Exclusive: Jon Lancaster Q&A
British driver dreaming of F1 after two GP2 victories in eight days
By William Esler
Last Updated: 10/07/13 12:53pm
How have you found GP2 this season?
"It is difficult. It is the pinnacle of single-seater racing outside of Formula 1 and you've got to just get on with it. I've done none of the testing or pre-season stuff - actually I've done nothing bar a little bit of stuff in India for over a year. So you have just got to get in, get on, go with it, learn these Pirelli tyres and all the rest of it. It has been a challenge but one we have conquered so far really - we have won two races so now we just have to tidy up the rest of the weekend and keep scoring big points."
As you say, you didn't get to do any of the pre-season testing and a lot of the other drivers had four races in Malyasia and Bahrain before you got into the car in Spain. How much of a disadvantage was that for you?
"It is huge because some of these guys have three years of experience in GP2 with these tyres and everything and sometimes you can see that. But I think we have shown well even if we haven't done any of that - the first time I jumped onto a set of the Pirelli tyres was in Barcelona - and everyone goes on about how difficult they are - but we got on pretty well.
"A podium in the first weekend out...you can't ask for much more than that and I've just sort of built on it from there. We have been fast all the time and we just keep building and correcting little bits - you are always going to be rusty when you have been out for quite a wheel - so yeah, just keep fixing little bits here and there and progress has been made."
How much has it helped the team now having a settled line-up in yourself and Robin Frijns. Obviously it is a completely different pairing to what they started the year with.
"At the start of the year I was very close to being in at Malaysia, but we were very early in the negotiations for this very special deal with Franz [Hilmer, Team Owner] and the team. Franz has been fantastic to do it the way he has - he has taken a big risk on his part, but so far I can say it has paid off for him based on where we are in the points and everything is going well.
"It is much better to have a settled line-up, obviously Robin has had a few good years and won races and he is highly rated, so to jump in and to be beating him straightaway is fantastic. But at the start of the year they had to go with what they had, I was close to getting in and it is disappointing to not get a few more races, but this is how it is and I think Franz has made some good decisions and is quite happy with where we are at the moment."
How good does it look for your own ability and 'stock' in the racing world that you are partnering the reigning Formula Renault 3.5 Champion, who was tipped for an F1 seat and is Sauber's reserve driver and you are beating him?
"Exactly, that is how you have to look at it. You have all these guys in GP2 like [Felipe] Nasr, [James] Calado and [Sam] Bird that have F1 connections and doing all sorts of things, but a lot of that is just down to financial backing. They are able to do it year-on-year and progress and have people that are helping them and that is how they have got to this stage.
"It doesn't meant that they are any better or faster, so to jump in and do the results we have done on basically nothing - Franz has been a real gentleman and helped me out and given me the opportunity - it has been fantastic and we have to keep building on it and improving on it and prove that I am capable of beating these guys. I have done now and I need to keep doing that consistently and hopefully that will present me with an opportunity to be in Formula 1."
You picked up your first GP2 win in front of your home crowd at Silverstone. Is there a more special place to take your maiden victory?
"No, no, no of course not! We were quick all weekend - it was just a shame with the weather in qualifying that we couldn't start further up the grid. It was the first lap I had done of Silverstone in over three years in the dry so it was always going to be difficult, but I knew the car was good even from the one-lap we did in qualifying, so I knew we would be competitive in the race.
"To do what we did [in the Feature Race] - I was actually last into the first corner - so to work our way up to fifth, passing people and with the speed that we had I think we could have won that race and the first one is the one you really want to win. But we controlled the second race start to finish and we managed to back that up again at the Nurburgring."
You mentioned that money is hard to come by in GP2 - what are the chances we see you in Formula 1 when opportunities there are now also heavily dependent on money?
"That is a good question! We are working on that - I can only show what I am doing on the track at the moment and I work off the scenes as well.
"My dad and I have a few more contacts now with people that have taken notice - some we have known for a while but it's only now that I have the opportunity to show what I can do and backup what I have been saying and that has an even larger effect. So that has really come on since Barcelona and hopefully we can keep it going and turn it into something that could potentially put me into a Formula 1 car."