Q&A with WILL DAVISON QUESTION: How frustrating is it to be sitting out at the moment and not racing? WILL DAVISON: As a racing driver I love to drive and I love to race, so obviously it's extremely difficult watching from the sidelines. But...
Q&A with WILL DAVISON
QUESTION: How frustrating is it to be sitting out at the moment and not racing?
WILL DAVISON: As a racing driver I love to drive and I love to race, so obviously it's extremely difficult watching from the sidelines.
But the reality is if you are going to have any chance of moving up the ladder toward F1, you have to have everything working for you and be consistently winning races and running at the front. Our qualifying pace has simply not been good enough this year and when the results aren't coming you start asking yourself a lot of questions.
I have won and had plenty of podiums at this level so I know what I am capable of and the important thing at present is to stay confident in my abilities and myself.
Q: You did have a strong start to 2004, with three podiums from the first five races...
WD: For sure. Pre-season testing was all looking good for Fairuz (Fauzy, team-mate) and myself. We were consistently in the top three and pushing each other really hard. I thought we were really going to be on top of things and I just couldn't wait for the season to get underway.
There was definitely a change in tyre compound from pre-season and, from the very first round, we have never been strong enough, particularly in qualifying. My only consolation being that I have qualified and finished ahead of my team-mate on nearly every occasion.
I am always strong under racing conditions, particularly in the first few laps while everyone is sorting themselves out and usually pick up quite a few positions.
But all my podiums this year have been achieved from outside the first two rows of the grid and you simply cannot rely on consistently achieving good results at this level if you do not qualify well, particularly when the top 10 on the grid are often covered by less than half a second.
This has made things difficult on the funding front and at Snetterton everyone started to get a bit frustrated. We had problems in qualifying, including two punctures, and ended up well back on the grid. It certainly has not been through lack of trying from either the team or myself.
We had no choice but to pull out after Snetterton, as we simply ran out of funds with no obvious explanation for our lack of pace. In my second year in British F3 I am one of the most experienced drivers in the field and with the cost of competing at this level, there is no point in going further into debt just making up the numbers.
Following Snetterton, the team went to Pembrey in Wales for three days testing with Fairuz, which I am told went very well. But as I'm standing here at Castle Combe watching qualifying from the sidelines, Fairuz is eighth and 14th on the grid for the two rounds this weekend.
Q: So what's the plan for now?
WD: For the moment we have decided to sit tight for a week or two and not make any knee-jerk decisions. I've just got to keep my chin up, stay really positive, concentrate on my training and see what evolves.
I have been really encouraged by the support I have received from many of the teams and fellow competitors. Naturally there are a few knockers, but when you look behind it they usually have ulterior motives and something to gain from my current position.
There is a lot of politics over here and even fellow countrymen don't mind stabbing you in the back if they feel it can improve their own position. It's disappointing, but that's the way it is and it only makes me stronger and more determined.
Q: The Minardi F1 test offered by Paul Stoddart at the start of the year must be a great carrot to keep dangling in front of you to keep you motivated.
WD: Motor racing is my life and every time I get into a car I am motivated to do the absolute best job I possibly can for both the team and myself. But the offer to test the Minardi F1 car is a once in a lifetime opportunity and one that very few drivers ever get the chance to do without a bucket full of money.
I am extremely motivated to do a totally professional job when I test the car and if it was to go extremely well...well who knows what could evolve. Just look at where Mark Webber was only a couple of years ago.
Q: We're guessing you are not a good spectator.
WD: No. This is the first round (Castle Combe) I am sitting out and it's hard when you are not out there. But you also see everything from a very different perspective, which has been both interesting and beneficial.
I have spoken with numerous people you don't normally get the time to chat to, including (team owner) Alain Menu, who I get along very well with. Sometimes it's good to step back from things for a while and I'm not going to get down about it.
Q: What are your options for the short term?
WD: We are trying to put together funding to contest the last four or five rounds. If I can finish the season with some wins then everything will be back on track as far as my overseas aspirations are concerned. There are potentially some good seats available, but getting the funding is still the biggest hurdle.
I love the V8 Supercar championship at home and there has been considerable interest from some of the teams, so doing Sandown and Bathurst this year is certainly an option, especially because it doesn't interfere with my race plans over here.
Q: You must take plenty of confidence from the fact that you have out paced your team-mates in England over the last two and a half years.
WD: You are always trying to gauge things. But I think the results have shown I have always been able to do that. In 2002 in Formula Renault I had three highly rated team-mates and one of them was the favourite to win the title, having dominated the winter series at the end of 2001.
I managed to beat them all and finish fourth in the Championship in my first year in England and without the benefit of the winter series or winter testing enjoyed by all the leading competitors.
Scott Speed was a bit of an unknown in F3 last year at ADR but came very highly rated and was certainly fast at times. Alan Docking himself was part of the selection team together with Danny Sullivan, who went through an intensive evaluation process to determine who was going to get the Red Bull backing to get the next American to F1.
He was written off by ADR by mid-season as being not up to it, but fortunately for Scott, Red Bull kept their faith in him and he is now doing great things in the European Formula Renault Eurocup.
This year, my team-mate Fairuz is in his third year of F3. He was on the front row and finished on the podium last year and was one of the favourites after pre-season testing. Again I've out qualified him nearly every session this year. Your team-mate is the only person you can really rate yourself against and I think I've stacked well every time.
Q: When can we potentially see you back in an F3 car?
WD: I'm not sure, but certainly not for the next three race meetings (six rounds). I'd like to return for the Marlboro Masters at the start of August in Holland. That decision will be based on not only raising the necessary funds but also being able to secure a seat with a team that are currently winning and running at the front consistently.
This is the only way I will be able to truly measure myself and if I can have some strong results and hopefully win some races, then my international aspirations will be back on track.
Q: So what does the long-term future hold for Will Davison?
WD: My eyes are still firmly focused on F1 but obviously things will have to turn around for this to remain a realistic possibility. However, I have no desire to be here just for the sake of competing in Europe.
I regard V8 Supercars as the most successful championship in the world outside of F1. I'm still only 21 and now in my third year of European competition. I've raced in arguably the most competitive series in the world during this time. What I have learnt during this time both in and out of the car, I don't believe I could ever have learnt by staying at home.
I want to give it my absolute best shot in Europe so I'm not asking myself 'what if' in 10 years time.
But if the doors were to close and I was to make the decision to come home, this decision would be a final one and I would like to think the experience I have gained during my time here would be an asset to some of the leading V8 teams looking for a long term commitment.