With four championships in five years and a fierce competitive spirit, Jamie’s earned a reputation as a businessman. But as he showed in the Red Bull Racing Australia teaser clip with that brilliant mullet cut, in 2013, J-Dub’s added a bit of party at the back to compliment the business at the front.
He recently celebrated his 3oth birthday. And with age comes experience. We sat down with the No.1 driver/boat mechanic to discuss how things have changed on and off the track in 2013.
Jamie Whincup – Driver
Red Bull Racing Australia: Other than that mullet haircut, what are the biggest challenges that you’ll have to overcome as a driver this season?
Jamie Whincup: I feel like I’ve got a new job with the new car and new naming rights sponsor. We’ve been doing the same thing in the same car for five or six years now and the tests have felt completely different, so I think there’s going to be a lot of challenges. I think one of the biggest challenges is going to be trying to live up to the standard we’ve set the last few years, but I’ve got full confidence we can do that.
RBRA: Who do you expect to be the most competitive teams and drivers in 2013?
JW: I’m going to throw it out there and say not a huge amount is going to change. I could end up with egg on my face come the end of the year, but I think the best teams are still the best teams. It’s going to be very interesting to see how the Nissan and the Mercedes go. I think they must feel like they’ve got a new beginning, so they’ll try to make the most of that.
RBRA: What have you made of the new VF Commodores so far?
JW: We’ve come a long way in making the new car good to drive. It wasn’t so pleasant beforehand, but with the test on Monday and with a few tweaks it feels good. It’s a lot different to last year’s car, but I think once we refine it and it’s nice and balanced it’s going to be really good to drive.
RBRA: Other than winning a fifth championship and a golden bounty of Red Bull products, what’s driving you to stay on top this season?
JW: Who needs more motivation than a new challenge? With a new car and a new naming rights sponsor, we want to perform as well as we can, and it’s a new challenge to try and impress those guys.
RBRA: Aww, shucks. You best be on your best behaviour than, son. How are you feeling after the off-season?
JW: I feel relaxed but I’m excited at the same time. The test on Monday felt like the first day of school, so that was cool. But I’m just going to roll with the punches and see what the year brings. We’re going to throw two cars on the track and we’re expecting to be up the front somewhere, but that may not be the case, so we just need to go with the flow and do our best like we do every year.
RBRA: If you’re not first your last … wise words. Anyhow, what are your expectations for Clipsal?
JW: To finish the race! Haha. Let’s not jump to conclusions. Of course we want to be competitive, but with a brand new car we want to make sure we finish both races. If we can do that – I know we’ll be disappointed if we don’t end up in the top 10 – but I think finishing the race has to be our absolute priority at this stage.
RBRA: Thinking back to the teaser video, if you could bring another driver from another team into the video, who would it be, why and what character would they play?
JW: Casey’s the obvious one. He already said no but we’ll work on him. He’s in the same team, but I’ve got to say Paul Dumbrell. He’s known as the big CEO, he needs to be taken down to Luffy and J-Dub’s level, I reckon. Get him washing the boards! Haha
RBRA: Who’s your favourite Talladega Nights character and why?
JW: Jean Girard. He’s cool. Haha, I’ve only watched that movie once but I’m a Big Days of Thunder fan, I’ve watched that a thousand times. Is that cool? Haha
RBRA: Radio silence…
Mark Dutton – Engineer
RBRA: How busy have you been developing the first all-new cars in six years? You and Jamie did some serious damage with the old model…
Mark Dutton: Haha. There’s been a lot more to do! We’ve had to deal with on-the-fly rule changes, so we’ve got somewhere, then the rules change and evolve, so we’ve had to redo work. We’ve been doubling up on work while trying to win championships, and then working with other teams and supplying components. It’s been hectic.
RBRA: Does the new car have potential to be more dominant than last year?
MD: Obviously our cars have been competitive over previous years, so we hope that the Red Bull Racing Australia cars will be as competitive. Some people say the cars are easier to drive, which means drivers beneath the skill level of Jamie and Craig could be able to extract more from their cars than in the past. So the whole series could become more competitive.
RBRA: How’s is J-Dub fairing so far and are you working on anything in particular?
MD: Jamie’s doing a good job. We’re trying to get the ergonomics correct. We’re getting him comfortable in the car and just trying to get some of the basics to see if there are any characteristics that we don’t like and whether we can tune them out and get a good base setup before Clipsal.
RBRA: Other than maintaining his mullet, what’s Jamie’s biggest challenge of this season going to be?
MD: Learning the new car and the new tyres. I don’t think that he’ll have a bigger challenge than other people as such. It’s just we’ve got all these new toys – we’ve got to learn how to play with them.
RBRA: Do you think a fifth championship title is within reach?
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MD: It’s early days to say. Obviously that’s what we’re aiming for, we turn up every year aiming for a championship. Jamie’s obviously good enough, he’s proved he’s good enough. It’s just can we adapt quicker than the other people?