Billy Monger has been back in single seater action recently, driving a specially adapted Carlin BRDC British F3 Tatuus Cosworth car at Oulton Park and most recently at Brands Hatch, as he evaluates a potential move to the championship for 2018. We caught up with him at Brands Hatch to see how his preparations are coming along and how his testing is unfolding.
Billy, it must be pretty amazing to be back in a single seater?
“It’s a pretty awesome feeling being back out on track and I’m loving my time out there.”
What was going through your mind when you first got back in a single seater and left the pit lane?
“Lots of things really, we’ve done a lot of time in the simulator beforehand, so the preparation we put in before was good enough to show what we could do early on, and we went out there, didn’t have many problems and have built up our pace bit by bit.”
Has your mind always been set on getting back into a single seater?
“It wasn’t on my mind at first, initially it was just on getting back racing but then we found out there was the FIA rule [relating to disabled drivers in single seaters]. But when I spoke to the FIA and realised that it was something that could be changed, I saw no reason not to do it. It’s what I’ve grown up wanting to do, I wanted to get into F1, so why not try and get back in a single seater again.”
You had to work hard with the FIA and other people to get to this point, how hard has the journey been?
“It’s been a long journey, sitting on the side lines as a race driver at a race circuit and watching races and sorting out other things takes its toll on you. You just want to be out there on track doing what you love, but we got there in the end and now we’re testing we’re reaping the rewards of the hard work we have done over the winter.”
You’re evaluating a potential move into the BRDC British F3 Championship, what obstacles have you got to overcome before you potentially seal a drive in the championship this year?
“We’re still looking for partners and stuff like that to get the funding up and I’d like to think we’ll be able to get that sorted. The other thing is just getting used to the controls, and if I race I want to be competitive. So far it’s been looking promising, we’ve still got more testing to do and I’ll be learning something new with each lap I do.”
You mentioned the controls, what have you and the team had to do to actually get back on track?
“We have a completely different set of controls to what any other driver on the grid will have. I’m using a hand throttle, and both up and down gears are on one side of the steering wheel. I brake with my right leg, which I have a shorter prosthetic on. So it’s been a challenge and something I’m not used to. I’ve been driving a certain way for 12 years and then someone tells you to drive a different way, and it was a bit of an obstacle at first, but I’m getting used to it and it’s becoming more natural with every lap I do.”
What is it that appealed to you about the BRDC British F3 Championship, what’s made you consider the series as a potential move this year?
“It’s a good championship to be in, ideally from F4 our step would have been the British F3 series. I looked at it and thought it was a competitive championship with UK-based rounds and the round at Spa and it’s a good stepping stone if I want to move up to GT’s or higher up in single seaters.”
If you are lucky enough to sort everything out to get yourself on the grid, how do you think it will be when it comes to Oulton Park and you’re sat there on the grid waiting for those red lights to come on again?
“I have no idea what will be going through my mind but all I know is that I’m really looking forward to it. I can’t wait and hopefully I’ll be out on the grid at Oulton Park and showing people what I can do.”
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