Motorsports Mondial

Robin Frijns

Photo. World Series by Renault Media

Smokey and the Bandit. Carlos Sainz Jr smoking and chasing Robin Frijns. The Dutch driver relentlessly pursued the Spaniard all season long to steal the championship lead, and win his second championship in as many years with strong support and guidance from Josef Kaufmann Racing of Germany.

F1 Weekly first introduced Robin Frijns to our listeners in 2009, his first year in motor racing. The young man from Maastricht went on to claim Rookie of the Year honors in the Formula BMW Europe Championship. The season included a last-lap maiden victory at Silverstone.

For the 2010 season he continued with Kaufmann Racing. The father-son operation, based out of Wolsfeld, previously nurtured talents like Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez.

Frijns was taken out on the first corner of the season opener in Barcelona. In what has now become a Frijns modus operandi, he began his pursuit of championship leader, Jack Harvey.

Harvey, in the final round at Monza, experienced not only the misery of his challenger from the first race but also saw his championship lead done and dusted as he was pushed into the gravel trap around Parabolica by another competitor who, in the words Harvey himself, “was not even a factor in the championship.”

When the weekend was over at ‘pista magica,’ Frijns was wearing the Champion’s hat.

The come from behind tradition continued in 2011, this season in the Formula Renault Euro Cup.

Frijns’ focus now is to decide on the championship and team for 2012. And he is already busy – and fast – in testing new machinery.

F1 Weekly would like to thank him for his time and wish him continued success

Please enjoy our digital dialogue with the 2011 Formula Renault Euro Cup Champion.

Q. Congratulations on winning a hard fought Formula Renault Euro Cup Championship. Looking back, what were the highs and lows of the season?

A: Thank you! The high was Silverstone winning 2 times there I was really pleased what that. That weekend also changed the championship because I went there with a small points lead and left with 55 points. Really perfect weekend. Even though we didn’t had the fastest car there as Alex Lynn was putting a lot of pressure on me in race 2.

The lows… race 1 Spa. Started on P1, was my first and only pole postion. The car wasnt to good I dropped back to P3.

Q. Your season long rival, Carlos Sainz Jr, won the season opener and you raced against him last year in Formula BMW Europe. How much improvement did you see both in him and yourself this season compared to last year?

A: Hard question because I dont really know. I was fighting with Harvey last year so all my attention was on Jack.

And last year Carlos was a rookie even though he had a lot of testing in the winter. So I can’t really tell. But he is fair and we have a lot of respect for each other. Carlos drove with the championship team from last year and I drove with Kaufmann who were new to the series. In the beginning we were still looking for the correct car balance and the correct way to drive fast with the Formula Renault. So Carlos was fast from the beginning and we got fast throughout the year.

Q. Your first victory of the season came in the third round at the Nurburgring. Was this race the turning point of the season as Sainz Jr finished behind you for the first time in 2011?

A: Yes! The race before Nurburgring was the NEC championship in Nurburgring. We tested there something which made the car a bitt beter, just that 1/1.5 tenths we needed to fight for the race wins! In Budapest we made another good step into the right direction wich definitely helped the car balance. But I must admit as well that from Nurburgring on I worked hard on my personal driving skills together with my coach Pieter and everything started to fall into its spot from then on.

Q. The opening race of the Hungaroring weekend saw you lead a Kaufmann Team one-two. How exciting was this for Herr Josef and his “Lost Boy” Lars Kaufmann?

A: Really was exciting. It is their first year in the Formula Renault. We hoped but never expected to drive for the championship at the beginning or even race wins. But a one-two was a dream coming true!

Q. Silverstone. Your first motor racing victory came at this track and this year you dominated the English weekend, winning both races. Is there something special in English tea which is the secret of your success in jolly olde England?

A: I dont know I just love fast sectors and tracks. The first part of Silverstone is only fast which I love! Beckets and Maggots are an amazing series of corners.
We were fast but for sure not the absolute fastest. I had 2 really good starts and took the lead from the start. Then is just the key to keep cool and handle the pressure from behind and drive the car home.

Q. You sealed the championship with victory over Sainz Jr in the south of France. What was the first thing that came to your mind as you took the checkered flag at Circuit Paul Ricard?

A: A championship race! Sainz took the lead from the start I was 2nd. We pulled away from the field really easy. You really saw that Carlos and me was just better then the others. We had a big fight I was a bit faster at the beginning of the race and put a lot of pressure on him, when finally he did the mistake which I was waiting for on lap 6. After that he was a bit faster because I asked a bit to much of my tyres at the beginning. So it was surviving the last couple of laps.

I thought. This can’t be better. I took the championship in style by overtaking my biggest rival fair and clean on the track. An amazing feeling.

Photo. World Series by Renault Media.

The next climb. Frijns will move forward with Werner Heinz Management. The talented Dutch driver will be knocking on F1’s door soon. Stay tuned to F1 Weekly.

Q. Last three seasons you have won Rookie of the Year and two championships, all with Josef Kaufmann Racing. How important has been their experience and knowledge in developing you as a successful driver?

A: Josef is very good in terms of setting up a car. He makes the right decisions in the crucial moments.

Lars is very good in analysing telemetry and showing the points that need to improved in terms of set up and driving.

The team has worked with the same people from when they started in Formula BMW . Everybody trusts everybody. No secrets and a no bull shit mentallity.

Q. Werner Heinz is managing your career now. What other management and Driver Development Programs you looked at before making final decision?

A: It is not easy to make such a decision. In motorsport these days it is very hard and difficult to make the right decisions so it is important to have somebody that has the potential to get things done.

There were of course some other interests of other programs but we opted to work with Werner Heinz and his company.

Q. You are now part of The FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy. What is your involvement in this and have you learned any tricks from Alexander Wurz on rock climbing?

A: Yes together with some other young drivers we do physical and mental training programs to improve ourselves and make us more complete as a racing driver.

Last time we were rock climbing I was looking down and waiting for Alex to come up! He is getting already a little older and …. a little slower as well…. 😉

Photo. www.robinfrijns.com

Q. 2012? World Series by Renault, Formula 3 or GP3?

A: That’s the question. Of course World Series looks the obvious choice as I received a purse of €500,000 to compete there next year. But is a must to drive with a good team as I directly want to fight for podiums and race victories from the start.

F3 Euro series is also still interesting as there are nice manufacturies involved. Mercedes, VW. Also the DTM weekend with big brands as Mercedes, BMW, Audi is interesting for the future.

GP3 I tested there last year and was also immediatly quick in the car. The F1 platform also remains an option.

It’s all a matter of being in a strong team where I believe in and where they believes in me.

I want to fight for victories and championships in whatever I drive. It’s the only way to arrive to F1 and that is to keep winning. Let’s hope things become more clear soon so I can start working and preparing for the 2012 season.

 

— Nasir Hameed

Greetz and Racing regards from California.