Sitting Pretty, Racing Hard
The Felipe Nasr Way
Three rounds into the 2012 GP2 season and cream is already rising to the top.
Felipe Nasr is the Brazilian flavor. Though signing late to the series he has wasted no time in turning heads and passing competitors on the track.
After a very successful karting career Nasr notched up a podium finish in his first weekend of single-seater racing; in the final round of the 2008 Formula BMW Americas event at Interlagos.
Splash and dash to championship success with über domination was the story when he crossed the big pond and raced in the 2009 Formula BMW Europe series. Nasr was on the podium in 14 of 16 races, taking 5 wins and 6 pole positions. His championship tally was over 100 points from Daniel Juncadella who finished second.
Last year he won his second championship in Europe with victory in the British Formula 3, claiming 7 race victories and out-scoring his nearest opponent, Kevin Magnussen, by 81 points. He signed-off on his F3 campaign with an excellent second place finish in the streets of Macau.
Season opener in Sepang saw Nasr grab a podium finish in his first weekend of GP2 racing. The 2009 Formula BMW Europe and the 2011 British F3 Champion drives for DAMS team. The “A” in the name stands for Rene Arnoux who is no longer associated with the French team.
The Big League
GP2 is the official feeder series and final frontier before Formula 1. Nasr is driving for the French DAMS team which last year took Romain Grosjean to the title. The opening round at Sepang saw Nasr put in an impressive top 10 qualifying effort and was sixth at the end of his maiden GP race.
The sprint race saw Nasr finish third, only 3.4s behind race winner James Calado.
In the second round at Bahrain International Circuit Nasr qualified on the second row in third place for the feature race. Fighting tooth and nail with Johnny Cecotto half way through the race, the two Latin drivers collected – and blamed – each other.
Nasr put in a spirited drive in the sprint race to come back from behind – following a stall on the formation lap – and finish 6th at the end. Both races were won by his experienced teammate Davide Valsecchi.
The GP2 cars and crew stayed behind in Bahrain following the F1 weekend for a standalone event. Past weekend Nasr was 7th on the track but a 20s penalty for a yellow flag violation put him just outside the top 10 and point paying position.
He was able to claim another top 5 finish in the sprint race and is now 8th in championship.
The speed and ease Nasr has displayed in his first few races in GP2 will surely bring him maiden win in the near future.
The same flair was displayed when Nasr raced in this year’s Daytona 24-Hours where he finished third with Michael Shank Racing, prompting the team owner, when asked if he would like to have the Brasilia native back in his team, to comment; “I will make room for him in my team even if I don’t have any.”
It is only a matter of season or two before a team owner in the top echelon of motor racing makes room for this talented driver.
— Nasir Hameed
Ola and racing regards from California.
Photos: GP2 Media
STYLE SPEED SEATTER
From Lella Lombardi and Janet Guthrie to Michelle Mouton and Danica Patrick, ladies have come a long way in motorsports.
Meet Miss Natasha Seatter. The Malaysian racer recently became the first female to win a race in the United Arab Emirates. Seatter has been setting the pace from her younger days in karting and Formula BMW single-seaters.
F1Weekly would like to thank Natasha for taking her time to answer our questions, and wish her much success in her racing career.
Q. Congratulations on your victory in Formula Gulf 1000 race. Winning the race by passing championship leader and setting the fastest lap has to be very special feeling for you?
A. Thank you, it’s true that winning races is every driver’s goal but it takes a lot of training, hard work and persistence before that happens. Beating the championship leader is a real confidence booster for me and I really had to focus on not making any mistakes.
Q. Is this the biggest win of your racing life?
A. Quite honestly, yes. It was particularly important as it is my first international win since turning professional as a 17-year-old-rookie. You can call it a ‘coming of age’ in career terms. Now I feel I have proven my credentials as a senior competitor.
Q. What are your plans for rest of the season?
A. As far as Formula Gulf is concerned I just want to try and consolidate my experience and race strategy as a front runner. It’s a different mentality to chase the guy in front than be hunted by the pack! Of course, getting on the podium is always my goal but a top three championship result is very important.
I have some junior driver training commitments mid-year in South East Asia and I will compete in some national events in Malaysia. It’s also my dream to compete in Europe or USA so if I am given the opportunity and sponsorship to do so I would love to race with the world’s best drivers in whatever category.
Q. Last two years you raced in Formula BMW cars, are you satisfied with the progress you have made as a single-seater racing driver?
A. Formula BMW is THE series for developing your talent as a professional driver. It is fast, competitive and really separates the men from the boys. I started at the back of the grid in my first year, but last year I was a top 10 driver and had several top 5 results. I have since had podiums in more advanced formula racing series so, yes, I am happy with my progress.
Q. You have also raced at the Ordos circuit in Chinese Mongolia; what was that experience like?
A. It was TOTALLY overwhelming from all aspects. It was my first ever experience racing at a higher level with some seriously talented senior drivers in very fast, turbo powered Formula car with huge levels of down force and grip compared to Formula BMW. It was also my first visit to the Ordos track in Inner Mongolia and that was also a strange experience from a cultural perspective. Fortunately, I was with my usual race team and they got me up to pace without any accidents or incidents. Although I only qualified p7 I managed podium finishes for both races. I didn’t expect that!
Q. I understand you have also driven an F1 car; this has to be the most exciting experience for any young driver?
A. Wow, yes those cars are awesome. I was selected by Lotus group to participate in a testing with their T125 car in Abu Dhabi at the beautiful Yas Marina circuit. I was so lucky as my driver coaches were ex-Formula 1 legends, Nigel Mansell and Jean Alesi. I really learnt a lot from them when we raced together on circuit as part of the training and assessment program. They treated me as a proper racer after that and I felt very good about it.
Natasha with mom and dad, he is from the land of Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart.
Q. Your passion for motorsports comes from your dad; please tell us about his racing activities?
A. Dad is a GT racer, closed wheel, limited down force but lots of raw power. He participated in the Malaysian Super Series and for several years he achieved the occasional podium. However, last year he was on the top step of almost every race and I am proud to say he won the Open Class Championship in his Mazda GT.
This year he is doing the classic car racing series in his 1969 Lotus Élan. It’s a very fast car with terrific handling and can even keep up with today’s modern Lotus Elise! My Dad lets me help set up his cars, so that’s fun.
Q. Not so long also, at the age of 12 your dad took you to a Rotax karting event; what do you remember most from that important day in your life?
A. I can still remember that day vividly. There was a lot of noise, speed, hustle and bustle. The drivers looked like such heroes to me and I asked my Dad if there was something girls could do like that. I will never forget his reply when told me girls could also participate in the same event if they were prepared to be as brave as the boys. I made my mind up right there and then to be a driver.
Q. After starting in karting yourself, how long was it before you decided to pursue racing as a career?
A. I was offered a chance by Petronas to participate in their Formula BMW young driver PFX series when I was 15 years old. At the end of the nine month training I won 1st place in all four PFX races (first ever in history) and I was the only female racer! And was offered a sponsored drive with Petronas in the 2010 Formula BMW series. That’s when I decided to make racing my career.
Q. You have two sisters; are they also planning to follow in your racing footsteps?
A. Ha ha, no way! All of us did karting for the first year but they preferred running tracks and team games to motor racing. Actually they win lots of gold medals and are really good athletes. My sister Kat is a varsity player in volley ball and my youngest sister Shaz is a champion 400m runner and plays rugby.
Q. Sepang circuit in your country is very nice; how popular is karting and single-seater racing among the local community?
A. Malaysians are seriously crazy about all their motorsports including motor bikes. We have several circuits for cars, bikes and karts and the grids can be quite packed. Now we also have lots of Japanese and Chinese racers coming over to participate in our international events so it’s true to say that Malaysia is on the motor sports map.
Q. You have raced all over Asia, is the competition in Japan tougher than other Asian countries?
A. Japanese drivers are very competitive, have great training to hone their skills and are ruthless on track. They can’t stand losing as it’s a great loss of face so they give everything (and often a little bit more). I love racing and winning in Japan but you have to get ahead very early in the race or you will get taken out.
Q. According to your Facebook page, you are also a trainee pilot; given the choice what will be your preference; pilot of a jet liner or pilot of an F1 machine?
A. No hesitation about that, F1 pilot! Now if you had included being an aerobatic pilot in the Red Bull air racing series I might have hesitated!
Q. There is a lot of Girl Power in motorsports, you, Michele Bumgarner of Philippines, Vicky Piria of Italy, Michelle Gatting of Denmark, are you friends with any of these lady racers?
A. I would love to meet them one day!!
Q. Where would you like to be racing in five years?
A. I would like to be involved in Indy Cars in America. Danica Patrick has left a huge vacancy with her switch to NASCAR. It’s such a huge series and Americans are so passionate with terrific crowds and sponsorships and there are not many females in the sport!
Special thanks to Natasha’s PR Manager Mama Datin Ida for her help in this interview.
— Nasir Hameed
The Chennai Express
Aditya Patel is a young Indian talent who is quietly but successfully building his racing credentials on European circuits. His racing career started with victory in his first ever kart race and a podium finish on debut in international competition; the Formula BMW Pacific Championship.
Patel was plucked from the Indian racing scene to race in VW Polo Cup in 2009 courtesy of the German manufacturer. Past two seasons he has raced in the Scirocco-R Cup and was placed fifth in the final standings last year.
Impressed by the competition in tin-tops and enthusiasm of European racing fans, “They bring photos of me for autographs racing in India that I have not seen,” Patel said.
This season he will race for Audi in GT3 category with help from their Indian division.
F1Weekly is very pleased to present our conversation with Aditya Patel on our weekend special podcast # 555.
For more information please visit his www.adityaracing.com
— Nasir Hameed
The New Ohio Express. F1 Weekly is pleased to present our conversation with Zach Veach, young American talent from Stockdale. From karting to Star Mazda this year with Andretti Autosport, Zach’s career has been on a fast track.
The past two seasons he competed in the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda. In 2010, he was fifth in the final standings with three podium appearances. Last year he grabbed his maiden win in the series and with five podium finishes placed fourth in the championship.
Seeking guidance from his racing hero and team owner, Michael Andretti, Zach now takes on his teammate Sage Karam, and 2011 USF2000 Champion Petri Suvanto in this year’s Star Mazda Championship.
Zach is equally busy off the track. He has written a book, 99 Things Teens Wish They Knew Before Turning 16,” and is the spokesperson for FocusDriven. In 2010, he was named to CNN’s list of “Intriguing People.”
For more information please visit his website www.zachveach.com and we hope you will enjoy listening to his story on podcast 547.
From Russia With Talent
Russian interest in motor racing can be traced to the very first United States Grand Prix. It was Russian-born Alec Ulmann who brought the first F1 event to Sebring in 1959.
The land of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov now has a new motorsports symphony, performing with success in the European theater.
Meet Daniel Kvyat. The kid from Ufa is backed by Red Bull and after an impressive career in karting raced in Formula BMW Europe in 2010. The 16-year old is based in Rome and F1weekly would like to thank him for taking the time to answer our questions.
Q: Tennis and Football came into your life before motor racing, what was the thrill and excitement that got you hooked into motor sports?
A: “When I first tried a go kart, I loved the speed and doing the corners at maximum. I was really enjoying it! And from that day racing became my passion.”
Q: Did you go to any karting school before competing in Russian Championship?
A: “Before competing in the Russian championship I did enough tests to be fast. I did some races in the Russian championship which went very good. After that I was ready for big races. I have also been coached by Pavel Guskov, from whom I learned really a lot.”
Q: What is the main difference between karting in Russia and Italy?
A: “The main difference when I’ve been racing there was mainly the professional level. In Italy, compare to Russian karting at that moment, there were much more possibilities to be watched by someone and get more experience.”
Q: What advice will you give to young Russian kids who want to become racing drivers?
A: “I would say to never give up, fight until the end. And also to improve yourself to learn racing well. There is always room for improvement in yourself.”
Q: In 2008 you won the European Bridgestone Cup and in 2009 won the prestigious Andrea Margutti Trophy, which victory means more to you and why?
A: “Well, they were two great victories. In both I had spectacular races. But Margutti trophy is a little bit more famous, so I would say it was more important.”
Q: This season you raced in Formula BMW Europe, what was the biggest challenge in single-seater racing compared to karting?
A: “Let’s say that this season I understood how single-seater is more different from karting. The challenge is to understand and learn so many new things.”
Q: You raced against Carlos Sainz Jr in karting, and this year he was your teammate, how was the chemistry and team work between the two?
A: “Yes, we used to be rivals in karting, and we are rivals also in single -seaters. My goal is to show better result than Sainz Jr.”
Q: How and when did you become part of Red Bull programme?
A: “In summer 2009 I’ve been doing many important results, winning races in WSK series, and finishing 3rd at the European championship. I also did a test with Formula BMW which went very good. After that I received a call from Dr. Marko.”
Q: Was victory in Singapore Formula BMW Asia race the biggest highlight of your career so far?
A: “Yes, absolutely it was a great moment of my life! But I also wouldn’t forget Monza’s second place and my first victory in Sepang.”
Q: What racing series is on your radar for 2011?
A: “It’s gonna be Formula Renault Euro Cup 2.0 in Koiranen Brothers team where I will race in 2011.”
Q: With Tavarich Petrov in F1, Aleshin World Series by Renault Champion and GP coming soon to Sochi, do you feel extra pressure to perform in 2011?
A: “I have never thought about it. Honestly, I don’t feel any kind of pressure for doing well in 2011!”
Q: What is the best racing advice Dr. Helmut Marko has given you?
A: “That I am at races not for drinking coffee in a bar, but for winning.”
Q: Your favorite track, Formula 1 team and driver (apart from Petrov!)?
A: “My favorite tracks are Singapore, Budapest and Barcelona. Formula 1 team without any question is Red Bull! The drivers are Mark Webber, Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica.”
Q: Do you like the famous Russian song “Podmoskovnye Vechera?” (Evenings in the country side of Moscow)
A: “Not my favorite song, but for sure I like it.”
Q: Please tell us about Daniel Kvyat, the young man not the race car driver? Your interest in music, food and what other sports you enjoy watching?
A: “Well, I listen to many kinds of music, depends on my mood. I love Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Russian food. I enjoy doing and watching tennis, ping pong, wake boarding, football and skiing! More than this I love to go out with friends, having nice time at home and training.”
— Nasir Hameed
Greetings and Russian Racing regards.
All photos courtesy www.daniilkvyat.com