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Why illustrious racing dads aren’t all the time a bonus for F1 hopefuls

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You don’t should look far to seek out the inspiration for the helmet design utilized by newly topped Method Regional Oceania (nee Toyota Racing Collection) champion Charlie Wurz. The 17-year-old is the second son of three-time Method 1 podium finisher and two-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Alex Wurz, who famously painted his personal zig-zag helmet designs that had been immediately identifiable wherever he went.

After all, a particular helmet livery isn’t the one profit Wurz Jr and his youthful brother – kart racer Oscar – can derive from their father. The Austrian’s years of intensive racing and testing expertise imply he has unparalleled information of tyre behaviour and automobile dynamics, whereas his time main the FIA’s Younger Driver Excellence Academy and operating his personal Take a look at & Coaching driver faculty makes him uniquely positioned as an asset to name upon.

What Wurz Sr doesn’t find out about driver enchancment isn’t price understanding. However how greatest to make use of that information is one thing he admits is a continuing studying curve as his “very analytical” method, he found, was “maybe overwhelming for the groups and engineers in addition to Charlie”.

“There are lots of issues I’ve skilled, however that is nonetheless within the pinnacle of motorsport that’s not all the time making use of to a single model automobile,” Wurz Sr admits. “If I’m on the lookout for points which is perhaps relevant in high automobiles as a result of they’re particular person elements – effectively, if Tatuus [Formula Regional constructor] makes 10,000 or 1000 roll bars then the truth that perhaps one or the opposite is totally different, it’s very small. My enter must be adjusted to not be invasive, to be productive.

“What I’m studying myself is to allow them to come. If they’re opening up and say, ‘What do you consider tyre temperatures or set-up route, ought to I confront my engineer or ought to I not?’, then it’s simpler to offer a route.”

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In the same place is Rubens Barrichello, who received 11 grands prix throughout a prolonged F1 profession that has him third on the all-time begins listing. For his sons Eduardo (21) and Fernando (17), he says: “I’m there once they ask. If I inform all of them I believe, they’re going to alter the entire set-up! They should develop by themselves, like we did ourselves.”

Barrichello says it is best to attend till he is requested for enter from his sons earlier than weighing in

Picture by: Roberto/ActualFoto

As such, Barrichello Sr solely ever attends debriefs when requested to take action, though he relishes poring over knowledge together with his offspring afterwards: “It’s crucial that no matter is going on to the automobile, it’s equal to what they really feel about it.”

Therein lies the paradox. But it surely’s a really totally different method to the generally “harsh” and ultra-hands-on method adopted by Jos Verstappen that helped form son Max’s prodigious expertise. His document because the youngest F1 winner ever is unlikely ever to be surpassed, and also you wouldn’t guess towards him including to his two world titles. 

Having years of finely tuned perception is all effectively and good, however how advantageous really is it for the prospects of their aspiring younger F1 racers when – such is the character of youth – the final individual they typically wish to hearken to is their dad and mom?

“We inform Sebastian, ‘That is your profession, if you wish to be higher than any individual else, you must do greater than the remainder'” Juan Pablo Montoya

Historical past reveals that simply two sons of earlier champions have emulated their fathers by profitable the F1 World Championship, Damon Hill’s and Nico Rosberg’s achievements coming 20 years aside. That Verstappen Jr and Kevin Magnussen are the one drivers on the present grid whose fathers additionally competed in F1 underlines the dimensions of the problem going through the numerous ex-F1 aces – together with 2004 Monaco Grand Prix winner Jarno Trulli and long-time Ferrari tester Luca Badoer with their sons Enzo (17) and Brando (16) – attempting to assist their kids observe of their footsteps.

Even in case you do prise open the door and your title occurs to be Schumacher, there could also be a Nico Hulkenberg ready to take your seat…

“For certain the title opens doorways,” says Barrichello. “However to maintain it open, it will depend on them.”

That’s not going to place off Juan Pablo Montoya, whose 17-year-old son Sebastian is now a Purple Bull Junior and has stepped up full-time to Method 3 with Hitech after racing towards Eduardo Barrichello within the Method Regional European Championship by Alpine final season. It brings the Colombian seven-time grand prix winner’s life full circle – he raced for Helmut Marko’s RSM crew within the 1997 Method 3000 championship.

Montoya watches on as his son Sebastian climbs aboard for a round of the Formula Regional Middle East championship - important preparation for his maiden F3 campaign

Montoya watches on as his son Sebastian climbs aboard for a spherical of the Method Regional Center East championship – vital preparation for his maiden F3 marketing campaign

Picture by: Diederik van der Laan / Dutch Picture Company

“The factor that has modified for Helmut now’s he’s bought so many extra drivers that I believe he can not push the drivers day in, day trip and it turns into extra of a driver accountability to do his bit,” the previous Williams and McLaren driver factors out. “We inform Sebastian, ‘That is your profession, if you wish to be higher than any individual else, you must do greater than the remainder.’

“Typically we will’t afford to do as a lot testing as any individual else, however we compensate. We’ve got our personal simulator, we do lots of coaching, we’re going to start out doing a bunch of shifter karts, we’re going to do all the things in our energy to maximise his efficiency.”

Montoya Sr says that he’s now reached some extent in his personal profession the place the “primary [focus] is him for certain”. He discovered that Sebastian “actually may have used my assist” on his first go to to Monaco final yr, the identical weekend Montoya Sr was racing on the Indianapolis 500 with Arrow McLaren. However he too recognises that being too hands-on may be detrimental.

“He wants to determine lots of these items himself,” Montoya states. “He wants to guide his personal profession – I strive to not get too concerned. I intervene extra when issues usually are not going effectively they usually want steerage. However on the finish of the day, he’s the one which has the connection with the engineers and with the crew, not me.”

This can be a level that groups recognise too. Some take proactive steps to push back interference, even the well-meaning type.

“I did be taught fairly shortly, I simply sit within the motorhome and benefit from the espresso,” smiles Wurz. “The groups wish to be certain, ‘please don’t have interaction with us together with your expertise as a result of we have now to construct it up collectively ourselves’, and it’s a must to respect that.”

It’s a state of affairs acquainted for Barrichello too: “There are groups that hate if I’ve a radio, even when I don’t speak,” he concedes.

Wurz Sr says he infrequently attends races with his son, Formula Regional Oceania champion Charlie

Wurz Sr says he sometimes attends races together with his son, Method Regional Oceania champion Charlie

Picture by: Bruce Jenkins

Wurz reckons that letting the kids make their very own errors, “for Charlie by way of set-up or route or the best way he handles a state of affairs”, may be useful in the long term “as a result of it’s from the errors you be taught”. Micromanaging, he says, is “undoubtedly not taking place in our household” – not least as a result of his work commitments as an envoy for Toyota, chairman of F1’s Grand Prix Drivers’ Affiliation and his monitor design enterprise meant he may attend “one third of the races final yr [when Wurz Jr raced in F4] most if not much less”.

“Typically it’s not good to carry them on the hand at each step,” Wurz says. “It’s a must to see the larger image, don’t see day by day as an actual deciding second, it’s hardly ever like that. Subsequently it’s generally good that errors occur or persons are cussed, wish to go their very own approach. These are often the individuals who be taught probably the most.”

For all of those dads, who’re so accustomed to being paid to race, the expertise of going again to chasing sponsors has been an eye-opener. “It’s not simple,” admits Montoya.

“Typically as a result of there have been racing drivers with their children, a few of them didn’t do a very good job with the crew so everybody says, ‘Somebody like Alex will are available in and dictate all the things'” Alex Wurz

For Wurz, who secured a spot for Charlie with ART within the Method Regional European Championship by Alpine, his surname makes no distinction in relation to negotiating with groups given the excessive demand for seats, however reckons it has its benefits in relation to sponsorship. With regards to particular occasions corresponding to personal driving days, Wurz “may also provide myself as a part of the worth”.

“It’s a must to consider find out how to return favours like organise incentive programmes, firm visits,” he explains. “With Charlie we went for instance to Remus [an Austrian exhaust manufacturer], we organised a pizza truck and made pizzas for 500 of the workers. We all know that a number of months later, internally they nonetheless discuss it.”

Barrichello has raced for Toyota in his home Inventory Automotive collection since 2020, and Toyota Gazoo Racing Latin America was a outstanding backer of Eduardo’s racing by to final season’s FRECA marketing campaign. However whereas Fernando has a seat locked in with Spanish Method 4 squad Monlau Motorsport, nothing has but been signed for Eduardo, with Barrichello Sr admitting “it’s been laborious to discover a funds”. A future in touring automobiles or GT equipment in Brazil seems to be his almost certainly profession choice.

Sebastian Montoya (left) and Eduardo Barrichello raced against each other in FRECA last season

Sebastian Montoya (left) and Eduardo Barrichello raced towards one another in FRECA final season

Picture by: Diederik van der Laan / Dutch Picture Company

A profitable racing mum or dad is due to this fact no assure of a clean path proper to the highest and, as Wurz factors out, “it offers disadvantages too”. He takes a balanced view of the professionals and cons.

“After all, you’ve gotten benefits and it might be improper to not use them as a result of it’s a aggressive sport,” he says. “Figuring out a circuit is a bonus, with the ability to name up individuals as a result of I’ve constructed up my community, it’s a bonus. We’ve got to utilize this.

“Equally there are disadvantages. When expectations are too excessive, maybe some sponsors would possibly suppose, ‘They appear to be effectively off, why do I want to assist them?’ And generally as a result of there have been racing drivers with their children, a few of them didn’t do a very good job with the crew so everybody says, ‘Somebody like Alex will are available in and dictate all the things.’”

It’s laborious sufficient to make the journey to the highest as soon as. However to do it a second time, supporting the ambitions of your offspring – effectively, that’s a complete totally different story.

Wurz scored F1 podiums for Benetton, McLaren and Williams but knows reaching the pinnacle of motorsport twice over will be a challenge

Wurz scored F1 podiums for Benetton, McLaren and Williams however is aware of reaching the top of motorsport twice over can be a problem

Picture by: Sutton Photographs

Extracurricular actions

When Alex Wurz’s youngest son Oscar steps up from karting this yr, he can be immersed in “doing all kinds of various issues” together with Method 4 and touring automobile checks, plus rallycross. This sensory assault beforehand skilled by elder brother Charlie, his father explains, is meant to “give him expertise in several eventualities, totally different climate situations, totally different automobiles, front-wheel, rear-wheel drive, simply so that you study automobile dynamics, tyres and likewise learn to shortly modify to new automobiles and circuit situations”.

Because the son of European Rallycross champion Franz, it’s no shock to listen to Wurz extol the self-discipline’s virtues, and he reckons it’s going to have advantages for “anybody who pursues a single-seater profession or any skilled profession”.

“In cut up seconds it’s a must to take choices as a result of you possibly can’t wait for one more lap,” he factors out. “So that they’re coaching for the thoughts to make quick choices and reside with the consequence. And also you be taught equally in case you don’t take the choice, the man behind you takes it for you as a result of he dives into half a gap.

Sharing an LMP2 automobile together with his father, Montoya Jr needed to adapt to racing quicker DPi prototypes and slower LMP3 and GT equipment, which meant he was overtaking and being overtaken a number of occasions per lap

“It’s very explosive, you additionally go generally to probably the most deciding warmth race, early Sunday morning, there isn’t any warm-up and also you go from zero to 1 hundred adrenalin and it’s a must to make this work. That’s actually worthwhile classes, beside the very fact it’s actually enjoyable.”

Juan Pablo Montoya has additionally seen to it that his son Sebastian builds expertise outdoors single-seaters – they shared a DragonSpeed LMP2 ORECA-Gibson 07 in three IMSA SportsCar Championship outings final yr. Montoya Jr needed to adapt to racing quicker DPi prototypes and slower LMP3 and GT equipment, which meant he was overtaking and being overtaken a number of occasions per lap, all of the whereas being inspired to broaden his understanding of automobile set-up.

“Being on the identical automobile has been very helpful,” says Montoya Sr, who will once more race alongside his son on this yr’s European Le Mans Collection. “It’s been a little bit of an eye-opener to [realise], ‘OK, the automobile is unhealthy, they’ll really change the automobile and make it drive higher’, as a result of lots of the junior system groups taught the drivers that ‘that is the automobile and also you’ve simply bought to drive it’.”

Montoya Sr has enjoyed racing with his son in LMP2, which has broadened Sebastian's understanding of car set-up and given him experience in multi-class racing

Montoya Sr has loved racing together with his son in LMP2, which has broadened Sebastian’s understanding of automobile set-up and given him expertise in multi-class racing

Picture by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images



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