Hello, Lorenzo. Now that the World Championship is behind, I guess you have had time to reflect on your achievement?
Yes sure! As soon as I won the title, I felt very happy but it was just a race like any other in my view. I knew it was the World Championship but, at the time, I did not really realize what that really meant. But, honestly, after some days, it feels even better because, once you come home, you get all those celebrations and lots of people congratulating you, etc. Time by time, I slowly realized what it means to be World Champion, especially looking at my name besides other great champions in the history of Karting. It’s really beautiful.
This kind of victory must bring you back to the journey you went through to get where you are today. And things haven’t always been easy, right?
Yeah, I basically started doing Karting with my father, spending ten years with him until I was like 14-15 years old. After, I joined the PCR team and, from there, I started to gain more results and confidence, always managing to step up. Then, I won the WSK Super Master Series title in the OK category after moving to Ward Racing in 2016 before moving to Dino’s team, Chiesa Corse Zanardi back then, and now
But, for sure, the journey wasn’t easy. We did not have a big budget and had to adapt to what we had. We wanted to do the international races, to grow more experience to be efficient enough and the only way to do that was to pursuit only with my father. We was my mechanic, my manager, everything. At the time, we would have never imagined to get where we are now because, in the beginning, it was just for fun. It was a thing between my father and me to enjoy and, step-by-step, we started to get more results. Looking back to the journey it has been, it feels pretty incredible.
Let’s take you back to Kristianstad. It’s fair to say that the Swedish weather has been rather mixed up thorough the weekend. As a driver, how do you keep your head down facing such difficult conditions?
It was not easy at all, indeed. We had six heats, so it was a really long way to the final. I was not only focused on winning but making it to the end in one piece in those difficult heats. In wet conditions, we knew we had a strong pace, so I managed to win as much as I could with a good gap. Even at the last heat, the conditions were mixed with a half-dry track and it was very tricky to a point of becoming dangerous. But I knew I didn’t have to take any more risks as the pole was already secured. All the weekend, I tried to figure out which moments it was better to push and which I had to lift the pedal to maximize the result.
The OK Final was thrilling from start to finish with you and Hannes Janker battling on a different planet. Did it feel that way on track?
Yeah, our battle was kind of the reflection of the whole year. It was many times between Hannes and me on track. So, I think it was just the way it had to be because even there, in Sweden, I quickly realized from qualifying practice that he was going to be the main rival. And we were also in the same group for the heats as he was starting behind me. We managed, heat by heat, to know more about each other and we showed that the gap between us and the other drivers was constantly increasing. I knew, and he knew, that this was going to be between us. It was a really, really nice battle and we have lots of respect for each other, as we showed back at the European Championship when he had a chance for the title and I didn’t.
You led the opening laps from pole position, then Janker got past and you spent the majority of the race in his tail. Did you feel confident the door would eventually open to reclaim first position?
When Hannes passed me, around lap nine or ten, I checked behind and saw that we had built quite a gap on the others, so I did not have any rush. The race was long, 25 laps, and I took my gap on him and waited for a little while to push at the end. It’s a track where you can overtake pretty much at every corner so I knew that it was going to be around the last laps. I think I found a good passing position and managed to overtake him in turn 5 to keep a little gap for the last lap. But, all in all, I felt quite relaxed. There was a point when he overtook me and was really, really fast, it was not easy to stay behind him.
Following a European Championship with ups and downs, does this World title come as a sort of relief for you?
To be honest, it feels like my little revenge, not only for this year’s European Championship that was not completely right as, I think, we got taken away from our chances of winning it. But also for last season when we were quite unlucky in both European and World Championships. For the last two years, we were always so close to the title but not getting it so, yeah, for me, it was really something that I needed. I always felt like a fast driver, competing among the contenders for the win but missing it. So, this title comes with a little taste of revenge for those two unlucky years.
Despite the ups and downs, how do you look back on your 2018 season?
Let’s say that, in terms of achievements, 2017 was maybe better. This season, we had a bit of bad luck in both FIA Karting European championship and in WSK. But, this year, I set a couple of pole positions and fastest laps in many Finals so, in terms of speed, 2018 has certainly been my best campaign so far.
What can you tell me about your working relationship with Dino Chiesa within Kart Republic?
It’s amazing. When I had the opportunity to join him two years ago, it felt like a huge step forward. Dino has a totally different approach to Karting compared to any other team I’ve been with. For example, the way he selects the material for each of his drivers, what set-up, what chassis, what tire, etc. He has up to 17 drivers under his belt, so you can imagine how complicated that can be to manage them all. His knowledge of the sport is immense and that enables him to know exactly what each driver needs to deliver the performance. Time by time, we learned more about each other and gained more confidence working together.
Not to mention this year’s support from the new Rosberg Racing Academy. What did it bring you as a driver?
I really must thank Nico Rosberg and Petronas for that opportunity they have given me this year. Taylor (Barnard) and I were selected among many other drivers so it felt like a big responsibility from the very beginning. To have Nico’s support has been very helpful too. A couple of times, I’ve asked him for advice on the psychological side, to better manage myself, especially coming to the World Championship’s Final. I asked him how he used to deal with the pressure as a Formula 1 driver and talking to him has helped me a lot. For example, there’s a thing that I’ve been doing since I was a child to relax myself, it’s reading books. It helps a lot to disconnect, not to think too much about the race. Funny thing is that Nico told me he used to do the same when back in F1, along with yoga and meditation in the evening.
After this title, what’s next? Can you tell us a bit about your plans for 2019?
2018 is not over yet for me as we have quite many races around the World on schedule.
Interview & Text: Guillaume Alvarez
Photos: Alex Vernardis