A triple world champion writes...
It’s three-time Formula 1 World Champion, Nelson Piquet. You know, when I look back on my career in motorsport there’s are a few things maybe I would have done differently. Just maybe I wish I had wasted less energy feuding with Alan Jones. Perhaps I should not have gone to Lotus in ’88. Sure, it would have been nice to experience more success in Indycar. But you know the main thing I regret? I wish I had got around to telling everyone my surname is actually pronounced ‘Pickett’.
You know, I arrived in Europe in the late seventies and I was totally focussed on getting to Formula 1 as fast as possible. There were a lot of meetings, I had a full F3 season to concentrate on and basically I didn’t have the time to say, “Hey, guys, actually it’s pronounced ‘Pickett’”. Everywhere I went I heard people say ‘Pee-kay this’, ‘Pee-kay that’, you know I was sometimes thinking to myself, who is this Pee-kay guy? He sure sounds like a great driver who’s doing really well in F3 and is going to drive an Ensign and then a McLaren in F1 real soon before moving to Brabham, and then I would realise! That guy was me, Nelson Piquet! But it’s pronounced Pickett!
I remember, it was 1980, I was at Brabham by then of course, and things were going pretty good. It was the US Grand Prix in Long Beach, and this was to be my first victory in Formula 1. But I have always remembered that weekend for another reason and it is this; on the Saturday I was being interviewed by a journalist, one of the big guys, had a lot of influence you know, and at the end of the interview he say to me, Nelson, is there anything you would like to add? You know, right away I thought, I can set the record straight. So I’m about to say to him, “Listen, you have to know, and everyone has to know, my surname, it’s actually pronounced ‘Pickett’, okay? Please tell the world this, it’s really important” but before I could do that, Elio de Angelis came in and started doing his famous impression of a cat and the moment was lost. I often think back to that weekend and wonder what might have been if only things had been different. If only I had been able to spread the word that my surname is actually pronounced ‘Pickett’.
But hey, it’s not good to live your life in regret and I’m proud of my achievements in motorsport. You know, I was a quick driver, I won three Formula 1 world titles, I was in the sport for 13 years, I just wish people had realised that actually it’s pronounced ‘Pickett’. Ironically the only person who used to say my surname correctly was that idiot Nigel Mansell. But he also used to call me Neil. Hey, you can’t win them all. Apart from the 1981, 1983 and 1987 Formula 1 World Championships. I did win those. Or was it some guy called Nelson Pee-kay?! No, seriously, it was me.
Nelson Piquet (pronounced Pickett)