He’s the latest arrival on the Renault Motorsport F1 program and GP2 driver for the DAMS team for the 2017 season. Sheffield’s Oliver Rowland has had an incredible rise through the racing ranks and is now sponsored by Tempus magazine. We caught up with him to discuss his racing life and hopes for the future.
Tempus: How did you get started in motorsports?
Oliver: My dad always had a motorbike from when I was a toddler and I was fascinated with its noise. I also loved watching the TT on the TV with dad and was constantly watching videos of bikes and cars on the TV. You could say I was a bit obsessed with speed all that way back then, when I was just three.
T: So did your love of bikes and cars manifest into anything else other than just watching others ride?
O: No, far from it. On my third birthday my parents bought me a quad. Dad would follow me around absolutely everywhere with a kill-switch. I loved it.
T: And when you became proficient on four wheels, what next?
O: I was riding around on two wheels at the age of four. Not a motorbike, but by riding a pushbike on two, I reckoned I could push the parents for a motorbike.
T: How did that go?
O: Mum really wasn’t keen on me making the leap to powered two-wheels at that age and that decision was probably the first one that started me down the longer path that reaches here and now. We settled on me getting a go kart.
T: And then you started racing?
Oliver – Well, technically yes, I did get some racing done when I was just six years of age. Early practice for when I could actually get on track and compete for the silverware properly, when the minimum requirement of eight years old was reached.
T: So now you’re on a track, you’ve got a go kart, what pushed you to take things up a notch?
O: My obsession was to become an F1 driver. I was utterly focused on achieving that and thought about how I might get there every single day. I knew exactly where I wanted to be and from a very early age I was totally focused on getting there.
T: So you’re in the Renault F1 Academy program now?
O: Yes, GP2 is fantastic but this does take me, at the age of 24, into the exact environment I’ve worked so hard to be in. So I’ve moved down to be closer to the Renault HQ.
T: As your dream comes closer to a reality, which track are you most excited about racing on?
O: Easy. Monaco. It’s a place you can only drive on at a specific time of year as part of a specific event and it’ll be an absolute honour to race there. I remember watching Senna race there on the TV. The thrill of those walls – what an incredible and very special place. Saying that I do love Silverstone for its high speeds and the home fans.
T: So what are you looking forward to the most for the season ahead?
O: Working with Joylen Palmer and Rowland Gocton on the Renault team, stepping up to a new challenge and helping the team to improve overall. Most of all to win as much as I can.
I drive a Renault Clio RS and my dream car is a McClaren P1.
I’ll only put on pre-worn kit to race in. I have three race suits and can remember the races I did in each one.
Apps and gadgets
I love my Netflix. My iPhone is invaluable to me, I just wish Uber operated in Oxfordshire.
In the UK it’s the Woodhead pass over the Pennines.
I have a few. I love Tag Heuer and have a Stefan Johansson racing foundation watch too.