Exclusive interview with Robert Wickens

Exclusive interview with Robert Wickens

30 November 2011 – Robert Wickens was the quickest driver for no less than two teams at the Abu Dhabi Young Driver test, making the most of his track time after becoming World Series by Renault Champion. The 22-year-old Canadian chats exclusively with GPUpdate.net.

Wickens hails from Toronto
How did the Young Driver test go for you?
Everything went very well, in my opinion. I had goals for myself to kind of tick off: I wanted to be in the top three with Renault, and I did that, and I also wanted to be the quickest driver on each of the teams and I did that as well. So, all in all, I think I should be proud of what I achieved.

Could you feel a clear difference between the LRGP and Virgin cars?
Every car is different, but there are definitely some subtle and smaller differences between them. To be honest it was what I expected it to be, in terms of differences in performance.

You have some incredible statistics to your name: third in Formula BMW USA in 2005 and Champion in 2006, third in the Champ Car Atlantic series in 2007, runner-up in Formula 2 in 2009 and runner-up in GP3 in 2010. How much of a difference has it made to clinch another title, in Formula Renault 3.5 this year?
I think your latest championship is always the most important one. But something I didn’t really realise until mid-season this year is that the World Series by Renault is the first championship that I have actually returned to for a second season, albeit two or three years later; it was the first time since Formula BMW that I’ve done a second full season in the same series. For all we know, maybe I could have been Champion a lot more if I’d had the opportunity to stick in the same championship for multiple years, like you see some of these drivers do. But the World Series is a very important achievement and, hopefully, I can come off the wake of that and try and get something good for next year.

You have recently been able to enjoy some added publicity, such as contributing to the BBC Radio 5 live commentary team during free practice sessions. Have you enjoyed that?
I’ve had a blast! It’s something I’ve always wanted to try and, from what I’ve heard, I’m not making a fool of myself! I have had a lot of great opportunities along the way. For sure, my career path hasn’t been ideal, but I’ve been lucky to be racing in every season so far in my car career from 2005 onwards – there are some drivers who can’t say the same. I think, if budget was never an option or if I have stayed on with Red Bull (backing, which was terminated at the end of 2009), my career path would have been different. But at the end of the day I’m still on the doorstep to Formula 1 and I think that is all that matters.

Whether backed by Red Bull or Marussia, your career has generally been very impressive thus far. So how do you now go about planning 2012?
To be brutally honest, my goal is to get a race seat in any Formula 1 team. 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.

On the last day of the Young Driver test, it very much looked as though you were thrown out of the morning session because Marussia preferred to run Charles Pic. Is that how it felt to you?
I guess the brutal facts are: yes, that’s the case (laughs). I guess they had their own contracts to oblige to and, whatever the reason was, Charles ended up getting my morning, because I was meant to have the full day on Thursday. It kind of just made me work even harder with the running that I had in the afternoon. I think I only did 33 or 34 laps in the afternoon so, considering I didn’t really get out of the car that often – I think I only got out for about ten minutes, once or twice – it was a busy afternoon and I was stuck doing a lot of the Pirelli tyre testing, so we couldn’t really change the car or do that much to it. So the car wasn’t ideally to my liking, in terms of balance, but once in a situation like that all you can do is adapt and try to do the best job you can.

Charles Pic joins Marussia for the 2012 season
Charles Pic has now been confirmed with Marussia Virgin for 2012, which forces yourself and other drivers to look around at other teams now…
I just focus on my own thing, there’s no productivity on worrying about others. If you just do a better job yourself, you stand a better job of getting something, so I’m just keeping my head down and doing everything I can to try and secure a Formula 1 seat.

The driver market is and has been saturated for a long time this year. Is it best to be in the F1 environment, such as with a reserve drive, or to continue racing in another series?
To be honest, that’s what I’m not sure about right now (laughs). It’s one of those things. I think, if you can get a Formula 1 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 wouldn’t 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.

Wickens celebrated his Formula Renault 3.5 title
If it is any consolation, most of the others who took part in the Young Driver test find themselves in a similar situation: trying to squeeze onto a tightly-packed F1 grid.
Yeah, for sure. From what I’ve heard from other people, it’s definitely not the best market to be getting into F1 right now! But I guess that, if it’s an easy fight, it’s not really a fight worth fighting for (laughs)!

The season is now over – do we have a case of train, train, train up to 2012?
Absolutely. I was pleasantly surprised that my fitness was good enough with the Young Driver test, but at the same time I’m not an idiot; I understand that the Yas Marina circuit is probably one of the easiest, as physical fitness goes. But I was pleased that my neck was not a problem anywhere because there are some fairly heavy braking zones – the back of my neck was good under braking during the whole time with Renault and also with Virgin, it was very good.

I was very encouraged by all of my hard work over the winter and this whole summer, getting ready for the opportunity of an F1 test if I won the Formula Renault 3.5 title. I think it went well but on the same token I think I know that my training is working, so I am just going to keep going in that direction and work as hard as possible.

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Thursday 25 August 2016

  2. 18:16

    F1 photos: Thursday at Spa-Francorchamps

    F1
  3. Rosberg: Hamilton drop means Spa 'less difficult' 18:14

    Rosberg: Hamilton drop means Spa 'less difficult'

    Nico Rosberg admits that Lewis Hamilton's grid penalty will make his Belgian Grand Prix weekend "less difficult" but nonetheless…

    F1
  4. Vettel confident over Belgian GP tyre selection 16:10

    Vettel confident over Belgian GP tyre selection

    Sebastian Vettel says that he has faith in Ferrari's aggressive tyre selection for the Belgian Grand Prix, despite anticipated…

    F1
  5. Sainz Jr. another to trial halo in practice 16:02

    Sainz Jr. another to trial halo in practice

    Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz Jr. has confirmed that he will also trial the 'halo' device during free practice for the Belgian Grand…

    F1
  6. Watkins Glen gets two-year IndyCar extension 15:53

    Watkins Glen gets two-year IndyCar extension

    Watkins Glen will remain on the IndyCar calendar for at least the next two seasons after concluding a new deal with series…

    Indy
  7. Pirelli to run prototypes during Spa practice 15:44

    Pirelli to run prototypes during Spa practice

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has announced that it will run prototype rubber during Friday's practice sessions for the…

    F1
  8. Mercedes confirms Hamilton grid penalty 14:19

    Mercedes confirms Hamilton grid penalty

    Mercedes has confirmed that Lewis Hamilton will take a grid penalty at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, for exceeding his…

    F1
  9. Gutiérrez adamant he has 2017 race seat 12:54

    Gutiérrez adamant he has 2017 race seat

    Esteban Gutiérrez remains adamant that he will be on the Formula 1 grid in 2017, but is unwilling to state the team with which…

    F1
  10. Pérez: Still no clarity over Formula 1 future 12:42

    Pérez: Still no clarity over Formula 1 future

    Sergio Pérez has admitted that it remains unclear which team he will be racing for next season, despite previously hoping his…

    F1
  11. Honda spends seven tokens on Spa update 12:10

    Honda spends seven tokens on Spa update

    Honda used up seven engine tokens ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix, for an update that will be applied to Fernando Alonso and…

    F1
  12. Ocon: Spa the best place to start F1 career 10:36

    Ocon: Spa the best place to start F1 career

    Manor newcomer Esteban Ocon says that there is no better place to start his Formula 1 career than Spa-Francorchamps, the venue…

    F1
  13. Hülkenberg to also run halo during practice 10:12

    Hülkenberg to also run halo during practice

    Force India's Nico Hülkenberg will also run with the 'halo' device during Friday's first practice session for the Belgian Grand…

    F1
  14. Canamasas returns to Carlin for Belgium 07:55

    Canamasas returns to Carlin for Belgium

    Sergio Canamasas will return to the GP2 Series this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, linking up once more with the Carlin…

    GP2
  15. Video of the Day: Vandoorne on F1 aspirations 05:36

    Video of the Day: Vandoorne on F1 aspirations

    McLaren reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne discusses his hopes of stepping up to Formula 1 in 2017.

    F1
  16. Wednesday 24 August 2016

  17. 17:22

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  18. Hamilton engine penalty 'likely' in Belgium 16:52

    Hamilton engine penalty 'likely' in Belgium

    Mercedes has stated that Lewis Hamilton is "likely" to suffer a grid drop at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, for taking on…

    F1
  19. Mercedes set to run halo in Spa practice 16:31

    Mercedes set to run halo in Spa practice

    Mercedes is planning to run the 'halo' on Nico Rosberg's car during Friday practice at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, a…

    F1
  20. Wolff: Mercedes taking nothing for granted 15:02

    Wolff: Mercedes taking nothing for granted

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has insisted that the team is taking nothing for granted as the second half of the 2016 season gets…

    F1
  21. Enstone 'refreshed' after Renault return 13:48

    Enstone 'refreshed' after Renault return

    Renault technical chief Bob Bell says the manufacturer's long-term plan is in progress, commenting that facilities at its…

    F1
  22. Video: Conor Daly quizzed on career so far 11:31

    Video: Conor Daly quizzed on career so far

    IndyCar quizzes Dale Coyne Racing's Conor Daly in the latest instalment of its 'test drive' series.

    Indy
  23. Boullier: 2016 gains will aid 2017 package 10:40

    Boullier: 2016 gains will aid 2017 package

    McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier says there will be "no let-up" from the team in terms of its development as anything it…

    F1
  24. Symonds expects Belgian GP to suit Williams 09:24

    Symonds expects Belgian GP to suit Williams

    Williams Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds says he expects the upcoming Belgian Grand Prix to suit the team, as it bids to…

    F1
  25. Vettel set to defend RoC crown in Miami 08:42

    Vettel set to defend RoC crown in Miami

    The Race of Champions will head to the United States for the first time in its history in early 2017, with Sebastian Vettel set…

    Misc
  26. Laverty to leave MotoGP for World Superbikes 08:16

    Laverty to leave MotoGP for World Superbikes

    Eugene Laverty has confirmed that he will leave MotoGP at the end of the season after signing a deal to race for Aprilia in the…

    MotoGP
  27. Preview: Belgian Grand Prix - Round 13 07:32

    Preview: Belgian Grand Prix - Round 13

    Formula 1 returns to action with the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend, following its now traditional summer break. GPUpdate.net…

    F1
  28. Video of the Day: ABC Supply 500 highlights 05:26

    Video of the Day: ABC Supply 500 highlights

    Watch highlights of IndyCar's ABC Supply 500, won by Will Power after a scary crash for Hélio Castroneves.

    Indy
  29. Tuesday 23 August 2016

  30. Rosberg: Belgian GP marks 'clean slate' 17:02

    Rosberg: Belgian GP marks 'clean slate'

    Nico Rosberg has described the second half of the campaign as a "clean slate", as he looks to overhaul Mercedes team-mate Lewis…

    F1
  31. Sauber signs Verstappen's former engineer 15:17

    Sauber signs Verstappen's former engineer

    Sauber has confirmed the appointment of Xevi Pujolar as its new Head of Track Engineering. Pujolar has worked for several…

    F1
  32. Hamilton expecting more 'ups and downs' 14:51

    Hamilton expecting more 'ups and downs'

    Lewis Hamilton says he expects more "ups and downs" over the second half of the season, though is entering this weekend's…

    F1
  33. Pirelli reveals Italian GP tyre selections 12:15

    Pirelli reveals Italian GP tyre selections

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has revealed the driver-by-driver compound selections for the Italian Grand Prix, with the…

    F1
  34. Vasseur: Renault must focus on 'small details' 10:08

    Vasseur: Renault must focus on 'small details'

    Renault can deliver more performance over the second half of the 2016 season by focusing on the "smaller details", according to…

    F1
  35. NextEV retains Piquet Jr., Turvey for 2016/17 09:10

    NextEV retains Piquet Jr., Turvey for 2016/17

    NextEV has retained Nelson Piquet Jr. and Oliver Turvey for the 2016/17 Formula E season. Piquet Jr. and Turvey first teamed…

    FE
  36. In photos: Spa-Francorchamps' iconic moments 08:22

    In photos: Spa-Francorchamps' iconic moments

    As Formula 1 gears up for the second half of the 2016 season, GPUpdate.net looks back at some of the most memorable moments at…

    F1
  37. Video of the Day: Racing a Formula E car 05:22

    Video of the Day: Racing a Formula E car

    Nelson Piquet, Lucas di Grassi, Bruno Senna and more discuss the skills required to race a Formula E car.

    FE
  38. Monday 22 August 2016

  39. Power wins, Pagenaud crashes at Pocono 20:22

    Power wins, Pagenaud crashes at Pocono

    Will Power and Team Penske denied Mikhail Aleshin his first IndyCar win at Pocono on Monday, craftily taking the lead through…

    Indy
  40. Video: Hülkenberg's Belgian GP preview 15:02

    Video: Hülkenberg's Belgian GP preview

    Force India's Nico Hülkenberg looks ahead to this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.

    F1
  41. Alonso: McLaren can surprise in Belgium 14:18

    Alonso: McLaren can surprise in Belgium

    Fernando Alonso hopes that McLaren will be able to score some more points at the Belgian Grand Prix, despite admitting the…

    F1
  42. Lorenzo left to rue tyre 'mishap' at Brno 12:44

    Lorenzo left to rue tyre 'mishap' at Brno

    MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo was left to rue further "bad luck" as his chances of defending his crown took a hit at the Czech…

    MotoGP
  43. Mallya: Force India 'in the fight' for fourth 10:38

    Mallya: Force India 'in the fight' for fourth

    Force India team boss Vijay Mallya feels that the outfit is "in the fight" with Williams for fourth in the standings, as Formula…

    F1
  44. Márquez pleased with points after wrong call 10:32

    Márquez pleased with points after wrong call

    Marc Márquez labelled third position a "good result" at the Czech Republic Grand Prix, though accepted responsibility for the…

    MotoGP
more news