Q & A with Andy Soucek
||Tuesday, February 23rd 2010, 14:56 GMT
Conducted and provided by Formula 2's press office.
Q. Tell us how you feel having achieved a lifelong ambition to reach Formula 1.
Andy Soucek: "It feels great. I couldn't quite believe it even as I was signing the contract. To have joined a Formula 1 team and knowing that I could be competing in Grands Prix if I am required is a fantastic feeling. It will be a difficult job, but I know that I will learn a lot in preparation for racing in F1.
"One of the key aspects that excited me about this project is that I will be heavily involved with the team from the outset. I will get to use the simulator, I will be at every test and Grand Prix, and I will be in every meeting between the drivers and engineers, so I will be a real member of the team."
Q. How important a role did your championship winning season in F2 play in helping you reach F1?
AS: "Winning the FIA Formula 2 Championship and the prize of a test drive in Formula 1 really helped to raise my profile. I had some good results when I was in GP2, but it was only once I started winning in F2 that things really started to develop.
"Everyone knows that in F2 it is the driver that makes the difference and I feel that my performance last year showed people I was good enough for F1. Of course, the prize was a massive boost as I got to show my abilities in an F1 car in Jerez. This experience went very well, but it would not have been possible if I hadn't succeeded in Formula 2."
Q. What would you say to any talented young drivers who are considering joining F2 and what do you feel are the main benefits of competing in the championship?
AS: "I would recommend Formula 2 to any young driver, and particularly those who do not have the big budgets required to compete in GP2. F2 is a great step towards Formula 1 and it is a great place to learn. People say that it is difficult when you do not work with a team but it means the driver in Formula 2 is responsible for every single detail.
"Of course working with teams during your career is important, but in F2 you have to work extremely hard to achieve the most out of the experience and that is what I think makes Formula 2 so special."
Q. You have been heavily involved in the testing and development of the newly upgraded Williams JPH1B. How has this been going and do you expect to continue in the role?
AS: "Well I am actually testing the car in Barcelona again today, but this could be my last one before the new season. If I am asked to test the F2 car again in the future then I will always want to do it. I have enjoyed being part of the programme and as a driver it is always good to keep clocking up the miles!
"I did a lot of laps yesterday as we are here with Avon testing various new tyre compounds for 2010. Things have been going well over the winter and the improvement in the car has been very impressive. The team is doing a great job and we are still learning all the time.
"In general, I will keep a close eye on the F2 championship this season and will try to attend any races that I can. If there is not a clash with my schedule then it would be great to be at the final round in Valencia to see the new F2 champion crowned."
Q. Moving back to your future in Formula 1 - when do you expect to drive the Virgin Racing VR-01 car for the first time?
AS: "I am not 100% sure yet but it will be very soon. I will be with the team in Barcelona later this week and I cannot wait to get my first experience in the car. Having previously tested with Toyota and more recently with Williams it will be fantastic to drive another Formula 1 car.
"I am excited to see and feel how the car behaves and then hopefully I will be able to assist the team in developing the car further. Coming into a team that is new on the grid is very exciting as you really feel that you can make a difference."