Interview with GB3 driver and Redbull Athlete Max Esterson
Interview conducted by Tom Evans Edited by Alexandra Campos
So Max, first of all how did you get into Motorsport, and how did you know you wanted to make a career out of it?
My dad was involved in racing as an engineer in the 80s, so my family has always had a connection to the sport and have always been big fans. My attempt to make a career out of racing started quite late considering I never drove a kart until I was nearly 16, but I think I wanted to make a career out of it after my first season in a car. I knew I was driving pretty well for my experience level so I thought it was worth trying to continue on.
You've competed in a variety of Formula Ford championships, both in the UK and overseas. How different is the environment in the UK from the US/Canada?
My first season in cars was in Formula Ford in the US (F1600). While I didn’t do the full season, I think it was a decent place to start and I learned a lot of basics. If I were to start over again, I probably would’ve done UK Formula Ford instead straight out of karting as the field is more competitive and the cars are on a much better tire for the class. The cars in the US have bigger tires which give them too much grip and create a slipstream effect that is too big. I think the combo of cars, tire, and tracks makes UK Formula Ford a really great class.
You had a very successful 2021, coming 3rd in the BRSCC National Formula Ford Championship with 2 wins and 13 podiums. It was clear that it was a massive driver and team effort, so how was the team dynamic, and how did they help you have this greats season?
I had a really consistent year with only one DNF (Did Not Finish) at Brands Hatch. The team, Low Dempsey Racing (now called Ammonite Motorsport), gave me a car that could fight for wins at every event so I couldn’t really ask for more. I think the fact that I scored the most points overall (without drop scores) is a testament to how strong we were in each and every round. I was surrounded by talented coaches and mechanics and I think team boss, Andy Low, did a great job to keep pushing forward with improvements to the car throughout the year.
You were so close to winning the 50th anniversary BRSCC Formula Ford Festival; coming second.
But then you won the Walter Hayes trophy less than a month later, a massive achievement. How did it feel to finally get that win after being so close previously?
The Formula Ford Festival was definitely bittersweet. I dominated the first half of the event starting with testing and earning pole and then winning my heat. I had a pretty disastrous semi-final in the rain where I went from 1st to 7th in just a few laps. This put me 13th on the grid for the Final at a track that is known for being difficult to overtake on. It was a crazy race, it felt like I was passing a car every lap; I seemed to have so much more pace than anyone. I got into 3rd (promoted to 2nd after penalties) and just didn’t have enough time to work my way through the top two- they did a good job defending. To win the Walter Hayes the next week was almost a must. It would’ve been a very long winter thinking about what could’ve been for myself and the team if I didn’t. I truly did dominate the whole event: pole, heat win, semi win, and final win with all 15 laps led. It was a great feeling to have a faultless weekend, but I would be lying if I said I still don’t think about the FF Festival to this day. It still hurts a bit when I think about how close I was to winning it all after starting back in 13th.
You were announced as a GB3 driver for Douglas Motorsport in December, and have done lots of testing and two rounds in the championship since. How did the first weekends of racing go, and is the GB3 car difficult to adapt to from a car with no wings?
Testing with the team went really well. We had good speed and almost zero mechanical issues with a brand new car for the series. The first round at Oulton Park was a struggle. I just couldn’t find the pace I needed to be up front. Qualifying didn’t go well so I was in the mid-pack and it’s very hard to make any passes at Oulton in these cars. The second weekend at Silverstone was much better. I qualified 6th and 4th for the first two races and ended up finishing 4th in both of them. I had enough speed to pull away from the pack behind me but wasn’t quite fast enough to stay with the top three, so the aim for Donington is definitely to be battling for podiums/wins. It takes a bit of learning at first to come from a Formula Ford. The main thing is just getting used to everything coming at you much faster. Besides that, the brake and throttle technique is a bit different and the physicality of driving one of these cars is a big step up from FF, but at the end of the day, they’re both racecars and there’s a lot of things that are similar.
You've been backed by iRacing for a while now, so how have they helped you progress your motorsport career?
iRacing has been vital to my career. It’s where it all started for me and where I learned about racing before I ever hopped in a kart or car. It’s a tool I still use today to try to improve my performance. It’s great to have a relationship with them and it’s a huge help to have their backing.
Very recently, Red Bull announced you as an RB Athlete for 2022. How does it feel to be in the same situation as some serious Formula 2 and Formula 3 talents?
It’s an honour to be an RB Athlete alongside lots of talent from several different disciplines of motorsport and sport in general. It’s nice to have the support of such a prestigious brand in racing, but at the end of the day, not much changes- I still have to perform.
And finally, what are your hopes for the rest of the year?
For the rest of the year I hope to carry the momentum from Silverstone and fight up front in GB3.