Ayrton Senna, one of the greatest F1 drivers of all times, was once asked if he was the best in the world. ‘I don’t think I am the best in the world - he said -; there was always one I could not defeat.’ That was six-time world champion Mike Wilson, who tells us about his friendship with the Brazilian champion, and gives some tips to young drivers on how to successful in karting.
Ayrton Senna, one of the greatest F1 drivers of all times, was once asked if he was the best in the world. ‘I don’t think I am the best in the world - he said -; there was always one I could not defeat.’ That was six-time world champion Mike Wilson, who told us about his friendship with the Brazilian champion. ‘When we were in karts, we were not good friends due to the competition. But we became friends when he moved to Formula 1. When I won the World Championship for the sixth time, he called the newspapers to tell them how important it was and there was a half-page story in the major sports newspaper. He told them that there are a lot of talented drivers who never make it to Formula 1. I later saw him in Paris at the prize-giving and thanked him. He said I always thought you would be in Formula 1. We lost a very big person in Formula 1 when he was killed in 1994 at the San Marino Grand Prix. It’s still difficult to talk about it’ said Wilson.
After recalling the old days and his rivalry with Senna, Mike spoke about young drivers moving to cars too early. According to Wilson young drivers lose both the opportunity to excel in karting and the ability to master car racing if they make the mistake of leaving karting too early. Wilson, now permanently on Birel staff, hopes to use his influence to help young drivers master the skills necessary to reach their full potential in the sport.
‘Nowadays – he said - many young drivers are leaving kart racing as soon as they are able to move into cars. But racing cars is a completely different thing. Kids are moving out of karting too early, when they are still learning the basics about racing and how to be competitive in karts. Too often, young drivers aged 15 to 17 have good results and some wins, so they make the move to cars. But they aren’t ready for it and are out of cars and karts, effectively giving up racing by 18. Both the driver and the sport of karting suffer as a result. Your karting career is like stepping stones to go over a river. If you jump one, you can fall in the river and get wet. Taking it one step at a time helps build confidence’ Wilson warned.
Read the entire interview on Vroom International April 2007 issue (n.72)