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Exclusive Felipe Nasr Q&A: I'm ready to seize my chance

10 Dec 2014

Sauber sprang a surprise in November with the announcement that Felipe Nasr will race for them in 2015, stepping up from his role as test and reserve driver at Williams. A GP2 racewinner and championship contender, the Brazilian arrives with pedigree and experience in abundance - but he is aware that translating that into Grand Prix success will be a whole new challenge. One thing is for sure - he is determined to grab the opportunity and continue Brazil's proud F1 legacy...

Q: Felipe, having held a test role with Williams - in itself a testament to your talent given how selective they are - you have now landed a 2015 drive with Sauber. Can you talk us through these stages?

Felipe Nasr: I have to say I've learned a lot inside Williams. I am very thankful for this opportunity. I drove a Formula One car for the first time with them; I have been able to work with the engineers and mechanics - and of course with the other drivers. Thanks to them, I have also seen how a Formula One weekend works, have taken part in the meetings and witnessed how they address each issue - and I have done a lot of work in the simulator. It was a year of steep learning for me, as a driver and as a person, and all that together made me feel ready to take on the next challenge - and that is of course a permanent race seat.

Q: Was Sauber the option you had to take? Was a Williams cockpit too elusive?

FN: Of course I wanted to stay here - but they have their commitment with Felipe (Massa) and Valtteri (Bottas) so I had to move on. I could not lose the momentum - I had to make the next step. Here things change very quickly so you better also move fast. One year of full racing is far better than a test role, sitting mostly at the sidelines.

Q: Can you dream up how your rookie season could develop?

FN: That depends a lot on the team - how the team is going to be next year. They had a difficult season so I think we have a lot of work to do - and of course I want to deliver. I know that so many young drivers are craving to make that step, so you better make the best of it - and enjoy the moment.

Q: How many tracks on the 2015 calendar do you already know?

FN: I would say 80 percent - in that range.

Q: You have a fantastic support from Banco do Brazil. How crucial was that backing for your Sauber cockpit?

FN: I have to say they've been supporting me for quite some time and it seemed logical to get into Formula One together. It is a great opportunity for them to showcase the bank and get international recognition. Yes, it is important to have backers. Nowadays it is not only about talent - sure you need to have talent, but you also have to have support. And only if the two come together does it has the potential to bloom.

Q: You also come from a racing family, as does fellow 2015 rookie Max Verstappen. Does that help - were you been born with the destiny of becoming a driver?

FN: No, absolutely not! I liked watching - but I did not get hooked until I was driving a go-kart myself when I was seven years old. That was the moment that I thought: ‘racing - that's also for me'. Before I was dreaming about football, about being a policeman or a fireman - in that range. Driving a go-kart opened my eyes! (laughs) And then the fact that my family was involved in racing was the big plus. Being born into a racing family gives you a taste of the sport side, of the business side - fundamentals in racing - and my career was very structured. Nothing was ever random.

Q: How would you characterise yourself, your strengths and weaknesses?

FN: It's better to look at my driving. I am a fighter - for every position!

Q: Breaking into F1 is one thing - staying there is quite another…

FN: I am aware of that. I assume success is what it takes. But you need things to come together: luck, the right timing, the right team - and you need to be ready to deliver. I am confident that this is the case.

Q: Your clinching of that Sauber drive also means the end of quite a few others' F1 dreams. Is that something you reflect on? Can a rookie be that soft-hearted?

FN: No, I don't think about these things. I have to focus on myself. I have done a lot to be here: I have won races and championships - so I am happy about my position and don't need to worry about other things.

Q: Brazil has a long and successful F1 driver history. Are you the next big thing?

FN: I hope so. I hope that one day I can say that. I am just doing my first step - there is a lot to learn. And I want to be successful one day.

Q: Looking ahead one year: what would you like to have achieved in your rookie season?

FN: Some points? And to be even more optimistic: a podium? Sure that is all talk, as I don't know how the car is, how the team is. So let's see.

Q: Do you have any idols you want to follow?

NR: I was born in 1992 so I didn't witness Ayrton Senna - and know him only from narration and videos - but I have grown up with Michael Schumacher. So I would say that these two are my references.