Michael Patrizi Australian Racing Driver and Formula BMW Asia Junior QUESTION: Firstly, can you take us through what you have been up to since you had your win in Formula BMW Asia in Taeback, Korea? MICHAEL PATRIZI: After my win in Korea, I...
Australian Racing Driver and Formula BMW Asia Junior
QUESTION: Firstly, can you take us through what you have been up to since you had your win in Formula BMW Asia in Taeback, Korea?
MICHAEL PATRIZI: After my win in Korea, I flew out the next day to Denver, Colorado in the United States. There, I raced Formula BMW USA for Team Australia at the Denver GP, in what was the debut of Team Australia's Formula BMW team.
It was a great experience to see what the American racing scene is like and it was a great opportunity for me to get to compete in another part of the world. (Team Australia Co-Owner) Derrick Walker and the team were very supportive and they are a great group of guys and girls. They really get behind you and support everything you do.
Q: How did you go in Denver?
MP: Well after only seeing the track on paper a week prior, I thought it would be very difficult to get it right with only one practice session, and even more difficult because it's a street circuit.
'Tags' (Team Australia Champ Car driver Alex Tagliani) took me for a track walk with his engineer and Marcus (Marshall, Team Australia Champ Car driver). After the walk, it felt like I had already done two days of testing there. It was the most detailed track walk I have ever done. For sure, without Alex's help, it would have been very difficult.
We raced well all weekend, qualifying fourth for Race 1 and finishing a close fifth in that first race. We had the car's gearing slightly out, as we had put in a short sixth gear for the session before due to rain. So we were down on straight-line speed, but did well nonetheless.
In Race 2, I came from 14th position up to sixth. Due to an accident with eight laps to go, the Safety Car was brought out and unfortunately for me Race Control thought I was involved in this accident, which actually involved was third, fourth and fifth place. They instructed me to go to the rear off the field. Then, just as the race was about to restart, they replied to my request and confirmed that they had made a mistake and instructed me to regain my position of third. However, the race had started and I was in 17th position.
A car directly in front of me dislodged a tyre barrier shortly after the restart, which I then clipped and this sent me into the wall.
It was quite an action packed race and a great experience. You take something out of every race you do, when you win as well as when the luck goes against you.
Q: Your focus is back on the Formula BMW Asia Championship now, with the penultimate event in Japan at the Autopolis circuit this weekend. You have raced back into contention for the Championship. Can you keep up the good form?
MP: I think with the way I'm driving now I can come away with a strong result for the round and the Championship.
I am only 19 points behind the Championship leader now, so it's been a good comeback considering after Round 4 I was 68 points behind.
The Formula BMW Asia Championship is my main goal at the moment and I am really focusing on being the first BMW Junior to win the Championship.
Q: Then after Japan you will get to race at Shanghai at the final FBMW Asia round, which will be supporting the Chinese F1 GP. You also raced with F1 in Bahrain earlier this year, so what is the experience of racing at an F1 event like?
MP: We get to race at some amazing circuits throughout the Formula BMW Asia Championship; we race at four Formula 1-standard venues, in Autopolis, Japan; Sepang, Malaysia; Sakhir, Bahrain and Shanghai, China.
BMW really puts emphasis on Formula BMW being the best and being safe, and there is no better place to race than at Formula 1 tracks, though the Denver Champ Car Grand Prix street race was unreal as well.
When I raced in Formula BMW Asia at the Bahraini F1 Grand Prix it was really great to be a part of such a big event. BMW took us through the BMW.WilliamsF1 pits and we learnt a lot about how a Formula 1 team operates.
During this season I am also enrolled in an Education and Coaching programme, which is run by specialists employed by BMW. We get coached on many different aspects from media training through to car set-up, fitness, mental training and driver training.
The Asian racing scene has been a big surprise to me this year. The competition in Formula BMW Asia is very fierce and it is a great Championship. Because the Championship is so big and has such a high profile in the region, it has attracted what is definitely the best drivers and teams from all around Asia and Asia is a big continent.
Q: You have travelled a lot and been many places this year in FBMW and it is a category many young Australian drivers are now looking at following you into? Are you happy with what it has done for you so far?
MP: I have scene some amazing things this year and been to some amazing places, and this all wouldn't have happened if I wasn't racing in the Formula BMW Asia Championship this year.
It has definitely opened my mind to different cultures and different ways of living, which is important in motorsport.
The Championship is fantastic and very well run by BMW Motorsport. I think it is a great stepping-stone for young Aussies because BMW concentrate on helping and developing the drivers involved. They are very big on teaching you in all aspects of motorsport. It is not a matter of 'arrive and drive and if you win you might get somewhere'. BMW is very focused on running its championships to help its drivers become champions.
I am definitely very happy with my decision to race Formula BMW Asia this year. I am so grateful to everyone involved in the Championship, as I have learned more racing this year than I did in my whole 12 years of schooling.
I still live in Perth and fly to my races, which gives me the best of both worlds and has saved me the expense of relocating to race overseas this year.
It's not that expensive to fly and it has worked out cheaper than a year of Formula Ford in Australia.
Racing karts in Europe and now Formula BMW in Asia and the United States has made me a very well-travelled driver, which makes you stay on top of your game, because you have to be even fitter to stay on top because of the travel, the different weather and environment at each venue and even the different food in each country.
Q: You must be looking forward to the Formula BMW World Final in Bahrain in December? It looks like becoming a big event on the world motorsport calendar.
MP: The World Final will be a great event. There are already 50 competitors entered, all vying for a test in a BMW Formula 1 car. This event just emphasises the support BMW offers us, because there are not many other categories in motorsport around the world that have a World Champion.
At the end of this year there will be World Champions in Formula 1, Formula A in karting, this year is the first year of the World Touring Car Championship and of course, at Bahrain the Formula BMW World Champion will be decided.
Formula BMW is the first step out of karting and BMW is really assisting young drivers to move up through motorsport and BMW is heavily involved in motorsport at all levels. You could potentially win the Formula BMW, World Touring Car and Formula 1 World Championships all in BMW cars.
BMW offer support at all levels of motorsport and I am very grateful to BMW for the support it is offering me as a BMW Junior driver.