This is one of single-seater feeder series Formula 3's biggest weekends: Pau. Unfortunately for ex-Formula One, ex-NASCAR, World Endurance Championship racer and reigning Formula E champion Nelson Piquet Jr., the FIA barred him from participating due to his immense experience.
Piquet planned to race with the Carlin team for his first time back in a F3 car in more than 10 years, reports Motorsport.com. That initial application was rejected by the FIA, and rejected again on appeal.
FIA Single Seater Commission Stefano Domenicali explained that Piquet’s desire to race at Pau didn’t fit the purpose of the series in an FIA release:
We cannot deny that we were pleased that a driver with the talent and the achievements of Nelson Piquet Jr has expressed a desire to race in a round of the FIA F3 European Championship at a prestigious circuit such as Pau.
However, we must keep in mind the spirit of the Championship – as one of the primary steps on the ladder to F1.
Top-level drivers racing in the feeder series is the same problem that dogs the NASCAR Xfinity Series to the point where an actual full-time Xfinity driver rarely ever wins. Naturally, that’s the example Piquet brought up to Motorsport.com when he expressed his disappointment in being barred from competing at Pau:
It would have been good for the regular series guys to compare themselves to a more experienced driver – just like in America when Kyle Busch races in Truck Series or Kevin Harvick in Nationwide [now Xfinity]. If they beat me, they look like heroes. If I beat them, it’s all learning. I was excited to race against a group of very professional, good racing drivers.
So, good call by the FIA on this one. Look, I understand the desire to go race anything and everything you can get your hands on, but maybe you shouldn’t go back down to the feeder series if you’ve already had decent runs in racing’s highest-level series? Ever hear of the term “punching down?”