You’re regarded as one of the world’s top female racing drivers and were the development
driver of the Williams Martini Racing F1 Team. How did that happen?
I was born in Oban on the West coast of
Scotland, a stunningly beautiful place
which meant I spent most of my childhood
outdoors. I mean who’d want to sit inside
in front of a computer screen when so
much excitement exists outside!
I was brought up outdoorsy too as
my mother and father ran a motorbike shop. They had me on a motorbike aged two and a jet ski by the age of six! My life was pretty much spent on water or on the track!
Now, whether it was in my genes,
or just down to competing with my brother David from an early age, I ended up being very driven and always wanting to win! So much so, that by the age of eight I had taken up competitive karting. I loved it and my brother and I got to travel to all the different courses, entering all the different competitions. We had a great time together. It also showed us that there was a big, wide world outside our little home town.
At school I was good at languages
but not so good at science. However, my parents made it pretty clear that if I didn’t pass all my tests then I wouldn’t be allowed to continue karting. That proved to be a big motivator. My science grades improved and I carried on karting!
Then when I was 14, I was taken to
watch a F3 race (the junior version of
F1) in which Jenson Button won. At that
moment, everything clicked into place
for me, as I realised I wanted racing to be my career. Jenson had proved to me that if you started karting at a young age you could make the transition into a single seater racing car, with the eventual aim of being a F1 driver and that’s what I wanted to do.
So I carried on karting, of course,
only now I had a career plan in mind. I won several titles along the way and by the age of 18, was ranked 15th in the World Championships.
I love the world of motor racing;
the adrenalin, the competitiveness, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, and yes I’m a speed freak!
From karting I stepped up into
single seaters, Formula Renault, and made the podium in my second season. I was even nominated for the prestigious British Young Driver of the Year Award. Sadly I didn’t win. I achieved
Hover to reveal!
MY ADVICE TO YOU IS...
If you combine something you really enjoy, something you have a passion for, with a
sensible plan, then you have the start of a career.
So dream big, but remember, a dream without a plan is
simply a wish.
several podium positions but only
managed to finish in 5th place overall.
I was so disappointed with myself.
However, it taught me some very big
lessons in life. They were; in sport there
is only one winner, and you can’t win
all the time. There will always be tough
days, every day can’t always be great, but
you must keep going and learn from your
disappointments and good things will eventually come your way - and so they did.
In fact, the second time I
didn’t win the Young Driver
Award, I did get spotted by the
boss of Mercedes Benz, and
offered a contract to race
with them. That turned out
to be one of the best days
of my career and for the
next seven years I managed
to live my dream racing for
them in the German Touring Car Championship alongside the
likes of Mika Hakkinen, Ralf
Schumacher and David Coulthard.