Friday July 6, 2012
Jazeman on fast track to realise his Formula One dream
By LIM TEIK HUAT
POSTERS of cycling great Lance Armstrong and boxing legend Muhammad Ali adorn the walls of Jazeman Jaafar’s room in London.
He also has videos of the late Ayrton Senna, the Brazilian three-time Formula One world champion who lost his life in a crash at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.
It is not hard to fathom why Jazeman looks up to these sporting icons. After all, he himself is trying his best to become an inspirational figure to the young hopefuls aiming to get into motorsports.
“They are my inspiration. They have reached the highest level in their respective sports, which is what I’m aiming for. I’m in awe of Senna as he was an awesome driver who died doing what he loved,” said Jazeman, who has high hopes of breaking into Formula One in the near future.
Only 19, Jazeman already boasts of an impressive resume of achievements in motorsports since he started racing competitively in go-karts at the age of seven.
Jazeman, who received an international C licence when he was only 12, two years younger than the standard requirement, started making a name for himself after he became the youngest and first Malaysian to win the Formula BMW Asia series in 2007.
He decided after that to venture to Europe to pursue his dream and, five years down the road, is now making his presence felt in the highly competitive British F3 International Series, the recognised feeder championship for young drivers aspiring to make the Formula One grade.
He has achieved eight podium finishes at the half-way mark this season, including two wins.
Jazeman has been enjoying the backing of Petronas since 2008 and they are also the sponsors of the Mercedes AMG F1 Team.
The association with one of the top teams in the sport has enabled the teenager to be mentored by Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg whenever they happen to be racing together in Europe.
Jazeman first fell in love with motorsports after his first visit to a go-kart track at the age of six.
“It was one Sunday when my father took me to the track and I saw kids my age racing,” he said.
“I was fascinated and decided to have a go. It developed from there and I won my first race when I was only eight.
“Now, I can’t believe I’m into my third year in F3. It’s really tough and challenging.
“Just imagine racing with 30 Jazemans each weekend. Each and everyone of them trying to make the best of the opportunity to move up the ranks.
“It’s important for me to be self-motivated or I don’t think I can last long,” added Jazeman, who also brushed off the common perception that one leads a glamorous life as a professional racer.
“It’s anything but that. For example, we can spend the best part of the day on the track from preparation to debriefing.
“There are no late nights for me as I don’t like to get out of my routine. I have a physical training regimen to stick to when I’m off the track and I also take care of my diet.”
There is also the matter of putting his priorities in place and Jazeman has decided that studies will have to take a backseat.
“I want to focus on developing my racing career although I’m very much into graphic design.
“It was difficult for me to juggle both so I told my dad and he advised me to choose between the two. I can always study at any age but I can’t race at any age, so I’ll give racing my best shot for the next few years and see how I go,” said a determined Jazeman.
His drive, maturity and good work ethics certainly put him in a strong position to become Malaysia’s most successful driver yet.