- Davide Valsecchi Q&A
'Outside of Formula One I am one of the best'Chris Medland November 8, 2012
ESPN talks to GP2 champion Davide Valsecchi about his 2012 GP2 championship year and hopes for a Formula One seat ahead of his run for Lotus on the final day of the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi
Davide, it's been quite a special year for you…
Yeah it was fantastic. We had a great year - me and my team DAMS - we were competitive from the winter test. I thought immediately after the first winter test that we were one of the favourites and one of the contenders for the title and luckily we got it. It was a really good season, I had ten podiums, four victories, five fastest laps two pole positions; it was really a year when I was always in the top five or six of qualifying so I could always have a good race trying to get points and podiums. So there were lots of great emotions.
How did it feel to cross the line knowing you were champion? Was it an instant reaction or did it take a while to sink in?
To be honest I was not so worried at the end because I was trying not to think about it too much. Sometimes when you have to win something so important the pressure can make you slower, so every time I was thinking step-by-step and fortunately by the last race everything was a bit more in control. I was already 25 points ahead of my nearest contender - Luiz Razia of Arden - so I only had to finish in front of him, so the job wasn't so complicated in the last round in Singapore. I was starting sixth and he was starting ninth, I finished fourth and he finished fifth or sixth so it was a bit easier. I think in that race if I didn't have the pressure to deliver the championship it was possible for me and DAMS to have a great result and maybe a victory, but the title forced us to be conservative. In race one I got the driver title, and then on Sunday I helped the team get the team one, so it was really good for me that I won everything that was possible at that time!
And a big party that night?!
Yeah we had good fun! Then I made a promise with my girlfriend that if I was champion we would have three or four days together in the sunshine of Singapore, so we stayed until the Thursday and it was good fun; me, my girlfriend and two other friends. We had a good time there.
Do you feel that winning that title has proven you deserve a Formula One seat? Because a lot of champions have stepped up…
Yeah, you're right, more or less everyone before me got to Formula One. Maybe only Pantano missed it, but with him there is the story that he'd been in Formula One before and maybe he was a bit too old because he was close to 30. The other GP2 champions all got to Formula One, so I really hope to follow the story because I think that I'm ready now to use the chance I will have to the maximum. Formula One is more complicated now because there are the 24 best drivers and the 12 best teams in the world and the car is a bit faster than GP2, so everything is a bit more complicated. But we have to remember that at the end of the day it's the same sport; bringing the maximum out of the car you have. Formula One is a bit faster but OK. I won GP2, I think I can stay in the group in Formula One. That's my idea, now I need to prove it.
As you say, there's only 24 seats and this year no Italians; does that build an added pressure because there's a chance you could change that?
Pressure on me, you think?
Do you feel it?
Is it the opposite then; because there are no Italians there's no pressure?
Yeah maybe it's even better. I'm Italian, I just won GP2 which is the most important championship after Formula One, there's no Italians in Formula One; look at me. I'm the best Italian driver at the moment, maybe I'll have more chances being the only Italian that deserves it. I don't think it's a pressure; maybe it's an honour to be the only Italian that can show that Italian drivers are not finished and they can do something important in Formula One. I don't think it's pressure.
Does it help you gain sponsorship because there's no other Italians you're competing against?BR>
I don't know, to be honest it's not my world. My job is to drive and to do my best to make the team happy. Then sponsorship and things we need to speak with managers. At the moment it seems I'm not incredibly lucky from that point of view, but we have some more time and I hope to find some good help to get in there. It seems the last three drivers to get in Formula One - [Sergio] Perez, [Pastor] Maldonado and [Romain] Grosjean - it seems that they had some help from some big industry sponsorship to get in there so I really hope to find what I need to be next.
Is it annoying, frustrating to have to find money on top of your driving talent?
Yeah, it's not fantastic. Maybe five or six years ago it was different but OK, we have to say that the level of a Formula One driver now is so high that it's not so easy to get in with the capacity. There are Button, Webber, Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel, all the best drivers are there. So first you have to deserve it, and we won the GP2 championship. Now we have to deserve it in the test, so thanks to Lotus Formula One team for giving me the chance, I hope to have a good test there and show that I'm the one who deserves it. Then we will see if I'm lucky or not.
How likely would you say it is that we'll see you in Formula One next year? How optimistic are you?
Incredibly optimistic at the moment. You know why? Because I just look at my side, I've done my job and if they just look at the result then outside of Formula One I am one of the best drivers, maybe the best because I just won GP2, but you never know. Maybe there is someone faster or maybe there is the champion from World Series that maybe can be faster than you, but we have to test to discover it. But looking just from my side I'm really optimistic, because after Formula One there are World Series and GP2 that are really important and I'm the GP2 champion at the moment. So I have in mind that if they have to substitute someone they will take me, because I'm the best. The best out of Formula One. I just look at my world and I deserve it at the moment in my head, so I'm really optimistic that I'll have the chance.
You've only got one day in the car for Lotus here, in Abu Dhabi is there much you can prove in one day?
I don't know! I hope so! It's really good for me, I never had the chance to test in Formula One for one complete day, so thanks to Lotus for choosing me. I really hope to have a good day, following the direction of the team and being fast if I can and if I have the chance. We will see sometimes the tests are important, sometimes you have to do some work just for the team, sometimes not, so you don't know what the situation is going to be. But I'm really happy already to be here, there are not many Italian drivers here - me and [Edoardo] Mortara - so I really hope that we can have a good time and a good test here.
Have you thought what you will do next year if you don't make it to Formula One; is there a back-up plan or a plan B?
Plan B is that I will watch Formula One races from the TV! I don't know, at the moment I don't think about it. It's my aim and I'm trying to fight to have the chance there. If I'm not good enough and if I'm not lucky enough then maybe we will think about something different but in the moment I have in my mind that I'm strong enough to be there and I'm trying to do my best to get a space. Then we'll see. I'm not positive or negative; there are so many series that are really important in motor racing. But we see that there's no Italian Formula One drivers there, I just won GP2, let me please have the chance to try. Then if I miss it, I'll be really sorry and I think I will try to do something different.
Chris Medland is assistant editor at ESPNF1