This month I don’t have any race meetings to report on but I’ve been asked to write a little about what it’s like to be a factory driver and what my roles and responsibilities are.
For sure driving for a factory team is very different to driving for a privateer team. The priority is still to win but when you are a professional driver you also have to remember that you are representing the team too. I think the longer I’ve driven with Tonykart the more I’ve realised that although the aim is to win I am also employed to help promote their material and of course try to do my part to ensure that they sell as many chassis and engines as possible.
The main commitments I have are obviously the races. I still live in the UK so the team deal with all my fl ights and travel arrangements for all the races and tests. Although at the beginning of the year I know the dates of the races and when I will be competing, there are also times during the year when they could call me and say they need me to test the following week, whether it is to test a new chassis, or Vortex have something new for the engine and we need to test it or even a Bridgestone tyre test.
Now when I fi rst went to Tonykart I found it diffi cult to adapt and fi t into the team and the fi rst year I drove I had more bollockings than I can remember by the boss for doing things wrong in the races. When I was fi rst there I always had good speed but never got the results because I always made some mistakes even though I was 25 years-old. But looking back now I’m really pleased that I got through that and I’m now completely at home there. I have a good relationship with everyone in the team and for sure those bollockings improved me as a driver. At the beginning being a non Italianspeaking driver in a team full of Italians was very diffi cult. Now I can get by with my Italian and, although it’s not perfect, I can understand most things. The English of the people who work there is also so much better now too as in the last 4 years they’ve had me, Will Stevens, James Calado and Oliver Rowland all driving for them.
While driving for a factory team is a fantastic opportunity it does come with more stress at times too. I think you always have to perform and, like in every formula in motorsport, if you’re a professional driver there are always other good drivers who would love to take your seat and this is especially true when you drive for a top team like Tonykart. So it’s always important to do a good job with what you have even when you’re not the fastest or at the front.
I’m just 29 now and have driven for Tonykart for over 4 years. I still enjoy it as much as ever and I’m still as motivated to win as much as ever. I still never class what I do as a job and I’ve never got fed up of travelling to races as I know I’m very lucky to be in the position I’m in with Tonykart and also when I was driving professionally with Paul Fletcher. I grew up all my life driving karts so now to be getting paid to do it is fantastic, and being with Tonykart I’ve experienced some great moments and one of these was to race in the same team as Michael Schumacher at the end of last year in Las Vegas.
I’ve won 4 British championships in different classes, the Italian championship, the Margutti Trophy and Winter Cup all in KF1, rounds of the European championship and been close to being World champion and European champion twice. While those crowns elude me I will still be as hungry as ever to win and hopefully I can achieve that.