the Formula 1 World Championship three times during his illustrious career.

  • His first championship victory came in 1981, driving for Parmalat.
  • He won his 2nd world championship in 1983 driving for Fila Sport.
  • He won the 3rd drivers’ championship in 1987.

Piquet secured the title by displaying a blend of skill, consistency, and tactical prowess, establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with on the F1 grid.

Piquet’s biggest rivals in Formula One included legendary drivers such as Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.

These fierce competitors pushed Piquet to his limits and brought out the best in him. Their battles on the track captivated fans around the world and contributed to the intense rivalries of the era.

Nelson Piquet’s Formula 1 Statistics

Over the course of his Formula One career, Nelson Piquet achieved remarkable statistics.

He competed in a total of 204 races, securing 23 victories, 60 podium finishes, and 24 pole positions.

Piquet’s consistent performances earned him 485 championship points, showcasing his exceptional skill and tenacity.

His F1 career data is summarised below.

1978BS Fabrications300000NC
1978Team Tissot Ensign100000NC
1978Parmalat Racing (Brabham)100000NC
1979Parmalat Racing (Brabham)150010315th
1980Parmalat Racing (Brabham)143216542nd
1981Parmalat Racing (Brabham)153417501st
1982Parmalat Racing (Brabham)1411222011th
1983Fila Sport (Brabham)153148591st
1984MRD International (Brabham)162934295th
1985Motor Racing Developments Ltd (Brabham)161102218th
1986Canon Williams Team1642710693rd
1987Canon Williams Team1534411761st
1988Camel Team Lotus Honda160003226th
1989Camel Team Lotus150000128th
1990Benetton Formula162004443rd
1991Camel Benetton Formula16100326.56th

Nelson Piquet Lewis Hamilton

In 2021 Nelson Piquet used a racial slur when talking about Lewsi Hamilton’s Seilverstone crash with Max Verstappen.

The courts have ordered him to pay £780 000 in damages for making these racist and homophobic comments about seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton.

As a consequence, Nelson has been banned from entering the Formula 1 paddocks in the future.

What Did Nelson Piquet Say

In a 2021 interview, Nelson referred to seven-time champion Hamilton as “neguinho”. This is apparently a racially offensive term, which literally means “little Black guy.”

Nelson Piquet’s Greatest Achievements

Nelson Piquet’s greatest achievements extend beyond his impressive Formula One career.

In addition to his three F1 World Championships, Piquet triumphed in iconic races such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Daytona 500, and the Race of Champions.

His ability to adapt to different racing disciplines and excel in various conditions solidified his status as one of motorsport’s legends.


Nelson Piquet’s life and career exemplify the epitome of success in the world of Formula One.

From his humble beginnings in Rio de Janeiro to his multiple championship victories, Piquet’s journey is a testament to his exceptional skill, dedication, and unwavering determination.

His legacy continues to inspire future generations of racing drivers, leaving an indelible mark on the sport he loved.

By Jonny Noble

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Jonny Noble I’m a dedicated F1 Writer – and I’ve Been One for Over Four Decades, I’ve been intimately immersed in the world of Formula One for more than 44 years. That’s longer than most professional commentators can boast! As an independent writer, I offer a unique perspective on the entire F1 landscape, free from biases that might cloud the discussion. We dive deep into the exhilarating, frustrating, and captivating facets of the F1 universe. So, regardless of my amateur status, one thing is undeniable: four decades of dedicated F1 fandom have forged strong opinions worth exploring!