As the Formula 1 season draws ever closer, fans around the world are eager to see the cars head out on track for pre-season testing. Meanwhile, another one of motorsports rising stars is raring to go. Her name’s Vittoria 'Vicky' Piria, and she's the latest affiliate to join the 8Js team. As today is International Women's Day, we thought we'd sit down and have a virtual catch up!
Ciao Vicky, it’s great to finally have you here on TRACKSIDE. If I’m correct you started karting when you were just 8 years old. Could you tell us how you ended up behind the wheel?
That’s correct! I was about 8 years old when my dad bought a go-kart for my brother. I, who had always loved horse-riding, decided to give it a go and completely fell for it. After a couple of years, I stopped competing in equestrian sports and started to do the first local races. Step by step everything became bigger and better.
When did you finally consider racing as a career path?
I think in 2012, when I got a call from Trident Racing to race in GP3. The fact that racing could actually be a career and life path for me started to sink in. It was a big deal and a big responsibility, it felt like I was doing something special and I wanted to perform.
At the moment you’re racing in the newly established W Series, which is very exciting! What’s it like competing in an all-female racing series?
I was terrified at the beginning; I thought there would be a lot of drama with a lot of catfights! Instead, nothing’s changed honestly. W Series in 2019 felt way more difficult and competitive than many championships I had done in previous years and there is a lot of respect between us drivers, probably because we all know we did well in the selections to get here.
So would you say the level of competition differs in any way to the other series’ you’ve raced in growing up, which had a mix of both men and women?
No, it still feels very highly competitive. Also, we have only one race for race weekend so there is no room for mistakes.
I can imagine at first it might’ve been quite daunting to compete in such a male-dominated sport. How have you managed to stay focussed and get to the level you’re at now?
The fact I started so young really made me used to staying in a male-dominated world. I learned without even noticing how to deal with comments or possible disadvantages. My strategy has always been to not make it a problem. If I make it a problem, being a female in a male dominated sport, how can I expect others to not do so?
Where do you aim to go from here? Is Formula 1 the ultimate goal? Or something more endurance focussed like the 24 Hours of Le Mans?
Formula 1 is always a dream but just like Ayrton Senna said: “Dreaming is necessary, although in the dream reality should be glimpsed”. Saying that, I would really like to step into GT racing after W Series and why not endurance like the 24 Hours.
I believe we share the same sporting hero in Ayrton Senna. I’ve always admired the 3-time World Champion and his truly unique personality. What is it about the Brazilian that you look up to more than other great drivers such as Schumacher or Prost?
The way Senna transformed the sport and the way he elevated the level of Formula 1, he didn’t just race and win, he changed the game.
Are there any other drivers you admire, for their driving style or all-round charisma?
I really admire Hamilton – who doesn’t now – for his driving style and character. At the same time, I like to look at the best qualities of the other drivers, the aggressiveness of Verstappen for instance or the perseverance of Perez.
I’ve been keeping up with your social media, and it’s safe to say you’ve managed to stay pretty busy despite current circumstances…
Those who know me best know that I am hyperactive, and I truly see an opportunity in everything I do to learn and elevate myself, even if it is filming a car show. I am very lucky to live my passion for racing and cars the way I do, so I like to work hard and give it my all. Every day is a race to conquer!
It’s been quite a year, and understandably you’ve spent a lot of time off the racetrack. Have you missed the thrill of racing? Or have you been thankful to take a step back for a little while…
I have missed it more than I’d thought. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with all the work and travelling, and it feels like it’s becoming too much to handle. But then this year has been an example that no matter how many cool things I am doing in my life, if I am not racing, I am missing that spark.
Looking ahead, W Series will be hosting 8 support races at Formula 1 race weekends in 2021. What does this mean for the series but also motorsport in general? Is it a step in the right direction for diversity and creating awareness?
I think it is an absolute revolution. It will bring an all-new awareness to the world of racing and not only that, when you talk to people outside of racing, they often ask you: “But can women race cars like Formula 1?” When they see W Series in 2021 there will be no need to ask that question anymore.
And which circuit are you most looking forward to racing at next year?
For sure Spa and the Red Bull Ring are two tracks I know and love, but I’m also excited for Austin and Mexico!
Are there any circuits in particular that you’d love to race at in the future?
Not having a race in Italy is a pity for me, I’d love to race at Mugello and Monza.
Just a couple of questions before we wrap things up!
For me I’d say the Ferrari 312T is one of the prettiest Formula 1 cars ever. If you could choose only one, which racing car would you say is your favourite of all time?
I love the Ferrari 312T, good choice. To stay with Ferrari, the F2008 car but also the McLaren MP4/4 are my favourites.
Moving to the road, what are you currently driving?
At the moment a Kia Xceed. It’s practical!
And finally, I couldn’t have you on here without asking which cars you’d want in your dream garage…
That is a very hard question because it really depends how I wake up. This morning I’d love a 911 GT2 RS!
Vicky it’s been a pleasure, thanks for taking the time to speak with us, and we hope to see you trackside very soon!