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'Only a handful of drivers make it'

McLaren' chief test driver Chris Goodwin reveals all to Vinayak Pande.

india Updated: Oct 29, 2011 01:12 IST
Vinayak Pande
Vinayak Pande
Hindustan Times

Getting to Formula One is not easy and obviously costs a lot of money. But should a driver do enough to impress a team boss to hire him, he better do all he can to stay in F1 because otherwise making back all that money becomes extremely hard.

This is the view of McLaren Automotive's chief test driver Chris Goodwin who has raced everything from touring cars to sports cars. "If you fail to make it in F1 and then become a touring car driver or something, it'll take you 50 years maybe (jokingly) to make all that money back," said Goodwin while speaking to HT.

"If young drivers are sensible then they will look beyond F1 if they can't make it," said Goodwin who also manages the career of Renault driver Bruno Senna. "But then, of course, you have so many young, eager and hungry drivers who want to get to the very top level. It's a bit like the thousands of gymnasts who aspire to compete in the Olympics, but only a handful of those thousands ever make it."

The choice is clear for aspiring racing drivers as far as Goodwin is concerned. Either look beyond F1 if the mountain seems too high to scale, or do everything you possibly can to get to the top, or at least not fall off. "Most team bosses don't look beyond F1," said Goodwin. "They're far too busy to do so."

Goodwin's client, the nephew of former three-time F1 champion Ayrton Senna, was a little lucky to get into F1 according to him. "The Renault team principal Eric Bouillier knew Bruno through GP2," said Goodwin. "So, he was lucky to be spotted then and eventually find a drive with a top team like Renault."

Senna was also teammates with Karun Chandhok at the iSport team in GP2 and then at HRT last year before he secured a drive with Renault when the French team terminated their contract with Germany's Nick Heidfeld. The Brazilian's future at Renault is not entirely secure despite occasionally outpacing his teammate Vitaly Petrov, due to the uncertainty over the status of Robert Kubica who has been recovering from a crash in a rally car before the start of the season.

First Published: Oct 29, 2011 01:07 IST