Dean Stoneman will return to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series in 2015 for the first time in five years, having joined Championship-winning team DAMS.
The twenty-four-year-old Briton is back to the level of motorsport he was back in 2010 when, to everyone’s dismay, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He fought magnificently to return to motorsport, and is once again one of the drivers to watch, with Stoneman joining the Red Bull Junior Programme during this past off-season.
Talking to The Checkered Flag ahead of the season opener at Motorland Aragon, Stoneman felt his career so far has been good, before and after his enforced lay off that cost him a few years of his career.
“My career so far has been good,” revealed Stoneman. “I have raced competitively at a high level and won championships. Even after the break due to illness I was able to bounce back and win which is a great feeling.”
Looking back at his 2014 GP3 Series season, Stoneman admitted he did all he could to prove himself in the series, and despite having to switch from Marussia Manor Racing to Koiranen GP, he was happy to take the championship battle to the final race weekend of the season in Abu Dhabi.
“We entered the season with high hopes,” said Stoneman. “Despite a few setbacks early in the season we finished the season strongly with Koiranen and took the championship to the final weekend of the season.
“I had proved all I could in GP3. Formula Renault 3.5 is the logical step especially when you see the drivers who have gone on to F1 etc. from this championship.”
The Briton was delighted to join the Red Bull Junior Programme, and is focused on doing his best this year, and will analyse at the end of the year where his results will take him.
“To be on the Red Bull Junior programme is a dream opportunity,” insisted Stoneman. “I was invited to meet with Dr Helmut Marko in Austria before Christmas for chat.
“I hope is I can do the very best I can for Red Bull and myself and lets see where that leaves me at the end of the season.”
Stoneman revealed it was an easy decision to join DAMS, with the team taking the last two Drivers’ titles, including last year with the Red Bull-backed Carlos Sainz Jr. He insisted he feels prepared for the season, and has faith that they can continue to engineer a winning car this year.
“When looking at Renault World Series there are a handful of teams you have to consider,” revealed Stoneman. “Looking at DAMS and their history of success they were the obvious choice. It also worked well for Red Bull as they worked successfully with Carlos (Sainz Jr) last year.
“They are super professional. Nothing is left to chance and group of highly talented individuals who know how to engineer a winning car. There way of doing things really prepares you for the years ahead.
“I’m in the Red Bull simulator two days a week and the pre season testing has gone well. I’m fitter than ever before.”
Stoneman is eager to get the season underway, and wants to make up for lost time and compete for wins. He feels he is in the right place to make a genuine bid for the championship.
“Having had three years taken away from me through illness I feel like this is my time,” insisted Stoneman. “I must show what I’m capable of and see where this leads me. I want to be competitive straight off and be competing for wins.
“[I’m] with a great team and part of the Red Bull Junior programme with a real shot of the championship. I can’t wait for the season to begin.”