Oliver Turvey has spent most of the last two years deeply ensconced in McLaren’s F1 team as a test and simulator driver. Occasionally attending Grand Prix as a reserve driver, Oliver has also taken part in several Young Driver tests at Abu Dhabi and Silverstone. Rated very highly by the McLaren factory, the 26-year old is now set to make his FIA GT Series debut at Baku this weekend after being place by McLaren with the German, MRS team.
“I’m really looking forward to it as I haven’t driven the car since 2011 when I was involved in the first year of the MP4-12c development,” Turvey told us. “It was great to be involved right from the start of the project and do those three Blancpain rounds (Spa, Magny-Cours and Silverstone). The race at Baku looks very interesting with a full grid and a quality one too, so I am sure it will be a very memorable experience.”
Although a surprise to be re-united with the MP4-12C, Turvey is relishing returning to a GT car after campaigning a Jota entered Zytek LMP2 car in this seasons European Le Mans Series. The British racer will be using Thursday and Friday to bond with the team before the free practice sessions begin in earnest on Saturday morning.
“I do know a little about the team through McLaren’s engineers and I know they are quite ambitious to win at Baku which is obviously the same philosophy as McLaren and I as a driver. I am looking to getting to know Karsten (Molitor) and the team next week in Baku. I have to thank them and McLaren for this welcome opportunity.
“The free practice sessions will be crucial especially for me as I haven’t been in the car for a couple of years,” he continued. “It is never easy on a street circuit but I am pretty confident that I will get up to speed quickly and be quick and competitive. I have had a very strong season in the Le Mans Series (with Jota Zytek) so I think it will not take me too long to get back in the groove of GT racing.
Turvey made a huge impression on British F3, World Series by Renault and GP2 before becoming an official McLaren factory driver and made the F1 team bosses sit up and take notice at Monaco in 2009.
“I won my first ever race in Monaco which was nice (in World Series by Renault in 2009)”, he said. “I really enjoy street circuits and the challenge they represent. I haven’t actually seen what it is like yet as the simulator at McLaren is purely used for F1 but I hear it is quick and challenging so I am looking forward to seeing it this week.”
Oliver’s team mate at Baku will be Andy Soucek. The Spaniard has had an impressive season with the ART Grand Prix team in the Blancpain Endurance Series, scoring two podium positions at Monza and Nurburgring.
“I haven’t raced against Andy before. We just missed each other in World Series and GP2,” confirmed Turvey. “But I do know him from meeting him in the pits and paddocks around Europe and seems to be a great guy and of course he has recent experience of the McLaren with ART Grand Prix this season in the Blancpain. I am sure we will form a good understanding and partnership this weekend.”