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GP Week : Issue 189
5 MINUTES Welsh hot-shoe Matt Parry increased his already commanding points advantage in the Formula Renault Northern European Cup to over 121 points with a podium finish at Assen and his fifth win of the season at Spa-Francorchamps. A week before that he was shadowing Heikki Kovalainen during Caterham F1 Team briefings at the German Grand Prix. The 2012 InterSteps title-winner caught up with Trent Price to reflect on his remarkable season so far and his spectacular qualifying effort at the Pau Grand Prix He spoke to KATe WALKeR. GPWeeK: How was your first full weekend with the Caterham F1 Team in Germany? MATT PARRY: I went down on the Wednesday. It was fantastic just to see what it takes to be in Formula One and how the team runs; especially all the people behind the scenes who you don’t normally see who work so hard. But a fantastic experience as it was my first F1 event ever. Were you able to listen in on driver-to- engineer transitions? How much did you learn? Yes! It was incredible to hear the depth of knowledge, especially talking with Heikki over the weekend. Obviously he wasn’t driving the car, but listening to him talk to the engineers was a marker of what I can improve on – just understanding the car and tyres. I was present during de-briefs as well, which is where you get to hear everybody’s point of view. You don’t realize how many people work just on one car. So you have 25 guys all pitching in who all have to take turns and then having to evaluate all that data to get the best set-up out of the car. Obviously the Caterham Racing Academy is working well for Alexander Rossi with his Friday F1 practice sessions. Do you have much contact with other drivers in the academy? Not a huge amount. Obviously I know Alexander and see him at the F1 events, and even travelled down with him down to the Nurburgring, but not outside of the F1 environment. Obviously you get to know a little bit about who they are on Twitter, but outside of that we don’t have much contact. Does Tony Fernandes stay in contact? Yeah, obviously we exchange emails so he knows how we’re getting on in terms of results. Caterham are a massive operation who’ve given us great support. Definitely we’d like to be extending our relationship with Tony, but we’re always in contact. You’ve had a great season in Formula Renault this year. After a wet first session at the Pau Grand Prix you managed to dig deep and snatch pole position from Bruno Bonifacio. Being relatively inexperienced on street circuits, where did you find the time? The conditions were very tricky and I think it was just a mindset. In qualifying I just thought ‘I’m going to go for it’. I wasn’t worried about crashing or not crashing. I just went out there, cleared my mind looked at the areas I had to improve on and went as fast as I could go. I was struggling in practice I think because I was too conser vative. In quail I think I went on the limit and beyond the limit – on a street circuit like Pau you have to be 110 percent. Race one saw you slowly pull away from the field and if not from some friendly-fire from your Fortec team- mate you might have finished with a perfect weekend. Has the experience steered you towards potentially competing at Macau? Yes obviously race one didn’t exactly go to plan! As far as Macau is concerned I haven’t spoken about it with my dad or management as yet. I wouldn’t definitely rule it out but at the moment it’s not on the cards. After two wins at the Nurburgring for the Northern european Cup and repeating that performance a month later at silverstone you must be growing in confidence. For sure it’s been a great season so far and I have to give a lot of credit to Fortec for that. My engineer Alex has helped me massively over the winter as a driver. Also a big thanks has to go to my driver coach Matt Howson, but the four wins have been a huge confidence boost to go into the rest of the season. We’ve got a nice cushion in the championship, so I think we just need to keep our focus and preparation levels up and take as many more wins as we possibly can but at the back of our mind thinking about the championship. After taking the lead at silverstone you were faced with a safety Car, but being a timed race, running down the laps was never an option. Despite this, nerves never got the better of you and finished five seconds ahead – setting fastest lap in the process. Do you have mind-management techniques to help in these situations or does the speed come naturally? Well we started P2 because Jack [Aitken] made the best of the moment to extract a great qualifying time. But before the race I just try to relax as much as possible. Whatever happens, happens. I just get on with the job at hand. Fortec Team Principal, Richard Dutton has named you as one of the fittest young drivers he’s seen. In terms of fitness I just love training. A lot of my core fitness comes from cycling and particularly race cycling. I started karting when I was 13, so all credit to my dad who saw the importance of increasing my physical fitness in order to go to the next level. That improved my times as well as being more mentally fit. Just knowing you’re one of the fittest drivers on the grid gives you a bit of a mental boost. You have to be if your ultimate goal is Formula One. Sport Wales have also been fantastic in terms of providing advice and access to their gym facilities [Matt is a member of the Sport Wales Elite Cymru scheme], which helps when you know you’re using the correct equipment. There haven’t been a lot of top-level Welsh racing drivers. Was Tom Pryce an influence growing up or do you tend not to have any heroes? Well Tom was way, way before my time. I certainly looked up what he’d done and achieved, but it’s not like today where Formula One drivers are always in the limelight and you can’t help but know what they’re doing. I do know that Tom’s helmet had five vertical stripes at the front so his dad could recognize him. I know he was a fantastic driver and great for Wales. My main aim is to get to Formula One, obviously for myself and for Wales. With the Circuit of Wales getting planning permission I think Wales as a country is developing hugely into sport and hopefully we can reward that by getting into F1. 5 MINUTES wITH MATT pArrY 21 GPWEEK.com // 21 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: