Jon Lancaster will hope to fight for the F3 Euroseries crown in 2009 after inking a deal to rejoin the same SG Formula team with which he enjoyed a successful Formula Renault campaign back in 2007. spoke to Lancaster recently to look back on his rookie F3 campaign and preview the season ahead...
Jon, for a rookie driver, 2008 turned out to be quite a successful campaign for you in the Euroseries.

Jon Lancaster:
Yeah it was pretty successful, although I was hoping to get the rookie title at the end of the year. At the last round though, we had a problem in qualifying and in the Euroseries, if you start at the back it is hard to score the points you need. That was a shame as it was so close between four of us but that is how it falls sometimes. The season was a bit up and down with a good win, another podium and a third at the Masters. But I learned a lot which sets me up well for this year.
How challenging was is going into the Euroseries for your first taste of F3 as opposed to a domestic series where the level of competition may have been slightly lower?

Jon Lancaster:
It would have been easy, but if you want to prove yourself as the best, you have to go to the best. In my first year out of Karting I went straight to the Formula Renault Eurocup and proved myself to be one of the best drivers there - finishing second in the standings and winning six races in a row.

If I can take everything I learned last year and take it into this year, then top two in the championship is what we are looking at. To be the champion is obviously the aim, and it has to be the real goal. I'm pleased with what has gone on in testing so it's looking good.
There was a win in the rookie season and a place on the podium at the Master where ART dominated. Which gave you greater satisfaction given the stature of the Masters race?

Jon Lancaster:
It's a close one but I'd probably say the win, because winning is everything and you can't beat that feeling. But it would be a close second to finish on the podium at the Masters as it is such a big race and to finish third in your first attempt is a pretty good effort.

Our team dominated it which was good for them and the mixed conditions meant it was good to have a team that was on the ball and that made the right decisions at the right time. It was a good year, but you always want more. You see the progress you are making and want it to continue but it's so close in the Euroseries - it's unreal.
There was a change of team then for Macau. How difficult is it to change teams for an event like that?

Jon Lancaster:
It was difficult. It was a bit easier than it could have been because it was Manor and they are an English team, but you have to look at Macau in the first year as a learning experience because it is such a difficult circuit and such a difficult week when you are out there. To try and win it in your first year is almost impossible but we did okay. We had two small crashes which cost us a lot of testing time so eleventh place was average really. This year will be much better.
It's a new team for 2009 in the shape of SG Formula. How did the deal come about?

Jon Lancaster:
We were with the team in Formula Renault in 2007 which was a strong year and we know all the people there, which is a big plus. It was their first year in F3 last year and we watched what they did very carefully. They did a very good job to be fair as they didn't get a car until March so they had a very credible season with front-row qualifying slots and podium positions. They haven't quite had a win yet but hopefully I can bring that to the table! The people there are very clever and hardworking and together with a united front, I am confident we can have a good year.
Who do you feel will be the main rivals in 2009 - even with a lot of announcements still to come?

Jon Lancaster:
I would say you have to look at Bianchi who had a strong end to 2008, Maki who has been quite quick and Hartley who has also shown his pace. All the pre-season tests have seen us be quicker than all of them, although you don't know what people are doing, so it looks promising for us. I think we are going to be very, very competitive.
You'll be looking at this as the final year in Formula 3 before moving on to bigger and better things, so how important is it to have a good year?

Jon Lancaster:
Very important for sure. You have to keep the momentum of result going. We had a good first year in Renault and that was a plum two-year thing but when you finish second in the championship in your first year, you have to look to move on. F3 is a different thing altogether. It is bigger, more complicated and more complex and it is more difficult to do anything in your first year.

We did it as a two-year thing so this year it is important to be challenging for the championship and I'm certain that will happen. To win the championship would be fantastic and then move onto GP2 or you never know - a phone call could come at any time! But we have been told that people are keeping an eye on us and that is good to know as it is an incentive to push on knowing that people above are watching you and looking at you as a possible driver.
Does that increase the pressure at all, knowing someone is focused on you?

Jon Lancaster:
It might do for some, but for me it is just an incentive. It is what I want to do so much and if I know that people are watching me to give me what I want, then I want to do it more. You have to look at everything as a positive and if I do what I know I'm capable of doing, then hopefully we can do business with them!



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