Felipe Nasr is one of the brightest prospects in world motorsport. Hailing from a country that eats, sleeps and breathes racing; the young Brazilian, now racing in GP2 with DAMS, spoke exclusively with THE WRITE FORMULA.
by Nathan Thomas (THE WRITE FORMULA Blog)
Felipe, thank you for taking the time to speak to us! You have now made it into GP2 after a superb 2011 season which saw you become British Formula 3 Champion. How much effort, both physically and mentally does it take to win a championship, at any level of the sport?
Firstly, let me thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about my career and my plans! You said it, it all it takes a toll both physically and mentally to win a race, imagine a whole Championship. Staying focused, thinking all the time how to make the car better so you can go as fast as you know you can is a 24/7 job and it only increases as we climb up the stairs of the bigger series.
You must be delighted having earned such an exciting opportunity at DAMS, how do you hope to progress as a driver in 2012?
It is an opportunity but at the same time it is a big challenge as DAMS made the last GP2 Champion and I have a team-mate that is in his 5th year in GP2. For me everything is new: team, tracks, tyres and the rhythm, but I am progressing, and with eight races (well seven and a half) done, I have learned a lot and will be a more prepared person at the end of the year.
Your battle with Addax driver Johnny Cecotto, during the first race at Bahrain, was absolutely superb to watch and displayed your wonderful racing talent. Were you disappointed to be penalised following the incident that took you both out of the race?
Yeah, it was a good and fair battle and I had already overtaken him as I had better tyres and was going after the guys in front of me. Johnny misjudged his braking point and it was really frustrating to be taken out of the race and losing the chance to score points and even to fight for a podium position. The penalisation was just like adding insult to injury, but you have to cope with things like that, everybody saw what happened and they can make a better judgement. I have to see it from the positive side, it gave me the chance to make a fantastic recovery in race 2, overtaking many cars (that counts a lot on my learning curve) and making a nice show in front of so many important people.
On a positive note, you notched a superb third place finish in only your second race in GP2 at Kuala Lumpur; that must have been a special feeling.
It was exhilarating. Everything looks better and brighter from up there; one can get accustomed pretty fast to the sensation. I hope I can repeat it this year on other occasions
What was it that sparked your passion for racing and when did you first begin racing Karts?
My Father and Uncle have a very successful Racing Team in Brazil (F3 South American Champions), I raced for them many times aswell as racing in other championships. I was raised surrounded by racing; Revs-surrounded you might say (laughs). Driving was a natural thing for me ever since I hopped into a Kart when I was 8 years old.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Follow your dreams; believe in yourself.
Unsurprisingly as a Brazilian, you list Ayrton Senna as your favourite driver. I am also a huge Senna fan, but can you explain how much he means to the people of Brazil and how much has he influenced your career; in terms of how he raced and how he conducted himself?
It is a funny thing, I was born in 1992, so I was not really there when Senna was having those magic moments in F1; the whole of Brazil was glued to the telly watching him on Sundays mornings. I am more of a product of the ‘post Senna’ period of having heard and been told about him. Like a hero in history books.
How much do the cars in different Formulas differ from one another (I.E. from F3 to GP2) and how long does it take to get used to them in your first season?
They are completely different in their dynamics. Their behaviour is physically similar but you need to treat them differently to get the most out of each one of them.
A lot of talk this year in F1 and GP2 has surrounded how teams manage their tyres, you will have had some experience of driving on the Pirelli tyres in your first couple of races, are the P-Zeros particular difficult to look after in comparison to other tyres of recent years?
I believe that one of the great things about GP2 is the use of the Pirelli P-Zeroes. We are getting the exact challenge that current Formula 1 driver are having in terms of how to manage our tyres properly; this will help us to be prepared for the rigours of F1. I cannot compare to tyres that I have used before because the powers are so different, the braking, acceleration efforts and the speeds through corners are all in marked contrast to the current tyres.
And finally, where do you hope to be in five years’ time and what do you need to do to get there?
Well, dreams don´t cost nothing! I hope to be well established in a front running F1 Team and to do that I need to keep working harder and harder to be able to get there.
THE WRITE FORMULA would like to was Felipe all the best as he continues he progress through GP2 with DAMS Racing.