If you were to talk to my family and close friends, they would tell you I cannot stand to lose—at anything. It does not matter what it is: a simple game, running to a tree, thumb-wrestling.
It doesn't matter what the challenge is; I need to win.
At the same time, I've had losses, and setbacks. And the real pains and ego bruises taught me how to lose, lose gracefully, with class. Losing also comes with opportunities for lessons about unforced errors and bad breaks (and bad brakes and gear shifts).
It provides you with the critical information you need to understand that you need to improve yourself in every aspect.
If you do not fail, you do not learn. If you do not learn, you will never win, at least not in anything that truly matters.
I realized fairly early on that I wanted to be a Formula 1 driver, a champion. I jumped into go-karts when I was three years old—maybe then it wasn’t a real go-kart yet— and went on to national racing at eight. By the time I was 11, 12, I knew I wanted to do this professionally.
I'd used different names to sort of race undercover, improve without too much of the notoriety of being 'my father's son.' But, honestly, I don't feel any pressure to carry on the family name or do exactly what my father did. Most of the stress comes from what I put on myself, thinking about what I did wrong and how I can improve.
People saw the magazines and "famous" parts of my dad, which I totally understand. I get it. I mean, he ran off five straight Formula 1 championships the year after I was born, and it's incredible, right? But I did never look at my dad only as the 'world's greatest driver'.
He always, first and foremost, is my dad. I do not take the lessons he's given me for granted.
One of those lessons is to stay steady, never get too high, or too low.
Even back in 2018, when I was in the Formula 3 series, coming into the 15th race of the season in tenth place, I was never in doubt that this was going to be my year.
I was doing well in practice, and I was putting in the work. I just had to stay the course and push. There was no way around it, the only way was through it.
And we did it; we got the result we needed at Spa-Francorchamps. The emotion of the win reignited us, and we ended up taking seven more wins and winning the title.
But the key was believing in the work we'd already done. The wins were the result.
Last year in Formula 2 was tough, but that's the game. You win, you lose, and improve. It's a heavier car, very different behaviour, and it generates a lot of g-forces. You can't afford to be tired. This reality means my physical training needed to be fine-tuned—with the help of my partner Under Armour, I am able to focus more on the essential parts of my preparation in terms of support inside and out of the gym.
I train my core and work my entire body with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and PT sessions. Even with that, and the endurance training, what casual race fans don't understand is that one of the necessary keys for a driver is neck strength. You think about it, and you'll know a driver when you see one: rugby player up top, an 800-meter sprinter from the waist down.
Your neck, shoulders, arms have to be in peak condition to take on the g-forces. The core is essential to keep the body upright. There's no power steering, like in the cars you see on the road, so being fit enough to take on the load around corners is crucial.
For me, year two will be about limiting mistakes, preventing unforced errors, being better at calculating risk. I know it's a significant year in terms of development and progression, but I'm ready and in a good place.
The Prema team is ready to go too. I have my family and friends that hold me down and center me.
In the end, I'm confident in what I can do. I have to be because I haven't given myself another option. I'm in love with what I do; somehow, I've been doing this for 18 years of my life, and I'm 21.
And I won't stop until I reach the top step of that podium. I'll be spraying the champagne and laughing with my team.
I'll remember what I could've done better on the ninth and 23rd lap, around the second turn. It will be burned into my memory bank.
It'll stay with me through the congratulatory interviews. Why?
Because I owe it to my younger self running to the tree.