After racing in Formula Renault, Josh moved himself up to GP3 with Status Grand Prix alongside Jimmy Eriksson and Adderly Fong. During his time in Formula Renault, Josh achieved eight wins, and 22 podiums across some of the UK’s best tracks. He was also selected into the final six of the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the year Awards in February. Being a member of the BRDC Rising Stars and MSA UK Elite Drivers, Josh is definitely someone to watch out for.
1. Firstly, you started racing when you were in school – Was it hard travelling to different area ’s in the UK as well as keeping up good grades? Did you have to sacrifice anything?
It was always going to make things a bit harder, however I tried really hard to catch up when I got back and I didn’t let it affect me too much. I recently went to Hertfordshire University to study Motorsport Technology, however after 6 months I realised that if I want to race in GP3 and commit fully, I would have to come back to Uni another time. It takes a lot of effort for both. You’ll probably hear from most drivers that the biggest sacrifice is actually the friendships you make in school. Being away almost every week racing definitely makes it harder to keep friends happy too! Luckily I had a good amount of friends who understood about my racing and were very supportive.
2. When did you first realise that you wanted a career in racing?
As a kid it became very apparent that I wasn’t exactly ‘talented’ at many sports… My mum found out when she came to pick me up from football practice and I was in goal swinging from the goalpost facing the wrong direction! At around 12 years of age I had a karting lesson for my birthday and from that moment I was hooked. I showed a flare for racing from the start and I’ve never looked back since!
3. So what has been the biggest difficult so far in your career?
I’d probably say dealing with frustration in testing this year. We had many problems with the car which meant I missed out on a lot of track time. As a rookie in GP3, and coming from Formula Renault BARC, it’s a big step for me and ideally I’m looking at a 2 year GP3 program. The team and I are working hard on the car and we are making vast improvements, but I have definitely learnt how to deal with frustration and things not going your way.
4. What did it feel like when you won your first championship?
I won the European Junior Rotax Championship in 2009 (age 15). It felt absolutely unbelievable. The biggest reward was crossing the line and the huge wave of relief, followed by excitement and a few tears. My family worked extremely hard that year (and still do!) and it was a fantastic feeling for all of us. It’s something that I’ll never forget.
5. How different was it when you transferred from karts to Formula Renault?
The biggest differences were raw power, a heavier vehicle and downforce. First of all it was a huge shock at how fast the Formula Renault was compared to a 25bhp Rotax. With a Formula Renault five times the weight of a kart, I learnt very quickly about managing the roll and balance of the race car. I felt I adapted quite quickly, and I loved every second of it. The more I trusted the car and the downforce, the better the experience was. To think that I am now driving a GP3 car with more than twice the power and downforce is crazy… and I still want more power now! I’m still on a huge learning curve even after 3 years of Formula Renault BARC… it shows you never stop learning as a driver.
6. Have any of the current or past Formula 1 drivers influenced you? Or do you have a motorsport icon that you aspire to be like?
There are many drivers that come to mind when I think about who inspires me. Definitely Ayrton Senna is in the list, as he was different to the rest and there was something unique about the way he drove. Jenson Button is another big influence, as he takes his fitness training extremely seriously and is a true athlete. His driving style is similar to mine, as he is very smooth and accurate. At least I try to be like that anyway!
7. Outside of the UK, which is your favourite track to race on?
Every new track that I visit outside of the UK keeps beating the previous. Right now, I’d say that Jerez is a favourite. But I can’t wait to visit Nurburgring, Spa, Monza and Abu Dhabi. They look awesome!
8. What has been your most memorable moment through your racing career?
Two moments stand out for me. One is the aforementioned moment when I won the European Karting Championship. The second was my first ever day in a race car in a Formula BMW at Pembrey. My parents came and it was a big moment for us. I was either going to go out and crash straight away or I was going to be competent and pick it up quickly. Luckily it was the latter!
9. With Status GP being based in Silverstone, do you spend a lot of time on track?
Unfortunately not. In GP3 we have a testing ban, which prevents any GP3 cars being driven except on official GP3 test days and race weekends. This prevents bigger and more financially stable teams and drivers doing lots of testing and gaining an unfair advantage on other drivers who can’t afford to do that. So in a way it’s a good thing. However, as a rookie, I need as much seat time as possible. Unlike some GP3 drivers who can go and test/race in F3, Renault World Series 3.5 and other formulas, we are limited to GP3 due to the massive costs of racing more than one race category. It was a very big task generating the budget for GP3, so we can’t stretch more than that. I am extremely grateful to Nine Group and my other sponsors for getting me on the grid this year in one of the best categories to race in!
10. Apart from racing, what do you do for fun?
As a racing driver, you have to commit to pretty full on schedules of training and sponsorship management. This means I’m training six times a week with my personal trainer, and working with my parents to generate sponsorship to keep racing going. It’s going very well at the moment, but we know it’s going to get harder and harder. We are up for the challenge!
11. Is driving in GP3 your route to Formula 1, via GP2?
Yes, that’s how I see the ideal path anyway. Renault World Series 3.5 is also an option, as the cars are on par with GP2 in terms of speed and the platform. We are looking to do two years in GP3, and then assess what our options are for 2015. In racing you never know what can crop up at any time, and hopefully I will be in a higher category in 2015. My family, sponsors and I have never been so determined to make it happen!
12. Finally, if you could see yourself somewhere in 5 years time, where would you like to be?
The answer is a simple one… Formula 1! It’s my dream, and I believe if I keep making progress and put in some great performances, then one day I could find myself in a Formula 1 car. Right now all I can do is put 110% in!