Douglas Motorsport’s Manaf Hijjawi will be the first Jordanian driver to ever race in BRDC British F3 when he makes his debut at Oulton Park on Easter weekend. We caught up with him to find out more about his career so far, motorsport in his homeland and his aspirations for the coming season.
Welcome to BRDC British F3, how much are you looking forward to getting in the car for the first time?
I've heard so much about it. Its going to be my first time driving a proper F3 car, so it's going to be faster than anything I've raced before! It will all be about getting used to how the car handles and the tyres at the start, I'm sure I'll get more confident with the car as we progress with more laps in pre-season testing.
We believe you are the first driver from Jordan to race in junior single seaters in the UK, is motorsport growing in strength in your home country?
Motorsport is not big in Jordan. It's hard to be as big as other sports because there are rarely any drivers competing at a high level representing the country, so to be racing in the BRDC British F3 championship this year under the Jordan flag is a huge honour.
Who is your main influence in motorsport? Is there a driver from Jordan who influenced your interest in motorsport?
Jordan is not really well known in motorsport, so it has very little history in single-seater racing. It's hard trying to pursue it when other sports are quite a lot more known and supported. It's very hard finding support. That's why my father is my biggest influence for sure, if it wasn't for him then Formula 3 wouldn't have been possible this year and I wouldn't even be racing in the first place.
What has been the high point of your racing career so far?
It's clear to me that the major high point was my move to cars from karting. It's always a difficult stage for a driver, and it was really hard to tell how things were going to go before we started. Now that I've finished three race weekends with three podium finishes, I'm really proud of how I was able to adapt to the different category and look forward to doing the same in British F3 this year!
What convinced you to join the BRDC British F3 Championship this year?
F4 has been the category I was most likely to do this year, even though I never wanted to do F4 and wanted to go straight to F3 after karting. The biggest challenge was sorting out the budget for this year and that was the reason F3 didn’t seem possible, but after the results in the UAE F4 trophy race and the races in the MRF Challenge so far, the budget was pushed higher and now I am really thankful for the opportunity to race in BRDC British F3. It's one of the biggest single-seater championships in the world, so it was clear it was the perfect step for this year to learn as much as possible.
How busy is your testing schedule going to be over the next few weeks, and which circuits are you most looking forward to?
For sure it will be quite busy! As it will be my first year racing in the UK and on all of the tracks, I'm going to need to drive them before the season starts in April. I'm really looking forward to driving Oulton Park as I've been driving it on my PlayStation for the past four years! And of course Silverstone and Spa! It's amazing to think that I'll be racing on two of the best known Formula 1 tracks with so much history.
What are your any targets for the 2020 season?
To finish as high as possible in the championship, but most importantly learn as much as possible. It's my first full season, and in a category such as BRDC British F3 it will be a challenge to adapt to all the different circuits and weather conditions. I'm really looking forward to the challenge.
What are your long-term career goals?
Formula 1 is my goal, and to become the first Arab F1 driver would be surreal. Of course, financial backing is very important to be able to step up to higher categories. We will see what happens this season, I'll be doing my best and I'm sure things will fall in place for the future.
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