Q&A with Alexander Rossi

I am delighted to bring you all a big Q&A this time round, We are speaking to Alexander Rossi, Alex has been a reserve driver for the Caterham F1 Team and has spent the past number of years driving in GP2, I am very confident that we will see the American in F1 in the near future. Thanks must go to Alexander and his team for taking the time to sit down and run through my questions.

Q&A with Will Stevens

Today sees the latest instalment of my Q&A pieces with racing drivers, I really love doing this because it gives us all an idea of what life is like for a driver and hopefully there should be a few more drivers involved, This time we speak to Will Stevens, Will has been racing for the past few years in FR3.5 and is part of the Caterham F1 Driver Academy, as he is still only 22 he has age and of course the ability on his side we shouldn’t be surprised if he reaches F1 in the future. Hope you all enjoy.

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Q1. Can you just tell us a little about your earliest memory of motorsport?
Will Stevens – My earliest memories were that my father raced in the Ferrari Challenge in the late 90’s for a few years and we used to go away as a family to those events which was really good. Through that I got introduced to karting by the guy who ran a Ferrari Challenge team at the time.

Q2. When did you first get involved in racing?
WS – I started racing at kart club meetings in 2002 at places like, Shenington, Buckmore Park, PFI and Wigan. We were racing almost every weekend somewhere and even from those early days I really knew that racing was what I wanted to do as a career.

Q3. What advice would you have for anyone thinking of starting a career in motorsport?
WS – I think I’d say, start out by simply doing it for fun and enjoyment. Don’t take it too seriously too early and learn as much as possible. When you think you understand it sufficiently to know if you want to progress and make what is a big commitment and of course you need the necessary backing financially, then make a plan and go about it in a balanced way.

Q4. So far in your career, what has been your best race and why?
WS – I’d say my best race was probably the second round of World Series by Renault 3.5 in Motorland Aragon in 2013. I didn’t qualify that well for the first race as qualifying was mixed up by the weather and I started P11. Our race pace was just great and I climbed to P2 with a succession of good overtaking moves. Also, back in 2007, qualifying pole, winning every heat and both finals at the European Karting Championships in 2007 was a pretty special weekend!

Q5. Do you have a favourite track that you particularly like for any reasons?
WS – I think for any driver that has raced on the iconic circuits then the answer would be the same, Monaco, Spa and Monza! The history of those tracks and the challenge they still present put them above the more modern tracks. If I had to go with one of those I’d say Monaco. I love a street circuit as ultimately it is the biggest challenge to a driver.

Q6. If you weren’t a racing driver, what would you be doing?
WS – I couldn’t imagine doing anything else now but if I had to choose an alternative, I’d be a professional golfer. I’m working on my game!! If I had to choose a non-sport profession, I think I’d like to be an architect.

Q7. Who is the best driver you’ve raced against?
WS – Throughout my career I’ve raced against most of the top juniors, a couple of whom are now in F1 and a number, like myself on the verge of F1 in various roles. Again if I had to choose one, I’d say Kevin Magnussen. We were team mates in our first year in World Series and I raced against him in different teams in 2013. Our race at Barcelona in 2013 in the last round was close and I’d like to think I gave him a hard time especially in race 1. He’s obviously now at McLaren and I hope to race against him in F1 next year.

Q8. Away from racing for a minute, do you like any other sports, if so who do you support?
WS – I’m a very keen golfer and I’m an Arsenal fan.

Q9. Do you do much in your spare time away from the track?
WS – My career is very important to me so away from the track I still have a lot to do in motorsport. I have commitments at Caterham F1, like simulator work, as part of my participation in their Racing Academy and I spend a lot of time working on my fitness. I try to play golf as often as I can and find time to relax and spend time with my friends and family.

Q10. As a racing driver you must visit all sorts of places, anywhere particular that stood out for you?
WS – I’m very lucky that I get to travel a lot and go to a lot of great places. I don’t always get time to spend a lot of time away from the track as race weekends are pretty full on but I always try to enjoy the cities I go to. This year will be my third year racing at Monaco and that is the place that really stands out. The atmosphere on the GP weekend is something really special.

Q11. Finally, What are your targets for this season and also for the future?
WS – My sole objective for 2014 is to win the World Series by Renault 3.5 Championship. My longer term objective is F1 and hopefully I can make that a reality in 2015.

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I would like to thank Will and his management for getting back to me with answers and wish him the best of luck in 2014.

Will’s Twitter – https://twitter.com/WillStevens_

Will’s Website – http://www.willstevens.co.uk/

Q&A with Jon Lancaster

Earlier this week, I decided to get in contact with Jon Lancaster, He has raced in various series such as FR3.5 and F2 as well as most recently GP2, last year Jon finished 11th in the GP2 Series in a season that included two sprint race wins in consecutive weekends at Silverstone and Nurburgring. I thank Jon for taking the time to talk to The Chequered Flag Blog and I hope you all enjoy!

Jon on the podium at Silverstone after winning the GP2 Sprint Race

Jon on the podium at Silverstone after winning the GP2 Sprint Race

Q1. Can you just tell us a little about your earliest memory of Motorsport and also did you have a racing hero growing up?
Jon Lancaster – My first memories were watching Ayrton Senna for sure, being born in 1988 I was lucky to see some of the real F1 back in the day! When I was that young I loved Ayrton then also Nigel Mansell as he had the red 5, As I grew I realised Ayrton was a step apart from the rest.

Q2. When did you first get involved in racing?
JL – I got involved pretty early after my parents split when I was 5 my dad who was an ex F3 mechanic always loved racing and bought a kart so I used to go down and push wheels about and try help with my brother Andrew, then when I was 9 I got my own kart for Christmas and we started testing and raced when I was 10.

Q3. What advice would you have for anyone thinking of starting a career in motorsport?
JL – I would say to them, are you sure? haha, you have to be honest with yourself, do you really think you are good enough to make it and are you willing to sacrifice and commit to being professional? and of course do you have the finances to get going and the contacts to keep going.

Q4. So far in your career, what has been your best race and why?
JL – My best race…possibly 2 races, in the wet at Pau in F3 2008 coming from 12th to 3rd. and last years GP2 win at Nurburgring as I had James Calado pushing me all the way and didn’t make one mistake. being in a new small team up against ART as well made it even sweeter.

Q5. Do you have a favourite track that you particularly like for any reasons?
JL – Besides Macau which is incredible, Silverstone has to be up there for me, the fast flowing nature really suits me and to be on the edge around there is pretty incredible.

Q6. If you weren’t a racing driver, what would you be doing?
JL – Thats a good question, I would like to say playing for Leeds Utd!! but honestly something in sport I love all kinds of sports and also helping to run our business of renting houses, we were hit incredibly hard when the market crashed and now when I’m not racing I paint houses, fit carpet, fill skips etc to get jobs done.

Q7. Who is the best driver you’ve raced against?
JL – That is hard to say…probably Marco Ardigo in karting, when I was 16 he was 22 and a seasoned pro, he never made a mistake and we had many battles over the years.

Q8. Away from racing for a minute, do you like any other sports, if so who do you support?
JL – I’m a huge passionate Leeds Utd fan and also like Rugby union, I compete in triathlons and take part in crossfit as well.

Q9. Do you do much in your spare time away from the track?
JL – Between the carpet fitting and other work to prepare houses, I try to raise my own sponsorship and its only very recently I signed with a manager, before I did everything myself and with some help from my dad.

Q10. As a racing driver you must visit all sorts of places, anywhere particular that stuck out for you?
JL – Macau will always stick out…its a mental place…haha Singapore was beautiful and India was eye opening. I’ve been to many places racing but hardly get to really see them, its a shame, I will revisit as many as I can some day.

Q11. Finally, What are your targets for this season and also for the future?
JL – This year I hope to get a full season in GP2 and challenge for the title, we will see what other add on races we can do, I’ve had some offers for endurance projects. Since I was 10 years old F1 world champion has been my goal…nothing less.

I would like to thank Jon again and wish him the best of luck this year.

Jon’s Twitter – https://twitter.com/JonLracing

Jon’s Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/JonLancasterRacing

Q&A with Nick Yelloly

I am pleased to be posting my first Drivers Q&A, I decided to get in contact with Nick Yelloly, Nick has so far enjoyed a great career and has raced in series such as Formula Renault UK, Formula Renault 3.5 and most recently took part in the 2013 GP3 Series for Carlin and finished the championship in 6th place after a solid season which saw him score 107 points and finish on the podium four times including a 2nd place at Silverstone. I thank Nick for his time and the effort to answer the questions and wish him well for this season.

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Nick celebrating on the podium

Q1. Can you just tell us a little about your earliest memory of Motorsport and also did you have a racing hero growing up?
Nick Yelloly – My earliest memory would have to be, visiting Silverstone at the age of 5 and seeing Michael Schumachers car when he was driving for Benetton. As Michael was dominant when I was growing up, he was my hero as he was for most young drivers my age. He was the man!

Q2. When did you first get involved in racing?
NY – I first got involved at a go karting party at the age of 14 which I enjoyed a lot and won. I was asked to have a try in an outdoor kart later on in that year and I then started to race outdoors in the Super One Junior TKM Championship the following year.

Q3. What advice would you have for anyone thinking of starting a career in motorsport?
NY – To always keep enjoying it, keep fit and treat every race as if its your last.

Q4. So far in your career, what has been your best race and why?
NY – I would say it would have to be my win in FR3.5 in 2012 at the Nurburgring when I won race 2 from 14th on the grid by over 27 seconds. I called a very good strategy and the car was great too. We were also very quick in both wet and dry conditions. All of this was made more special because of the fact I didn’t finish race 1 due to having been taken ill with a stomach bug.

Q5. Do you have a favourite track that you particularly like for any reasons?
NY – My favourite track would have to be Silverstone, not just because its only 40 minutes away from my house. But because of the fast and flowing nature of the circuit. The atmosphere when racing on a F1 weekend at Silverstone is seriously special too. Being on the podium last year there was one of the highlights of my career.

Q6. If you weren’t a racing driver, what would you be doing?
NY – I would be working with my dad in financial services, whilst also competing in some sort of sporting activity as I’ve always been very sporty and couldn’t just sit in an office, without physical competition.

Q7. Who is the best driver you’ve raced against?
NY – I have raced against plenty of good drivers in my career and couldn’t and wouldn’t want to say there is anyone that specifically stands out as being above the rest. There are as in any sport many great drivers or competitors. Some get the lucky break and into F1 and the others simply, don’t.

Q8. Away from racing for a minute, do you like any other sports, if so who do you support?
NY – I love watching Supercross from the states, riding my downhill mountain bike too is cool. I love all sports, especially ones that really get my adrenaline levels up! When I am away from the track I also like to get in the gym as often as possible to keep fit.

Q9. Do you do much in your spare time away from the track?
NY – Most people seem to think that racing drivers just drive and then do nothing away from the track at all! They would be very wrong. A lot of the time is taken up by maintaining fitness levels, or improving them. Also working with my current sponsors and potential sponsors to raise money for the next season. Todays racing drivers cannot just be quick on the track. They have to be great with their PR and money-raising skills to really make it to the top.

Q10. As a racing driver you must visit all sorts of places, anywhere particular that stuck out for you?
NY – I visited Russia (just outside Moscow) to race in 2012 when i was competing in WSR 3.5, I would say out of all places I have been to, to race. It has to be the craziest and weirdest at the same time. The people there are very nice, although different as is their culture and way of life. An example of this was in the first session we had as we drove out, my engineer came over the radio warning me of dogs being on the circuit, and also a lot of the seats from the grandstand were now on the track and had been blown off by the wind! I visited Red Square during the weekend too before I flew home. I must say that was pretty special too.

Q11. Finally, What are your targets for this season and also for the future?
NY – My targets always remain the same for every season I compete in, and that’s to win. In whatever championship I race in this season my aim is as simple as that. Long term goal would be obviously to race at the highest level in the sport (F1) although I know how difficult it is to break into now, due to the cost! Making a career racing would be a great achievement, and enable me to pay back the people whom have helped me to date. Which I am very grateful already.

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Nick with 4-time F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel

I hope you enjoyed and I thank Nick for his time and the effort in answering the questions and I would like to wish him well for this season and beyond.