The first time Jack Harvey stepped into a racing kart it was on his ninth birthday in April 2002.
Harvey is now 17-years-old and already he has won a vast array of titles in the world of karting. Once a boy he has now matured into a modest teenager, who admits that racing was something he didn’t particularly relish when he first got in to the driving seat. “It wasn’t really by choice as such it was more my Dad.“My Dad’s side of the family are very heavily involved in motor sport and it’s a great passion for them – so they kind of told me that I was going racing on afternoon and I did it.
“If I’m being honest I didn’t really enjoy racing until I was probably ten, so it took me a while – around a season and a half – to properly enjoy it. I wouldn’t say forced into it, but I was definitely pushed into doing it.”
As any sportsman will tell you their main inspiration comes from previous heroes in a particular sport and then they aspire to be that very person.
Harvey is different, as much as he has his superstar icons, his main influence growing up was his father Paul. “He’s the one who’s worked with me day in day out for eight years now and he can really read me like a book, even more so, I guess, than a normal Dad because we work so closely together. [It’s] as much a passion for him as it is for me. “In terms of other drivers I think Michael Schumacher would be the obvious one.
“Ayrton Senna was a little bit before my time so I can only look at races and it’s obviously very different from there, but if you’re looking at current drivers you’ve got to say Lewis Hamilton really,” Harvey said.
After the success of his karting days, most notably winning the CIK FIA Asia Pacific and European titles in 2008, the Bassingham-born teenager moved one step closer to Formula One by gearing up in the Formula BMW Europe Championship. This step forward was one that threw him into an intimidating atmosphere, but this he believes has bettered his career indefinitely.
“I went from the pinnacle of karting in the world. Although it’s based in Europe it’s still regarded as the strongest place to be.
“So I jumped from the top level in karting and made a huge transition to Formula BMW and straight away I was thrown in at the deep end. You’re racing in the same weekend as the Formula One guys and to be honest going into my first race I was slightly intimidated as you’re walking past people like Jenson [Button] and Lewis [Hamilton] and just the amount of hospitality suites you’re in and it’s just immense and a daunting thing.”
A career in racing is something very hard to maintain and it’s important to have, not just the backing of your family, but also of an external body. Racing Steps is a foundation that helps a small number of young drivers, who may need funding to go on and fulfil their potential.
Harvey knows that if it wasn’t for them he would still be racing karts and not progressing to a higher level. “I totally rely on them. Without them I wouldn’t have been doing Formula BMW and I would’ve plateaued at karting. I probably would’ve been a paid kart driver, but I wouldn’t have been going anywhere. “Racing Steps have been very generous and given me an opportunity that I couldn’t pursue without them.
Really I owe every success that I’ve had from moving to cars and any future success to them, because they are the ones who’ve given me my big break and hopefully are going to take me to Formula One.” Reality does bite when the young driver returns home from racing destination and find himself back in a classroom studying. The Lincoln Minister student feels that this, as well as his surroundings, is what helps to keep him grounded.
“I’m quite lucky I have the people I work with try hard to keep my feet on the ground, but also I try hard myself because I look at other people who I race against and some of them are quite arrogant and big-headed.
“I look at it and think that’s not really how I want to be, so I don’t really rely upon other people to do that for me. I’ve just got to do it myself because at the end of the day I’m just another guy walking in the street, just sat here having a coffee and your average Joe.
“I guess as well staying at Sixth Form there’s not just pressure with racing, but there’s a lot of other pressures. But when you’ve got racing on top of all of that I’m not going to say it’s easy because it’s far from it, but I have a lot of good people around me who do support me a lot.”
The dream of any racing driver is to reach the very peak of racing – Formula One. Yet for most it isn’t a realistic target. Harvey’s racing story is different — he has a chance, but he knows he has to wait for the right moment.
“I think the ideal age for Formula One is maybe 21, so If we look at that now it’s about four years. I think 2014 is probably a realistic goal. Even 2015 wouldn’t be a bad thing, because I think when you go into Formula One you need to be the best prepared on the grid. To take a year out and stay in a category to try and learn as much as you can isn’t necessarily a bad thing to do compared to the people I’m racing with now.
“I’ve definitely got age on my side so I’m not focusing too much on Formula One, but I like to think it’s a realistic target for me to try and achieve… I think you need to keep the momentum going and you need to keep developing so you don’t want to get stuck in one category and learn the techniques for just that.
“In particular you need to be open-minded and be able to change when you need to. I think because the Formula One testing time has been cut so much with the economy and everything now and the rules they’ve instigated, you need to go to Formula One very prepared and in a position to do a good job straight away.
“Lewis Hamilton was the example of what we all strive to be because he’s the best prepared by far and he was the best prepared driver going into Formula One and he did a great job, so I think definitely you should be more prepared than under-prepared and if you take an extra year to do so then you shouldn’t be anxious to do that.”
Dream of winning BMW title is over
On the last weekend of the Formula BMW Europe Championship Jack Harvey couldn’t do enough to ensure that he’d be celebrating at the top of the podium.
Winning the title was almost looking like a formality after the qualifying session at Monza gave the teenager two pole position starts in both the Saturday and Sunday races.
The start of the weekend didn’t go to plan for the Lincoln Minster student when on his formation lap another car left oil on Harvey’s grid position and then as he tried to power off the line he struggled dropping into second place. The problems only got worse for Harvey though, and at the end of lap two when another driver shunted him off the circuit the reality of winning seemed a long way away.
Everyone in the 17-year-old’s camp knew that he had a chance going into the last race of the weekend and the final fixture of the season. Before the race began Harvey was 21 points behind season leader Robin Frijns, who won Saturday’s race claiming maximum points ahead of the season finale.
The only way that Harvey could achieve his first BMW Europe Championship would be to win the race and also for Frijns to finish way down the pecking order in ninth.
Knowing the job in hand the teenager got off to a strong start, immediately taking control of his first place and building impressive time between himself and Côme Ledogar in second place.
Harvey took his seventh victory of the season, but could only watch as Frijns finished third and won the title by eleven points.
Despite the disappointment surrounding the final weekend the Bassingham-born driver recorded a commendable second place overall and in turn is now likely to make the move to Formula Three as he continues to chase his goal of racing in Formula One.Tweet