Dean Stoneman interview: “I’ve got to try and get to F1”
By the end of 2010, Dean Stoneman was FIA Formula Two champion, honoured at the FIA’s annual awards ceremony alongside Sebastian Vettel and Sébastien Loeb. He had also just completed a successful test with Williams F1.
However, by January 2011 his world would be turned upside down after being diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of testicular cancer. Everything Stoneman had strived so hard for seemed to be slipping away.
2013 marked a remarkable return to the cockpit in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB as Stoneman took five wins across the season. Total 911 caught up with our incredible ‘one to watch’.
Why did you choose the Carrera Cup to make your comeback?
I won the P1 Powerboat championship last year and in January, or February, did the awards ceremony. Tiff Needell was hosting and I knew him. After a few vodka Red Bulls, he suggested I do the Porsche Carrera Cup GB.
By the following Thursday I was testing a Carrera Cup car. It all happened in five to ten days and I signed with Redline Racing, one of the top teams.
Why did you not return in single-seaters?
I don’t know what other options I had. I didn’t want to do single-seaters and to push myself beyond my limits (at that time). Ultimately I go racing to enjoy it. Why go racing if you’re not enjoying? Why do anything if you’re not enjoying it?
Did your diagnosis change your outlook?
January 2011 wasn’t about racing. I was thinking about racing. I was two days away from incurable, and seven days from dying. Even when they gave me a 30 per cent chance of recovery, you just want to get out of hospital and survive.
How was your 2013 season, on a scale of one to ten, how would you rate it?
Obviously it was different. I took a different avenue with the Porsches to what I was used to. I wasn’t expecting to fight for the championship. It was just about getting back in a racing car and to keep my mind occupied.
I would probably say about eight. We had some bad luck, but we also had some good races. It’s a very good championship, so to have the results we did was encouraging.
What was your best performance of 2013?
Bearing in mind the bad luck, the second to last race of the season at Brands Hatch. I was going really well in the first five laps, before I crashed.
I’ve done some good overtaking this year. I’ve had some bad luck, which has caused me to start further back in the pack than I would have liked. I’ve been one of the only real overtakers. Donington Park was another good race, where I was leading until I locked a brake and went off.
Do you think the championship was a realistic prospect in 2013?
We worked out the points and [without the DNFs] I would’ve won the championship with one race to spare. But, it’s never that simple. And it’s never that easy. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
What are your aims for 2014?
To go back to single-seaters. After the Carrera Cup season finished, I went to Abu Dhabi to the final GP3 round and I got sixth and second, so I’ve still got the speed and ability in those cars.
Will it be in GP3 or Formula Renault 3.5?
It depends what the best offer is. I’ve got offers from teams, but it’s about £700,000 for GP3, and £1,000.000 for Formula Renault 3.5. So it’s about which one offers the best value.
Is the championship a realistic goal in 2014, whatever you race?
I don’t see why not. I’ve proved my speed and talent is still there. Most people see GP3 as a two-year project, but I don’t think winning it [in your first] should be impossible.
Is funding an issue?
That’s the trouble. I’ve been fortunate in that my dad has funded much of my career. But this is a different level. I had an email from a company the other day, so hopefully there is something there.
How is your 2014 preparation coming along?
I’ve been racing and testing in Abu Dhabi. I was racing Radicals, with two 45-minute races, which went well. I got the lap record. I also tested a Formula Renault 3.5 the other day; it’s so competitive.
I’d go back to sportscars but I’ve got to try and get to F1 and do the best job I can. It’s time to take back the chance that was taken from me. I was so close in 2010.