What’s it been like at Formula One?
It’s been pretty cool! For me, the main thing has always been what happens on the track. I lose sight of the fun side of things. But the other day, when I was feeling down after a bad race, my mother said to me, “Why don’t you think of all the fun stuff you got to do as an F1 driver?”
So yeah, I got to play with dolphins, pretend to be a fireman at a fire station in Monaco, meet John Travolta, the King of Spain, Naomi Campbell, the Shaikh of Bahrain and Joey Tribbiani from Friends — that was pretty cool! It’s good fun to be part of such a glamorous sport. Because there is nothing like it — nothing like the speed, the sound, the colours or the spectacle!
You don’t enjoy the famed F1 parties?
(Chuckles) To be honest, I don’t even know what they’re like because I don’t go to them. I’m pretty intense on a race weekend. I don’t even talk to my friends or family from Thursday to Sunday because I’m in a zone. And by Sunday night, I’m so tired that I’m on the first flight back home to England.
But then how do you unwind between race weekends?
I’m travelling so much all around the year that I always just want to go back to my own home and relax. To unwind, I check out replays of the race to see how the others did. Or I go cycling, 80 to 100 km at a time! I love leaving my BlackBerry home, not talking to anybody, and just unwinding on my own.
You sound nothing like an F1 driver. You don’t even flaunt arm candy like a Jenson Button or a Lewis Hamilton.
(Laughs) That’s not my style. I’m more like Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber; we are more conservative. We don’t go to post-weekend parties and always bump into each other at airports post race. But people such as Bruno (Sena), Jenson (Button) and Felipe (Massa)… Oh my god… they love Sunday nights. It’s just too much effort on a Sunday!
Aren’t you getting hit on all the time by the pit girls?
(Guffaws) Well, if I do, I don’t know it! You know, my physio at Hispania Racing is crazy… I’m trying to focus on the grid and he’s talking about how hot the girls are. (Laughs). But I’m really just lost in my own world then.
Has any of this glamour ever overwhelmed you?
Absolutely not. Because I’m not interested in it at all. I’m` not in this business for the money or the fame or the rest of it. You know, I live in a small bedroom in a village in the middle of nowhere in England and drive a second hand Volkswagen. I’m just a simple person who happens to love driving race cars, and I’m in F1 for just that.
But have you gotten used to it all now?
(Chuckles) No, because I don’t like going to fashion shows, or dancing with Bollywood actresses, or partying in nightclubs. I’m not like cricketers. I mean, it’s harder for me to do photoshoots than drive race cars! But yes, when I get recognised internationally, I find it strange. I’ve had people in England asking me to go for a drink with them or take pictures. I always look behind me to check who they are talking to.
So you’ll definitely never be dating a Bollywood actress, then?
(Laughs) No! Well, I’m not sure. (Laughs again) It’s not that I’m not interested, it’s just not happened.