Racing his way from Norway
By Nasir Hameed
Nordic nations have produced great racing drivers and champions over the years. It was Jo Bonnier from Sweden who gave BRM their first Grand Prix victory in the dunes of Zandvoort in 1959. His compatriot Ronnie Peterson, The Super Swede, dazzled the competition and racing fans with his tremendous speed and beautiful car control.
The Finns have fine tuned the art of rallying and since the 80s the nation of five million people has provided three F1 world champions. Ranging in style from the abrasive and out-spoken Keke Rosberg to the less-said-the-better policy embraced and exhibited so eloquently by both Mika Hakkinen and their latest champion, Kimi Raikkonen, now melting away as Ice Cream Man.
There have been great Danes on the track, too. Jan Magnussen won more races in British F3 than Ayrton Senna, and Tom Kristensen cannot find a way to lose at Le Mans.
Humming his way up the racing ladder and set to fly in five years in the top tier of motor racing is a racer who was born in Stavanger, Norway.
Meet Pål Varhaug.
The 18-year old chipped his way though karting for many years and after winning the 2008 Formula Renault Italia Championship, he now embarks in his first season of International Formula Master which gets under way this month through the streets of legendary Pau in the Pyrennes.
F1weekly.com is pleased to present our digital dialogue with this talented teenager and wish him all the best in building his house of success.
Q: Please tell us how you got interested in motor racing?
A: “When I was a little kid my father was karting, and then my brother and I started to drive, and I just loved the speed and all the adrenalin, and after that I could not hold my hands away from it!”
Q: You started in karting at the age of five, what is the most important thing you learn in karting that helps in single-seater racing?
A: “In karting the most important things I learned was the driving lines and overtaking moves, I learned also to work with a team.”
Q: What has been the highlight of your racing career so far?
A: “My highlight was when I could drive the Italian championship in Formula Renault and win it!”
Q: In 2008, you were Italian Formula Renault Champion, what were the highs and lows of the season?
A: “Highlight was in Budapest at Hungaroring when I won both qualification sessions and both races. And the low was at Misano when I jumped the start from pole position and lost the race.”
Q: This year you will be competing in International Formula Master Championship, what made you decide on this series?
A: “I thing it is a good and competitive series, and have a lot of television with the Euro sport, and I really like to drive this car.”
Q: What are your expectations this season?
A: “This season I expect to learn as much as I can and see where the results go. And always try to win of course!”
Q: Pre-season testing just finished in Budapest, what is more fun to drive Formula Renault or Formula Master car? And what are the main differences?
A: “I like more to drive the Formula Master car, it has a lot more grip so I can carry a lot more speed in the corners, it has gear shifts on the steering wheel and mainly the car is just a lot more fun to drive.”
Q: Who is guiding your career?
A: “Now me and my father are guiding my career with a lot of friends, and people around me at home are working with different things. So thanks to all!”
Q: Do Norwegian companies and motorsport federation help young talented drivers like you with sponsorship?
A: “No, in Norway it is very difficult to get money, and we don’t have federations to help young talented drivers, I wish there was something like this, then it would be a lot easier!”
Q: Your website says your favorite food is Taco, how many Mexican restaurants in Norway?
A: “Hehe, well, don’t know how many Mexican restaurants in Norway!”
Q: Where would you like to see your career go in five years?
A: “In five years I will be in a Formula 1 team fighting for the world championship title!”
Q: Do you follow major American series like Indy Cars and Nascar?
A: “No, not really, but if I see some on television I don’t change the channel! Hehe.”
Q: Please tell our listeners about Pål Varhaug, the young man and not the racing driver?
A: “At home I like to be with friends and do different sports and have fun. Listen to music like pop, rock and trance. And just chill out.”
Please visit Varhaug’s website at: www.palvarhaug.com
The 2009 International Formula Master season starts in southern France on May 16th through the streets of Pau. F1 weekly podcast will continue in 2009 to bring you news, views and information from the world of motor racing.