Exclusive Q&A with Tasmin Pepper

The coronavirus pandemic may have prevented Tasmin Pepper from driving an F1 car for the first time, but the South African is not letting life in lockdown get her down…

How is life in South Africa right now?

I’m with my family in Johannesburg and we’ve been in lockdown since March 27. We can’t go anywhere, other than to buy food when one person can go out, so I’ve not left the house for a fortnight. I’d say South Africans are quite positive. The virus hit here later than Europe and our numbers don’t seem to be increasing too quickly so lockdown came at the right time. But this is going to hit the economy hard. Lots of people in the townships live from pay cheque to pay cheque each week and now they have no work.

How has your daily routine changed?

I’ve got a full-time job with my family who have a plastic-moulding company. Normally I leave with my dad at 6:30am and work until at least 4:30pm. I go to the gym at around 10am for an hour or two every day to train. At weekends I train drivers, go karting and play golf, so for someone who likes being outdoors this has been quite a shock! But I’m keeping busy. I’m doing two one-hour workouts a day, lots of chores around the house and spend about three hours every day on my simulator, so I’m not sat around watching TV!

Tasmin Pepper, picture credit Libby Burke Wilde

Have you had to adapt your training?

We’re not allowed out to run or cycle so it’s difficult to do cardio work. I’m doing lots of skipping, high intensity and strength training and my personal trainer has sent me programmes to do at home so we’re replicating what we do in the gym as closely as possible. It’s probably more intensity work than cardio now because I don’t have a treadmill, but otherwise it doesn’t feel too different. In terms of driving, I have my sim and have been doing lots of laps online. Around 40 South African drivers have made a group and we race against each other online most nights. It’s frustrating not being in the car for real, but it’s fun learning to drive different circuits.

You were due to drive at the F1 event in Joburg a couple of weeks ago, but it was cancelled. How disappointed were you?

It’s my dream to drive an F1 car so I was really bummed but there are more important things going on in the world right now. Hopefully I’ll get the chance if they come back because it would have been great and everyone I knew had tickets. I was due to drive demo laps in a Renault F1 car at Kyalami on the Saturday, then judge competitions during the exhibition around the streets of Sandton on Sunday. Instead of that we were in lockdown at home and the weather was terrible so it wasn’t the weekend I had hoped for! But without W Series I wouldn’t have been invited at all so I’m still very grateful.