W Series | Exclusive interview with Emma Kimiläinen: “I cannot use that talent of mine in these cars at the moment – I need to adapt as a driver"

In part one of MotorLAT's interview with W Series driver Emma Kimiläinen, we discuss her struggles with the current Tatuus F3 T3-18 machine, the need for more track time and what car she'd like to see in the championship in the future.

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W Series | Exclusive interview with Emma Kimiläinen: “I cannot use that talent of mine in these cars at the moment – I need to adapt as a driver"
Fuente imagen: W Series

Finland’s Emma Kimiläinen has been one of the stars of W Series since its inception in 2019.

The 33-year-old finished 5th in the first season of it, despite missing two races because of injury following a nasty crash at Hockenheim. Last year she went two spots better to claim 3rd in the championship.

This year, however, has been tougher. She’s P8 in the standings with 40 points after six races. Speaking to MotorLAT last week, the two-time winner went into detail about the difficulties she’s faced with the car in 2022.

At the Paul Ricard round, Kimiläinen was one of the drivers who hadn’t previous experience at the French venue – and it magnified her issues.

“Even though we would have footage from those other series, we are not able to take those corners like they take it in their data,” she stated.

“That was kind of my mistake during that weekend, I tried to do things with the car that it just cannot handle. That’s basically my problem with that car anyway, hoping that it could do more than it actually can.

“I’m struggling with the car not coping with my driving style – and I need to take myself outside the box all the time to adapt to what the car wants.

“Sometimes it’s tough because every instinct in my body says that this is how I should drive this corner and this is how the speed should be. Then I end up there and I am like ‘this is so slow’, we’re driving incredibly slow – and then it’s still too fast.

“The car is so heavy, and it doesn’t have any power and stuff. It’s more like driving a touring car or a GT car than a Formula car. That’s just very confusing to me sometimes.

“If I can get the set-up to work in my favour, then I can actually really drive the car how I would normally drive it.

“Quite often I end up in a situation where it’s just not coping and it takes time. Obviously my main issue is the Tatuus F3 T-318 that we’re driving with. It’s a matter of just trying to adapt because we cannot make the car suit us.”

Kimiläinen’s favourite type of cars are single-seaters. At the moment, though, she says it’s impossible to show her full talent and speed as the Tatuus F3 T-318 that W Series uses is simply not clicking with her driving style. She admits that it’s about adapting as a driver at the end of the day, however.

“But the fact that we are quite limited with the set-up, quite limited with the downforce – and all of those things that you would actually love to use in a single-seater – we are now very limited in [what we can do].

“I cannot use that talent of mine in these cars at the moment, so that’s kind of a little bit frustrating. At the same time, I can’t do anything about it. I just need to deal with it. I need to accept it and to change myself. I need to adapt as a driver – and that’s what you always need to do no matter what you drive.

“These cars will be history soon, so we will definitely in the future cars that are proper Formulas – and then the racing will be completely different. I’m definitely waiting for that moment!”

In W Series, the drivers get a different engineer every weekend due to the fact some are experienced and others are very new to it. The Finnish star is sure things would be better if she had a permanent engineer.

“Yes, it would [help]. Of course it would be very good from a driver’s perspective and also the engineers perspective.”

“For example, we did have some things we could have done better in Hungary, and then we cannot start where we left off because it’s going to be a new engineer once again [in Singapore].”

W Series became part of the support bill on F1 weekends last year after starting out with DTM in 2019. The impact the move has had for the championship is clear – a peak audience of over a million people in the UK watched their race at Silverstone last month.

Kimiläinen would like to see more track time for W Series at and away from a race weekend, so it gives drivers more time to learn and improve.

They only get a 30-minute practice session on Friday morning before heading into a 30-minute qualifying session in the evening. It’s followed by a 30-minute + one lap race on Saturday afternoon.

“What we need right now is more track time if we’re going to continue with Formula 1. I think that they need to give us more track time, that’s for sure. One and a half hours throughout the whole weekend is definitely not enough.

“We need another practice session as well because it’s tough for the development of the drivers when we have zero practice time basically. We only have 10-15 laps every practice, and then you would need to be ready for quali where we actually drive with old tyres first and then the new tyres. Basically you don’t do any set-up changes there either.

“If we think that W Series is a stepping stone or wants to also develop the drivers, we definitely need more practice time. But I guess that’s up to F1 to give it to us.

“We need more testing as well away from race weekends to launch the level up a little bit.”

The Tatuus F3 T-318 is quite slow compared to the other single-seaters that are also on the support bill at F1 weekends. For example, the pole time in FIA Formula 3 at Silverstone was a 1:44.597. Jamie Chadwick's pole lap in W Series was a 1:56.758 – that’s a difference of over 12 seconds.

In terms of what car Kimiläinen would like to see in the future, she gave a few ideas.

"In the future I’d like to see at least Euro F3 Dallara or FIA F3 type of cars in W Series. Or perhaps even something completely new and exciting, why not F1 level, specifically built for W Series. To be able to reach that, W Series of course needs to continue to grow – and I’m sure it’s possible.”

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