Racing Director Dave Ryan gives us the inside track on the Arizona test
From 31st January, W Series will stage a test for prospective drivers at the Inde Motorsports Ranch, Arizona, USA. Over five days, a group of 15 young drivers from around the world will be given the opportunity to showcase their talent in US specification F4 cars. Watching on will be W Series’ Racing Director Dave Ryan, who gives us the inside track on the test and the things he will be looking out for…
Q: What is the purpose of the Arizona test?
A: The test will bring together a group of promising young drivers who we have been keen to look at and may consider putting into the W Series championship this season, or in future seasons, if they perform well.
Q: How will the test work?
A: We have 15 drivers, six cars and five days on track. The drivers will each get approximately a day and a half in the car, and when they’re out of the car they’ll be working with their engineers. Belen Garcia, who competed in last season’s W Series championship, will be with us in Arizona to set benchmark lap times.
Q: Why are US-specification F4 cars being used for the test?
A: Two reasons. The first is logistical as our Tatuus F3 T-318 race cars are at W Series’ UK factory being prepared for the 2022 season. The second reason is sporting. F4 is obviously a lower level than F3 but it is still very high and lots of things correspond, so it is a good bridge between karts – in which many of the drivers attending the test currently compete – and F3.
Q: Why was the Inde Motorsports Ranch chosen to host the test?
A: It is an extremely professional and challenging circuit, and we should get good weather, so it ticks all the boxes for us and the drivers.
Q: Why have these 15 drivers been chosen to attend the test?
A: It is always tough to find the right drivers. There are hundreds out there who feel like they should be racing in W Series, but we don’t have endless resources to run everybody, so you sit down, go through it, and hopefully select the right drivers to test. I’m very happy with the 15 drivers we’re taking to Arizona. Some of them may not be ready to race in W Series in 2022 but, given what they’ve already achieved in their careers to-date and what they’ve got planned in the future, they should be in with a good chance for 2023. It’s an early get-together to get to know the drivers and see how they are at this stage, so that when we check them again next time around, we know how much progress they’ve made.
Q: What are you looking for the drivers to show?
A: Loads of things. In the car, they’ve got to be quick, consistent, understand what the car is doing, and respond to what their engineers are asking them to do. Out of the car, it’s about attitude. Do they really want to be doing it? Are they willing to give 100 per cent and work hard? You want them to want it badly, to understand that it’s hard work and to apply themselves. There are plenty of drivers who will do a quick lap, but many don’t understand how they did it in order to repeat it again and again. So, we’re looking to get an understanding of what they’re capable of, whether they are receptive to learning and can apply it.
Q: Following the success of W Series’ first race in the USA last year, how much potential is there for the series in the Americas?
A: The potential is huge and these 15 drivers – and the interest that was shown in this test in Arizona – prove it. Hannah Greenemeier is a great example. She’s raced cars since she was five, she’s worked incredibly hard, she won the US championship in her category last year – something no other woman has done – and she beat some really impressive male kart drivers on the way. Brilliant kart drivers don’t always make brilliant single-seater race car drivers, but this test is an opportunity. It will be interesting to see how Hannah, and others like her with karting backgrounds, get on without much single-seater experience while others have Regional F3 behind them. That’s what makes the test so interesting – some should settle into it quite quickly, while others are getting their first taste of this level. They might be as good or even better because of the competitive nature of the championships they’re currently racing in, so we’re looking forward to the week.