Speaking to W Series star Emma Kimiläinen last week, MotorLAT got to talk to the Finn about her future plans and passion for racing.
To be a professional racing driver has long been her dream. W Series allows the 33-year-old to achieve that at the moment.
“Possibly yes – depending on where it goes,” said Kimiläinen when asked by MotorLAT would she remain in the series even if she won the championship one day.
“I do like W Series and I like the fact how it’s growing all the time. I think the future will be bright for W Series. If I can be part of it – why not. If I can be a professional racing driver and earn good money from that – great.
Kimiläinen is extremely grateful to W Series as the championship gives her the opportunity to race in single-seaters. At the moment, it’s clear W Series gets her full focus.
“In my mind, I have committed to being in W Series. We’ll see how it goes and how W Series is developing, where we’ll be racing, how many races and all of these things.
“My aim is always to be professional wherever that comes from – and I enjoy the racing.
“But to be able to be back in single-seaters, to see the growth of W Series and the opportunities they give to all of us, it’s amazing. I’m definitely very grateful for getting the opportunity to come back to single-seaters.”
In spite of Kimiläinen’s struggles with the current Tatuus car, the passion the Finn has for racing is obvious.
“My motivation comes from the joy of what I get from when I actually drive and when I feel at one with the car.
“Sometimes with the W Series car we have now, I cannot drive it as I would normally drive it because it's kind of restricted. Sometimes I struggling with that feeling that 'argh, it's not doing what I want' and then I kind of need to change and need to adapt. Maybe that's not the fastest way and then I would need more time for adapting.
“But at the same time, there is the adrenaline, the racing and all of those things that brings it up once again, and it's fun.
“Even driving a lawnmower or whatever, it's always fun. I do love it. Whatever racing, if it's professional, I'm always interested.
As Kimiläinen stated previously, W Series is her main priority. Nonetheless, she hasn’t completely ruled out combining her racing in that championship whilst competing in another one. IndyCar, NASCAR and Rallycross would be of interest to her if an offer ever came.
“If there’s other possibilities out there where I can do a better professional job or that would look more clever to me personally when thinking about my career progress, my age and all of that, then obviously I would need to think about that.
“Depending on how many races W Series would have in the future, but to do two series – some races in [another] and W Series – why not.”
This year’s calendar is a record-breaking one for W Series as they’re holding ten races. It includes double-headers at Miami and Mexico.
The Finnish driver would like to see at least four more races in the future, but says more financial backing is needed to make it happen. There'll be a "very long break" between the events at Hungary and Singapore.
“It would definitely be nice to have at least 14 races I think. That would be good – and also for the championship. If there is errors, collisions, technical issues or something like that, it would be more even because you can still do a good job.
“I think the W Series is aiming for that – and we just need a little bit more backing to be able to pull that off. It’s very important that we get exposure to be able to grow the series more.
The Finn drove a kart for the first time at the age of 3. When she was 12, the goal was to become a professional racing driver.
"I started at the age of 3 and drove in my first race when I was 5 years old. I did very well in the early karting days. But when I was 12, I kind of flourished and realised that I really wanted to make a profession out of it."
Mental health has become more spoken about in motorsport in recent years. McLaren driver Lando Norris has been particularly open about the struggles he’s had.
Kimiläinen has a balanced perspective after 30 years of competing in motorsport. The 33-year-old says racing doesn’t define her as a person. She adds it’s dangerous to be overly critical with yourself after a bad race or weekend.
“It's very important for everyone, as good and stable mental health is the key to happiness. But usually athletes are extra determined and relentless, sometimes even harsh on themselves and they easily define themselves through their sporting results or success, which is dangerous for self-esteem and can prevent you from overcoming setbacks faster.
“Although I have been very ambitious about racing for 30 years now and I've sacrificed many things to be where I am now, racing doesn't define who I am as a person. I'm a lot more than a racing driver, it's not my identity. It's something I love, care and am passionate about. It's something I do, but it's not who I am. Whether I lose or win, it doesn't change my self-value.”