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. Sunday 24 September 2017

  2. Video: Toto Wolff tackles the Nürburgring 05:42

    Video: Toto Wolff tackles the Nürburgring

    Watch as Mercedes boss Toto Wolff tackles the Nürburgring in a Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II during the Touring Cars…

    F1
  3. Saturday 23 September 2017

  4. 17:04

    Latest MotoGP photos: Saturday at Aragón

    MotoGP
  5. Márquez 'pushed too much' in pole pursuit 17:02

    Márquez 'pushed too much' in pole pursuit

    Repsol Honda rider Marc Márquez accepted that he "pushed too much" during the closing stages of qualifying for the Aragón…

    MotoGP
  6. Rossi labels front row spot 'big surprise' 14:46

    Rossi labels front row spot 'big surprise'

    Valentino Rossi labelled his front-row grid spot for the Aragón Grand Prix as a "big surprise" after making an…

    MotoGP
  7. 14:07

    Aragón Grand Prix: Qualifying 2 results

    MotoGP
  8. Viñales takes Aragón pole, Rossi third 14:04

    Viñales takes Aragón pole, Rossi third

    Movistar Yamaha's Maverick Viñales made it back-to-back pole positions during a thrilling qualifying session for the Aragón…

    MotoGP
  9. MotoGP confirms 2018 pre-season schedule 12:46

    MotoGP confirms 2018 pre-season schedule

    MotoGP organisers have confirmed the championship's pre-season test dates and venues for the 2018 campaign. As per usual, the…

    MotoGP
  10. F1 relaxes rules over current cars for demos 11:12

    F1 relaxes rules over current cars for demos

    Formula 1's Sporting Regulations have been relaxed in order to allow current-spec cars to be run at any demonstration events…

    F1
  11. 10:38

    Latest F3 photos: Saturday at Spielberg

    F3
  12. Ilott converts pole into victory in Austria 10:36

    Ilott converts pole into victory in Austria

    Prema's Callum Ilott took his fifth victory of the European Formula 3 season with a lights-to-flag drive in the opening race of…

    F3
  13. 10:00

    Aragón Grand Prix: Full Practice 3 results

    MotoGP
  14. Márquez heads FP3 as Rossi makes Q2 09:59

    Márquez heads FP3 as Rossi makes Q2

    Reigning World Champion Marc Márquez led the way as all six manufacturers had a representative inside the top 10 during the…

    MotoGP
  15. Palmer: Points a weight off my shoulders 08:58

    Palmer: Points a weight off my shoulders

    Renault's Jolyon Palmer says scoring points in Singapore was a "weight off the shoulders" and feels he can tackle the remaining…

    F1
  16. Video: Ralf Schumacher's Formula 4 team 05:48

    Video: Ralf Schumacher's Formula 4 team

    Find out more about the US Racing ADAC Formula 4 team, run by ex-Formula 1 driver Ralf Schumacher and former Mercedes DTM boss…

    Misc
  17. Friday 22 September 2017

  18. 16:12

    Follow us on Instagram for the best photos!

    F1
  19. Video: IndyCar's new 2018 brake package 16:02

    Video: IndyCar's new 2018 brake package

    IndyCar technical guru Jon Beekhuis explains the technical advancements for the brake package on the series' 2018 car that will…

    Indy
  20. Formula 1 developing exhaust microphone 14:43

    Formula 1 developing exhaust microphone

    Formula 1 is developing a microphone that can be fitted to a car's exhaust to provide a "true amplification" of sound in the…

    F1
  21. 14:06

    Latest MotoGP photos: Friday at Aragón

    MotoGP
  22. 14:00

    Aragón Grand Prix: Full Practice 2 results

    MotoGP
  23. Pedrosa heads Lorenzo in second practice 13:58

    Pedrosa heads Lorenzo in second practice

    Honda rider Dani Pedrosa topped the timesheets during second practice for Aragón Grand Prix, ahead of Ducati's Jorge Lorenzo…

    MotoGP
  24. Yamaha set to offer van der Mark test run 13:47

    Yamaha set to offer van der Mark test run

    Yamaha is set to offer Michael van der Mark a test on its MotoGP bike, with the Dutchman's planned debut at the Aragón Grand…

    MotoGP
  25. Red Bull adds four karters to Junior Team 12:22

    Red Bull adds four karters to Junior Team

    Red Bull has added four karters to its Junior Team line-up for the 2018 season. OK World Championship karter Dennis Haugar…

    Misc
  26. F1 to make classic race available online 12:01

    F1 to make classic race available online

    Formula 1's official website will make a classic Malaysian Grand Prix available online for fans to watch later this month, as…

    F1
  27. Video: Jaguar presents new car, new driver 10:48

    Video: Jaguar presents new car, new driver

    Jaguar introduces its new car and new driver for Formula E's fourth season, with inaugural series champion Nelson Piquet Jr.…

    FE
  28. 09:46

    Aragón Grand Prix: Full Practice 1 results

    MotoGP
  29. Márquez fastest as Rossi returns at Aragón 09:44

    Márquez fastest as Rossi returns at Aragón

    Marc Márquez topped a wet opening practice session for the Aragón Grand Prix, as Valentino Rossi returned to action following…

    MotoGP
  30. China, Bahrain could swap places on roster 08:39

    China, Bahrain could swap places on roster

    Formula 1 commercial chief Sean Bratches is "incredibly optimistic" that China will remain on the calendar next season, though…

    F1
  31. Video: F1 pit-stop in the dark - making of 05:36

    Video: F1 pit-stop in the dark - making of

    Ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix, Mercedes team partner EPSON challenged mechanics to complete a pit-stop in the dark. Go…

    F1
  32. Thursday 21 September 2017

  33. FIA amends Super Licence points for 2018 19:34

    FIA amends Super Licence points for 2018

    The FIA has restructured the Super Licence points system for 2018, with several championships having their allocation reduced…

    F1
  34. FIA outlines 2019 F3 International proposal 18:59

    FIA outlines 2019 F3 International proposal

    The FIA has outlined its ambition for the proposed FIA F3 International Championship, which is set to replace the current…

    F3
  35. Switzerland joins 2017/18 Formula E calendar 18:42

    Switzerland joins 2017/18 Formula E calendar

    Switzerland will feature on the Formula E calendar in the 2017/18 season, with a street race to take place in…

    FE
  36. Video: IndyCar Sonoma remix highlights 16:36

    Video: IndyCar Sonoma remix highlights

    Watch remix highlights of IndyCar's season-ending Grand Prix of Sonoma, in which Penske driver Josef Newgarden claimed his…

    Indy
  37. Sauber confirms Leclerc for four FP1 runs 15:09

    Sauber confirms Leclerc for four FP1 runs

    Sauber will field Ferrari-backed Charles Leclerc during four practice sessions over the remainder of the season, ahead of an…

    F1
  38. 15:04

    Overview: 2017/18 Formula E line-up so far

    FE
  39. Piquet Jr. joins Evans at Jaguar for S4 15:02

    Piquet Jr. joins Evans at Jaguar for S4

    Nelson Piquet Jr. has joined Mitch Evans at Jaguar for Formula E's fourth season. Ex-Formula 1 driver Piquet Jr. was crowned…

    FE
  40. 14:35

    Overview: Complete 2018 MotoGP line-up

    MotoGP
  41. Siméon signs for Avintia, completes '18 grid 14:33

    Siméon signs for Avintia, completes '18 grid

    Moto2 race winner Xavier Siméon will make the step up to MotoGP next season, joining Avintia on a two-year deal, in a move that…

    MotoGP
  42. Rossi passed fit to compete at Aragón GP 13:43

    Rossi passed fit to compete at Aragón GP

    Valentino Rossi has passed the medical check required to compete at this weekend's Aragón Grand Prix, just three weeks on from…

    MotoGP
  43. McLaren-Honda stint 'a proper disaster' 12:37

    McLaren-Honda stint 'a proper disaster'

    McLaren's latest partnership with Honda was "a proper disaster" for the team's credibility, says Racing Director Eric Boullier…

    F1
  44. Video: Verstappen 'moves on' from clash 12:18

    Video: Verstappen 'moves on' from clash

    Red Bull driver Max Verstappen vows to move on after his first-lap clash with Ferrari drivers Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian…

    F1
more news