On people & things with @padmore56 [Part 2]
Questions submitted by Sergio Álvarez, Diego Merino, Cyril Nikitenko
Which F1 car is the one that you have never driven/owned but you still dream of?
Nick Padmore: It’s got to be an F1 car from the 1990s, definitely. 90s upwards. I’d like to have a go obviously in a McLaren or a Williams. With a paddle shift and all of that, that’s the dream. One day, that’s the one that I really want to have a go in.
Maybe Masters [Historic] could rewrite the rule book?
NP: Max [the driving force behind Forza Historic Racing] almost bought Eddie Irvine’s F1 Jaguar. A lovely car. V10.
What has been the last spare part that you lent to a rival? And the last part that you borrowed from another competitor?
NP: I’m speaking of the team: Max’s idea was to lend a fellow competitor, at the first round of last year’s championship, well, he lent them an engine! This guy has flown over from America and his engine packs up in testing, which is really annoying. WDK were running the car, so Max said: “Go and tell them we can lend them an engine.” And we did! It was brilliant and it ran OK, he had a nice weekend and he flew back to America, so in historics it’s not all deadly serious, it’s a fun weekend, we’re all there to have a good time, we help each other out.
Back in 2016 you assured us that you never feel for your safety when you’re driving a historic racing car. However, last year we had to lament the loss of David Ferrer. Has this sad event changed your feeling about this topic? Additional question: Formula 1 and Formula 2 halo device – your thoughts.
NP: Safety does play on your mind. You have to have 100% trust in the guys that are running the car, them being on top of the car. That’s the interesting thing with Forza because I’m there most of the time now, I’m watching what goes on. When I’m strapped myself in the car, I know they’ve done this and they’ve done that, and we do have the best guys working for us. That’s not a plug for Forza, but you do have to trust the guys. Yeah, touch wood, something can always happen. This is what I do and this is what I love. With David in Zandvoort, that was horrific, it was a horrible weekend and I never want to see that again. Yeah, this is motorsport and this is the world we live in.
I think you’ve got to look at the safety, if you go back through history. You now have higher [cockpit] sides to help, perhaps. They could’ve come up with a better solution. I suppose we’ll all get used to it, like the new engines, the sound – we all got used to it.
Are you already thinking in Forza’s next acquisition? Any car in particular that is in the cards for the seasons ahead?
NP: This year is a big year for Forza because we have Monaco Historic GP. I think we are going to be running seven cars there, which is a lot! That’s why we are going testing to get all our cars 100% reliable and competitive for that race. Monaco is the big thing, plus the Masters Historic. Max wants to win the championship again in the Fittipaldi, that would be good, and also I can see Max and Forza moving more into the pre-Grand Prix, the HGP, Historic GP Association class with the Lotus, I can see him doing more of that. Possibly, a GT car from the 1960s. Let’s see, it’s exciting times, especially with Monaco.
Do you follow modern F1 and your thoughts on the 2017 season in general? Cars, drivers, quality of the field, is the hybrid technology attractive to an average fan, the show live and on TV, etc..
NP: I think that racing is good when it rains, it closes the field up, the cars move around a lot. The cars are phenomenally fast, full stop. The drivers are very good, certainly the top half of the grid, but it doesn’t really interest me. I think the coverage is brilliant, behind the scenes, the build-up, the onboard footage, it’s everything. Very, very good. For me, I’d like to see the cars moving around more, I want some noise back.
I still think – I’ve thought this for a long time – that everyone has to use the same front wing and rear wing. You are going to laugh, I know, but let’s go back to an H pattern gearbox, which is crazy. But [imagine] everyone uses the same front wing and rear wing, same tyres, of course. And all these different types, the supersofts, – forget all that. Just go back to one spec of tyre. And all that fuel saving, forget about it. Go back to the roots a little bit.
Formula 2/GP2 races are phenomenal, it’s brilliant. Why don’t they try and get it to something like that?
Masters Historic teams are using modern day telemetry: that’s an interesting twist! What if the series went 1970s and banned it? Is that even possible now? How would the drivers and teams possibly cope?
NP: The telemetry is very useful, certainly the engine data: if you’re losing oil pressure, you’ll know straight away. Well, you could say ‘why don’t you look at the gauge’? So yeah. I think it’s wise to have only engine side of thing. Certainly from my point of view for data for drive coaching, it’s superb because you can see everything: steering, throttle, brake, things like that. So that helps. I can see some people would get carried away with data, Masters are pretty good though. In race and qualifying you’re not allowed to use wheel speed sensors and so on, we always use a camera. Nothing too tricky, which is fine. You don’t want live data, that’s not happening. At the moment, it’s pretty good [balance].
How do you rate interest in motor racing now – if that’s something you’re following. In lower categories/karting, is it the same level of enthusiasm compared to maybe 1980s or 1990s? Provided you’re keeping an eye on this subject, of course.
NP: The lower categories are very, very good. I’m just a bit afraid of how much money is coming into the sport. I want to look for a young charger. If I get time, I want to go to a kart meeting and just see but I wouldn’t be looking at someone with a big flash lorry, forget all that. I had to do it the hard way with my dad who has taught me everything, a van, etc., I had to get my kart there. I’d do a paper round before I went kart racing, I’d get up at five in the morning, do a paper round to pay for the racing, get the kart in the van and go straight to the kart track, always late, and then go racing. Nowadays it’s more about the money: 250 grand for a season of world karting, it’s a lot of money.
Karting teaches you everything, so you’ve got to do it and to win, I suppose you’ve got to be with a very good team. I’m going to make time this year to go to some kart tracks, I don’t know if anyone will listen to me, but I think I’ve got a lot of experience to help, definitely. Watch this space.
Helmut Marko is the most famous – or infamous? – talent spotter in F1; how do you spot a talent in lower categories? Would you fancy a similar job one day?
NP: Pretty much what I’ve just said: for me it’s the race-craft, it’s that hunger of wanting to overtake and doing whatever it takes to win. That’s the thing. You see a lot of kids racing and they’re just happy to do this or that. I’ve had some exciting times coaching in junior categories, Ginetta Junior Championship, I’ve had some good kids there that have won and done very well, who now have gone on to bigger things. They’ve had that ambition. If they haven’t got that something inside, that burning ambition to do well, then I’ll give up. But these kids that I’ve trained, Louise Richardson, she did very well in Ginetta juniors and also George Gamble who did very well. It’s looking for that hunger, that they want to win. If there’s a gap, it’s got to be done.
We understand it’s your attitude as well?
NP: Always! And my motto a lot of the time is I’ll try not to brake behind the car. If I’m trying to overtake, I’m not going to brake behind and sit behind him. If I can look for a gap and then brake and try to take that gap, then I would.
With respect to coaching, what are the tricks to becoming the next Lewis Hamilton? Just kidding! Imagine someone has a mental barrier and wants to slow down where ideally you have to stand on the gas and go flat out. How do you break that barrier? Mental training? Studying telemetry? Just trying harder? Pure emprical knowledge?
NP: All of this is confidence. When I coach people, it’s all about the gentle approach to it. You don’t have to try and do it on the first lap. It’s building their confidence and showing them in the passgenger seat that it can be done. Of course you can use video and data once you get a bit more experienced and personally that’s what I love, I love the challenge of that. It’s braking late when they say the car can’t do it, it’s trying to get them to feel what’s going on. It takes time, it’s not bloody easy; it’s also about the correct line, the correct entry speed, get back on the throttle; there are so many things to it. Anyone can get there or thereabouts, for sure.
We’re hearing you’ll be racing at the Historic Grand Prix of Monaco and you’ll also do the support/historic F1 race at the British GP? Looking forward to the challenge? What are the cars you’re going to be driving?
NP: With Monaco Historic GP, Forza entered seven cars, we’ll see what entries we get and then go from there. I last raced there in 2014 in the Wolf, it was marvellous, lovely car. I’ve been gagging to go back. I really want to go back there as a team. Max will be in many different cars and then we have Phil Hall as well who will be in his Theodore.
With the British GP race, I’d like to be back in the Williams [FW07C].
Back to Monaco: is there a particular corner you like?
NP: It’s the view that does it for me! Two things: the view is amazing, I know it sounds crazy. Coming out of St Devote, the first corner, then running up to Casino Square, you’re in like a virtual tunnel all the way up. When you turn into Casino Square, it all opens up and the scenery is stunning. There’s that one, that’s very nice. Probably the most scary corner is the tunnel, people think because it’s dark, but no, forget that. It’s one of those corners that bends; as soon as you commit to the apex, you’re at the exit. I don’t know a corner like that, it’s so fast! Plus there’s a wall on the exit, so it’s very challenging. Swimming Pool, it’s all very good. Swimming Pool area is very quick through that flick. It’s a special place, you know.
It’s not very physical, it’s just mentally draining because you cannot switch off for a second.
When I did the race in 2014 there, the engine was overheating for the whole race, meaning all I remember the way I picture it now is the needle and it’s at 120 degrees. I had to keep slowing down, let it cool down, have another go, so I nursed that. I don’t really remember too much of the race other than the water was just pouring out of the back, but I finished on the podium, so that was positive. This year I want to do a lot better and really enjoy it.
Thank you for reading.