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Max Vatanen, Q&A

Max Vatanen: We see this as a two-year plan: the first year is to gain experience and then the second year is to go all-out to try and win. But of course that doesn't mean that we won't be trying this year!
Max Vatanen is one of twelve young drivers who have been chosen to contest the inaugural Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy in 2014. More than 50 enquiries were received, meaning that the son of the 1981 World Champion, Ari Vatanen, has already beaten several drivers in the race just to get to the start of the first event, Rally Portugal from 4-6 April. Here he gives his thoughts ahead of the five-round championship, during which he will drive an M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2...


Q:
Max, why did you choose this championship?

Max Vatanen:
We actually looked around at a few championships, but we thought that this one offered the variety of events and also the quality/price ratio that we were looking for. For me, the most important thing was to build up experience of the world championship, and this series allows us to do that. We want to do everything step by step and this was the best way.

Q:
What is your objective for this year: to win the championship or mainly to finish the events?

Max Vatanen:
We see this as a two-year plan: the first year is to gain experience and then the second year is to go all-out to try and win. But of course that doesn't mean that we won't be trying this year! It's hard to know where you will be relative to your rivals, and hopefully this year will allow us to assess that, so we will just try as hard as we can and see where that takes us.

Q:
You've got a very famous name. Is that an advantage or a disadvantage?

Max Vatanen:
It's both, but OK, in the end I would say that it is more an advantage than a disadvantage. The good side is that it helps bring you some opportunities and it makes people aware of who you are, but the negative side is that it creates a lot of expectation as well: people assume that the son is like the father, and of course life isn't like that! You also have to consider that it's quite difficult for Ari as well: he's been at the very top level for a long time, so it's hard for him sometimes to see it from my point of view. He just wants everything to be perfect! If you are not careful it can affect your relationship on a personal level, but he has been very supportive.

Q:
How much help and advice does Ari give you?

Max Vatanen:
He's there and he gives me useful advice but also he tries to stay a little bit in the background; I think that's easiest for everybody. So we talk about it all the time, but in the end of course it is me who has to drive the car; there's only so much anyone else can do.

Q:
Which events are you looking forward to most?

Max Vatanen:
All of them really! But actually the first three events, which are all on gravel, are rallies I am looking forward to a lot and especially of course Rally Finland. For a Finnish guy, to drive at home is a very special experience and of course you feel the speed like nowhere else. I cannot wait. But I am also looking forward to the rallies on tarmac, because this is a surface I don't have much experience of and one of the big goals this year was to get experience.

Q:
Are you going to be doing any testing before the first event?

Max Vatanen:
Actually I'm doing some testing already. I've already bought my car and there are several roads I can drive it around Tuupovaara, where I'm from. At the moment we still have snow and ice in Finland, so it's not completely representative of the conditions we will see in Portugal but for me the most important thing is just to spend time in the car and get properly into the rhythm of driving. I can do 100 kilometres a day, no problem, so I hope to be on the right pace when we get to Portugal.



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Max Vatanen

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