McIntosh Looks To The Future! By: Stuart Morrison Sean McIntosh's post-season schedule is no-less hectic than when he stormed to the Graduate Cup title in the 2004 Formula Renault UK Championship. The 19-year-old is maintaining his high-level...
McIntosh Looks To The Future!
By: Stuart Morrison
Sean McIntosh's post-season schedule is no-less hectic than when he stormed to the Graduate Cup title in the 2004 Formula Renault UK Championship. The 19-year-old is maintaining his high-level fitness regime, ensuring he remains race-sharp over the winter, while looking ahead to 2005.
Sean recently took some time out to reflect on the past year and discuss his plans for the future:
Q: Having competed in US Formula Ford 2000 and the Fran-Am Championship here in North America was it a difficult decision to move to Europe and compete in the Formula Renault UK Championship?
Sean McIntosh: It was an easy decision when the opportunity arose to race in the UK in 2004. After experiencing the level of competition there during the 2003 Formula Renault Winter Series I knew it was the place to be if I wanted a shot at Formula 1. There is no question that I had to be racing in the UK if I wanted to progress my career.
Q: What was the biggest challenge for you while living and racing in the UK?
SM: The biggest challenge I had racing in the UK was adjusting to the circuits. I was up against guys who had three or four years experience on the circuits. I was starting with a clean sheet every time out which really prevented the team and me from fine tuning our setups.
My 2004 season was also the first time I had lived away from home. Living in a different country and culture made this even more difficult. It wasn't too bad once I got settled in and used to where everything was and what side of the road to drive on! My teammate, James Murphy, was really good to me all season long; it was good to hang out with someone my own age when I wasn't racing.
Q: What do you feel are the main differences between racing attitudes in North America and Europe? Is the paddock atmosphere similar?
SM: The professionalism and seriousness of European motor sport is what separates itself from North America. Everyone is there for the same purpose, from the drivers, engineers and mechanics through to the series organizers.
Q: How satisfying was your victory at Oulton Park in Round 7? Did it surprise you to win so early in the season and how much of a catalyst was it for the rest of the year?
SM: My victory at Oulton Park was an awesome day! I had been working towards that victory for so long and to do it in such a dominant fashion made it extra special. It didn't
surprise me that I won at Oulton. In pre-season testing we had a great car there and I came away from the test second fastest. That victory really gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season. I knew I had the potential to win races; it was just a matter of proving that to everyone else.
Q: What was your main focus for the season, winning the Graduate Cup or winning races?
SM: You always want to win races but it is way too easy to get caught up on the result. I always try to focus on performing at my maximum and then the results will take care of
themselves. The overall picture was for me to win the Graduate Cup and finish somewhere in the top-10 of the main championship.
Q: As the inaugural Graduate Cup Champion do you feel there will be additional pressure on you should you return to the Formula Renault UK Championship to fight for the title in 2005?
SM: Whenever you come back to a series where you were 'Rookie of the Year' the previous season there is a degree of expectation and additional pressure. It makes you an obvious choice for pre-season favorite but I need to use this to my advantage. I'll be expected to be quick and that's exactly what I plan to be come pre-season testing!
Q: Now that you've raced abroad do you see yourself returning to North America to compete or will your focus remain in Europe?
SM: I plan to progress my career in European motorsport. The goal has to be Formula 1 and I've got to be in front of all the right people to get there. At present winning a championship in North America doesn't appear to carry the same status compared to winning one in Europe.
Q: Why do you think more Canadian's don't take on the challenge of competing in Europe and following the traditional career path to Formula 1? Having witnessed an F1 test as a guest of the Renault F1 team, has it influenced your own career ambitions?
SM: Most Canadians have struggled when competing in Europe. I think a lot of it has to do with the situation many of them have been in when they arrived in Europe. I was fortunate to have a team like First-Air supporting me during the year. Every member of the team treated me like family and it allowed me to stay in the right frame of mind. It's a big adjustment moving to a different country and a lot of people find it difficult to settle. The level of competition is so much higher in European motorsport as well. You never quite know how good you are until you race against the best.
That day at Silverstone when I was a guest of the Renault F1 Team was a truly great experience. It gave me a much different perspective of F1. I no longer viewed it as 'Disneyland'! I was able to see that an F1 team operates in a similar fashion to a Formula Renault team, the scale is just magnified several times over!
Q: How are your plans for the 2005 season and beyond shaping up?
SM: I'm pretty close to securing a deal for the 2005 season. It's just a matter of lining up all the pieces and making sure I have the best chance possible to win races next season. With the right people around me I believe I can make a serious challenge for the Renault UK crown! I've also got an exciting opportunity that I should know more about in the coming months do to with 2006 and beyond. My 2004 season has really given me great momentum. I need to take advantage of this heading into 2005!!!
-As posted on www.seanmcintosh.com