Harry Tincknell



Harry Tincknell

Little Harry goes to Sardinia on vacation and discovers racing

By Nasir Hameed

F1weekly is pleased to present our digital dialogue with Harry Tincknell. The English kid from Exeter soaked up his first sensation of speed while on vacation with family in Sardinia. Their hotel had a karting track and a few laps for little Harry, that’s all it took.

After serving a seven year apprenticeship in karting the 17-year old has teamed up with championship CRS Racing for the 2009 Formula Renault UK Championship.

“Tinks” was kind enough to respond to our questions.

Q: How does it feel to start the season on a high? Pole position and second place finish in your first race of the season?

A: “To be on pole position for my first race as rookie driver racing against some guys with 2 or 3 years experience in cars was absolutely fantastic but it also came as a bit of a surprise. Over the winter testing you can start to gauge yourself as to where you will be on the grid and I knew we had the pace to be in the top 5 but pole position at the first time at asking was really far higher than I ever expected. I’d never done a proper dry start before or a dry race for that matter so to get off the line and lead the first few laps was great as well and experience I will take forward for the rest of the year but there is still a lot of hard work to do.”

Q: Reversal of fortune in second race, please tell us what happened and how tough was it to take it after the high of race one?

A: “Well in race two I had to start P9 as qualifying didn’t quite go to plan but with my launch off the line in race one I was confident I could make a couple of spots up on the start. However, while warming my tyres up on the formation the car all of a sudden snapped side ways and for the rest of the lap the rear end was uncontrollably slidey. Coming round clearways at the end of the lap the car was on three wheels so I came straight into the pits without trying to make the start and it was there we find the left rear wish bone had snapped in half and that was the end of the race for me before it had started. It was shame to end such a good weekend that way but it hasn’t dented my confidence looking forward to the rest of the year.”

Q: You also competed in the winter series last year, how was that experience both in learning and performance wise

A: “The winter series was great as there is no better experience than racing, no matter how much testing you do. However, being the Winter Series it took place at the end of October/Start of November! We all know what the beautiful British weather is like at this time of year and it rained for both races. It was still great to race against a lot of the people in this year’s championship but we did get very wet! Results wise I ended up 7th in the championship, taking a 5th in my first race. I made a few rookie mistakes and had a couple of spins along the way but overall the team were very happy with the job I did.”

Q: You tested Formula BMW machinery at Button Willow in beautiful central California in the winter of 2007, your thoughts on that track and time in Cali?

A: “I tested Formula BMW at the end of 2007 with a view of moving into the championship in 2008, however we decided to stay in karting and finish off all my exams before making a full time move into cars in 2009. The Californian test was a great experience and was my first time in the US. Button Willow is a purpose made testing facility with many different lay outs of try which meant that I could get a lot of track time which is exactly what I needed. I had only done a handful of days in a racing car before this so it was best to get as many laps in as I could. Richie Hearn and his team were great and they really helped me improve my lap times over the 3 days and I left with some valuable experience of driving the car in different conditions and on different layouts each day and it definitely meant I was faster when I returned to testing in 2008.”


Q: Compare Formula BMW car to Formula Renault please?

A: “The Formula Renault car has slightly more straight line and speed and because of this, a bit more down force than the Formula BMW. The Formula BMW is more like a Formula 3 car where by the car doesn’t tend to slide too much in the corners and has a lot of front end grip where as the Formula Renault doesn’t have a lot grip initially on turn in and the car slides around a lot more mid corner. The Formula Renault is about 3-4 seconds faster on an overall lap time but both cars are great fun to drive and I think you are still going to learn a lot no matter which car you end up driving.”

Q: Too many entry level series these days, what made you decide to go with Formula Renault UK?

A: “Well I had two options really, either Formula Renault UK or Formula BMW Europe. I won the Valencia BMW Scholarship and therefore some backing off BMW which made the Formula BMW series look quite attractive, specially being that they drive on a lot of Formula One tracks. However, in your first couple of seasons of car racing I think it is best to get as much track time as possible so that is why we decided to do Formula Renault UK as there as it is a 20 round series that also allows you a lot of pre season testing and many official days throughout the year. I also got the opportunity to drive with 2008 series champions so I knew I would have a good team around me.”

Q: You are with a championship winning team, what is the goal for this season?

A: “The main aim before the season started was to win the Graduate Cup, for Rookies and Under 19s, and if I could get on the podium a couple of times then that would be a bonus and we would treat it like a win. Obviously it is very easy to get carried away after the race at Brands and say that we should be aiming higher than that but there a lot of good drivers with a lot more experience than me but if I could win the Graduate Cup that would be great and I would then aim to try and win the main Championship in 2010.”

Q: Where would you like to be in five years?

A: “In 5 years time I would hopefully like to be in GP2 or Formula 2, depending on what series looks like the best option to get to Formula One in a few years time. I think if I do 2 years in Formula Renault and 2 years in Formula 3, possibly the Euro Series to learn all the European tracks then five years from now, hopefully with some good results from the next few years of racing I should be looking to be knocking on the door of Formula One. That is obviously where I would love to end up.”

Q: Who is guiding and managing your career?

A: “Since I moved into cars Allan Mcnish is now advising and managing my career at the moment. Allan came on board after I topped the time sheets at the BMW Scholarship test and he has really helped me move to the next level. He has obviously driven right at the top level in Formula One and has won Le Mans 3 times so he knows what it takes to get to the top and hopefully he can help me to fulfill my dreams.”

Q: Do you follow American racing series like IRL & Nascar?
A: “Over the last few years motorsport awareness in the UK has gone right up with Lewis Hamilton coming into Formula One and because of this the UK gets a lot more TV coverage from all types of motorsport over the world. We can now watch both the IRL and Nascar live and while I don’t manage to see every round, I try and watch a few if I can. There of course is a possibility that I could race in America, like a lot of other Brits are doing so I feel its good to be aware of what is going on over in the States.”

Q: Go for fish and chips with Button or Hamilton?

A: “I must say it would be Button. He’s had a rough ride over the last couple of years in a poor car and has been completely over shadowed by Hamilton. He is now proving that he has always been a good driver and I hope he does well this year in the Brawn car that seems to be going really well at the moment.”

Q: Go for sailing and Stella Artois with, Danica, Milka or Susie, as in Stoddard?

A: “Even following the IRL from the UK it is clear that Danica is a massive hit over in the US and is treated like a superstar! I have heard rumours about her joining the US A1GP team or even the USF1 team if that emerges in the future so it would be great to meet her.
“Hope you’ve got some good info here. I’ll keep you updated with all the news from the UK and will keep listening to the podcast!”