FASTLANE #12 Dec ’09 / Jan ’10
Text by Cheryl Tay, Photos courtesy of BMW Motorsport
His eloquence and charisma impressed me. Not only did he get me a drink and draw out a chair for me to sit, he even took my pen gently and wrote down notes for me when I had a little trouble understanding his accent. That was how smooth Felipe Nasr is – as smooth as the way he took the flowing corners of the Marina Bay street circuit. The 17-year-old Brazilian was in Singapore – fresh from clinching the 2009 Formula BMW Europe championship title on September 13 in Monza – to race in rounds 11 and 12 of the Formula BMW Pacific support race to the F1 Singapore Grand Prix.
With a name that sounds uncannily like Ferrari F1 driver Felipe Massa, the tall and lanky Nasr (pronounced as Na-sar) was a charm to interview and a delight to speak with. As part of EuroInternational team’s plans to take on a full 2010 Formula BMW Pacific season, Nasr was here for the first time in Asia as EuroInternational team’s guest driver. Nasr pulled off a brilliantly convincing performance and proved his talent greatly as he effortlessly took both race wins in Singapore. Said Nasr, “It’s my first time in Asia, my first time racing in Asia and now my first time winning in Asia. It was a last minute decision made by Antonio (team boss of EuroInternational) for me to race here. The track was quite difficult but it was a perfect weekend.”
When Nasr first joined EuroInternational, he had limited sponsorship funds that were inadequate to support his quest motor racing. However, Antonio Ferrari, team boss of EuroInternational, was so impressed by Nasr’s talent that he funded the remaining three-quarters of the required budget. This year was Nasr’s first full season in Formula BMW Europe. His only other experience in single-seaters was when he participated as a guest driver at two Formula BMW Americas support races to the Brazilian Grand Prix last year. Prior to that, the only race experience he had was in karting.
The Brasilia-based teen lives with a family whose members are significantly involved in motor racing. For example, his father and uncle participate in Formula 3 and stock car racing in Brazil. Both of them also co-own the Brazilian racing team Amir Nasr Racing. Nasr started karting at the age of seven and was crowned the 2000 Brasilia Champion (kadet class) in his debut year of competitive kart racing. His turning point came when BMW Motorsport”s Brazilian World Touring Car Championship driver Augusto Farfus recommended Nasr to Antonio Ferrari last year. Subsequently, a Formula BMW testing session was arranged for him right after the Formula BMW World Final in Mexico City.
Ferrari, who has been at the helm of EuroInternational for two decades, spotted his talent immediately. “Augusto Farfus suggested we give him a test and Nasr surprised everybody at the testing. With the same car that won the Formula BMW World Final for our team, he set a time four tenths quicker than the lap record we set in the World Final.”
“Felipe has been incredibly amazing this season with 14 podiums and five wins. I found him and supported him financially, and his Formula BMW Europe championship title this year is a big reward.â€ Clearly overjoyed with his amazing achievements of the season, Nasr said, “It has been a long road for me but it has been nothing but perfect. To win the title in my first year in Europe is amazing, especially as I never saw or raced on any of these tracks before.”
Nasr was originally headed to Japan for the next two rounds of the Formula BMW Pacific, but instead he has progressed and has been kept busy with testing for British Formula 3. Already into his preparation for 2010, Nasr had the opportunity to test on the various circuits in Europe for Raikkonen Robertson Racing team. The Raikkonen Robertson Racing team was formed in 2004 by former F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen and British businessmen Steve and David Robertson. The team participates in the British Formula 3 and Formula BMW Europe championships.
Car No.: 21
Date of Birth: 21 August 1992
Nationality: Brazilian (born in capital of Brazil, Brasilia)
Hobbies: RC cars, fishing
Favourite Circuit: Spa-Francorchamps
*This article was first published in FASTLANE #12 (Dec ’09 / Jan ’10 issue).