Rupert's living his F1 dream

AT 17-years-old, Rupert Svendsen-Cook is already living out many a young boy's dream of being a racing driver - currently competing in one of the support series for Formula One.

Stuart Watson

AT 17-years-old, Rupert Svendsen-Cook is already living out many a young boy's dream of being a racing driver - currently competing in one of the support series for Formula One.

Stuart Watson spoke to the Ipswich resident about making his way up the motorsport ladder, being part of the F1 circus and his ambitions for the future.

ASK an eight-year-old what they want to be when they are grown-up and there is a good chance they will say either a) a spaceman, b) a footballer, or c) a racing driver.

But how many actually go on to tread the surface of the moon, grace the turf of Wembley or fly around the Silver-stone circuit?

It was therefore with a twinge of jealously that this particular reporter witnessed 17-year-old Rupert Svendsen-Cook do the latter of the above ahead of the British Grand Prix recently.

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This year the Little Blakenham resident is racing in the Formula BMW Europe Championships, a series that is supporting seven of Formula One's European legs.

If this wasn't kudos enough, the teenager is racing for the reigning F1 world champion's team in the form of Kimi Räikkönen's Double R Racing, while his manager Dennis Rushen also managed the great Aryton Senna in the early part of his career.

It comes as no surprise then that Svendsen-Cook admits there are still times when he has to pinch himself. He said: “I went to the British grand prix as a fan last year and thought to myself that maybe one day I would be racing at Silverstone, I never thought that opportunity would come just a year later.

“It's strange to suddenly be stood next to all these drivers that I have stared at on computer games and television screens over the years.

“When you arrive at a track on a Saturday morning and see the massive crowds there it's incredible, especially when I walk into my paddock and see my own car there with my name on it.

“We went to BMW's state of the art F1 factory in Switzerland recently and that was a real wake up call. There was a wind tunnel in operation 24-hours a day. It was like something from a James Bond movie.”

After his race at Silverstone, Svendsen-Cook heads off to the glitzy F1 Paddock Club for a presentation where the likes of racing legend Jackie Stewart and celebrities such as Gordon Ramsey and Sarah Ferguson mix among a throng of glamorous 'grid girls'.

Throw in the jet-setting lifestyle and the stacks of freebies thrown at him by sponsors and you could forgive the 17-year-old for letting such circumstances go to his head. Not so for Svendsen-Cook though, whose maturity-beyond-his-years enables him to keep his sites firmly on his career.

“I don't really think about all that stuff,” said Svendsen-Cook when quizzed about the celebrity nature of the For-mula One circus. “I can't get distracted, no way, I just want to get on with my racing.

“I try not to tell people what I do unless they specifically ask me. My friends know what I do and they are quite cool about it, but to be honest I don't really meet that many people outside of motorsport.

“I've had to make a lot of sacrifices to get to where I am. If my friends have parties I either have to miss them or go for a couple of hours and go home early.”

Such focus should stand him in good stead in the coming years as the motorsport pyramid begins to rapidly nar-row. Formula BMW comes with a proven history - four of the current crop of F1 driver having graduated from the single-seater series - but only a handful of the current field of nearly 30 young drivers will get anywhere near a test on the big stage.

The signs look promising so far for Svendsen-Cook though who is currently the top ranked British driver in the series after six rounds, including a recent top ten finish at Silverstone.

He said: “I know that Formula One is still a long way off, but with every race I feel like I'm getting a bit closer. A lot of it will depend on securing the funding, but as long as I keep getting better and better I know I can do it.”

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