The Williams F1 driver on first-year pressure, his father’s role helping his rise to Formula 1, and his drive of the Matra MS10 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed
There was definitely too much hype around me after my first race in Bahrain; it was just too much straightaway. I knew that seventh place and fastest lap was probably too much too soon and it wouldn’t always be like that. But that’s Formula 1, it’s a fast-moving place to be and it became obvious to me that the hype was too much, especially when the next races were not so good and nobody was hassling me.
It’s been an up and down sort of season, but that’s only to be expected. There’s a lot of expectation in year one, pressure to do well, but that’s been the same all through my career. Yes, I need to become more consistent, but so does the whole team as well.
Everyone asks me about my father’s role in all this. He’s been a big help to me, very supportive and he’s, you know, a very wise person, he knows a lot about motor racing. But he’s tough on me, he’s a pessimistic sort of person in many ways, he tends to be quite negative about things and that can be tough. He doesn’t push me, it’s not a question of him pushing, it’s more that he can be negative as a person, even though he’s supportive.
I did underestimate the pressure in Formula 1 but you can’t be prepared completely for all the things that come with competing at this level. You have to try and make sure it doesn’t affect you. There’s a lot of things to do. But that’s the way it is, the way it’s always been. In the end the pressure is just part of the job.
The main thing is I need to get this first year under my belt. I need to get to know the tracks, to get accustomed to the routine of Formula 1. Once the season is under my belt I need to get working with the team during the winter, and again this is a team thing, it’s not just me.
Away from Formula 1, I went to the Goodwood Festival of Speed this year and that was a really nice experience. It’s just a great event and it was so nice to see so many fans getting close to the cars and the action on the track. Williams brought last year’s car and both Mark Webber and I drove it up that hill. Frank Williams and Patrick Head were there too, and lots of the other F1 drivers. There should be more events like this as it only seems to happen in England.
I drove a Matra MS10 grand prix car at Goodwood, too, as part of a video with RBS and Jackie Stewart who raced the car back in the ’60s. It was fun, a bit like driving my old Formula 3 car, but it was a crazy time in racing. It must have been like sitting in a rolling bomb. Racing a bomb with wheels is not really my thing. The chassis ends around your hips and the rest of you is kind of hanging in the air. All you have around you is about seven millimetres of aluminium and there’s 220 litres of fuel floating around in there. That’s mental, and not my cup of tea, but then no one knew about anything better in those days.
If you don’t think about the danger then it must have been amazing racing with all that four-wheel drifting and sliding. Yes, it was a nice experience to do that at Goodwood.