Q&A with F2 champ Dean Stoneman
A ninth place finish in race one at Valencia on Saturday 18 September secured the 2010 FIA Formula Two Championship title for Britain's Dean Stoneman, and the 20-year-old went on to celebrate his title success with a podium in race two - the final contest of the season. Speaking to www.formulatwo.com, the newly crowned champion reflects on a fantastic campaign in F2 and talks about his burning ambitions for the future...
You've had a few days now to reflect upon Valencia; how does it feel to be 2010 FIA Formula Two Champion?
It feels fantastic! After choosing to take part in Formula Two it’s been a great season - I didn't expect to win it in my first year, so to walk away with the championship is a huge achievement. I'm already getting recognized more, and yesterday Eddie Irvine phoned me following a radio interview with the BBC to offer congratulations and advice. Now the season is finished there's time to reflect, but there's also a lot to think about in the future, and hopefully winning F2 helps me get one step closer to my dream of being in Formula One.
What will you do to prepare for your test with Williams later this year?
I'm obviously preparing physically, but I always go to the gym and keep in shape. I'm trying to lose weight and gain muscle, which is hard but can help make a difference at that level. I also went with Darren Turner to use a simulator of the circuit, which helps give you a basic idea of where the corners go, what gear you should be in etc.
How do you prepare mentally for a test like this?
Other than the simulator work to get a rough idea of the circuit, it's just a case of getting ready really. It's really exciting but at the same time I'm not getting my hopes up about how fast I can be before the day, and I'm just going to turn up and do what I do best: get in the car and drive as quickly as I can. With these things you have to just go out there and enjoy it, but I'll also be studying how the team operates to hopefully learn and move forward myself.
How does this season compare to the rest of your career?
F2 has been great really - I think it's a good stepping stone for young drivers to go in and learn. In many ways it's the way forward, not just because of the low budget and the quality and power of the car, but also because it's a good basis for young drivers looking to take the next step. The fact all the cars are similar also helped me, as it puts the emphasis on driver ability.
Was there a weekend when it all came together, or was it a gradual process?
I think it was a gradual process really, and I was quick in pretty much every round, but taking a double win at Oschersleben was definitely the most enjoyable moment!
Does winning the championship validate your decision to race in F2 rather than other single seater categories?
Definitely. I'm really glad I chose Formula Two: it's a good championship, the car is great - especially at high speeds - and the level of competition was high. Obviously you get the prize F1 drive at the end, and I've also had great publicity which will hopefully help me move into the next step.
What are your hopes for the future now?
It all depends upon budget really, but the aim is GP2. Hopefully winning F2 helps me, as I have a real sense of momentum behind me and now it's all just about taking advantage of that.