Hello again Badgers! I’m back with another catch up on what’s happening in my F3 world and beyond. I promised the top Badgers to not do long race reports on my blog this year (yawn) but what I will say is we are two weekends in and we have two race wins. If you aren’t watching the FIA F3 this year, then you definitely should be! We’ve had three different winners from the two weekends and it’s looking like it’s going to be a very tight championship.
Myself and the Badger GP stickers are right in the thick of it so tune in for the next round at Pau on 19th/20th May – go on and take a look!
New Team, New Challenges
So, if I’m not going to talk about the races I’d still better say something about our F3 weekends. As you know I’m with Prema this year. It’s easy to fall in love with a new team, especially in the honeymoon period but I honestly can say I’ve not had the same level of respect and admiration for a team as I have for these Italians. The team is seriously good – you don’t win titles in multiple categories like F3 and GP2/F2 unless you are at the top of your game.
What’s the magic ingredient? I’m being asked this by a few people. I’ve had the privilege of driving for some of the most established teams, such as VAR and Carlin, and as a result, I’m handily placed to write a buyers’ guide for anyone looking for an F3 seat!
First off, each team has its strengths; at Prema, one thing is the discipline. Everyone knows what their role is and when the car stops, the guys know their roles and just get on with what they have to do in an efficient way. Forget any of those Italian stereotypes (except for the coffee machine), these guys are calm and methodical. The scale of Prema means there is a great infrastructure back at the base too. Of course, F3 drivers aren’t divas are they (?) but having the team help us where it can means we can just focus on the job of being a racing driver. René Roisin, the team principal, and his wife, Angelina, are amazing and have made me feel very welcome. Nothing has been too much trouble – yet! I’d better keep winning though…
This year I’ve got three new teammates. Everyone seems to want to know about Mick Schumacher, but for me and the rest of the guys here, he is just another teammate, and after Monza, one who is getting quicker. We all get on well – Prema had us altogether ahead of the season for some media work and training camps, giving us the chance to get to know more about each other, apart from what our entry speeds and tyre temps are. There’s a nice vibe in the team and we’ve been working well. This year we’ve got Felix Rosenqvist at some of the rounds for driver coaching. He’s quite handy driving the hire car too, as I discovered at Silverstone….
A New Ilott Family Member
Away from the F3 paddock my biggest announcement is a new addition to Team Ilott. Those of you who follow me on Twitter might have seen my new little French Bulldog pup. We lost our family dog at the start of the year – a Ridgeback who I’d grown up with since I was six, and it’s taken some time to decide how, or if, we could replace her. I persuaded my folks that a cuter, funnier (and smaller) dog was the way to go this time round and then we found this one and we all felt she was perfect. We’ve had a lot of ideas for names but if you Badgers have any suggestions, send them over on Twitter!
Picked this little girl up yesterday, welcome to the family 🐶 pic.twitter.com/mLEohWbTGX
I also wanted to take a moment to give a shout out to my old karting buddy Billy Monger. You will all no doubt have been following Billy’s situation since his F4 accident at Donington. Billy was a feisty karter and fierce competitor for me back in my UK karting years, roughly when we were 12 years old. Having always been someone with a really sunny disposition, in these last three weeks he stands out as someone with an amazing strength of character. Forza Billy.
How Great Is Fernando Alonso Doing IndyCar?
Back to the racing, and I’ve been watching with a lot of interest Fernando Alonso’s Indycar testing. He seems to be impressing those in the know, and it appears the fans are loving the prospect of him going Stateside and doing the job for McLaren Honda Andretti.
It’s fascinating to follow someone’s transition to Indycar in this way. It’s going to be great fun for Fernando, and everyone says that the ultimate aim is full throttle for maximum grip, so Alonso has to take a different approach.
He, and Max Chilton, seem to be talking about discovering that their right foot has a brain, which I guess is an alien concept for us ordinary single-seater pilots. Can’t wait until it’s my turn to have a go. The idea of doing other races is something that appeals I suppose to all drivers – it’s just innate. There have been a few opportunities that have come up for myself this year, and not just in single seaters, but date clashes and a clear priority for my F3 challenge means none as yet have come off. However, it’s something I’m keen on looking at. But then I’d get in a golf cart if the keys are left in!
Speaking of McLaren I guess some of you have seen its competition to find a ‘virtual racer’ to join its simulator programme. It’s not a new idea to pull somebody from e-Sports; Jann Mardenborough has shown the talent that can come from racing online, and in Vegas the e-Sports guys did a good job of showing the Formula E racers how to do it. Anything that provides more opportunities to get into our sport is a good thing!
I’d like to do more coaching myself; I’ve enjoyed the few times that I’ve had to work with other drivers and the MSA now offers qualifications in this area, including the UKCC equivalent Level 2 Coaching Certificate, which is on my list to do. Coaching someone else is another method of refining your learning, and of course giving something back. My most recent coaching outing actually taught me a surprising amount about what the car is doing when you are observing from the outside rather than the inside.
Coming Up Next
Next up for us in F3 is Pau. It’s a very technical and tight track, and it’s very, very easy to knock the suspension or rip the whole side of the car off! We came away with a podium last time too as I love a good street race, so I definitely plan to be up there again this year. I’m third in the standings – that pesky DNF at Silverstone and a rather tricky first race at Monza means we need a good haul of points in every race this round.
Before I sign off, just a quick plug for my new sponsor, the insurance specialists Adrian Flux. These guys have been brilliant and anyone putting money back into motorsport gets my vote, so give them a thought when your insurance renewal comes up. Thanks.
I’ve also got an invite to the GP at Monaco. More about that next time!