Checo Expresses Optimism About Mexico's Motorsport FutureTue, 09/01/2015 - 11:06
Q: What were the reasons behind your comment that Force India was in for a “painful start” to 2015?
A: Well, as everybody knows now, our new car was not ready in time. We were only able to run the VJM08 in one of the pre-season weekends, so it was quite evident to us from the start that we were going to have some trouble catching up with the evolution of other teams. I am not sure if we are going to have enough time to get to the place we want to be, but we will keep working as hard as ever, and I think the team is doing quite well right now. If we continue to work as hard as we have been over these past few months, the team will be able to move in the direction it wants to go, allowing us to keep working toward our goals.
Q: What efforts have been made by both you and Force India to acquire more sponsors, particularly from Mexico?
A: Fortunately, this is something that has come naturally to us. The fact that F1 will come back to Mexico after more than 20 years of absence has created big expectations, and it is the event that everybody wants to attend. From fans to brands, we have been very thankful for all the support we have been receiving.
Q: How have your experiences with McLaren, Sauber, and Force India each helped to shape your driving style and technique over the years?
A: The time you spend in the cars and on the tracks are even more important than the teams you race for. Every minute you spend in the car provides an invaluable experience, from the feelings you get to the information you can collect. All of this knowledge can then be analyzed with your engineers, which is an extremely important part of the process. At the end of the day, it has to be a balance between the features of the car and your own driving style. That balance is what we are always striving for.
Q: What were the major challenges of switching from one team to another?
A: The major challenge is becoming comfortable with your teammates as soon as possible. Getting to know each other and establishing efficient channels of communication is the lifeblood of a good team. Once you have achieved that, you are ready to move forward with the racing. It is a great experience to repeat more than a year with the same team because you get to know each other quite well, making it really easy to work together.
Q: In terms of growing the next crop of Mexican F1 drivers, what advice would you give to help aspiring young people follow in your footsteps?
A: The priority is to never stop dreaming. When we are children, we all have dreams and we think about what we want to be when we grow up. However, once we actually become adults, it becomes common to let those dreams slip away. My advice is to hold on to those dreams and work hard to achieve them because they are not going to magically become a reality. Sometimes you can get lucky, and you may find great people along the way who want to help you, as I have, but a big part of turning your dreams into reality is work. You cannot let one day pass without taking a step toward your goals. Finally, be thankful for what you achieve and be glad about the people that support you: your family, your fans, and your sponsors.
Q: How common and accessible are the necessary training and available race tracks for upcoming drivers in Mexico?
A: Motorsport is certainly not the most accessible sport to be a part of, especially in a country like Mexico where there tradition for the sport is not as a big as in some European countries. Even so, there are good tracks available. There is a lot of work to be done in order to expand that accessibility, but I am optimistic about the future of motorsports in Mexico. The return of the Mexican Grand Prix has been made possible by the government and the private sector. By bringing the sport closer to the people, we are increasing its exposure and therefore giving it a real chance to grow. In that respect, the first steps have already been taken.
Q: How much Formula 1 technology trickles down for use in the mass market, particularly in terms of safety systems and environmental protection innovations?
A: These technologies have a big impact. The sponsors that are making large investments in Formula 1 have to attempt to get a return on that capital, and applying that technology to their commercial cars is one effective way of doing so.
Q: What does the return of Formula 1 after an absence of 23 years signify for the country?
A: The news of Formula 1’s return has created a huge amount of hype around the country. F1 has a lot of fans in Mexico who have been patiently and expectantly waiting for its return for a very long time, so now is an exciting time to enjoy it once again. For the country, and, indeed, for us as Mexicans, it is a great opportunity to show to the world who we are, where we come from, and where are we going as a nation. As a country, Mexico is continuously growing. There are still a lot of efforts to be made, but we are growing in a clear direction and the automotive market is a clear reflection of that. The biggest brands are moving to Mexico which can only be good for the country and its people.
Q: With Formula 1 back in your home country, what ambitions and aspirations do you have for the Mexican Grand Prix?
A: I know people are excited about the Mexican Grand Prix, and we are going to give it our best, for sure, but we want to avoid creating false expectations. We know the position in which we stand as a team right now, and to promise pole position or a victory would be irresponsible. My goal for this year is to continue working hard with the team. We still have many races to run this year so we cannot yet know for sure how we are going to finish the season or what will await us in the years to come.
Q: What do you think Formula 1 will bring to Mexico over the coming years?
A: Formula 1 is the most technologically developed category of motorsports in the world, besides all the glamour and exclusivity that it represents. With only 20 cities chosen to host the races, Mexico has been placed in the spotlight by being part of that exclusive list. I am sure that the world will be delighted by our culture and the kindness of the Mexican people.
Q: What are your future ambitions as a Formula 1 driver?
A: I am proud to say that this is my fifth year as a Formula 1 driver. While it has not been easy to stay in the sport, I have managed to do it, but just being a part of it is not enough for me. I am determined to become the world champion and I am dedicated to achieving that goal. Standing on those podiums was a really enjoyable experiences that I was proud to have accomplished, but I want to go further. Even so, for reasons that are already evident, this will not be the year for me to claim the world championship title.