Wesley Branton | April 5, 2019 @ 1:55 pm
At the age of only 18, Vivien Keszthelyi was given the chance of being one of the 18 drivers who will race in the inaugural season of the new W Series championship, a free-to-enter female-only series designed to support the careers of women in motorsport. The young Hungarian driver was kind enough to talk with Racing Clothesline and reflect upon her experience in the series thus far.
“It is an honour to be part of the W Series,” she told Racing Clothesline. “We have had a lot of tests and training, which helped me improve, and it is especially important for me because I only started racing in the Formula category in January. I did not have karting or Formula experience, and that is why I entered the F3 Asian Championship Winter Series as well because I wanted to get as much experience as possible to qualify to the W Series.”
Racing touring cars in Swift Cup Europe in 2014, she did not disappoint, scoring a podium finish at her home race and finishing P4 in her debut earlier that same year in Suzuki Cup Austria. After consistent results, she finished P3 in the drivers’ championship the following year.
Her undeniable talent sparked interest from the Audi Sport Racing Academy, who recruited her to represent the Audi factory in 2016. She got behind the wheel of an Audi TT in the FIA Central European Zone Trophy, collecting two Hungarian championships in the endurance and sprint categories. She advanced to the Audi Sport TT Cup in 2017, where she became the youngest Hungarian driver to score points in an international series. Keszthelyi raced in the GT4 Audi Sport Seyffarth R8 LMS Cup the following year, finishing runner-up in the championship.
Keszthelyi was fortunate enough to land a position on the BlackArts Racing Team for the F3 Asian Championship Winter Series, providing her with priceless experience in Formula 3 ahead of her W Series qualifying test in Spain. This was her first experience in Formula 3.
“It is completely different from the other categories. I raced in the TCR and the GT4 (Grand Touring) before, which is of course not the same as Formula racing. I had to start learning technically from the basics. I had to get to know to the car, how it reacts to different movements, and of course, I had to get used to the increased force which affects the shoulders, the head and the neck in the Formula 3 car. I am sitting lower and in a more lying position than in a touring car, and these F3 cars do not have servo drive, which means that it is harder to race with them.”
Keszthelyi was selected from more than 100 applicants to be one of the 28 drivers who participated in the four-day test at the Circuito De Almeria in Spain at the end of March, competing for one of the 18 seats for the inaugural season of the W Series set to start in May. Fierce competition meant that she was not selected to race in the series, but the news came with a silver lining: she would join Sarah Bovy, Stephane Kox and Francesca Linossi as a reserve driver for the series, something that she says is an excellent opportunity to improve her Formula racing career.
“It is a huge thing. I think every racer dreams of getting a contract in an important series one day. This is my second contract throughout my career, but the first in the Formula 3 category. Without a doubt, it is a huge step for me in formula racing, but I also know that it will be a tough season. I will have more tasks than just participating the race weekends, and the Free practices and preparations before them. I cannot do a whole season in any other championship due to the test restrictions, but it is a great opportunity for me to learn. Being an official test and reserve driver is also a huge responsibility because I will do all the tests – including the simulator tests – related to the W Series. Throughout the years this is the first time, that I have the chance to participate in 3 different series, which will help me to get the experience in formula racing that I need to compete for the best positions in the end.”
Even though her W Series obligations will keep her busy this summer, she is certain that the experience will further her career. Keszthelyi has been working on her career since she was a child and it’s all she ever wanted to do.
“I did not have second thoughts, or plan B, because all I ever wanted was to compete in the highest level of motorsport,” she explained. “Maybe this way of thinking is what got me to where I am right now. I had no doubts, no fear, just dedication. I work hard every day to make my dream come true.”
In the past, people have been skeptical about whether female drivers can have successful careers in motorsport, but Keszthelyi says that the critics should “think twice”. We are seeing a growing number of women in motorsport, choosing jobs in all aspects of the industry. Keszthelyi says that women need to be dedicated if they want to work in motorsport.
“If they really want to be part of it, they will have to work hard to achieve their goals. Whether they want to be engineers, mechanics, racing drivers or any position related to motorsport. They will need persistence, humbleness and what is the most important of all, they will need to keep fighting even when they feel that their dream might not come true.”