Close up of the former kart driver who made it to Formula 1
The slogan fits perfectly with all sports discipline or environments in life where a natural selection is required. We like thinking that selection is based on merit, it isn’t always like that, however, Robin Frijns’s story - third driver in Sauber Formula 1 team, chosen in 2008 by Vroom to move his first steps in single-seaters - is all about hard work, commitment, dedication and success.
Here we are once again talking about an ex-kart driver that moves on to Formula 1. Robin Frijns, from Holland, one with a heavy foot chosen by Vroom to step into single-seaters a few years ago, has recently made the headlines after taking up the position as third driver for Sauber Formula 1 team for the 2013 season.
Everyone knows that the dream of 99% of those who take up karting is always the same one: race in Formula 1! The problems for young kart drives are many, as they often encounter the biggest one, the saddest truth in modern automobile sport, money. And the dream vanishes. Well, this doesn’t apply to Robin Frijns.
We left him at the Licence Course organised by Formula BMW awarded to him by Vroom in the selection organised in 2008. And now here he is, with Formula 1 Sauber team, as third driver, after four successful seasons in the lower classes.
Let’s talk about something that seems to have hit agenda of the international federation, that is age limit for moving from karting to cars, now set at 15. You went to cars at the age of 17, so you were in karting for about ten years. Do you think it was the right age for you to move up to single-seaters? And do you think the current age limit should be raised?
An extract of the interview that you'll find in the next issue of Vroom International
“I don’t know if it is right or wrong, I can only say that my experience has worked for me, and at 17 maturity and your perception of risk is different to when you are 15. It may seem daft, but in two years you do pass from an age of adolescence to the early phase of adulthood where a young person’s ideas and perceptions change.”
Let’s go back to karting; do you still have contacts with that environment? Do you still feel connected to our sport?
“I am still in contact with some people, especially the mechanics that used to help me on the track. Until a while ago I used to go to the circuit in Genk to help young drivers, I like helping those who don’t have the means, those like me who can’t afford it. But it’s been a while since my last kart race and I still don’t feel like getting back at it, at least until I have achieved my goal to actually race in the Formula 1 championship. I’d hate to lose this chance through bad luck, say an accident while racing in a kart. However, I must say I do miss the immediacy and excitement that you get in karting.”
So far your career has been fantastic, can you tell us who has backed you and supported you over these past four years in Formula?
“My parents, obviously. I am very grateful to them for all they have done. Then there is another person who has never left me and is very close to me, my brother in law Peter. He has always been a great support since my early days in Formula BMW, I owe part of my success to him. Together we have won three titles in four seasons and probably if he hadn’t been there things would have gone very differently.
Then I must thank all those who believed in me starting from Vroom that allowed me to take my first step in a formula car thanks to the selection with Formula BMW, my thanks to BMW for having given me the chance to race two seasons in their championship, Renault and last but not least Sauber team for this last (in order of time, obviously) great opportunity.”
ROBIN FRIJNS RACING CAREER
2012 - World Series by Renault (P. 1 - 189 points)
2011 - Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup (P. 1 - 245 points)
2011 - Formula Renault 2.0 NEC (P. 4 - 238 points)
2010 - Formula BMW Europe (P. 1 - 383 points)
2009 - Formula BMW Europe (P. 3 - 263 points)
CIK European Championship – KF2 (P. 3)
WSK International Series - KF2 (P. 9)
French Championship – KF2 (P. 2)
BNL Karting Series - KF2 (P. 9)
Belgian Championship - KF2 (P. 7)
French Championship – JICA (P. 1)
Belgian Championship – JICA (P. 2)
French Championship – JICA (P.2)
Belgian Championship – JICA (P. 2)
Belgian Championship – Cadet (P. 1)
VAS Championship – Cadet (P. 2)
VAS Championship – Cadet (P. 3)
Belgian Championship – Cadet (P. 9)
VAS Championship – Mini (P. 1)
Belgian Championship – Mini (P. 2)
Belgian Championship – Mini (P. 1)
VAS Championship – Mini (P. 2)