Motor racing star Axcil Jefferies is still hopeful of fulfilling his ambition to compete in the Formula One World Championship after being recently afforded a dream opportunity to race a Formula One car around the fabled Monte Carlo street circuit in Monaco for the first time in his career two weeks ago.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The Monte Carlo street circuit, which hosts today’s Monaco Grand Prix, is widely considered the most famous track in the world with stunning scenery and a wealth of history.
The 24-year-old Zimbabwean motor racing driver made his Monaco debut in a Formula One car during this year’s edition of the biennial Monaco Historic Grand Prix.
“The highlight of my career so far is racing an F1 car in Monaco two weeks ago. It was a dream come true for me,” Jefferies told Standardsport in an interview.
“The atmosphere was amazing. I am so grateful to GP Extreme for giving me that opportunity. We stayed on a yacht on trackside and, of course, I had our Zimbabwean flag flying,” Jefferies said.
“It was my first time at Monaco, which is a very technical and dangerous street circuit. I qualified in sixth and got up to fifth in the race before we had mechanical problems and had to retire. But what an amazing experience!”
Jefferies, whose ambition of competing in Formula One has been hampered by lack of sponsorship, said he felt more motivated to continue pursuing his dream of breaking into the Formula One after his memorable ride in Monaco.
“Yes, driving and racing the F1 car inspired me more to one-day race full-time in F1. BBC has just done a documentary on my career and why Africa is not represented in F1. I hope it will get the attention of the right people and who knows? we might see Africa in F1 soon.”
During the BBC interview which was aired last week Jefferies, who has a wealth of experience having competed in the Formula BMW, Formula Two Championship, Indy Lights, the GP2 Series and most recently in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Championship, gave his views on what it would take for Africa to be represented in Formula One.
“If, for example, there’s an African race, I’m sure someone in Formula One would really really push hard to make sure there’s an African on the grid. The main barrier if you speak to any driver is probably going to be the financial support,” he said.
Jefferies said getting a drive in F1 isn’t always about performance, and that upcoming drivers also need to have strong financial backing to attract interest from teams.
“Unfortunately, a lot is dependent on the backing you have. Probably, all in all to get to where we are, we’ve probably spent anywhere in the region of €3 million and €4 million. Going up the ladder, karting at the top level is around €500 000 a year,” he said.
While commending the growing interest in Formula One in Africa, the Zimbabwean also challenged governments and motorsport authorities on the continent to invest more in youth in order to catch up with the rest of the world.
“If we look at Europe, there are thousands of kids doing karting, whereas if you go to Africa you’ve only a few hundred and from 10 000 kids in Europe only two or three make it,” he said.
“There’s a lot of interest of motorsport in Africa especially since Lewis Hamilton started competing in Formula One. He’s not from Africa, but as a person of colour he’s someone who people can relate to in Africa. So he’s got a huge following and it’s certainly brought attention back to formula One which is good for us as a sport in Africa.”
While Jefferies has in the last couple of seasons shifted his attention to GT Racing and in particular, the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Championship, he said his Formula One dream was still alive.
“The dream of breaking into Formula One will probably never fade away. I’m still young enough to do it. I’ve probably got a window of another four years to make it happen. So it won’t go away until I’m too old.”