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Dean Stoneman - Q&A

10 January 2012

Go 'Behind the Visor' as Andy Henley catches up with Dean Stoneman ahead of his return to racing in 2012...

Q:
Dean, thanks for taking the time to speak to us during this busy time preparing for your first season in the World Series by Renault. How are things progressing with getting back up to speed with the new car and team?

Dean Stoneman:
We have lots of possibilities for this year which we are still evaluating. I want to return at the highest level possible with the best possible team. ISR is one option of course but, it's hard to commit until we have weighed up all options both in Europe and in the US. It's been great to have so much interest shown in me.

Q:
You started in Karts in 2000 racing up until 2006, how did you get into karting and was there a particular idol in the racing world you had, while growing up?

Dean Stoneman:
I actually got into Karting by chance. Prior to this I was racing in Moto Cross and really enjoying it. In 2000 the Foot and Mouth problem hit farming and the land on which we raced. There was a ban on using the land for racing so we had to think of an alternative as I loved racing. My Dad suggested a kart and the rest as they say is history.... I haven't really had a racing idol as such. I was too busy racing and not really following anybody in particular. I have been lucky enough to meet so many leading drivers in the past few years. From the current crop Vettel and Hamilton have total commitment, which I really appreciate as this is how I like to approach racing.

Q:
You have had huge success in a fairly short time in cars; in 2007 you competed in Formula Renault BARC, in which you were crowned Vice-Champion. Did you ever expect to have such a finish in your first season racing single seaters?

Dean Stoneman:
Not really. We were running our own team from the family home whilst everybody else were with teams. It goes to show if you have the right people around you what's possible. I think we surprised a few people.

Q:
2008 saw you become Graduate Cup Champion in the Formula Renault UK Championship and a finalist in the coveted BRDC Young Driver Awards. How much of a boost was this in your bid to make it to F1?

Dean Stoneman:
All of these things are nice to have along the way but I have always felt the best way to get to where I want to be is by winning races. There have been so many drivers who have won awards who have not progressed as far as maybe they should have.

Q:
In 2009 you won the Formula Renault UK Championship and were awarded BRDC Super Star status. How involved have the BRDC been in your career and what did it mean to you to receive this award?

Dean Stoneman:
The BRDC Superstars status is one award I'm very proud of. To be recognised by this club so full of history and by some of the great and good of the sport is fantastic. They have been very supportive during my illness. We met with the President Derek Warwick a few weeks ago who provided me with words of wisdom..... You can only get access to guys like that with so much experience by being part of the BRDC.

Q:
Joining the ranks of the BRDC Superstars has made you a role model for aspiring racers who want to make it in the racing world. What advice would you give them in pursuing a career in racing?

Dean Stoneman:
Well you have to be honest with yourself. If you really feel you have the ability and hunger to make it in the sport then go for it. Support from your family is vital. Motor sport will take a lot of time not to mention money so you have to be serious. Do everything you can to be a better driver and try to learn from those who are where you want to be.

Q:
2010 was a particularly impressive year and you took another step closer to achieving your dream of racing in F1 by winning the Formula 2 championship and securing a test drive with AT&T Williams in Abu Dhabi. What were your thoughts when you won the championship and it was confirmed you were going to drive an F1 car for the first time?

Dean Stoneman:
I knew that the opportunity to drive the Williams was part of the prize for winning the Championship so it was always something at the back of my mind. Of course when the dust settled from winning the title and we started planning for the drive in Abu Dhabi with Williams it was great. I prepared fully for the test. First my fitness had to be increased and Williams provided access to their trainer who put me through my paces. I worked on my upper body strength too including the all important neck muscles. I used Mark Webber's specialist Don Gatherer who had an amazing way of preparing the neck and upper body for the high G-forces I would experience in the test.

Q:
You impressed the team by setting the 5th fastest time, what was the biggest difference between F1 and F2 and what was your feeling when you first sat in the car?

Dean Stoneman:
Sitting in the F1 car felt very comfortable. I didn't feel fazed at all. The difference between the two cars is vast. It's not just obvious stuff like acceleration and speed, but brakes and the speed you can enter corners... gear changes... everything feels incredible. The F1 car was everything I hoped it would be, but it didn't feel as hard to drive and I thought it would be. Finishing 5th fastest was great, but I really felt if I had more time I could have gone quicker.

Q:
Knowing that F1 is your end goal, are there any opportunities in sight to do some more testing for any of the teams?

Dean Stoneman:
Well, the illness has obviously been a set back and put all offers following the test in Abu Dhabi on hold. I'm now concentrating on this year's opportunities to get back racing and re start all discussions with interested parties.

Q:
In 2011 you signed to ISR in the World Series by Renault series, but were diagnosed in January with Cancer and took season out to beat it, whilst becoming Youth Ambassador for the Wessex Cancer Trust. Although an incredible tough year to have to go through, you must be hugely proud to have both beaten the disease and represent such an important cause?

Dean Stoneman:
Yes extremely tough. When your whole world is turned upside down, it's hard to think about the future. I was lucky enough to have access to some amazing specialists who have now got me better and the future is bright again. I was very honoured to be asked to be youth ambassador for the Wessex Cancer Trust. I want to provide people of all ages with hope that they can overcome this illness and go on to fitness and live their lives to the full.

Q:
Having fought hard and made a recovery, what are you goals for 2012 as you return to racing?

Dean Stoneman:
For this year I want to stay fit and well and spend as much time with my family and friends as possible. I want to return to racing at the highest level possible. I want to pick up from end of 2010 and push forward with my career. I love racing, it's my life, it's what I do and have done since a young age. As Steve McQueen once said “Life is Racing anything else is just waiting”.....for me now the waiting is over.


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