18-year-old Cameron Twynham is competing in the EuroFormula Open series for Team West-Tec F3, and has high hopes for his 2014 season. The young Briton currently sits fourth in the standings after six races, having taken his maiden series podium at the Nurburgring earlier this year. He has scored top six results in five of the six races so far.
Looking over the first three events and six races of the season, Twynham admits it has been a peculiar beginning to the year. He had minor car issues during winter testing that affected his ultimate pace, but he feels that his pace is not far off the drivers racing at the front of the pack.
“It’s been a strange start to this year,” said Twynham to The Checkered Flag. “Winter testing was plagued by small car issues that meant I was never really showing my ultimate pace but it was there and we knew it was not far off the front guys pace. It seems that my car is perfect in the wet and the cold and I have topped every timesheet of the year in the full wet so far but unfortunately we have not had any wet races yet.
“In the first three rounds we have still been struggling, it seems that I have some good pace on one lap but am miles off with race pace, we have tried multiple things to resolve this, some worked and others were not so good and due to the lack of real on the pace winter testing we have to test these things during the race weekends, it is very frustrating as Team West-Tec had reliability and pace last year with the 312 and we were hoping that would carry straight over.
“It is very clear that RP and Campos have worked very hard over the winter and I feel that we have learnt a very hard lesson about effort over the winter with the errors that are now costing us massively at the start of this year.
“I think we would need to do winter differently to change what has happened so far this year, all I can do is go out and maximise what I have and I feel that on most occasions so far I have done that. From the outside it might look like I have settled in the position I am running but in reality every lap is at 100% of me and the car, in my short career I have never done so much defending!
“It’s turned into good defensive practice because the qualifying pace is so much higher than the race pace. I start the race with the objective of not going backwards and I think I am doing a pretty good job of that. Just wish I could get the pace back and show people what I am actually capable of, I know this should not be 4th in the championship and defending every race.”
Twynham took his maiden series podium in the second race of the opening weekend of the season at the Nurburgring, and the young Brit admitted he was relieved to take the result, but is disappointed that it’s the only podium he has had so far this year.
“The podium was a relief,” said Twynham. “In race one I was in 3rd when the clutch started slipping and ended up back in 5th but did finish, as it turned out this was a manufacturer issue and nothing we could have done to see it coming or avoid it but I was gutted to lose a podium in the first race, so then in race 2 I was even more determined to get up there. I was also unlucky in Portugal not to get a P2/3 in race one but the safety car and then my lack of straight line speed plus the lack of application of the track limits rules meant I ended 4th.
“I love being on the podium, it’s the only place I want to be at the end of every race so to only have made it once this year is a great disappointment.”
Looking at the strength of the field in 2014, Twynham feels everyone is really close, and it would only take a small mistake or issue to lose a lot of places on the grid or in the race. When looking at the RP Motorsport drivers Sandy Stuvik and Artur Janosz seemingly dominating the year, he feels it is all down to the set-up of the cars, and the Briton knows to get on terms with the RP Motorsport drivers, Team West-Tec F3 are going to have to match that set-up and quickly.
“The field certainly seems very close this year, some drivers are doing a lot better than I expected and if you make a mistake you qualify outside the top 10, that’s a great way to learn not to make mistakes,” said Twynham. “I entered this championship in 2014 to continue my learning in a competitive field and one of the best race cars in the world, I am doing just as planned and learning a massive amount, maybe more than I would have done had the car been dominant like the RP cars. They say you learn more when you lose and I certainly am feeling that this year.
“Its all in the set-up, their [RP Motorsport] cars are on rails and we need to match that quickly. I know if we can get the car sorted I can take it to them, still a long way to go but we have to resolve these issues quickly.”
In the first race at Jerez last time out, Twynham had his first non-points finish of the season after struggling with set-up and balance. He finished down in eleventh, but a dramatic change of set-up to one of his team-mates settings saw his pace improve for Sunday’s race two, and he took a fifth place finish.
“The car has a lack of pace in the race so we went radically different on Friday and went for a set-up we believed might help,” said Twynham. “On Friday we were running top 5 so it felt ok but I was struggling in turns 9-10 and the chicane. Due to the tyre rules we only had old tyres Friday and on Saturday in qualifying when we bolted new tyres on it was dramatically worse in those corners not better as predicted, hence such a bad qualifying.
“In f3, especially at tracks like Jerez, if you qualify that far back you need a bit of luck on lap one to stand a chance and I didn’t get that. It was our choice to go radical and we certainly proved that this set-up didn’t work.
“For Sunday we copied a different set-up from one of my team mates but 2 vital pieces of the puzzle were missed in the very late night changing of everything, that meant I had a bit of exit understeer in turn 5 that got my tyres dirty on my best lap in qualifying and lost me a front row or even pole position.
“Qualifying was the first time I had driven the car in that configuration so I was extremely happy with P5 straight out the box even if more was possible.
“Again our race pace was not there but I think these couple of items missed plus 3 or 4 more things we have found back at the workshop looking over data and the car will start to resolve that in Hungary.”
Twynham has deliberately driven in series’ that are not deemed to be ‘mainstream’ such as EuroFormula Open, but is hoping that 2014 is the springboard he needs to take him onto the next level and into the mainstream. Formula 1 is the ultimate goal for the Briton like it is for many young drivers, but the level headed Twynham knows it will take time, and he will climb up the ladder one step at a time.
“I have done my learning in championships that would probably be classed as not mainstream, this was very deliberate as I only had a couple of years of karting before moving to cars and we decided very early on we didn’t want to get caught up in the theory that this or that was the route because that’s what Red Bull or McLaren drivers do,” said Twynham. “I needed to learn how to drive, race and be fast.
“I have competed in 57 races and finished 56 of them and 42% of these on the podium and I am very proud of these stats. I am not from a mega wealthy family and don’t have any massive backers and am not on a young driver program so we are pretty much going this alone.
“Next year its time to move to the mainstream because to progress further than F3 I need real backing. I am already in negotiations for a good seat in 2015 and I think I am now ready for it, F1 is obviously the dream but one step at a time and next year will be the biggest step I have made and my future direction will be based on what I do out there with the ‘big boys’.
“[2014 is] learning year number three to me, just as important as the first 2 and critical to keep learning my trade and improving. I think that even if I win the Open nobody will take much notice, as it doesn’t have the kudos or history of some other championships.
“2014 will not dictate 2015 financially as we are self-funded for the major part so in reality I am pressure free to go out and learn and hopefully win while learning.
“Next year will be a different story and I am hoping to arrive in the mainstream fully prepared and ready to make a big impression on the people that matter.”
This weekend sees the EuroFormula Open arrive at the Hungaroring, a track Twynham has never raced nor tested on. He feels the track should suit his driving style, and is looking forward to the weekend in Hungary.
“I have visited the track to watch a race but never tested or raced there,” said the Briton. “There was a winter test that most of the teams attended so I know I will be on the back foot on Thursday but I don’t think it will take me long to be on the pace. The track should suit my style, I love technical fast corners, changes of direction and hard braking and this track has an abundance of these.
“My normal preparation has continued for my fitness but I also visit the simulators at the iZone and at Dallara in my build up to every race.”
His ambitions for the remainder of the 2014 season could not be clearer. With ten races still to go, he feels he is still part of the Championship battle, and with everyone’s worst two results of the season being dropped, his eleventh place finish right now would be dropped and it would not affect his points tally.
“Its all still possible [to win it] as my 2 drop scores are now very low so I need to have great consistency at the front for the remainder of 2014 and its still well within my grasp.”