1 January 1901
Walker: We have to win!
Having two years at World Series level under his belt already should be an advantage for Walker if, indeed, he and P1 can hit the ground running at the first test in a matter of weeks, but the former F3 racewinner is under no illusion that the season will be easy, especially after organisers have tinkered with the rulebook again for 2009.
"Hopefully, [my experience will count] a lot," he acknowledged, "There's obviously no Thursday testing this year, but I think there are going to be four or five other quick drivers returning for another year as well. However, I think I used my third year in F3 to my advantage when we went to circuits we had been to previously and, certainly, at places like Monaco, which you can't really practice or test for, I think we should have an advantage."
van der Garde spent 2008 running alongside second-year WSbR runner Pippa Mann at P1 but, with the British driver heading Stateside for a crack at Indy Lights, Walker will find himself forming an all-new partnership at Vincini's team. Despite the desire to make himself the focus of the team's attention, however, the Briton knows that having a quick veteran alongside him could be the best option for his championship ambitions.
"I think, in an ideal world, you want a bit of both," he admitted, "You'd want someone to help me develop the car - like I said, there's going to be a new aero package this year, so that's going to be very important. There's only going to be three pre-season tests, so running time is not going to be massive, but, at the same time, I want to make sure I'm the team's number one and make sure that they are behind me to try and win the championship. But you drive at your best when you're competing against good people and a good team-mate, like I had last year with Fairuz Fauzy, really helps your game and I think that is the best way to get results."
Ironically, Walker's best results came when he broke away from the World Series last year, culminating in a rare victory when he transferred to the Borussia Dortmund line-up for the inaugural Superleague Formula finale. At present, there are no firm plans to return to the football-oriented series in 2009, but Walker admits that he would not turn down the chance to race one of the 750bhp machines provided it does not hinder him chasing his WSbR goal.
"Obviously, I am 100 per cent behind my World Series plan but, if there is a chance for me to do Superleague and it doesn't affect my World Series routine, then I think we're going to do it," he insisted, "I had a fourth and a win last year and, after the win at Jerez, the people at Superleague - Robin Webb and everyone else - are really keen to get me back in one of the cars. I think some of the British football teams are looking for British drivers to drive their cars for them, so there's a good chance we'll do some more of that. Assuming the team and the World Series allow me to do that, it will be fantastic to do it again."
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