Q & A

Q. You've been racing since you were nine years old. What made you start racing?

A. Motorsport has been in my family for as long as I can remember. My Dad was into karting when he was younger and more recently he raced in the National Auto Grass Championship and won his class in 2002. My Uncle is also a motorsports fan and still races supercars so I've been around motor racing my entire life.

As a child I was quite into my football, playing for the local village football team with my friends from school. It was actually my Dad who first got me started in Karting. He thought it would be something I'd enjoy and suggested I have a go.

What surprises a lot of people is I actually hated my first experience of Karting! I was still very young and didn't know anyone at the Karting track and to be honest I was happier playing football with my friends. I wasn't very comfortable the first few times I had a go in the Kart and therefore wasn't very quick and when you're young and not immediately very good at something it doesn't really make it enjoyable!

However, my Dad encouraged me to stick at it and I'm grateful he did as I started to get better at Karting, I made a group of friends at the track and really start to enjoy it. Bit by bit I began to win races and then Championships and I started to believe that this was something that I was good at and could potentially have a career in, and the rest is history!

Q. Over the past eight years you've won ten different Championship Titles. Which one meant the most to you and why?

A. All of them are important to me but I would say that winning the CIK FIA European KF3 Championship in 2007 was a special day. It was the culmination of a perfect race weekend. I won all of the heats, plus the pre-final race and the main race; it was one of those weekends when everything came together. I was up against the best drivers in the world in the Championship and to me it is important to be able to not only win, but to be able to win against the best.

Q. What do you think are the three main qualities that make a successful racing driver?

A. I would say determination; not just on the track but away from the track too. You have to be determined to be the fittest you can so you can perform when you are in the race car and then you have to be determined to get the best qualifying and race results when you're at the track.

Natural ability is also a big factor. I believe there must be a natural ability when you are in the car which you can then build on over the months and years to be a successful racing driver.

And finally, I think it in order for a driver to succeed; he must have a good team around him or her. It's important to surround yourself with the best people and for there to be the right chemistry amongst the team. I really believe that this is the difference between achieving good results as a driver and great results.

Q. What is the best thing about being a racing driver?

A. I would say that it is the same not only for other racing drivers, but also athletes in other sports: winning and achieving a great result. To win a race or a Championship is a feeling like no other and I actually struggle to find the words to describe it. I think it may be one of those things that is impossible to understand, unless you have experienced it yourself.

The feeling you get from winning has the ability to give you that extra boost when you go into your next race. You want to win again so you can get that incredible feeling again!

Q. What is the worst thing about being a racing driver?

A. Without a question; definitely the travelling. There is a perception out there that racing drivers lead a really glamorous life; flying around the world and visiting lots of amazing countries. Yet the reality is that I don't get to see anything apart from the airport, my hotel room and the track! Some of my friends are convinced I'm on a permanent holiday which makes me laugh as the reality is that I have to get up at the crack of dawn to catch my flights, I am flat out with work from the moment I land to the moment I leave and I don't have any time to explore these amazing countries that we are racing in! I do know how lucky I am to be able to race but this is one part of my job that I definitely don't look forward to.

Q. Fitness is a big part of a racing driver's life. Talk us through the kinds of fitness training/diet you regularly do?

A. Fitness is probably the only part of my life where I have a regular routine. It is such a huge part of being a racing driver that it is my main priority at the start of each year and the first thing I get sorted.

It can get a little frustrating when people can't understand why racing drivers need to be fit as they 'only' need to turn a steering wheel! But then I suppose it's hard to appreciate the amount of physical strength and stamina needed to drive a racing car if you've not had the opportunity to do so.

I am very lucky as I have a personal trainer who works with me on my fitness. We put together a fitness plan which I follow and I do some sort of training virtually every day of the year. Diet goes hand in hand with fitness. When I first started out racing I was told exactly what to eat and when but I now have a very good grasp of what I should and shouldn't be eating so I pretty much manage my own diet. I keep a food diary from time to time to check I am on the right lines and which can be tweaked if necessary.

I find it very easy to eat healthy as I notice such a big difference in myself when I eat well – I have so much more energy, I get more done and perform at a higher level which is vital when the difference between winning a race and finishing second can be just tenths of a second.

Q. Away from the race track, what do you like to do in your spare time?

A. I actually really enjoy going to the gym. I go to be fit for racing but I enjoy it too. I also just love hanging out with my friends. To be honest I don't mind what we're doing; whether it's going to the cinema, going bowling or just hanging out at each other's homes. I just love the banter of being with my friends and being able to relax with them.

Q. What are your top three 'likes'?

A. Blackburn Rovers Football team, Spaghetti Carbonara and Michael McIntyre.

Q. What are your top three 'dislikes'?

A. Spiders, Mushrooms and Horror films.

Q. Who inspires you both inside and outside of the motorsport world?

A. To be honest there isn't one specific driver who I look at and wish to emulate. Instead I look at all of the drivers, analyse their strengths and weaknesses and then use their strengths to inspire me to do well.

Outside of motorsports there are a lot of people who inspire me to succeed. My family definitely inspire me the most. I see how much they sacrifice for me and that inspires me to go out there and succeed so that one day I can give them something back. But I also see how hard they work in their jobs and that motivates me to work at least as hard as them in my work.

Q. You've just completed your first year in GP3. How was it for you?

A. It was a pretty good season and a good achievement to come away as fifth in the Championship and the highest placed rookie. We secured eleven top ten finishes including two wins so we can be pretty happy with those results. Of course as a racing driver you always want to finish the season as Champion so there is always going to be some disappointment if this doesn't happen, but we had a strong run of results and some fantastic wins which we can be proud of.

Q. What were the highlights of your 2013 GP3 season?

A. Without a doubt, it was my win at Silverstone. Winning your home race is one of the most amazing feelings and it was made all the more special because it was my first win in GP3. Most drivers' targets are to win the Championship and to win their home race so my win at Silverstone was easily the highlight of the year for me. The win at Monza was also pretty special. Monza and Silverstone are probably the two of the most historical tracks in racing and with two of the best atmospheres. It's a fantastic feeling taking victory at both of these tracks.

Q. What advice would you give aspiring racing drivers?

A. Probably the biggest piece of advice I could pass on is the importance of surrounding yourself with a good team of people. I have been lucky in that I have always had a fantastic team around me and I really believe that this has played a big part in what I have achieved so far. At the end of the day you need a solid foundation to build from otherwise everything on top can just fall apart. While I may be the person driving the car, racing is definitely a team effort and to be the best driver you have to have the best team of people around you.

Q. 2014 will see you head to the States to compete in Indylights. What made you decide to race out in the States in Indylights?

A. I've had a fantastic European racing career; winning championships at every level in Karting, finishing as vice champion in Formula BMW in 2009 and then winning the British F3 Championship in 2012 but i've always been interested in exploring the options in America. Indycar and IndyLights have been on my radar for a while and when the opportunity presented itself, thanks to the Racing Steps Foundation and SPM, I seized it with both hands. Since I made the announcement that I am off to Indylights for the 2014 season, I've had a brilliant reaction from everyone inside and outside of the racing world. Now I just can't wait to get out there and get started in the New Year!

Q. What was your highlight of your rookie season in British F3?

A. Definitely winning my first British F3 race at the Nurburgring. Winning is without a doubt the best feeling in racing and it was great for the whole team to be back on the top step of the podium. The win also marked a turning point in the season. It proved we had resolved the issues in the earlier part of the season and that we now had the package that could win races. After the Nurburgring we got more podium finishes and some really strong qualifying results too and picked up a big haul of points in the last part of the season.

Q. What are you looking forward to about racing out in the States?

A. Racing in the USA will be different in many ways to racing in Europe. One of the biggest differences will be getting to race on ovals which I'm really looking forward to experiencing.

Q. You're racing with SPM who have a great history in IndyLights. What are your thoughts about racing with them?

A. When I was out in the States in November I had the chance to meet the team properly. They are a great group of guys and I really enjoyed spending time with them at the factory. SPM have a proven record in Indylights, winning many championships, so I am very happy to be racing with such a successful team.

Q. You've already tested the car. What were your first impressions?

A. The first round of testing went well. It was my first time in an Indylights car so I had to make some adjustments to my racing style to suit this new type of car. But I quickly got up to speed with the car and was competitive and enjoyed my experience. The car itself is very different to the GP3 car I was driving last season, for example it is much heavier so it changes the car's dynamics so it was great to have the opportunity to get a feel for it before Christmas. I'm now back in the UK for a few weeks and will head back out to the States in January for the next test.

Q. The Racing Steps Foundation have supported you since 2009, are they continuing to support you as you make the move to the States?

A. The Racing Steps Foundation are continuing to support me in this new chapter of my racing career. I don't think there are enough words to thank Graham and Derek for all they have done for me. I simply wouldn't be where I was now, with the success I have had and the opportunities I have been given, if it wasn't for them. Without their backing I would probably still be racing in karts. Their support has meant that I have had an amazing five years racing in single seaters in Europe and now have this opportunity to tackle the States.

Q. What are you looking forward to most about living in the States?

A. I wouldn't say there was necessarily one single thing I am looking forward to, it's more the experience of living out there and experiencing a different way of living. I've felt very welcome by everyone I've met out in the States, they are all incredibly friendly and that's always a nice thing to experience in a new country. I'm also a big sports fan so I'm looking forward to embracing the sporting culture out there. It's an exciting new chapter in my life and I'm really looking forward to getting out there and starting it.

Q. What will be the toughest thing about moving from the UK to the States?

A. I think the hardest thing will not having my family and friends around me. There will definitely be days when I miss people back home, but they are already making plans to come out and visit and it will be easy to keep in contact with everyone back home.

Q. What are your hopes for the 2014 season?

A. My number one aim will be to win the championship. Of course it's going to be a challenge – driving a new car for the first time and racing at tracks I've never driven on before – but my goal is the Championship and I will fight at every step to achieve that in 2014.