Exclusive Q&A: Belen Garcia and Nerea Martí

Belen Garcia and Nerea Martí were supposed to be gearing up for pre-season testing on home soil, but our Spanish rookies have had no time to sit and ponder what might have been…

How is life in Spain right now?

BG: I’m in Barcelona, not far from the Circuit de Catalunya, with my parents, sister and dog. We’ve been in lockdown for a month and are getting on well. I’m surprised how well we’re coping – we’re outdoors people but only allowed out to buy food or walk the dog. Everyone seems to know someone who is really sick, so it’s tough. But we feel united and must fight together.

NM: I’m in Valencia with my parents and we’ve been in lockdown since March 14. We have to stay at home so I’m training and studying hard. The situation is terrible, but we are trying to be super positive – we go out on the balcony every day to clap for key workers and are keeping our Spanish sense of humour to help us through!

You are both studying, so how are you managing that?

BG: I’m in the second stage of my engineering and telematics degree at university in Barcelona. My tutors think we have lots of free time now so they’ve given us more work and exams. I thought I’d be bored but I’m exhausted!

NM: I’m in the second year of my high performance programme at the Specialised Center for Sports Technification. We’re based at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia and do a mixture of academic studies, sports training and racing competitions. My tutors send me homework to do every day.

So, your daily routines haven’t really changed?

BG: It’s hardly changed. I get up at 7am then study from 8am until 5pm, so the only difference is I’m at home instead of university classes. I always train for an hour or two in the evening and thankfully, just before lockdown, we installed a little gym at home so I’ve been able to maintain that routine too. I’m so glad because I’d be going crazy if I couldn’t train. I get down if I’m bored, but I haven’t had time to get bored so far – in four weeks I’ve watched one movie!

NM: My routine is almost the same because my course involves physical and mental training too and my tutors send me programmes to ensure I’m still doing that. Away from my studies, me and my friends FaceTime a lot and I’m working hard to improve my English.

How much are you missing racing?

BG: I did a test in Valencia a few weeks ago and, just after I got home, they locked us down. That was the first time I’d been in a racing car this year and I missed it from the moment I got out of the car! I have a simulator at home and my evenings are spent doing lots of laps on that, so I’ll be ready to go when this is over.

NM: I have a simulator but it’s at my father’s karting track so I can’t use it right now which is tough. I was last in the car a few days before the lockdown so I’m really missing it. I need to race, I need to compete and I can’t wait to get back to it.

Watch Belen and Nerea in action in our latest film here.