James Winslow wrapped up the Australian Formula 3 title at Queensland Raceway last weekend.
It is the British driver’s second Aussie F3 crown, making him one of just 12 individuals to win one of CAMS’ highest honours – the Gold Star.
Speedcafe.com’s Grant Rowley spoke to Winslow about his recent F3 success, his starts in Euro NASCAR and his ambition to compete in the V8 Supercars Championship.
SPEEDCAFE: It must be a relief to wrap up the F3 crown with one round to spare?
JAMES WINSLOW: It’s fantastic. I was really keen to try and win it this weekend at a V8 event – to help advertise the championship.
Also, to do what we’ve done this season and complete it in front of the V8 team managers is great, because I’m working very hard to try get myself a V8 drive next year. It’s not an easy project, however winning every race can only make it easier for you.
As long as you’re winning, you’re proving that you’re capable of driving pretty quick.
SPEEDCAFE: You’ve already won the Gold Star, which puts you into an exclusive club, being one of only 12 drivers to be a double champion …
JW: It is great to be in that elite bunch. I have a lot of respect for the award and I’m very proud to have won it once again.
SPEEDCAFE: The F3 Championship might not be the strongest championship – in terms of numbers and competition, but where do you rank this in terms of the other championships you have been involved in?
JW: The numbers on the grid haven’t been huge, 14 cars is probably our biggest number for the season, but the guys out the front are good. Steel Guiliana is a career driver, Chris Gilmour has done 10 years of racing in this category – he knows the cars very well, his dad is his engineer and they’re very good at setting the cars up.
The competition at the front is tough, like most championships in the world. It’s hard to win races.
The top two, three, four or five are always very talented drivers here, so I think it’s a good series. It needs a few more cars on the grid but the drivers out the front are very quick.
SPEEDCAFE: Is this the end of your Australian Formula 3 career?
JW: I think so, but I think I said that four years ago!
If I got invited to come back, of course I’d jump at the chance. I love driving Formula 3 cars, Formula 3’s are probably the most fun cars to drive outside of F1. I have been lucky enough to drive Champ Cars and Indy Lights, which are great fun, but a Formula 3 car, there’s nothing that really matches up to it. It has fantastic grip and just really good fun to drive.
This will probably be my last Formula 3 race at Phillip Island next month and I’ve enjoyed every minute and it’s fantastic.
SPEEDCAFE: So despite already wrapping up the championship, you will be back for the final race?
JW: I think I will be there, I think the team is quite keen to get me there. We’ll see what happens but I’m pretty sure I’ll be there.
SPEEDCAFE: You have also been competing in the Euro NASCAR series, and you’ve had a couple of good results …
JW: I’ve done two events, four races. There are some good drivers there, GP2 race winners, Yvan Mueller is leading the World Touring Car Championship, it’s a really good pack. There’s a little too much contact for my liking though. Coming from single seaters, I haven’t quite perfected the art of professional fouls yet, so I’m going to have to learn that.
It’s a good series and it’s going from strength to strength.
SPEEDCAFE: How does V8 Supercars fit into your plans for next year?
JW: That’s 100 percent my focus. I’m talking to a team or two, it’s not going to be an easy project for sure, but I’m 100 percent determined, it’s my number one focus, to get a V8 drive.
I really want to get into the Car of the Future because it is going to be a different driving style. The guys in V8s at the moment have obviously perfected the style of driving for the current car. My feeling is that they must be slightly typecast, to have been driving the same car for five to 10 years. It’s going to be harder to adapt to the new car.
I’m hoping that a fresh face coming in with some new ideas in a different car is an opportunity to get a drive.
SPEEDCAFE: Would you consider a drive in the Development Series?
JW: I did one Development Series round at Homebush and that went well. A Main Series drive is really what I want, that’s my focus, but if a Development Series drive came up I would definitely consider it seriously. At the moment, though, I’m looking for a Main Game drive.