Category Archives: Interviews

F1Weekly podcast # 815

CLARK AND NASIR SHARE F1 MEMORIES, WE PREPARE FOR DAYTONA 24 HOURS, ANOTHER GREAT MOTORSPORTS MONDIAL FEATURING THE 1973 F1 SEASON AND HERE IS THE 2020 RENAULT F1 DRIVER ESTEBAN OCON INTERVIEW…

F1Weekly’s exclusive interview with
Esteban Ocon at the 2019 Abu Dhabi GP.

Photo: Humansideofracing.com

“Future is so bright I need some shades.” Things are going great for the young Frenchman. With a little help from Toto and Renault he is back on the track in 2020.

Q. First of all, welcome back to the world of Formula 1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you or do we need a bigger scale?

A. “Bigger scale, I think. Thank you for the welcome back but I never really left this F1 world. I was always here as soon as there was an engine firing up. I was here waiting and ready to jump.”

Q. In your brief Formula 1 career so far you were already king of consistency. Moving forward what is the game plan, maximum attack on Daniel Ricciardo or keep calm and carry-on to score many points?

A. “Well, it will be to score as many points as possible. You know that is important in the championship. There are sometimes when you need to take a bit of risk. But you need to think about what you are going to win and what you’re going to lose from that. So, there is always a thought going behind risk-taking.”

Q. Sounds like you are learning from Sebastian and Leclerc?

A. “Why? No, I always thought myself about this, no, no, no. I’ve been driving since a lot of times so I take the experience in obviously.”

Q. We all know Formula 1 is serious dog eat dog world, in terms of driving style are there many similarities between you and Danny, and do you expect any help from him in terms of set up and data sharing?

A. “I don’t know his driving style yet. But for sure I think we will work together with all the engineers, data sharing and all those things will be, of course, normal things. And I hope we can make the team move forward from that.”

Q. Renault won the very first Grand Prix in this world. Are you extra happy to be with a French team?

A. “Yes, yes, more than happy. It’s the team where I grew up with in Enstone since 2010, I was part of the program till 2014 so I really grew up in the factory there and it felt like a story which should not have ended, so I am pretty happy to continue it now.”

Photo. The Guardian.

Sparks fly when young guns clash. The famous Sao Paulo Samba between Esteban and “force of nature” Max during the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Q. You and Max were in the news after the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix. Will there be exchange of Christmas cards in December so we, the race fans, know that everything is cool between the two of you?

A. “We actually had a cool race with the road car on the Pirelli hot laps yesterday. We had two laps of racing, we had good fun and then we had a good laugh when we came out of the car. So, no problem between us.”

Q. Success has been part and parcel of your racing life. From Karting to F3 and GP3, was there a particular season or series where you felt you improved the most?

A. “I think every year has been useful for me to develop myself, of course, some years have been more difficult than others. All in all, I think the more categories you do, the more things you see the more useful it is before coming to F1 because it’s more experience. I don’t think one year is less useful than another, I think they all have been useful.”

Q. Among all the drivers you have raced against from Karting to Formula 1, who stand out as real tough competitors?

A. “I think Max and Charles really. They were the ones where we raced the whole time together. Of course, quick competitors but tough ones also on the track. I think we pushed ourselves forward all our career, basically that helps bring the level up when we arrive into Formula 1. It’s been quite a few years with them.”

Q. From your Karting days what events stand out?

A. “I have been three times French champion. I finished second in the World Series Karting which is like the world championship and those are my main wins.”

Q. When you moved from Karting to single seaters how challenging was the adjustment or did it come naturally to you?

A. “No, it took some time. it took a year to really get very, very comfortable. Of course, I was against a very quick teammate, who was Daniil Kvyat who had three years of racing in single seaters (experience). As soon as I was in my second year I was fighting for the title. From there on it was good.”

Q. Before you got picked up by Gravity management who was guiding your career?

A. “My parents. Then it’s always been Eric Boullier and Gwen, who still works for Mercedes now, still manage the junior program. So, we’ve come a long way since that time.”

Q. In 2020, you remain under Mercedes management. How did this deal happen? Did Toto call you or did you send him a case of French wine?

A. “No, it’s a bit more complicated than that. In 2014, I won the Formula 3 championship and the program got lost a bit, and they ran out of money so I had no program for 2015.

“So, I called Toto and said look, because I met him in that year, I don’t have any possibilities for next year at the moment can you find me something? He said if Lotus can’t do anything for you, I take you under the Mercedes star.

“I waited couple of months and that’s what he did. Definitely thankful for Toto and everything he has been helping on since 2015.”

Q. How was your time in DTM?

A. “I choose back in the day to do that. I wanted to be a professional driver straight away coming from, you know my background. Of course, there was no secure thing if I was going to go to F1. or not and I wanted to be professional straight away.

“In the end it was a fantastic step up because it has good preparation for Formula 1. Back in the days they had tire blankets, full on engineers, cars they were very complicated. Yeah, I went from there to Formula 1 and felt more or less I was doing the same. So, it has been good to do that.”

Q. For 2020, has Renault set any goals for you to achieve?

A. “I think you can probably ask Cyril on what the objective are? In my opinion what we want to achieve is improving from where they are this year and just do better than what they have done. That’s the target, of course, I want to score podiums, that would be fantastic but we will see. Let’s start first and see later.”

Q. Your favorite tracks? I’m guessing Spa is there?

A. “No, Spa is not. I am a bit different than any other driver on that; Suzuka, Budapest, Monaco.”

Q. Do you enjoy racing in the wet?

A. “Yes, very much, very much. Enjoy? Yes and no. But you know when I’m on it I feel at ease really. It’s a condition I like.”

Q. Sadly, grid girls are gone from F1, in your time in F1 which Grand Prix had the best looking chicas de pista?

A. “That was before my time so I don’t know. I can’t really tell you. We still have some kind of grid girls sometimes. It’s good that we also have kids that can have the chance to meet us and all that. I think we probably could have both all in all.”

Q. Do you enjoy meeting fans?

A. “I don’t mind. It’s awesome to see the support. A lot of fans give gifts to me.”

Esteban extremely delighted to celebrate the agreement to receive F1weekly’s famous check with many 000000s.

– – Nasir Hameed

Play Podcast: 01-14-20f1weekly815.mp3

F1Weekly Podcast # 814

CLARK AND NASIR ARE STUNED BY THE CARLOS GHOSN ESCAPE STORY AND, THIS WEEKS PODCAST BRINGS YOU A GREAT INTERVIEW WITH AUDI SPORT FACTORY DRIVER LOIC DUVAL 
NEWS ON DAKAR RALLY STAGE 4…PETERHANSEL WINS STAGE, ALONSO UP TO 20TH

Stephane Peterhansel, known as Mr.Dakar for his 13 wins over the years, overcame the challenges of taking English instructions from Portuguese notes man Paulo Fiuza and a tough couple of days in the office, to move his Mini buggy into the lead midway through the day’s stage.

He then stormed to a powerful Day 4 win over 2019 Dakar winner Nasser Al Attiyah’s Gazoo Toyota Hilux and double world Dakar champion Carlos Sainz in another Mini buggy.

The rally legend emerged unscathed from the dangerous fourth stage, conceding a mere seven minutes to stage winner Peterhansel despite having to open the special. The Spaniard still leads the general classification by three minutes over Al-Attiyah.

Sainz said of his day, “The last 100 kilometres were the toughest sector I’ve ever faced in the Dakar. It was insane. There were rocks all over the place and I could not see the tracks, it was devilish. At times like these, making it to the finish without running into trouble already feels like a win.

Play Podcast: 01-08-20f1weekly814.mp3

FORMULA 1

F1WEEKLY’S EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ERIC BOULLIER AT THE 2019 ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX.

Bag of experience. Eric Boullier packs a lot of winning experience in team and driver management. He is now involved in the promotion of the French Grand Prix.

Q. French GP history goes back to 1906. Is Paul Ricard the long-term future of this event?

A. “Yes, 1906 was the first French Grand Prix near Le Mans if I remember. Paul Ricard is now the track hosting French Grand Prix; we still have a contract running for another three years. Anything is possible after that.”

Sacré bleu. French Riviera, Paul Ricard and the long Mistral straight. “Once in a lifetime.”

Q. Are you happy with the attendance and corporate support at this time?

A. “Yes. We always want more. The Grand Prix was an amazing success for the return. The second year is always more difficult for a Grand Prix.”

Q. Your educational background is aerospace engineering, how did you get the racing bug?

A. “You were talking about 1906 Le Mans, well I was born near Le Mans in a city called Laval. When I was 9 years old, I was racing with some remote-control cars, and this is how I started.”

Q. Ron Dennis once described F1 as a piranha pool. In terms of politics and cut throat nature of this business, do you really need to be a mean shark to survive and succeed in F1?

A. “I think any business is a piranha pool. I think Formula 1 obviously has a lot of egos and lots of attention. You put ten of the most competitive racing competitors in the same area so they obviously are very close to each other and they do tend to develop ego or whatever it is called, may be some of them with a piranha behavior.”

Q. Eddie Jordan once said ‘egos in Formula 1 are so big you can float the Titanic on it’, is that true?

A. “I do tend to agree with Eddie for once.”

Q.Your time at McLaren, in your observation what were the main issues there apart from Honda getting all the blame?

A. “I don’t think it’s true to say that. You know it’s a long story in the past and I’m not sure if I want to develop that story. It was great years for me, it’s a great bunch of people. And I have many friends there. So, I think past is the past and let’s move forward.”

Q. Did anybody from Honda say anything to McLaren management when Alonso was very vocal about their product, especially after the GP2 engine comment at Suzuka?

A. “I can’t comment about the past. I don’t want to say anything about this. It’s a past story. We have to move on.”

Future of France. Boullier pulled then 12-year-old Esteban Ocon into Gravity Management. Now he will race with Renault F1 team under Mercedes Management.

Q.You were involved with Gravity Management, of all the drivers managed by Gravity who were the best?

A. “I will say one who has been winning since then. I remember Marco Wittmann. He has been double DTM Champion. He’s a good driver. And obviously today I am proud to see Romain still in Formula 1, and Esteban Ocon in Formula 1 having a great career. I was the one picking up Esteban when he was 12-years old and I still remember that interview with him. To see him today in the F1 paddock being a mature and professional F1 driver is happiness and pride.”

Q. Esteban Ocon is a great talent and product of French Racing system, how do you rate him and how will he do against Ricciardo?

A. “I do rate him very high obviously. He’s the future for France definitely. I do rate him very high. He will match performance with Daniel. He’s now very much matured and comfortable with his F1 life. He grew up now in the best team environment. He has been in best days with Force India, Racing Point now. He spent few years with Mercedes GP which is the best team organization today. And he’s joining a car manufacturer Renault which is the best place to be when you are an F1 driver, so he will do very well.”

Q. Kimi Raikkonen was racing for you when he made that famous comment ‘leave me alone. I know what I am doing’. Is he the most unique driver you have ever dealt with?

A. “They are all unique. Kimi is a special character, may be a bit different, everyone is fond of him, but they are all unique and I have been lucky enough to work with guys like Robert Kubica, Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button. Also, Romain Grosjean, Bruno Senna and some others.”

Q. What would be the main reasons for an F1 fan to attend the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard?

A. “There are many reasons. First, it’s a summer race we call it. Everybody in the world knows the French Riviera. And I am pretty sure everybody wants, at least once in their life, spend holidays there. That’s a good opportunity already to do it. To be fair, being at the end of June, just before summer, it’s a great place to enjoy the French hospitality. We have a lot of activities.

“We are one of the new grand prix models for Liberty. Our paddock is full of activities, exhibition shows, but also on track, off track and you can really enjoy a great weekend.”

— Nasir Hameed

Special thanks to Pierre Guyonnet-Duperat for arranging this interview.

F1Weekly podcast # 801

CLARK AND NASIR MEET UP AT LAGUNA SECA TO DISCUSS OLD TIMES, CELEBRATE 50 YEARS OF IMSA AND TO SPEAK WITH TWO TIME FORMULA 1 WORLD CHAMPION MIKA HÄKKINEN!

MIKA HÄKKINEN

  • BORN 28 SEPTEMBER, 1968
  • GRANDS PRIX 165
  • WINS 20
  • McLAREN CAREER SPAN 1993 – 2001

If Ayrton Senna forged a close bond with McLaren, then Mika Häkkinen was not far off. He earned his stripes as a committed but quite mild-mannered protégé, managed and tutored to the edge of the F1 stage by his astute and intelligent manager Keke Rosberg. Having cut his F1 teeth with the struggling Lotus team in 1991 and ’92, he then took a strategic step backwards by signing a test and development contract with McLaren, reasoning that he would be better served by taking this route rather that continuing to race an uncompetitive car.

Mika joined McLaren against the backdrop of the unspoken possibility that he might gain
promotion to the race team earlier than he might otherwise have expected in the event of the team parting ways with Michael Andretti, who struggled to replicate his Indycar form. For 1994 Häkkinen assumed the McLaren team leadership, but the Peugeot V10 engines did not deliver the reliability or power that was expected.

Mika Häkkinen, left, chats with David Hobbs at the 2018 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. (photo: T.M. Hill)

So it was not until 1995 that Mika found himself starting out on the road to stardom as McLaren began the partnership with Mercedes-Benz which would eventually carry Mika to F1 World Championship titles in 1998 and ’99. He would also survive a serious accident practising for the 1995 Australian GP at Adelaide, his life being saved by the dramatic intervention of a doctor who administered an emergency tracheotomy at the trackside.

Ron Dennis and his wife Lisa sat for several days at Häkkinen’s bedside, only returning to England when they were satisfied that he was out of danger. It said much for the affection and high regard Mika was held in that the team’s workforce was shocked when Häkkinen decided to retire from F1 at the end of 2001.  They would miss his humanity and commonsense, both outside the car and in. More than anything, he was one of the most respected members of the McLaren family

Play Podcast: 08-25-19f1weekly801.mp3

F1Weekly podcast # 800

CLARK AND NASIR CELEBRATE NUMBER 800 THIS WEEK, IF YOU HAD ASKED ME IN 2005 HOW LONG ARE WE INTENDING ON DOING THIS PROGRAM I WOULD HAVE SAID A COUPLE OF MONTHS OR UNTIL FERNANDO RETIRES FROM F1! AND NOW WE GO ON…

HISTORY RETURNS TO LONG BEACH!

Long Beach, CA — Next April 18-19, Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach fans will get a double dose of nostalgia when the Historic Formula Atlantic Challenge, featuring open-wheel race cars from the 1970s and 1980s, lights up the track for a doubleheader weekend.

The twin 20-minute races will run Saturday, April 18 along with the IMSA WeatherTech Championship race and Sunday, April 19 — the same day as the NTT IndyCar Series race — with practice and qualifying on Friday.

The Formula Atlantic series ran at Long Beach from 1978-82 and 1989-2008 as one of the premier “feeder” series to top-level open-wheel racing. Drivers including Bobby Rahal, Michael Andretti, Willy T. Ribbs, Danny Sullivan, Al Unser Jr., Jimmy Vasser and Jacques Villeneuve all raced at Long Beach as they worked their way up through the FA ranks. Two former Formula Atlantic drivers, Keke Rosberg and Villeneuve, became Formula One World Champions, while 1979 Long Beach Grand Prix winner Gilles Villeneuve was also a Formula Atlantic graduate. Several other Atlantic drivers were Indy Car champions over the years. The Rosberg, Villeneuve and Rahal cars — along with many others — are expected to be in the race field at Long Beach.

The historic 2020 event at Long Beach will be sanctioned by the Historic Motor Sports Association (HMSA).

Play Podcast: 08-13-19f1weekly800.mp3

F1Weekly podcast # 742

CLARK AND NASIR REALIZE KUBICA HAS NO CHANCE AND SUGGEST LOT’S OF RUSSIAN RUBLES ARE ON THE WAY TO THE WILLIAMS F1 TEAM! F1W IS PREPARING FOR THE DAYTONA 24 HOURS WHICH COULD BE AN INTERVIEW BONANZA!! AND THIS WEEKS INTERVIEW IS WITH CHARLES LECLERC FROM LAS VEGAS 2012 NOW 2018 F1 DRIVER FOR SAUBER.

Charles Leclerc (born 16 October 1997) is a Monégasque racing driver and a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy. He won the GP3 Series championship in 2016 and the FIA Formula 2 Championship in 2017.He will drive for Sauber in the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Leclerc was a childhood friend of Jules Bianchi and began karting at the track managed by Bianchi’s father in Brignoles. Like Bianchi, Leclerc joined the ARM management company headed by Nicolas Todt.

Leclerc has two brothers, Lorenzo and Arthur. His father, Hervé, also raced cars, driving in Formula 3 in the 1980s and 1990s, and was well respected in karting. He died, aged 54, in 2017

In 2012, at the wheel of an ART GP Kart, Charles won the WSK title, as well as finishing runner-up in the European and World championships.

In 2013, Charles was again runner-up in the European series and finished second in the Under 18 category with the Fortec Motorsport team, with whom he was also second in the 2014 ALPS Championship.

He was best rookie on his Formula 3 debut in 2015, racing with Van Amersfoot Racing, finishing fourth in the championship. In 2016, he joins the Ferrari Driver Academy, as well as racing in GP3 for ART Grand Prix, with another role as development driver for Scuderia Ferrari. He won the Formula 2 Championship in 2017.

He will drive for Sauber in the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship.

[audio:http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/mp3.f1weekly.com/podcasts/12-13-17f1weekly742.mp3]