During the off season, I caught up with Scuderia Ferrari test driver, Marc Gene to discuss his career.
- You like your sports from tennis to cycling to karting. What ultimately attracted you to motorsport as a career choice over tennis or cycling? Gene: At the age of 7-8 I could see that my passion for motorsport was way bigger than for any other sport…and I also could see that I was very good at it!!.
- The early years saw you racing in many series’ before winning the Open Fortuna by Nissan in 1998, to earn a drive in F1 with Minardi. How exciting was it winning the Open Fortuna series and getting into F1 as a result? Gene: In 1998 I was aware that it was a going to be a crucial year towards my goal of being a F1 race driver. Winning this championship implied a F1 test which meant that I would fulfil one of my dreams, testing a F1 car…I was excited about the title and even more the day I tested the Minardi F1!!
3. How disappointed were you to be stuck in a Minardi with no technical or ecumenical resources for two seasons before a lucrative offer saw you move elsewhere into a new role?
Gene: Not frustrated at all. I was very grateful to Minardi since it was the perfect team to learn about F1. I got a 6th place finish at Nurburgring which was more than I ever could have expected and with Minardi my results were good enough for other teams to show interest in me.
4. Frank Williams then offered you a test role at Williams. How delighted were you to join the Grove based team as test driver after a difficult two years with Minardi?
Gene: I was very, very happy since Williams was a team fighting for the championship. Driving a winning car with so much history in F1 was great…and of course I will never forget substituting Ralf Schumacher and finishing 5th in the Italian GP at Monza.
5. You then went on to do the same role at Ferrari How special is it being part of the Prancing Horse team?
Gene: Ferrari has become my second family. I had many dreams as a racing driver but being part of the Ferrari family was even beyond my dreams. The first day I dressed up in red and tested the F2004 in my home circuit (Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya) was a very special moment.
6. Whilst testing for Ferrari, you also drove in the Le Mans 24 Hours for Peugeot then Audi. How amazing is it racing around the circuit, especially at night?
Gene: Le Mans is together with Spa the best circuit in the world….but the race at Le Mans is probably the best race in the world due to the circuit lay out and the driving in the night….the connection between the car and driver at night is unique.
7. In 2009, you won Le Mans alongside David Brabham and Alexandar Wurz for Peugeot. Even though your F1 career didn’t turn out the way that you expected, how much did winning the world’s greatest endurance race mean to you alongside two fantastic teammates?
Gene: I am happy with my F1 career specially since I ended up with Ferrari. There is no day when I am driving a Ferrari that I do not think that I am extremely fortunate. But for sure that as a racing driver the most emotional day of my career was winning the 24Hrs of Le Mans in 2009 with Alex Wurz and David Brabham.
8. Finally, you speak six different languages. How useful is this ability in motorsport?
Gene: Without speaking English is almost impossible to make it to F1…any other language is also useful….I practice all of them at almost every GP!!