While Patrick Carpentier has the honor of closing out the season for A1 Team Canada in this weekend's final round of the A1 Grand Prix of Nations in China, 1st-2nd April, the only other Canadian to compete in the series, Vancouver's Sean McIntosh,...
While Patrick Carpentier has the honor of closing out the season for A1 Team Canada in this weekend's final round of the A1 Grand Prix of Nations in China, 1st-2nd April, the only other Canadian to compete in the series, Vancouver's Sean McIntosh, will be racking up the test miles at Le Mans ahead of his regular-season ride in the 2006 World Series by Renault racing for Team KTR.
Having used his time in A1GP to further strengthen his reputation as one of Canada's leading open-wheel standouts, Sean (20) shared his thoughts on flying the flag for his country and competing in the first ever 'World Cup of Motorsport': On getting started in A1GP and A1 Team Canada's last-minute confirmation:
SMc: As soon as I heard about A1GP I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Brands Hatch was a great way to start the series, there was an amazing atmosphere and tons of people there cheering on their respective countries. It was a unique moment in motorsport, pitching nation against nation in an open-wheel format and it was a privilege to be chosen by Wade Cherwayko, the Canadian seat-holder, to race for Canada.
I approach every race wanting to win and Brands Hatch was no exception but I knew it was probably an unrealistic goal as we had just one day of testing at Silverstone heading into the weekend. I knew the team had experience in F3000 and had worked with young drivers like myself before which was certainly a positive. Together we viewed the first round at Brands Hatch as a learning experience and while it was great to come away with a couple of points in the Feature race it was more important to go the distance, primarily beacuse I hadn't competed in an hour-long race before!
On scoring a third place podium finish in ctober's second round in OGermany:
SMc: To be honest I didn't expect to be up there and I don't think anyone else did either! It was a great feeling though and I think we surprised a few people with the strength of our performance. I was still getting used to the one-lap qualifying system so we didn't start as high as I would have liked to in the Sprint but I finished seventh to set up a decent slot for the Feature race. Ultimately the podium in Germany boosted everyone's confidence.
On traveling the world and racing on such a variety of circuits:
SMc: Certainly at the end of last August I didn't expect the new few months to be such a whirlwind of activity. When I knew I'd be racing for A1 Team Canada I looked at the calendar again and went 'wow' as there were so many cool places to go. Of course at that time I didn't take into consideration things like 13 hour flights but it's been such a great opportunity for me, not least at this stage in my career, to go to so many different countries and race on such a variety of circuits.
I've witnessed so many different cultures in the process and again, for someone of my age, it's just been an awesome experience and I think I'm a better person because of it. As for the race tracks well we started off at the classic Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit and moved on to the likes of the ultra-modern Sepang in Malaysia and the streets of Durban, we had a real taste of everything! Durban was an amazing experience, I hadn't raced on a street circuit with a car as powerful as the A1GP car, I really had to muscle it around the track! The experience I can now draw upon having raced on so many different circuits in A1GP will be really valuable as I step-up to the World Series by Renault this season and find myself learning more new circuits.
On the strength of competition in the A1 Grand Prix of Nations:
SMc: Well I think France has impressed everyone! They've made us all have to work even harder and I don't think at the start of the season anyone expected the level of domination shown by the French team. Elsewhere I don't think anyone expected Salvador Duran to take back-to-back wins at Laguna Seca for Mexico. I think that's what's great about the A1GP series, it gives drivers that perhaps weren't so well known the opportunity to showcase their skills at a high level of international, open-wheel competition.
On the personal highs and lows of his time competing for A1 Team Canada:
SMc: The highlight was definitely my Feature race win in Indonesia in Round 8. That was a special moment for me and simply a great feeling to be on the top step of the podium hearing the Canadian national anthem. It was also a great way to finish my stint for A1 Team Canada. Looking at the rest of the season I had a qualifying lap in Eastern Creek in Australia that was the third fastest time in the fourth segment which was pretty satisfying as we were getting to grips with A1GP's qualifying format. The biggest low was probably Malaysia last November. I started close to the back of the grid and fought my way through to the front and was potentially looking good for a podium finish with a handful of laps to go when I ran into the back if the Italian entry passing for fourth. It was all my doing unfortunately so there was no-one else to blame!
On sitting out the final three rounds of the series while Patrick Carpentier takes the wheel for A1 Team Canada:
SMc: You always want to be racing and the first couple of times Patrick took to the track in Mexico I was watching and it was definitely strange to see someone else driving the car. It took a bit of getting used to but I know why Patrick was brought in and it's been good for the team in terms of raising further awareness of the series back in Canada. Patrick's a big name but it's also good for me as the Canadian public will get to see my association with the team and my results compared to his.
It's definitely been hard to side on the sidelines but that would be the case for any driver. I was looking forward to racing at Laguna Seca as it was a track I knew having raced there earlier in my career; it would have been good to maximize that experience. I certainly can't complain though as I raced in the first eight rounds and I'm one of only two people to have competed for A1 Team Canada. I look forward to racing again next season and putting everything I've learned to good use.
On racing for A1 Team Canada in next season's A1 Grand Prix of Nations:
SMc: I definitely want to be back racing for the team. I think the reason I've been chosen to race in the World Series by Renault during the regular season is to prepare me to come out and win races when A1GP gets underway again later in the year. That's the main goal and I think I'm capable of being up at the front each time when we come to next season because I'll be able to carry the continuity through, I proved that with my second year in the Formula Renault UK Championship in 2005. On going straight from Formula Renault to A1GP to this season's World Series by Renault: SMc: There's no better training for your mind and body than racing, it gives you that extra bit of experience and it keeps you race sharp. When we get to the first qualifying session of the World Series by Renault I won't have spent four months thinking about it, I'll have been doing the equivalent throughout the winter in A1GP.
Yes I have a new car to learn but we're busy testing at the moment and while I'll be racing against people heading into their second season of World Series competition I'm armed with my experiences in A1GP racing a high horse-powered car -- I haven't been sitting around all winter waiting for the new season I've had the opportunity to keep racing!
Sean gets back behind the wheel of his Team KTR World Series by Renault car this weekend, 1st-2nd April, as he continues pre-season testing at Le Mans in France before moving on to Germany's Nurburgring later next week.