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…chance doesn't exist; there's always a cause and a reason for everything – Elahi

Archive for the month “September, 2017”

Fighting hard

I recently met a young (17 year old) Englishman who just might be the next Nigel Mansell. Nigel won 34 Formula Ford races in 1977 but no-one seriously rated him: he came from Birmingham, he had no money behind him and he said things as they were rather than as people wanted to hear them. Enaam Ahmed, who is of Pakistani descent, which is about as far from the motor racing mainstream as… Birmingham…also lacks the big finance. And, like Nigel in ’77, Enaam has also just blitzed a season. In his case it is the BRDC F3 Championship, a B-division of F3 that many of the “experts” will tell you is not particularly competitive or demanding.  I would counter that is is still, withal, a series that is out there to be won.

To help move his season along, Enaam worked on the shop floor at Carlin – just as Nigel in 1979 drove a van for Team Lotus – and when Enaam wasn’t doing that – or winning British F3 races – he was writing letters to sponsors and investors, just as Nigel always used to post his ten-a-day.  Ahmed isn’t racing British F3 because he necessarily wants to; he’s racing there because that was as much as his budget would allow. On the back of this success he of course wants to graduate to FIA F3, and to show his talent amongst better-known names – but that isn’t going to happen unless he raises the £900,000-or-so required for a full season in 2018 . Nigel and Rosanne re-mortgaged their house to pay for Nigel’s five F3 races in 1978; Enaam’s parents are looking to do the same.

Anyway, I was impressed by Enaam when I met him. He thinks logically, he comes over well and he is self-critical – which isn’t easy when you’re a 17 year old who has just won 12 F3 races in six months. I don’t know if he’s going to win Grands Prix one day but I can say there are no signs that this isn’t going to happen. He’s won the Junior World and European kart championships and now he’s dominated his British F3 season. He knows how to squeeze the brake pedal and when to rotate a car and he drives with his fingertips, not with his wrists.

Like Nigel.

So judge for yourself. We shot this interview in the offices of Motorsport.com. I think it gives a reasonable insight into what Mr Enaam Ahmed is all about.

 

 

 

Travels in Italy

The Spa-Monza double-header always poses a question: fly or drive? This year I chose the latter option and took the opportunity to visit some of the people and places I’ve always wanted to meet (or re-visit).  Near Parma, for example, I called on the former Ferrari engineer, Enrique Scalabroni. He and his partner live in this gorgeous vilcofla in the mountains. Enrique hits golf balls in the early morning – he’s surprisingly good – and works during the day from his office in the main part of the building. The thought occurs, as you sit outside at night, feasting on pasta, home-grown tomatoes and local white, that there aren’t too many places more delicious than this.

I had a schedule to keep, however, so I was off the next morning to see my friends at Prema Powerteam, the Italian race team founded in the early 1980s by Angelo Rosin and Giorgio Piccolo. Today, Prema have few rivals: in terms of single-seater race wins and championships, Prema are simply world-class. In F2 this year, Prema’s Charles Leclerc has been a revelation – a driver not only of immense skill and feel but also a human of courage and depth. Here’s a video I put together around a chat with Charles just before the Monza weekend:

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