“Monaco is also on a world stage so you really are amongst the best in the world – a proud feeling.”
It is a race weekend that drivers dream of and last month, Oli Webb took his Fortec to Monaco. The glitz and the glamour provided a different backdrop for the drivers, but it was still business as usual. Formula Renault 3.5 then made its way to the iconic, Spa-Francochamps for the Belgian leg of its European tour. Oli took time out of his busy schedule to talk exclusively to ‘stoodonthepodium’ about the glamour of Monaco, the challenges of Spa and what it is really like to call yourself a ‘professional racing driver.’
It felt great to get out onto the streets of Monaco, a great track and a really awesome weekend not to be missed. Street tracks are hard circuits to master but when you do there is a greater feeling of accomplishment when you get the time, as its big risk, big gain. Monaco is also on a world stage so you really are amongst the best in the world – a proud feeling.
Qualifying went well; we were only 3 tenths off pole which was great! But the way qualifying works at Monaco, with 2 split groups, is that they split left and right groups on the grid so 6th in group put me 11th on the grid – a lot of work to be done in the race! I got a good start but from start to finish it was a bit of a queue of traffic like normal in Monaco, so I finished where I started just outside the points, which was a shame.
Probably staying focused is the greatest challenge; it’s easy to get distracted on such an amazing weekend with so many press events and sponsor events to be at – sometimes stepping back and realising why you’re there is the hard part!
It’s like no other race in the world, its very glitzy and glamorous, everyone and anyone is there from Victoria Secret Fashion Shows to Ralph Lauren/Tag Heuer boat parties and Phillip Green and Richard Branson chilling around the pool…very surreal.
It’s great having the different series together from the top end of Motorsport, as tin tops and single seaters come together for one big weekend in the principality which makes for a great atmosphere and a racing spectacle.
BACK TO BACK RACING
Heavier training is needed and making sure I have good rest between is vital; I only had 2 training days between Monaco and Spa. It is important on a back to back weekends to keep energy levels up, especially when Spa is 2 qualifyings and races.
It is frustrating, to be delayed but you have to remember it is the same for everyone so you just stay calm, go through everything with the engineer then just relax and wait for the weather to pass!
Qualifying was good, we where ahead of our team mate and close to pole finishing up P8 by the time others crossed the flag. But the race was not so good after a poor start and then being stuck behind Jaafar for the whole race really took life out of my tyres.
I am fairly pleased following the weekend. I think from 18th on the grid, after a mistake in second qualifying, and making up 9 places is a great result for us and the team. The second race was great, good start and good pit stops and I was second fastest on track all race gaining over a second a lap to the leaders ahead and fought my way into the points.
NEXT STOP, RUSSIA
The preparations are the same as usual: training, simulator work at Red Bull Racing and sessions with my Mind Coach down in Bath before I visit the team workshop then fly off to Russia. I’m looking forward to visiting Moscow and seeing what the track is like, it’s apparently very tight and twisty, the opposite of Spa. A new challenge lies ahead.
LIFE AS A DRIVER
It was great having my girlfriend, Portia, there, she was my best fan and couldn’t have been better with the whole thing. My family also came to watch and she did a great job of looking after my little excitable cousins!
In the wet, Eau Rogue is as challenging as it looks! In the dry it’s easy flat, even with DRS on, as the cars have so much down-force these days, up to 1.75G, so we now have so much grip up there. Spa and Monaco weren’t too physically demanding. I train very hard out of the car so that when I’m in the car I feel as little as possible. Normally I unwind by listening to music, debriefing with the engineers and relaxing by having a nice dinner.
For me, the greatest challenge of being a driver is the commitment that you have to have on and off track, what you give up and the time you have to dedicate to being the best. However getting the ultimate lap. or making the ultimate overtake is the best feeling.
Oliver Webb is currently racing for Fortec Motorsports in the Formula Renault 3.5 series. 2013 marks his return to the series after time out competing in Indy Lights in America. Now back racing in Europe, Oli will be giving us an insight into his season throughout 2013 exclusively here on ‘stoodonthepodium’. He was talking to editor, Katie Grimmett.
IMAGES COURTESY OF OLIVER WEBB.