His recovery from what he admits was “a tough start” to the season was admirable on home soil, as the British fans firmly pledged their support for the home favourites.
“Silverstone adds a positive slant to the season, previously it was looking tough.” It is easy to see, mentally, the importance of a great weekend for a driver.“The need for a better race weekend was crystal clear and the team did a really good job.” I could almost hear the relief in his voice as he recalled his recent hardships.
In amongst all the chaos of a home weekend and the pressures of a championship, Jack revealed that he could not rely on race rituals. When discussing his pre-race preparations with me, he referenced Max Chilton’s interview with the BBC. “Like Max, there is nothing I would go out of my way to do”. It is a slippery slope mentally; not all weekends can go a driver’s way so appearing meticulous is dangerous.
Indeed, Jack’s preparations for a home race were “not overly different”, he explains. “This season we’ve had no serious problems, it just didn’t go well. I didn’t tweak, there was no need to”. The pressures of a home race were largely ignored; it seemed, for Jack, that the urgency of a win was more important.
“My previous Formula BMW experience helped with the expectation and it is really nice to get the ball rolling before halfway. I feel we can reproduce this performance”.
He spoke of the Silverstone weekend highly and understandably so. I wondered whether he held the home crowd partially responsible for his win that weekend. “Silverstone had an extra special atmosphere and the feeling was positive, though I am biased!”, he admits with a laugh.
The support, he tells me, is different to that of British F3 – a championship Jack knows all too well. “In British Formula 3 there are more races in the UK so this year the home advantage was more noticeable. Silverstone was the main event of the weekend.”
The expectations on Jack were clearly manageable; I was surprised by how well his young shoulders dealt with these race day pressures. He noted positive communications with the team as the most important factor for coping with the stresses of a race and combining all the various factors for a positive weekend. “Strong relations are essential; success or failure is never just the car or the team.”
“In a way, your team decide where you are in the future”. Like many young racers, Jack’s future is largely uncertain and he tells me it is too early to say – “I’ve not spoken to the Racing Steps Foundation about this, I still have a job to do now”.
The Racing Steps Foundation, who also support and manage the careers of other budding British drivers, has been the “most important factor to my success”, he reveals. It is evident that having a strong support system really is key. “Four years of success is mostly down to them and their belief”. I was shocked by his modesty; he seemed largely dismissive of his own talent during our interview.
Jack will have to produce consistent wins if he is to earn his place on a grid next year for, in racing, nothing is guaranteed. He was very honest about the impact of praise from the world’s elite. “When people see it, it’s mega! It is a modest recognition of working hard”.
His win, starting from second on the grid, cemented his reputation as ‘one to watch’; I know that the likes of Peter Windsor, hold him in such high esteem. This is praise indeed.
Drivers tend not to look beyond their current season but I was intrigued by the overall goal. “If you were to call me in ten years time, I would love to say I am a multiple Formula 1 World Champion. Seb [Vettel] proves it is possible”. I can’t say I was surprised by his answer but I was shocked by his honesty.
Jack has the same ambition and mental strength that we all admire in drivers; his answers to my questions did not seem in anyway corporate, they were simply honest.
“Can you still win the championship, Jack?”
Did I really expect any other response?
This is the first of a two-part exclusive with Jack. In the second edition of his ‘From the Pit Lane’ feature, we will be discussing his time off the track, how he holds his family responsible for much of his success and his advice to aspiring racing drivers.
I would like to thank Jack for his time and wish him the best of luck with the remainder of the GP3 season.