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Oakes admits there are 'no excuses' in 2009

He may have only competed in ten races in the Cooper Tires British F3 International Series to-date, but Oliver Oakes made enough of an impression on the regular contenders over the second half of 2008 to send out a solid warning for 2009 – when, he acknowledges, there will be 'no excuses'.

The former World Karting Champion graduated to British F3 with all-new outfit Eurotek Motorsport last year off the back of a reasonably strong campaign in the Formula Renault Eurocup. Having played himself in with the benefit of a low-pressure environment at Eurotek – albeit setting pole position for the Donington Park finale – Oakes is hitting the big time this season after being snapped up by the crack Carlin Motorsport squad. With the curtain-raiser taking place at Oulton Park this Easter weekend, he is well aware that the goalposts have shifted significantly.

“It was a fun year with Eurotek,” he told Crash.net Radio. “We only did a few races, but they made leaps and bounds throughout the year. [The lack of pressure] was the big thing being with a new team; you need that to build your confidence I think in a new category.

“To be honest, it sounds silly but I don't think I learned that much last year. Being in a new team, there wasn't a big influence on me and I was left to do what I wanted to do. The biggest thing obviously was getting used to the F3 car, but then there's a new aero kit this year so it doesn't help you that much. There's nothing you don't learn in other formulas as well, but it's racing, you know – you learn every time you go out.

“It was a fun year, I have to admit, and taking pole with them at the end of it was quite a big deal, obviously with it being both a new team and the last pole of the year. It's a bit sad really, when you go with something all the way through a programme and then you've got to leave, but I think we proved a point.

“Carlin is different. Obviously the thing with Eurotek is that they're a great bunch of guys and the reputation of John Gentry, the chief engineer, speaks for itself – but in terms of a team they all were very new to Formula 3. F3 has been going all these years, and unfortunately that does tend to hinder you a little bit on the experience front.

“The big thing with Carlin is obviously just experience – they've been there, done it and the realms of data are absolutely unbelievable. It's nice to be here – everything's very professional and it's a nice environment. Last year was fun for me, but Carlin's reputation speaks for itself, so there are no excuses this year.”

That may be so, but with team-mates of the calibre of early championship favourite Max Chilton, Henry Arundel and Daniel Ricciardo, the 21-year-old well knows that it is going to be a hard-fought campaign indeed – and that is only to look at the intra-team squabble.

What's more, Carlin has switched engine-suppliers in 2009 from Mercedes-Benz to Volkswagen – a move that could either help or hinder the squad in equal measure. It is set to be a challenging season, Oakes confesses, but he is confident that he is in encouraging shape.

by Russell Atkins

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Oliver Oakes (GBR) - Carlin Motorsport Dallara Volkswagen
Jake Hughes, HitechGP, Euro F3 [Credit: HitechGP]
Jehan Daruvala, Carlin, Force India [Credit: Carlin]
Ferdinand Habsburg, Carlin, Euro F3
Antonio Felix da Costa - Carlin [credit: Macau GP / ID ]
Antonio Felix da Costa - Carlin [credit: Macau GP / GCS ]
Antonio Felix da Costa, Carlin, F3 Macau GP, [Credit: Carlin media]
Start of Race 3, Enaam Ahmed (GBR) Carlin leads
Race 3 Podium (l-r) Joey Mawson (AUS) Douglas Motorsport, Enaam Ahmed (GBR) Carlin, Jamie Caroline (GBR) Douglas Motorsport
Race 3 Podium (l-r) Joey Mawson (AUS) Douglas Motorsport, Enaam Ahmed (GBR) Carlin, Jamie Caroline (GBR) Douglas Motorsport
James Pull (GBR) Carlin
James Pull (GBR) Carlin
James Pull (GBR) Carlin
James Pull (GBR) Carlin
James Pull (GBR) Carlin
James Pull (GBR) Carlin
James Pull (GBR) Carlin
Joey Mawson (AUS) Douglas Motorsport

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