Matt Parry’s Formula One (F1) dream will become even more of reality during a thrilling 2014 — especially if he can win his third consecutive title.
Having clinched the Intersteps crown in 2012 and Formula Renault Northern European Cup (NEC) 12 months later, the former County Upper School and West Suffolk College pupil is bidding to add the Formula Renault Eurocup to his collection of silverware this year.
And with a test drive in a McLaren F1 racing car lined up for the autumn – his prize for winning the prestigious McLaren Autosport British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) accolade – 2014 promises to be the best yet on the 20-year-old’s road to the top.
“This is the biggest step-up I’ve made so far, so it’s going to be a huge challenge,” said Parry, who is just two rungs away from F1. “The series itself is one of the hardest, if not the hardest, junior series and certainly gets you ready for World Series by Formula Renault 3.5, which would be the next step.”
Testing for the new season has gone well for Parry, who was in Jerez today and yesterday for the last two days of on-track preparation for the new season, and he finished second overall on both days of the Barcelona test on March 17 and 18, despite not running his best tyres.
Although testing times are difficult to judge because different teams run different fuel loads and tyres each time, Parry feels he will be among the leading five contenders for the opening round in Alcañiz, Spain, on April 26 and 27.
From there, he takes in the world famous Spa circuit in Belgium on May 31 and June 1, before visiting Russia, Germany, Hungary and France ahead of returning to Spain on October 18 and 19 for the season finale at Jerez.
“My team Fortec have been great,” said Parry, reflecting on his testing to date. “It’s my third year so I’m very much at home with them.
“We’ve got to carry on improving, keep pushing hard and not relax for a second.”
Parry – who has lived in Bury St Edmunds for the best part of a decade, along with several members of his family – is known as a quick-starter when it comes to the beginning of the season and he built up near-unassailable leads in the early part of the campaign on his way to his last two titles.
That may prove Parry’s pre-season preparation is up there with the best, but he has admitted to upping it further over the winter.
“It’s always good to start a season well because you have that momentum with you from the start,” said the Welsh-born racer. “Because I’m moving up, my preparation had to step up a level and I think I have done that.
“I feel like I’m prepared for F1 already in terms of physical fitness, so I’m keeping that level high.”
Parry is working hard to improve his data feedback, an area he feels is one of his weakest, while the search for as little as half a tenth of a second – the miniscule amount of time Parry feels could be the difference between pole position or not – means he is trying to brake as little as five metres later for certain corners.
“Drivers love testing because it’s all about trying to find the ultimate pace, but you can’t get better than racing other drivers wheel-to-wheel on the circuit,” said Parry, who has an F1 test with McLaren at Silverstone to look forward to in October.
However, even the thought of living every boy’s dream by driving the cars of the world’s top formula will not prevent Parry from keeping his eyes on his main goal of 2014.
“I’m not going to focus on that test too much because at the moment I’m 100 per cent focused on the Eurocup,” said Parry, who hopes to follow in the footsteps of current F1 drivers Felipe Massa, Kamui Kobayashi and Valtteri Bottas by clinching the Eurocup title. “That’s where my focus has to be because these guys in this series don’t give an inch.”