Nic Hamilton may have a famous motor racing surname, as brother of 2008 Formula 1 World Champion Lewis, but he also has Cerebral Palsy which means a different challenge behind the wheel from his fellow competitors in the AirAsia Clio Cup UK.
It’s also his first-ever season of motor racing, meaning he is arriving at most circuits having not driven them before.
Snetterton, however, offers a great opportunity for Nic, as he tested at the exciting new layout earlier in the year and reckons this weekend’s rounds should give him one of the best opportunities to shine.
Here, Nic answers the questions.
What do you think of Snetterton?
I like Snetterton – I think it’s a wicked track, I never got to drive the previous version but the test I did earlier in the year was great and I’m really looking forward to getting back in the car.
How would you review your season so far?
I think there’s a lot of work to be done, but given the circumstances of a late start to the year I don’t think I’ve done a bad job. At the start of the year I’d never raced before, I’d not done any proper karting or anything else to develop my racecraft so I’ve been learning everything as the season has progressed which has been pretty difficult.
What have been your highlights of the season so far?
The main highlights have been my performances at Donington and Oulton Park and I’m hoping to push and do even better at Snetterton – I just hope that we can get a really good result there. At the end of the test I was 1.2 seconds off the fastest lap time, so hopefully I can start the weekend and go all out and maybe push for the back of the top ten.
What did you make of Snetterton when you tested there?
I’d never seen Snetterton before the test so it was pretty daunting at the start, especially as two weeks before the test I’d had a massive shunt at Thruxton so for the test to go so well was a superb confidence lift. I aimed at the test to make progress all through the day and have my fastest lap at the end of the day when I’d put everything together and that’s exactly what happened. In every lap of every session I was getting more experience and getting more comfortable with the circuit
It’s been a long summer break, are you eager to get back in the car?
I’m really looking forward to getting back in the car and out on track, especially as Snetterton is where I’ve done the most testing and the testing went so well for me. Snetterton is a really cool circuit, it’s got its own Hamilton corner – and it’s a good corner too – so I’m really looking forward to racing there.
How has it been having your own fans?
It’s been crazy – I didn’t know I had so many fans that are there for me not just because I’m Lewis’s brother. I’m starting to get some fans in my own right, waiting for me at my awning before and after a race is a massive boost for me. I even have some fans who come to every race so I’m really looking forward to seeing them again when we get to Snetterton. I want to see as many people as possible enjoying motor sport and it would be great if we could see some more people with disabilities involved in motor sport, I meet some people in wheelchairs outside my awning and it’s great to talk to them about the sport and it’s a great boost for me too.
What’s the target for the second half of the season?
For the first half of the season my target was to just finish every race and bring the car home, but my target for the second half of the season is to drive to race and focus on moving towards racing to win. Obviously, getting a win at the moment is a long shot but I reckon the pace is there in me to be in the top ten so I have to have that as my aim. I’m going to do my best, and that’s all I can do.
How difficult have you found the level of competition?
I always knew the completion would be intense. The AirAsia Clio Cup is a very professional championship and all the drivers are very good at what they do. There are a lot of drivers with a lot of experience, either from karting or from the Clios. It was a difficult decision to join the championship as the competition is so intense and with the limited amount of testing on top of my lack of experience has made it very difficult, so to be around 1.2 seconds off the fastest pace is not too bad.
How are you hoping to improve?
I’ve only done five race meetings in my career so I can only get better and improve so let’s see how the second half of the season goes; I’m feeling more confident to be a bit more aggressive on track which I think is going to be the best way to improve. This season is a learning year but the only way I’m going to learn is by being a bit more aggressive.
Are you finding that you are coming to circuits with more confidence?
My experience in the car is building but I’m still learning the circuits. My last race was at Croft and I didn’t even know which way the circuit went when I arrived so it’s a steep learning curve every time and back to square one. In this respect I’m looking forward to Snetterton as I’ve already driven it, so when we start practice I’m aiming to be just as quick as my last lap in testing, that’s my aim.
What’s the plan for next year?
I honestly don’t have a plan for the future right now, I would certainly like to do another season of racing in the Clio Cup; I think I deserve another shot and I think I would show a lot of improvement in a second year. The only way I’m going to achieve better results is through more testing and more racing so that has to be the aim.