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For our new feature on the website, Future Formula 1 Talents, we interview national and international young drivers who may have what it takes to become a Formula 1 driver in the future. For our first interview there was no need to travel far since this very talented young Dutch autoGP driver lives just around the corner from F1only. We were lucky to have the opportunity to interview Meindert van Buuren Jr at his home in Rockanje.
Meindert, please tell us something about yourself. You have been active in autosport for years now. What have you achieved already?
I started karting when I was four years old. I got my karting licence at Knaf when I was seven and that is when I started to compete in the mini series at the circuit of Strijen in the Netherlands. I did this until I was ten years old. I continued racing in the junior series. I started with 100cc air-cooled and after a while I switched to KF3 for three years. Then I switched to the Rotaxmaxx DD2. I drove a Topkart from Slangen Karting for the Papagayo Racing Team for two years. Early 2011 I switched from karting to autosport. I started to compete in the North European championship Formula Renault 2.0 at Van Amersfoort Racing (better known as VAR). The last two races of that season I drove for KTR in the European Championship Formula Renault 2.0. In 2012 I raced for Manor MP motorsport and I competed at the North European Championship and the European Championship. This year I raced for MP Motorsport in the AutoGP. I finished third in the ‘under 21 Championship’ and managed to finish in the top ten at the World Series as well.
Facts & figures:
2007 – 1st Championship South Holland and club champion KF3
2010 – 3rd International Open Rotax Max DD2
2011 – 4th Belgium Max Challenge DD2 (missed one race)
2011 – 4th Rotax Max Winter Cup DD2
2012 – 11th NEC Formula Renault 2.0L Zandvoort podium
2013 – 9th AutoGP World series
2013 – 3rd AutoGP World Series Under 21
What do you hope and what do you expect to achieve in the future?
The ultimate goal is to become a Formula One driver. For next year I hope to be racing in the AutoGP again.
What about the GP2?
Of course it would be great to race in the ‘supporting programme’ of Formula 1. However, the costs of driving in GP2 are much higher than in AutoGP. Apart from that, it would mean more frequent and long distance travelling. In the Auto GP you have eight race weekends per season. In the GP2 there are eleven.
Sponsorships and sponsoring in general is a very important part of motorsport. Gaining sponsors is getting more and more difficult. In Formula 1 talent is still important but (unfortunately) so is sponsorship money. How are you doing in terms of sponsorships?
I am very happy to have some loyal sponsors: Europroducts, Jan de Ruyter, Manor MP Motorsport, B&M Topsite, Stichting ALS, The Challenge Sports & Health Club Curaçao and Papagayo Curaçao. From the last one I get the nick name ‘the fastest parrot in the world’.
How do you stand out from other race drivers in your class? What is your greatest strenghth?
I can be fast fast, like fast in less than a second.
Beitske Visser is no longer a member of the Red Bull Junior Team. Do you think race seats in Formula 1 are meant for men only? Is it a man’s world?
That is a nice question (Meindert is laughing, probably because he is interviewed by a woman). I think it is very difficult for a woman to get a seat in Formula 1, because physically it is a very tough sport. There so many male drivers out there who do not succeed in getting a Formula 1 seat. I think it is even more difficult for a woman.
What if, one day you will manage to get a race seat in Formula 1? Who will be there with you on the grid? No need to mention 21 names, but try to name a few talented future stars in Formula 1.
Among the Dutch talents I think Nigel Melker definitely has a chance to get far. I think the current AutoGP champion Vittorio Ghirelli also might be holding the right cards.
What if you do not succeed in reaching your goal? Do you have alternative plans for the future?
My goal is to be racing in Formula 1 one day. If that turns out to be impossible IndyCar could be an alternative. If not, I would like to work in driver coaching, but I really hope to make it into Formula 1.
What is your favourite circuit?
Spa is fantastic and for me personally Mugello is very special.
Who is your favourite current Formula 1 driver and why?
Michael Schumacher was my favourite. After he quit I no longer have a favourite anymore, but what Vettel does is amazing. Of course, he has a good car, but his teammate is far from able to get the same out of that car.
What has been the greatest moment of your career so far?
That is when I won at Mugello although the victory was taken from me after the race. It was a great race, I really had to race to win. I had a great start and managed to get from P8 to P4 right after the start. After a safety car situation I was able to get to P3. When the leaders in the race had a touché I was the leader of the race. Under constant pressure of Campana I finished first. Unfortunately, the FIA decided after the podium ceremony to give me a 25-second penalty. They said I crossed the white line leaving the pit lane. It was all about one centimeter and it was decided by an official on the pit wall, so I was unable to file a protest. The Italian Sergio Campana got the win and so it became an Italian championship at an Italian circuit. You can raise your eyebrows, but that is how things went. I felt really bad after that, but was not able to change it anyway.
Friday 22 November 2013 Meindert will be testing for International Draco Racing in Formula Renault 3.5 at Motorland Aragón. Sergey Sirotkin and Carlos Sainz jr. will also be testing that same day. Sirotkin has a contract with Sauber to race for the team in Formula 1 next season, but he still needs to get his superlicence. F1only wishes Meindert the best of luck and a great day in Aragón.