Dean Stoneman: “Pressure makes you a better driver”

by Paul Hensby

Red Bull Racing-backed Dean Stoneman spoke to The Checkered Flag at the conclusion of the second Formula Renault 3.5 Series collective test session at Silverstone on Friday, with the British driver aiming to take his maiden series triumph at his home track.

Stoneman, who drives for the DAMS team in the series, revealed work had to be done between sessions to improve the car after being disappointed to have been only fifth in the first session, but feels the Silverstone circuit will be demanding on some of the drivers this weekend.

“It was good out there this morning, I think I was expecting to be a bit higher than P5 this morning,” revealed Stoneman to The Checkered Flag.

“But we worked over the lunch break, me and my engineer, [to] see what we could develop and what we could improve to make the car for the second session. We changed the car and as you can see we ended P2, with a new tyre run.

“Around here its such a high speed track, so demanding on the body, the neck. It’s going to be difficult in the race for some of the drivers.”

Stoneman is aiming to take his form from practice into qualifying on Saturday, and hopes the British fans will be cheering him on to his first victory.

“I’m aiming to get on the front row and have a good start and see how it goes,” insisted Stoneman. “It’s always up and down. For example at the Red Bull Ring I was P1 in practice and then in qualifying I struggled a little bit.

“All I can do is hope it all goes to plan tomorrow. [It’s my] home track, all the British fans are going to be here, hopefully supporting me.”

Stoneman feels the season so far has gone well, securing podiums in all bar one round of the championship, and reveals he thrives on pressure, on which he feels he has more of this year because of his backing from Red Bull.

“It’s been good, I’ve obviously had a lot of podiums,” said Stoneman. “I’ve had a podium everywhere I’ve raced except Budapest, which was an off weekend for both me and my team-mate [Nyck de Vries] where we struggled overall.

“Its been a good year; I’m top rookie at the moment, obviously having Red Bull backing gives that little added pressure but I’m a racing driver and enjoy having the pressure, it makes you develop and makes you a better driver.

“I want to go out there and make the best job possible for myself, my team and my sponsors. It’s going to be difficult, but if it was easy anyone could do it. You’re probably talking the guys fighting for the championship have the potential to go into Formula 1 in the next couple of years.

“F1 is still my goal, [I was able] to test an F1 car in 2010 before my illness, but now I’m back in single seaters, it’s only my second year back in, and its going well, baring in mind the side effects I’ve got and the long-term effects that are facing me, but I put that to one side and deal with it in my own self.”

Stoneman admitted to The Checkered Flag that he has been suffering a little in 2015 with the Michelin tyres, which do not react in the same way as the Pirelli tyres he used in 2014 while racing to second in the GP3 Series.

“The Formula Renault car is much more demanding than the GP3 car,” revealed Stoneman. “The GP3 car with the Pirelli tyre I nailed it and knew what the tyre was doing.

“I think this has been one of my weak points this year with the tyre, I’m struggling with the Michelin, its just feeling that peak grip.

“We’re getting there but it’s been difficult though, all I can do is keep doing what I am doing and I’ll get there.”

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