Twenty-year-old Thai driver Sandy Stuvik has moved up into the GP3 Series with Status Grand Prix in 2015 having dominated the EuroFormula Open championship last year.
Talking to The Checkered Flag ahead of the season opening round at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain, Stuvik revealed it was a trip to a go-karting track with his father, after a recommendation from a friend, that kick-started his motorsport career.
“I got into motorsport at four years old when a friend of mine had been karting one weekend and told me about it when we were at school together,” revealed Stuvik. “I asked my father if we could go and that’s how it started.
“We went back every Sunday until we were going so frequently that he bought me a second-hand kart that we shared and used 2-3 times a week. The kart had a small seat that could be screwed into/out of the larger seat so we could take turns using it.”
The Thai driver admits he is amazed at what he has achieved so far in his career, but hopes that what has gone before is only the beginning of something more.
“My career so far is already so much more than I could have ever dreamed of,” insisted Stuvik. “I’m truly very grateful to have been given this opportunity to do what I love by my sponsors, and have always been given the full support of my father, which is very important for me.
“Of course I hope I can look back in 10 years and consider this time in my career as ‘early days’, and that I still have many, many years to come!”
Stuvik arrives in the GP3 Series in 2015 as the reigning EuroFormula Open Champion, having taken eleven victories out of sixteen races, including seven in a row late in the season. He thanked his RP Motorsport team for the time he spent with them in the championship, but knows the level of competition will be higher this season in GP3.
“I look back at my years in F3 with RP Motorsport as the best in my life so far,” insisted Stuvik. “I had such great team-mates and there was a team atmosphere like no other I had felt before. The passion the team had to win made the taste of the champagne that much sweeter.
“Of course, coming off from many wins last season the expectations are high, but the level of this grid will be higher than anything I’ve come up against so I will just focus on achieving my objectives and we’ll see how it goes.”
As it happens, Stuvik’s two main rivals, and the only other two drivers to win races in EuroFormula Open in 2014, are also in GP3 in 2015, with Artur Janosz at Trident and Alex Palou with Campos Racing, and the Thai driver believes both could show well in the series this year.
“Artur Janosz was a great team-mate to have last year, despite us having quite different driving styles we could both look at each other’s data and take the best of both worlds to create a car that delivered race wins,” said Stuvik. “He’s a quick driver and will surely surprise people this season.
“Alex Palou was definitely everybody’s shock last season. So much natural talent in his first year of professional racing was truly impressive. He’ll surely be one to watch this season in GP3 and I hope to be up there as well!”
Stuvik initially contacted Status with a view to racing in the GP2 Series in 2015, but after testing last year, he felt a year in GP3 would be better for his career development. He was impressed with the professional nature of the team, and although knows there is a lot to learn, is looking forward to the season.
“We were initially considering a GP2 season with Status after seeing their HQ and their professionalism, but later decided that a year in GP3 would be a better option for me as a driver,” said Stuvik.
“After testing GP2 at Abu Dhabi, we decided (and I felt) I just wasn’t competitive enough in the car and maybe a step towards GP3 would be better for me to develop. We chose GP3 because we could race with a team in the top of the standings and hopefully be in the top this season.
“Status Grand Prix have a great team of mechanics, engineers, and staff so I’m very happy and looking forward to the season we’ve chosen to do together.
“I’m impressed at how comfortable I feel in the team already. We’ve been able to work very closely and I’ve learnt a lot about the GP3 car and how to use these tires to their full potential.
“There is still a lot to learn, and I think this is just the beginning of a fruitful relationship for both of us.
“Furthermore, it’s great how open the team is about everything and that we can truly work as a team to fully extract everything from what we have. I feel I’ve still got some way to go and much to learn before the season starts, but I’m happy that I have such competitive and experienced team-mates to help!”
Stuvik is keeping his feet on the ground as he tackles his first GP3 Series season, and is looking forward to experiencing a Formula 1 weekend from inside the paddock. He does understand the importance of being competitive however, with his future on the line with regards to sponsorship.
“My expectations have to be realistic this season,” said Stuvik. “The grid is very competitive and I just hope I can bag some points and work my way upwards.
“I’ll look forward to seeing what an F1 weekend is like from the inside of the paddock! The only Grand Prix I’ve been to is Singapore ’08, so this will be a new experience for me.
“Every year is crucial, for any driver. If I don’t do well it makes it difficult to find funding for the next season so it is vital that I show potential and improvement.”