Exclusive: Mike Conway
British F3 star talks to us

With Lewis Hamilton being hailed as the next big British F1 star, it has been too easy to overlook another of his countrymen currently making waves in the British Formula Three series.

Mike Conway races for Raikkonen-Robertson, the team set up by McLaren F1 star Kimi Raikkonen and his manager Steve Robertson, and currently leads the series ahead of team mate Bruno Senna, nephew of the great Ayrton.

Mike also recently made his debut in the Grand Prix supporting GP2 series.

Mike very kindly took a few minutes out of his hectic schedule to talk to your editor about his cirrent season, and his hopes for the future.

Steve Turnbull, Updatesport:
Mike Conway, thanks for talking to UpdateSport.
At the time of writing you are leading the British F3 points table. Is this the situation you expected to be in at the beginning of the season?

Mike Conway: Yes it's the situation I wanted to be in. We are doing well; I have been the quickest in every test apart from one. This is where I want to be and I want to dominate this year, I think it is really important I do that because then I will be in a good position for next year.

ST: A question you must be sick of by now, Bruno Senna is your team-mate; was it at all daunting for you knowing the weight the Senna name carries in motor racing, and what's Bruno like as a bloke?

MC: No it wasn't really daunting. I think you do have to put yourself up against the competition, whoever they are. As we all know Bruno is my team-mate this year, it's fine, we all have to do the same job and we get on quite well.

ST: You drive for Räikkönen Robertson - does Kimi keep in touch with what goes on?

MC: Yes Räikkönen Robertson is doing a great job this year. Steve and Dave Robertson are able to come to a few races this year, which is good. Kimi is obviously very busy with the Grands Prix- he has a very busy schedule so he hasn't been able to come to a race yet this season. I am sure he is thinking about us and wants us to keep on winning.

ST: Is racing in the family, or was it something that just took your fancy?

MC: My dad did a little racing, some go karting, some Formula Ford and Formula Lotus. Dad introduced me to go karts and I just really enjoyed it.

ST:Who do you admire in the history of the sport?

MC: I really admire Michael Schumacher, I think he is one of the best drivers: to be so many times world champion and he has beaten nearly every record that ever stood.

And then there are always younger guys that are up-and-coming like Räikkönnen and Alonso, they are going to leave their marks as well. Alonso being the current and youngest ever world champion and I think Kimi is a future world champion, I think he can dominate like Schumacher has done.

Looking further back, there are the likes of Jackie Stewart and Stirling Moss. I think racing was a lot more dangerous back then, to watch some of the onboard footage they had of the races back then is pretty unreal. And Jackie Stewart can still go around the track these days and is really fast.

ST: Martin Brundle and Mark Blundell manage you - a fine pair if ever there was - what level of help and support do they bring to you?

MC: They bring a lot of help and support; they are obviously both ex-drivers so they can relate to me well. Also they are still in the paddock and have lot of experience. They really help me to keep on getting results and they are helping me in my long term goal to get into F1. They are both great guys, we really get on as friends, I'm in contact with them every day and I know that if I have any problems then I can turn to them for support.

ST: You raced at a circuit that I have a particular fondness for - Pau - and won there; how much of a challenge was it?

MC: It was great to be racing thirty laps at the circuit at Pau, it's a tricky circuit in parts, with very fast corners and quick chicanes. It's one of those circuits where you have to be so on the limit to get the right time out of it. Both myself and the team have done a few street circuits before Pau and we managed to win both races. I really enjoyed the whole Pau experience and the local people enjoyed it too.

ST: Formula One is the obvious ambition of drivers at your level - has their been any interest, are there any tests on the horizon?

MC: Nothing on the horizon as yet but I am sure you will know when there is something on the horizon as Mark and Martin will keep everyone updated. We just need to concentrate on what we are doing at the moment.

ST: Would Racing in the USA appeal to you? Dan Wheldon and Justin Wilson seem to be happy over there!

MC: To be racing anywhere at such a high level is great, there is such a big fan base over there so yes it does appeal to me but I will try and get into F1 first but the USA is always a great option.

ST: The British F3 championship has a long and distinguished list of winners; can you be the man who avenges your mentor Martin Brundle's defeat, and beat a Senna to the title?

MC: Yes they had a great battle, we just have to see how this season goes and just keep on doing what we are doing.

ST: Whats your favourite circuit in the UK, and which circuit world-wide would you most like to race on?

MC: No outright favourite in the UK, I like Snetterton as a circuit and Thruxton is pretty good as well- it's really fast and quite technical on the slow bits so I enjoyed that. Donington is good and for me Brands Hatch rates as well.

Worldwide I think Pau is great, I am also looking forward to racing at Mugello later in the year because we haven't been there yet and it looks like a great circuit. Spa is awesome, it's such a big circuit for an F3 car to race around, it's really great for overtaking.

F1 circuits that I would mostly like to race are Monaco, the street circuit, and Malaysia, which is really fast.

ST: How did you find the step up to GP2 at your recent Silverstone outing? It seems you acquitted yourself very well - how much difference is there between an F3 and GP2 car?

MC: It was great; we knew it would be tough as soon as we decided to do it. You only get half an hour practice and then straight to qualifying with just two sets of tyres. It's really hard just to get to grips with how much grip you have and how much you can find on each corner. It was really great to be involved, I enjoyed the whole experience.

The difference between an F3 car and a GP2 car is quite big. You have got 650 horse power which is nearly triple what an F3 car has got. It is a really big challenge and I look forward to maybe doing it next year.

ST: I recently interviewed Franck Montagny, and he enjoyed himself very much at le Mans - fancy driving an Aston Martin in the 24 hours?

MC: Yes I think Le Mans is definitely a race that I would like to do, maybe it's something I will do in the future. Mark and Martin have both taken part and I would like to follow in their footsteps.

ST: Do you pay attention to the motor sport press, and do you ever log in to see what the web-sites are saying? (I'll set you up an account on Updatef1
should you desire!)

MC: I read the various press releases and links that I am sent and also Autosport and Motorsport News. If you have had a good weekend then it's good to see some of the positive press but if you have had a bad weekend then I think that it is pretty much the worst thing that you can do to look at the negative press that you might have attracted. I think you do have to pay attention to some
things, sometimes there are things that are true that you can benefit from reading and sometimes not.

ST: What are your immediate aims following this season?

MC: GP2 is a fantastic series, so that's what we're mainly considering for next year. Obviously we want to get to F1 at some point so hopefully if we keep working hard and getting the results then we will get there in the end. I think if you have an ideal year then it would be absolutely awesome to get anything in F1.

ST: And finally, what is the strangest request a fan has ever made?

MC: Nothing too strange, requests for my visors and caps seem popular, but nothing too out of the ordinary.

Mike, thank you once again for talking to us, and all at Updatesport send you best wishes for the future.

Updatesport would like to thank Cassandra Bos at 2mbsm for her help in organising this interview.

Written by Steve Turnbull on Wed, 02 Aug 2006 08:36:41

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