Last weekend, the Russian racer Sergey Sirotkin, with the support of SMP Racing, opened his own Karting Academy at Forza One Karting. In an interview with F1News.ru Sergey told some details of this project, and also shared news about his near future.
Question: Various karting academies have opened in Russia more than once – including on the initiative of SMP Racing. What's new in your project, and what, in fact, the role do you play in it?
Sergey Sirotkin: Yes, there were projects, but today the niche in which we plan to work is practically not occupied. That is why I decided to do this. My role is that I revived this idea, completely developed the concept, from scratch, after which I submitted this idea for approval at SMP Racing. Together, we brought this idea to its logical conclusion and, ultimately, were able to open the Academy.
Question: Did you come up with this idea, or was they asked to start this project?
Sergey Sirotkin: No, this is completely my initiative. What we see now is the evolution of many of the ideas that I had that I developed. Of course, in some ways my initial ideas differed from what happened as a result – the more you delve into a topic, the more corrections you make – fate takes you either to the left or to the right. But when the idea took on a specific shape, I turned to SMP Racing, and together we worked on something else, looked for compromises, because I see something from my point of view, and SMP Racing from mine. As a result of this, the project has acquired the form that it has now.
Question: Conceptually, this project is not for athletes, but for ordinary people who are interested in motorsport and karting, who want to try their hand?
Sergey Sirotkin: This project is for both those and others. Yes, we set ourselves an ambitious goal – to increase the number of people involved in motorsport. But even outside the Academy context, the main priority for me and for SMP Racing is the education of talented young pilots. Therefore, of course, the key driving force of the Academy will be the search and education of talented children, and we will build the work accordingly. On the other hand, there are guys, teenagers, or even adults who have no goal of becoming a Formula 1 driver — they just want to go karting. We plan to form three types of groups, for different skill levels. And a group with an initial level – for those who are taking their first steps in karting, who want to learn something new for themselves, and we give them the opportunity to touch motorsport, to understand what it is and what they are capable of.
Question: It is rather unusual that you plan to deal not only with children, but also with adults.
Sergey Sirotkin: Yes, at first we planned to deal only with children, but we received a huge number of requests from adults, so last Friday we formed a direction that will deal with sports karting and adult groups.
Question: And the main question is under what conditions is all this done?
Sergey Sirotkin: Our approach to financial conditions was extremely simple – we decided not to come up with a bicycle, but based on the price list of another school that once existed, with fairly democratic conditions. We did not raise these prices by a single ruble – the main goal of this project is far from commercial. You can look at specific figures on mine website, but in general, the approach is quite flexible and individual.
Question But will classes only be at Forza One Karting Club
Sergey Sirotkin: Our Academy is an integral part of the club, so yes, today it is only here, but together with the owners of Forza One Karting we are already working to expand both in Moscow and abroad.
Question: Who will be directly involved in coaching at the Academy?
Sergey Sirotkin: Several people, including myself. No need to think that I just hired staff and once a month I will call and ask for a report – no, of course. After my schedule for this season becomes known, it will be easier for me to say how actively I can take part in this work, but anyway, I set myself the task of forming a team that understands and shares my attitudes, my vision, so that we were fairly interchangeable.
In some ways, I myself accepted the attitudes of those people with whom we will work – because although I have clear ideas about what and how to do on the track, I did not always imagine how to properly convey this to the students. Trainers with extensive experience often have a better understanding of how to do this. Therefore, together we formed a specific training methodology, and it will work regardless of where I am.
Question: What size is this team?
Sergey Sirotkin: The project will employ from six to ten people, depending on the load. Yuri Evgenievich Stavrovsky helped me to form the team, and he will continue to play a key role – both as a coach and as a mentor for coaches.
Question: How many students do you expect?
Sergey Sirotkin: It’s hard to say exactly, but I think that in the coming days we will have 60-80 students. Of course, these are different people – children, adults, someone takes one lesson, someone signs up immediately for six months. But, I think, in sum, something like this.
Question: Sergey, this is a very necessary and interesting project, but with all this, you yourself are only 24 years old. The opening of the Academy does not mean that you are fully focused on the “coaching” work? Is there any news regarding your future on the track?
Sergey Sirotkin: So far I can say little about this topic. We are trying to decide on plans for the near future. In recent months, negotiations have been quite active, but unfortunately, not all the news that we learned turned out to be positive. Nevertheless, we – I personally and the entire SMP Racing team – continue to work on possible options.
I want to emphasize that, of course, the opening of the Karting Academy does not mean at all that I decided to end my racing career and switch to training others. I paid a lot of attention to this project because I wanted it so because I had such an opportunity. However, this does not mean that I do not want to chase, I do not want to win. My main priority remains the performance in racing at the highest level – probably pilots who are just as motivated for it right now, still look. I believe that I have shown far from everything that I am capable of, and I still have something to prove.
Question To get into the leading series now without a serious budget is very difficult. Do you have any priorities, or are you considering all the options?
Sergey Sirotkin: Let's just say – I follow all the options, but not all of them are considered seriously. There are certain limits beyond which I do not want to go beyond – this is both the level of the championship and the type of cars. Of course, I want to be in the strongest championship possible, in the most competitive team, to fight there for victory. I can’t say how competitive the final option will be, but we are working to ensure that the level of both the championship and the team is as high as possible.
Question In the highly competitive championships there are very few places left now Are you considering the possibility of working as a test pilot?
Sergey Sirotkin: Yes, we are also exploring such options. It is too early to talk about them, because the priority is still a little different. But it cannot be ruled out that under certain circumstances such an option will interest us.