Oliver Jarvis Q and A – Japan calling London, England – The New Year brings a new adventure for A1 Team Great Britain’s Oliver Jarvis as he looks to further his racing career in the Far East having signed a deal to contest the All-Japan F3 Series in 2007 with the reigning champion TOM’S squad.
Jarvis (23), who scored A1 Team Great Britain’s first podium of the 2006-07 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season in Round 3 in China last November, heads east hoping to emulate the success of many other European drivers who have gone on to make it big in Japan, not least his A1GP team-mate, Darren Manning, who dominated the All-Japan F3 Series back in 1999, also with the all-conquering TOM’S team.
No stranger to the demands of Formula Three competition, having captured the runner-up spot in the prestigious British F3 Championship last year as a rookie, Jarvis, winner of the 2005 Formula Renault UK Championship and BRDC McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year Award, is raring for his next challenge as he prepares to base himself full-time in Japan.
Q: What prompted your move to the All-Japan F3 Series?
Oliver Jarvis (OJ): “I was actually contacted by TOM’S themselves just before I entered the Macau Grand Prix last November. It was quite fortunate as they were also competing there so I was able to check them out for myself and see what a professional outfit they are!
“I have to admit competing in Japan wasn’t on my radar screen but following their approach I started thinking about it more and more. As many people are aware budgets are a big factor in motor racing and put bluntly TOM’S approached me with a very good deal and it proved too good to turn down!”
Q: Did you have any options open to remain in the UK and go for the British F3 title?
OJ: “Yes I had plenty of options to remain in the UK but from a career opportunity I think going to Japan will benefit me more. The competition in Japan is hugely underestimated and many people have made their careers out there, some going straight to Formula One!”
Q: You competed with Carlin Motorsport in the UK last season and have signed with another multiple championship winning team for 2007 with the TOM’S Toyota squad. What separates these teams from the opposition and how much pressure is there to deliver given their respective pedigrees?
OJ: “I think what separates the likes of TOM’S and Carlin from their opposition is the fact that they know how to put everything in place to win. They have an ability to adapt and as a result they’ve been able to build a pedigree of success. TOM’S in particular has proved itself to be successful in working with British drivers based in Japan, they’ve been able to get the best out of them and certainly from my dealings so far I see no reason why that can’t continue.
“Of course there’s a lot of pressure to deliver but to be honest that’s all self-inflicted. TOM’S have shown their belief in me that I can go out there and do the job, it’s my second season of competing in F3 so there is a degree of expectation but throughout my career the most pressure on me has come directly from myself to keep proving my ability! I like to think that under pressure I perform at my best.”
Q: Given the likes of Eddie Irvine, Pedro de la Rosa, Ralf Schumacher, Ralph Firman and now German racer Adrian Sutil (2006 All-Japan F3 Champion and 2007 Spyker F1 driver) have all successfully gone from competing in Japan to racing in Formula One, how do you see your own long-term career path working out having made the commitment to race there?
OJ: “Like I said earlier, many people have made the switch from Japan into Formula One and Sutil’s graduation to Spyker shows that it’s still a relevant option despite the various categories on offer in Europe. Formula One is still my ultimate goal but I love to race cars so if I can make a living as a professional driver then I’d consider myself to be very fortunate.
“I think racing in Japan opens up a few more doors for me without losing sight of my long term aspirations. I still have my test with the McLaren F1 team to look forward to having won that as part of the BRDC McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year Award. It’s more than likely that the test will take place at some point this year so I’ll be sure to make the most of it when the time comes.”
Q: When do your preparations start for the 2007 All-Japan F3 Series and how will this impact your A1 Team Great Britain duties in A1GP?
OJ: “With the competition as fierce as ever in Japan coupled with a new team to get to know I made the decision to go to Japan as soon as I could to get my pre-season preparations underway. Unfortunately this now means that I’ll be unable to represent A1 Team Great Britain in New Zealand as there’s a date clash, the team having indicated that I’d have got the drive at Taupo due to it being a new circuit and my rookie status allowing an extra hour of track time.
“Robbie (Kerr) will drive there now and with the timeframes and logistics involved he’ll do Australia as well. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to race again for Great Britain but at this stage we just need to wait and see how things pan out with all our various schedules.”
Q: As the second season of A1GP reaches the halfway stage in New Zealand, what’s your take on the season so-far and the progress of the British team?
OJ: “I think the British team has progressed well since the start of the season. Without a doubt the A1GP Series is a lot stronger this year and that’s been reflected in some of our results. We’ve been a little unlucky at times and we’re still aiming for that first A1GP victory but all things considered we’re sitting second in the championship and still firmly in the fight. From my own point of view I’d love to get back into the British A1GP car and be the one to take that first win but either way I don’t think it can be long in coming given the team’s overall competitiveness.”
Q: What have you taken from your A1GP experiences to-date, the notable highlight being your second place podium finish in China last November?
OJ: “I’ve taken a lot from my time in the series already. Meeting and competing against new drivers while being given the opportunity to tour the world has just been fantastic. It’s been good to get in and drive a slightly more powerful car than I’ve been used to and all the experience I’ve racked up will undoubtedly benefit me as I progress my career.”