News that Nelson Piquet was to test a NASCAR Truck has led to suggestions that the Brazilian is going to try and rebuild his career in oval racing.
But as Piquet explained in an exclusive interview with AUTOSPORT, his Truck run at Rockingham next week is mainly to satisfy his curiosity about NASCAR and his sights are still set on a Formula 1 future.
Q. Why test a NASCAR truck?
Nelson Piquet: Red Horse Racing invited me and I didn't have any commitments for that time and I found it interesting. It's a different world that I've never experienced so I think it is good to explore it. I enjoy all kinds of motorsport categories and it will be a fun experience with a good team. They have good backing from Toyota and they are a big manufacturer that can offer strong support.
Q. Is going down the NASCAR route a serious possibility for next year?
NP: That's not really the plan, my focus is still on F1 and this is more about exploring an exciting opportunity. I'd never even seen a car like this and it will be a good experience for me to see how it is.
I would be interested in driving many kinds of cars if I had the opportunity, whether it was a rally car or an Indycar or anything like that. I've always enjoyed driving different kinds of cars, I did a round of the Porsche Supercup a few years ago and did Le Mans 24 Hours, which was an amazing experience. I definitely want to do Le Mans again.
Q. What appeals to you about NASCAR?
NP: It's just something completely different to anything I've done before. It's a different kind of racing but also very professional, with many good teams and drivers.
Q. Does oval racing capture your imagination?
NP: Well on the one hand it can look as though it is not very challenging, as you're only turning left, but then it can also be fun because it's real wheel-to-wheel racing, especially in NASCAR, and there is lots of overtaking and fighting. So in some ways it's more exciting than racing in some championships like GP2 or F1 where you can get stuck behind a car for an hour and a half and you don't have an opportunity to pass.
Q. Do you see this test as a chance to put controversy behind you and just get back to being a race driver?
Q. Do you have any other test plans for the next few months?
NP: Yes, I'm doing a lot of go-kart racing, I'm doing the Monaco Cup and I'm looking into doing the Brazilian championship of shifters. I'm also looking to see if there are any other categories that have testing before the end of the year.
Q. How are your plans for racing in F1 next year progressing?
NP: I'm speaking to a few teams that have open spaces and the new teams are still open. I am under no illusions about how difficult it will be, but I'm talking to people and if I'm given a chance, I will give 100 percent. I cannot ignore other exciting driving opportunities, like this NASCAR test, but I will not rest until I have proven myself in F1.