The last few days has seen a spate of interesting interviews with British drivers across the different series of world open-wheel racing, from A1GP to IndyCar by way of Formula One.
A1GP’s Adam Carroll talks about the financial price of competing at the very top level, while Robbie Kerr shares his thoughts on how the series has matured.
Anthony Davidson reveals what it’s like to prepare for a Grand Prix that you know you might not be able to compete in, and Jenson Button discusses Honda’s future prospects now that he’s hauled the team back into the points once.
And Justin Wilson explains how moving to American racing changed his life – in more ways than one.
Talking to Setanta, Adam Carroll says that racing in A1GP is a far better experience than being a tester in Formula One: “I’ve absolutely loved it, to tell you the truth .I am a racer through and through and I chose to go racing, to fight my way and try hard rather than be a test driver.
“Unfortunately, at the minute in Formula 1, there is no extra testing so the race drivers do all of it. So you might only get a few days in the car now and again.”
He looked back on his spell as an F1 test driver with mixed feelings, knowing that he performed well but had no chance of a race drive because of a lack of financial support.
“I was a Formula 1 test driver with Honda and I covered over 4,000 kilometres and proved myself there. I was very, very quick and as quick as the race drivers. In the end though, it was down to circumstances again.”
“Some guys like Bruno Senna are bringing 1.5m Euros to their [GP2] team and you just can’t compete with that. And that’s only for one season,” he explained. “In motorsport, after you get into a car at 16, to go with the best team every year, you pretty much need £4m in the end. That’s the reality – you need the talent but you also need the backing and that’s very hard to get.”
The same broadcaster also spoke to Team GBR driver Robbie Kerr, who will attempt to score another win on home soil at Brands Hatch next weekend: “Being at our home event, we’re really looking forward to it. The pressure of chasing third in the championship adds to the pressure of being at home – in front of a big crowd – but we are focused on what we have to achieve.”
It won’t be easy though: “A lot of people see it that we’ll have the advantage but of course we haven’t because of lot of the guys have come up through the ranks in Great Britain. Everyone has stepped it up a level this season.
“It’s what you expect in the third year of a car – all the teams are used to it – so everyone’s performing and we have a situation where some teams have a better set-up on their car on some circuits than others and it makes the crucial difference.”
Next year the series switches to a new car, built by Ferrari – and Kerr wants to be a part of it still: “I’ve enjoyed my time being here, watching the series grow. And, of course, to have a Prancing Horse as a car next year – it’s the first time Ferrari have produced a single-seater car outside of F1 – it will be tremendous and I definitely want to be one of the drivers in those cars.”
Autosport’s Q&A with Jenson Button sees him obsessively bemoaning his twitchy rear end, a complaint he first voiced during ITV’s race coverage at Barcelona. Translated, he feels the Honda car has had enough new bits bolted on, and it’s now a case of learning to drive it.
“The car has improved and I think there is more to come just working with the car as it is, not adding bits. Understanding the aero more for when we go to Turkey. Turkey is a circuit I love, and it should suit the car a little bit better than this place [Spain] does.”
But a better car will not necessarily translate into regular points: “I think Turkey will be a bit better than here, the performance. But you’ve got to look at the performance compared to everyone that finishes and if the two McLarens, the two Ferraris and the two BMWs don’t have issues then that leaves two points for everyone else to fight over.
“Then you have Alonso and you have Webber who are the two people you are fighting against, and maybe Trulli. It is going to be a lot more difficult if everyone finishes in Turkey to get points but if you look at our pace compared to our competitors you will see we are more competitive.”
The same site has a somewhat fatalistic Anthony Davidson – interviewed before news broke of another possible rescue package for Super Aguri – trying to prepare for Turkey as if there was nothing wrong in the world: “You have to,” he said.
“I have to do the training for Turkey – it’s a demanding circuit on the left-hand-side of the neck and body, so I have to get on and do that. And without finishing the race here – well, without even doing more than four laps – it doesn’t really do much for your race fitness, so you’ve got to do as much as you can away from the circuit.”
Justin Wilson knows what his next few weeks hold – a lot of practice. The Newman / Haas / Laningan driver will go to the Indy 500 as a technical rookie and has almost three weeks of preparation at the circuit for the big race – plenty of time, too, to look back on his first-ever Formula One point, which he scored at the circuit in 2003.
When his F1 adventure ended he called a former Formula 3000 contact, Nordic Racing’s Chris Mower, who was by then working in Champ Car. The rest is history – but it wasn’t just his American racing career that took off thanks to Mower.
“I was living in Indianapolis between races, and I knew his family and wife really well. In 2004, his wife’s friend came across from England. She was a member of the administration staff for a Formula 3000 team and we just hit it off straight away.
“It’s kind of strange how it all happened, and it just went from there. We did 12 months of long-distance relationship – she was back in the UK and I was in the US for RuSPORT in Colorado. I got her to move here and that’s it.”
He and Julia married in December 2006 and now live in Colorado. Their first child, Jane, was born two weeks ago.
As for the Indy 500, he’s going to play that by ear: “I’m going to go into it with no expectations and work it out myself, find my feet and hopefully things will be good. If you have too many expectations it can cloud your vision, so I will take it as it comes.”