Rookie Revelation

18 year-old Michael Christensen made his debut in formula racing this season, driving for Raikkonen Robertson Racing in the Formula BMW Europe championship.  Despite the pressures of starting his career in front of the Formula 1 circus, the young Danish driver has finished on the podium and currently leads the Rookie Championship.  Here, Michael talks about the learning curve so far and reflects on his first season in formula racing……   

How has you season gone so far?  

It’s been a bit up and down.  There have been moments when I’ve been quick and times when I’ve been slow, times when both I and the team have made mistakes, but we’ve learnt from them.  Even if I’m not completely happy with my performance, we’re leading the rookie championship so I’m happy with that.   Being sixth overall is also a good achievement, and I think it will be possible to move up to fifth if we don’t make any mistakes.  There are definitely things I could have done better this season, but I can’t change that, and as long as you learn from mistakes, they are a positive thing.   

What did you race before Formula BMW?  

Formula BMW has been my first season in formula racing.  Before this year, I had done a lot of karting.  I started karting when I was 10, I did three years in Denmark and then four years internationally.  Formula BMW is obviously very different to karting.  In karting you can get away with a mistake, whereas in a car you lose more time. It’s also more difficult to find out where you are losing time in a car.  It seems easier to find the limit in a kart, and I think that’s the biggest learning curve; how to improve, where to brake, where to turn in.  My team mates at Raikkonen Robertson have definitely helped with that; they have a year’s experience in Formula BMW, and it’s helpful to see their data and see what they do.   

Is it daunting completing your first season of formula racing in front of the Formula 1 fraternity?   

It doesn’t matter to me.  I’m there to drive the car and get the best results possible.  Obviously its nice to be driving on such exciting tracks and such big events, but it doesn’t matter to me whose watching, I don’t even realise anyone else is there once I get in the car.  

Do you think Formula BMW is a good place to start your racing career?  

I think Formula BMW is a very good series in which to learn.  The calendar is good, we visit some amazing tracks and the cars are really good as well.  The only small downside is that we don’t have a lot of track time, obviously as we’re a support series to F1, it’s their event, so we have to fit in around them! I think the Formula BMW car is a good car to start in.  It’s a very balanced car and it’s quite easy to find the speed.  The hard thing is finding the final tenths though, and it’s often very competitive in Formula BMW, and those final tenths mean the difference between a good result and a not so good one.   

You’ve visited some amazing circuits this season, which one has been your favourite so far?  

The Valencia street circuit is really good, it’s a nice circuit.  It’s exciting to drive on, and unlike some of the circuits its possible to overtake.  I’d say that was my favourite circuit, along with Silverstone which is also a good track.   

How did it feel to be standing on the podium at Silverstone in your first season?

It was great to be on the podium, but unless I’m on the top step I’m not completely happy.  When you get in a car, you get in to win, so you’re never completely satisfied unless you’re winning. How much does it mean to you to be the top rookie at this point in the season? I’m happy to be leading the rookie championship, it’s been a difficult year in many ways, we’re had some bad luck and I’ve made some mistakes.  Now I have to focus on winning the rookie championship and see if I can move up the overall standings.   

You’re racing at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend, are you looking forward to it?

We tested at Spa for one day; it seems like a really nice circuit.  Obviously the Formula BMW car is quite a small car to be going around such a long circuit, and I can imagine that it’s amazing to drive to a bigger, more powerful car.  It’s going to nice to drive there this weekend though. 

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