An interview with FIA F3 driver William Alatalo
Interview conducted by Tom Evans, Edited by Haneen Abbas
TE: First of all, introduce yourself! Who are you, what series do you race in, and do you have any hobbies outside of Motorsport?
WA: I am William Alatalo, a 19-year-old boy from a small town in the midwest part of Finland. This year I drive the FIA F3 championship. I don’t have one big hobby. I play badminton, ping pong, and basketball from time to time. I like running and mountain biking too.
TE:Was there any particular way that you got the hook for karting/motorsport, or was it just by chance?
WA: I got a small Go-kart for my 7th birthday. It all started from there. My father also had a go-kart when he was in his 20s, so he thought it would be a great birthday gift for me.
TE: It was pretty clear that you were a talented driver from the off, as you won the championship in the Finnish cadet class in 2010. Did these results encourage you to continue, or would you have kept going regardless of them?
WA: Of course, they also encouraged me to continue racing. But even if I wouldn’t do well, I would still continue racing and driving. I love the sport and even if I have bad races or seasons, I still try to do my best next year and improve as a driver. From the beginning, racing has been a part of me. Bad or good results, I still love driving.
TE: After winning 2 more karting championships in Finland, you made the jump to karts competing in the Formula STCC Nordic championship. You finished the season with 1 win and 5th overall, a great season for a car rookie. Was the switch to cars difficult, or just another step towards your dream?
WA: It wasn’t an easy step. The first tests were hard, and I didn’t have much testing before I had my first race. I got the hang of it rather fast, but racing was really difficult in the beginning. The more I drove the better I got. After the season finished, I was a much smarter and overall better driver than in the first races. It wasn’t really a big series, and we didn’t drive a lot. It was a cheap way to start driving formulas and getting experience in that area.
TE: You did the 2017/18 Formula 4 UAE championship with Mücke Motorsport. Was it a whole new experience to race outside of Finland for the first time?
WA: Yeah definitely a lot different than STCC races. Car was new to me, and driving in Yas Marina is a lot different than driving in 2km long tracks in Sweden. It was much tougher, but already in the second race weekend I was much more confident driving the car. Then I scored 2 wins and It was such a good start for the 2018 season.
TE: You spent 2 years in the Italian F4 championship (again with Mücke Motorsport), and then a year in the Formula Renault euro cup. You netted a great amount of wins and podiums during these 3 years. These series are largely different with different engines, chassis etc. But which car was your favourite to drive?
WA: F4 was a fun car to race with. you could easily drive behind other drivers, and not get affected much from the dirty air. Still, it had some tow effect. The car itself wasn’t really powerful and didn’t have much grip. It was much more fun to drive the Renault car in practice/qualy. Renault's car was around 100kg heavier, so slow corners were really slow. In medium or high-speed corners the car had much more grip, and of course, it was much faster in the straight line. Of course, the faster it is the more fun you have driving with it. F4 was just a much better car to race. Easier to overtake and stay behind other cars.
TE: Last year you competed in FREC (Formula Regional European Championship). You were one of the most consistent drivers on the grid, with you finishing every race of the season! Is this consistency a unique skill of yours?
WA: I think it is! I am a smart driver, and I don’t do any stupid moves that could cause a crash. I still drive very hard and aggressively, but I respect other drivers on the grid. I am a consistent driver, but I still need to do better, being faster. I need to be faster in qualifying, race speed is good. That's something I need to improve. Being consistent is important in a long season, and hopefully, I can use that this year too!
TE: Currently, you're racing with Jenzer in FIA F3. You've already scored points in the first round, so what are your goals for the rest of the year?
WA: My goal is to be a top 10 driver in the championship. I’ll try to score a podium every race weekend, but that won’t be easy. We just have to keep our head down and keep on working. We can do great things, I can just feel it!
TE: And finally, what are your hopes for the rest of your career?
WA: My hope and goal is to be an F1 driver. How I get there doesn’t really matter to me. The normal way is to be an F2 driver and then F1. That has always been my dream. I’ll do my best to get there. I’ll fight as long as I can, and then if it doesn’t work out, my plan B is to be an official racing driver. Getting a career in Motorsport isn’t easy, and driving an LMP or GT car as a job is my target if F1 doesn’t work out!
Thank you very much to William Alatalo for his time and we wish him the best of the luck in his Formula Three season.