Nabil Jeffri was the last of the five drivers to be confirmed to race for Motopark in the 2015 FIA European Formula 3 Championship, but the talented Malaysian driver arrives with the backing of Petronas, the oil company that backs championship-winning Formula 1 team Mercedes-AMG.
Jeffri continues his collaboration with Motopark for a second season, having raced for the team in the German Formula 3 championship last year.
Talking to The Checkered Flag ahead of his series debut this weekend at Silverstone, Jeffri feels amazed that he has come this far in motorsport, and thanked everyone in his homeland for the support and the opportunity to race at a International level of motorsport.
“To be honest I never expected to reach where I am today,” revealed Jeffri. “To be in Formula 3 FIA Championship is an amazing opportunity given to be by Petronas and the ministry of sports in Malaysia. They trust and have faith in my talent and my goal is still to be in Formula 1 one day. But so far I am very happy with my progress.
“I started when I was eight years old and every single weekend my dad will bring me to a local go-karting track which is close to my house and every weekend we will go for go-karting together and I was always the best in the family.”
Jeffri revealed he approached Motopark at the end of the 2013 having competed in the German Formula 3 Championship with EuroInternational about a ride for the 2014 season, and was given a test to prove himself, and was then signed for 2014. He rewarded them with a runners-up spot in the championship, taking two wins.
“It was at the end of year 2013, where I was racing in the German Formula 3 Championship, and [at the] end of the year I approached Motopark at Hockenheim and told them I would love to drive for them in the year 2014,” said Jeffri.
“So in December I went for a test with them and I did quite good, so I got to be in the Motopark team and also having a boss like Timo [Team Principal Timo Rumpfkeil] is amazing. A great guy!
“It’s a German team and compared to my previous team this is much better in terms of preparation and in terms of preparing the drivers with the simulator. I like how the team works and how they work together always to do to be on top.”
The Malaysian driver believes the European Formula 3 Championship is the place to be if a driver has Formula 1 ambitions, and points to what Max Verstappen did in 2014 to see how important a series it is. He knows the importance of hitting the ground running if he wants to make it into Formula 1, and is aiming high in the championship.
“It is the best platform before Formula 1 and I think it’s an amazing championship,” insisted Jeffri. “As you can see Max Verstappen, who was in FIA Formula 3 before, and now he’s in Formula 1. It’s a good opportunity to be in Formula 1 hopefully!
“[I’ve been] preparing myself mentally and physically, training hard always and getting myself properly ready for 2015. [This year is] very important as the results for this year will make the decisions for 2016. [I want] to be on the podium this year and I want to try to finish in the top six [in the] championship.”