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Interview – Cameron Das: “Hopefully, the knowledge gained in each series will complement each other”

6 Mins read
Credit: Joe Portlock / LAT Images / FIA F3 Championship

Cameron Das will be one of the busiest drivers around in 2020, with the young American competing in both the FIA Formula 3 Championship and EuroFormula Open series this year with Carlin Buzz Racing and Team Motopark respectively.

Even before the coronavirus outbreak and the rescheduling of the season, Das was set to have limited weekends off due to his plan of attack, but with races now beginning to restart, the twenty-year-old is going to have a hectic schedule.

Never-the-less, Das is heading into the year with very definite aims, with his primary ambition to win the EuroFormula Open title in what will be his fourth year in the category having debuted back in 2017.

“For the 2020 season, I have two goals: the first is to win the EuroFormula Open championship using the knowledge I accumulated with my tenure at Motopark at the end of last year, and the second is to ascertain as much knowledge as I can in FIA F3 as a rookie,” said Das to The Checkered Flag.

“The decision to do a double program this year is purely based on seat time. The amount of time spent on track in FIA F3 is limited, but it’s also an essential step in the path towards F1. EuroFormula has a huge amount of track time which will allow me to work on my own inefficiencies on a more detailed level.

“Hopefully, the knowledge gained in each series will complement each other, and I can have a successful season in both. Obviously given the current global situation, everything is up in the air, so we just have to wait and see how the situation unfolds.”

Das is aiming for strong seasons in FIA Formula 3 and EuroFormula Open – Credit: Joe Portlock / LAT Images / FIA F3 Championship

FIA Formula 3 Drive Opportunity ‘Came Very Late’

Das was not expecting to race in FIA Formula 3 in 2020, with the decision to reunite with Carlin coming late in the day.  His first experience of the F3 Dallara came during the pre-season test at the Sakhir International Circuit back in March, but racing with Carlin again made it an easy decision to make when it became clear that running in both series was an option. 

“The decision to do FIA F3 with Carlin came very late,” he said.  “I wasn’t sure if it would be possible financially or logistically in conjunction with EuroFormula at first, but it ended up working out just in the nick of time.

“Considering I hadn’t done any preparation on Pirellis (literally zero), I knew it would be an uphill battle trying to catch up with the rest of the field. Luckily, I’ve raced two seasons with Carlin in the past, and I knew nearly the whole FIA F3 team already, so it made the decision a relatively easy one to make.

“Given the current situation, I’ve only had limited interaction with the team just during the official test in Bahrain. I believe they are working on a simulator program which the three of us drivers can do together with the engineers to stay sharp, so I think that will be productive.”

Das will partner Clément Novalak and Enaam Ahmed at Carlin in 2020, and he feels everyone will be able to learn off one another throughout the season as they bid to push the team to the front of the grid.

“Both my teammates are really strong drivers, so we were all able to learn off of each other at the Bahrain test,” said Das.  “I think that’s key to having a successful race team.

“Of course, only one of us will be fastest at the end of the day, but we all are able to push each other in the right directions.”

Das says his ride in FIA Formula 3 came very late – Credit: Carl Bingham / LAT Images / FIA F3 Championship

“The first time I ever drive the car could be during a race weekend”

Das goes into 2020 with very limited testing in the FIA Formula 3 car and with zero experience of the new Dallara 320 in EuroFormula Open, and he admits the first opportunity to drive the car may come when the race season gets underway in July.

“With regards to FIA F3, there simply wasn’t a testing program, but the it’s been five months since the EFO testing program ended,” said the American.  “I still haven’t had the chance to drive the new Dallara 320 yet either, so it feels a little strange knowing that the first time I ever drive the car could be during a race weekend.

“Fortunately, we have the sim model setup by someone who has actually driven it, so I’m going to invest as much energy as I can towards understanding that in the meantime. 

“It would be unlikely if I was able to just magically pick up from where I left off especially given that both cars I’m driving this year are completely new to me. That being said, everyone is in the same boat.

“While the simulator isn’t 100% accurate, I believe it will keep my mind sharp enough to be quick in the race car as soon as I’m reacquainted with one. I think it would be a smart idea to have some official practice days before we ever go racing again to give us all a chance to dust the cobwebs off for safety reasons.” 

Das joined Motopark midway through the 2019 EuroFormula Open season and watched the team win all bar two races across the year, and he feels the German outfit are one of the most structured teams on the grid, something he feels will benefit him this year.

“Motopark is a unique team,” admits Das.  “Every team I’ve ever worked with as their own style, and the one of Motopark is incredibly structured. We spend an incredible amount of time preparing and analysing, and I think that’s a large part of why they were so successful last year.

“Currently, us 2020 Motopark drivers have been doing race weekend simulations and subsequent debriefs with the engineers bi-weekly to keep sharp, and I’ve found them very productive so far.

“I certainly miss the face to face interactions with my team.  There is a certain coming together within a team when a driver does well, and I’ve definitely missed that. Also, we are trying to replicate the race weekend in the simulator, but I just don’t have the same gratification when I qualify on pole or win a race as in real life.

“It can be difficult to stay fully motivated over long periods of time on the sim.”

Despite racing in EuroFormula Open last year (seen here at Silverstone), Das has yet to drive the 2020 Dallara on track – Credit: GT Sport

“My entrance into motorsports was completely by chance”

Das made his move into motorsports late in the day, with a chance run at a local indoor track opening his eyes to a possible move into racing.  He quickly went through a racing school before joining the United States Formula 4 Championship with JDX Racing, a championship he would then go onto win.

“My entrance into motorsports was completely by chance,” he admits.  “I happened to be really fast at a local indoor kart track five years ago, and that shortly after turned into being successful at a racing school which quickly turned into becoming a Formula 4 champion.

“Racing didn’t run within the DNA of my family, but the precision of the industry both on the driving and engineering front has been what most intrigues me. I love the analysis of racing, and I think more people would also become interested in the sport if they knew just how much effort it really takes. I certainly didn’t have any clue five years ago.

“F4 was my first full championship only a year or so after I discovered indoor karting, so I was absolutely overwhelmed when I ended up becoming champion.”

Overall, Das says Formula 1 is his ultimate goal, and he believes seeing an American on the grid will open up the marker in the United States.  Not since Alexander Rossi in 2015 has there been an American on the F1 grid, with Scott Speed in 2006/07 the last full-time entrant from the country.

“Formula 1 is my goal,” said Das.  “My love of racing began when I discovered the analytically competitive nature of the sport, and there is no greater series than F1 that matches that description.

“Also, F1 has never been able to fully tap into the American market, and I think having a competitive American driver is the key to that.”

Formula 1 is Das’ ultimate aim, and he will get seen by the teams by racing in Formula 3 this year – Credit: Joe Portlock / LAT Images / FIA F3 Championship
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Long time motorsport fanatic, covering Formula 1 and the occassional other series. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter at @Paul11MSport.
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