Wickens pushing for 2012 Formula 1 race seat
22 November 2011 – Robert Wickens continues to strive for a Formula 1 race seat next year, but admits that he is also reviewing other options as the driver market remains inundated. The Canadian tested for both Lotus Renault GP and Marussia Virgin Racing at last week’s Young Driver test, setting fastest lap times for the two teams across the three days.
Having turned 22 in March of this year, Wickens already boasts a selection of achievements in a variety of motorsport series. He finished third in Formula BMW USA in 2005 before becoming Champion a year later. In 2007, he was third in the Champ Car Atlantic series before finishing runner-up in Formula 2 and GP3 in 2009 and 2010, respectively. However, it was after his F2 season that the Toronto driver lost backing from Red Bull, despite having been hit by a selection of mechanical problems.
Now supported by F1 team owner Marussia, he picked up the Formula Renault 3.5 title this season, beating Carlin team-mate and Red Bull-backed Jean-Éric Vergne. Although his final morning of testing for Virgin Racing was handed to Frenchman Charles Pic, who is believed to have already signed a race deal for 2012, Wickens continues to push for an F1 drive of his own.
“To be brutally honest, my goal is to get a race seat in any Formula 1 team,” Wickens told GPUpdate.net. “I feel like I’m ready, I’m 22 and there are now a lot of drivers on the grid who I have actually competed against. So I see no reason why I shouldn’t be able to join them there. Some things have to come into place to make that a reality, but I’m also working on some other things to make sure that I will be doing something in 2012.”
He is now weighing up whether larger gains can be enjoyed through a full-time F1 reserve position, or maintaining his racecraft in another championship.
“To be honest, that is what I’m not sure about right now,” Wickens continues. “It’s one of those things. I think, if you can get a reserve driver deal with a (race) option on 2013, that is a very good-looking option.
“To take a year out of racing and being a reserve driver…at the end of the day, I’ve been racing since I was seven years old in karting. I’m pretty sure that, if I have to take a year off racing a car to just driving cars and going on the simulator and stuff, I don’t think I would lose my racecraft.
“But, definitely, the more seat time you can get, the better - and you don’t get more seat time than when you are racing. It is definitely a tricky one but there are some options on the table for me, so we have to evaluate some and try to see what the best deal is for 2012.”
Currently reserve driver for Marussia Virgin, Wickens was unable to confirm whether or not he will be taking part in Friday practice for this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix.
The full interview with Robert Wickens will be available on GPUpdate.net next week