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Interview With The Three Time Formula Drift Champion Frederic Aasbo
Frederic Aasbo is a Norwegian racing driver who has become one of the most successful drivers in Formula Drift history. With a career spanning over two decades, Aasbo has achieved numerous victories, consistent podium finishes, and acquired 3 Formula Drift championships.
He has well established himself as a dominant force in the sport and has become one of the most respected and recognizable names in the drifting world. Aasbo's career has been defined by his skill, determination, and passion for motorsports and is one of the most admired figures in the drifting world. I had the pleasure and opportunity to have a sit down with him and ask some questions. He is the current driver of the Rockstar Energy Drink Toyota GR Supra, and the interview takes place as follows.
So for this year's strategy, will you rely more on setting up the car, some technical adjustments, or your driving?
"So we are not really changing that much this year. We're trusting that we have new data and a fairly good setup. Most of the places we're going to, trying to fine-tune here and there. We've reworked the rear end, the rear suspension with Wise Fab, not really geometry changes, but trying to make their kit a little stronger and easier to replace in the heat of a battle or, you know, following a crash. Other than that, it's more trying to see these opportunities here and there.
Trying to set the car up a little more aggressively here and there, but no major changes and I think we're fairly close to taking out the potential in the car. So it's more on the mental side this year where my goal is to try and not have that dip that I had mid-season last year and try and show up to each event, each round, be poised, ready, hungry and solid, which is sometimes easier said than done."
Several FD drivers have mentioned that the future of the sport will only benefit if you find young talent and help provide the resources to help them get to the next level. What would a young talent, need to demonstrate to you, to convince you to give them an opportunity?
"That's a very good question. So, I've been in the sport for a long time. I've gone from a rookie to a contender, to now a champion and I've seen a lot of things. I'm now toying with the idea of supporting the next generation of drivers. In my quest or sort of like dabble in that opportunity, I've looked at a few drivers already and the main thing that I've been looking for is someone that wants it so much that it's all they're thinking about.
I'm not looking for the people that are asking how to find sponsors, asking for this and asking for that. I'm asking, I'm looking for the people that are spending all their time in the pits, walking around, looking, studying, being out there, throwing in everything they got to try and make it on track. Those are the guys who you want, and I think I was that guy when Steph (Papadakis) signed me. So, sponsors are really attracted to people that truly show that passion."
So what do you hope to accomplish this year? Are you going for the Three-Peat? Or do you have something else in mind?
"So, it's a given that we obviously want to do well and we've been lucky and fortunate and put our work in to do well over the last few years. We understand that there are a lot of things that need to line up for that to happen. So obviously the goal is to win, but on sort of a higher level, and it's also to grow as a driver. I think part of the reason we have done well is that we are ultimately curious and looking at this as a learning platform, more than a platform to show what we got. We don't consider ourselves to be the best or I don't think I'm the best driver, but I think I can learn from the best and utilize that. Perhaps on some days, I can hang with the best of them.
That's sort of the mentality. So the good thing about that, is that it helps you sort of stay humble, and it also takes some of the pressure away because we're not really here to prove anything. We're here to try and learn and we're curious and we just want to go out there and see if we can do it. That's sort of the brain space and the mental mind game that I'm trying to live after."
Drifting is growing and becoming more and more popular, but is in dire need of main brand sponsors for backing. How does drifting break into those non-industry sponsors? Like a, like a Coca-Cola or a Tide or something like that?
"Very good question. So drifting is a young sport. It's sort of a rowdy sport in the sense that it's not timed, it's a new style of action sport with the judging aspect of all of that. It's taken some time for the mainstream to really adopt and learn and appreciate that form of motorsports, but it's become quite the spectacle. It's now, perhaps not a mainstream sport yet, but it's on the verge of becoming that.
And I think in order to take drifting to the next step and get into those Fortune 500 chequebooks and really get those big-time sponsors, it needs to continue that growth. And I think there are some challenges ahead with the green shift, the tire smoke and the optics of all of that. On the other hand, you have the growth of counterculture and the people that celebrate the V8 engines and that is very much still a thing. So I think we're, we're on the right path. FD hasn't been too aggressive over the years and if they had been, they could have gone away just like GRC did, and just like NOPI, just as a bunch of other series did. FD's been able to build their program and their series step by step, so I think it's a matter of time more than anything before we're really into the mainstream world."
There are a lot of new faces and there are a lot of old faces, who do you look forward the most to sharing the track with this year?
"You know, it's one of those things where on paper this is shaping up to be the wildest season yet, right? We have the highest level of tech, the fastest cars ever. We have now the best drivers in the world coming in here. Still, a few that I'd love to see in the sport, but with James (Deane) coming back, Kristaps (Bluss) coming back later in the season.
Diego Higa being the new guy, the new kid on the block, Forrest (Wang) coming back, it's really shaping up to be a nail-biter of a season. And with the new changes that FD's doing with the higher focus on the X factor and the aggressive driving and all that, I think it's promoting a badass show. So I'm looking forward to sharing the track, with each and every one of them. And obviously, there are some drivers that the higher ranked drivers are on paper tougher to battle, but in reality, that's not always the case. Any one of these drivers can win an event. I'm looking forward to battling them all."
If you could campaign in any other motorsport, what would it be?
"It'd probably be Rally Cross. If I wasn't drifting, I'd probably love to be in Rally Cross. Big fan. Grew up in Scandinavia. There's a lot of Rally Cross and rally history and a fair few of my friends are in that scene. And I'm just a big fan of the sport and, I also pull a lot of inspiration both driving-wise and setup-wise from Rally Cross."
Alright, I've got a fun one for you, who do you think would do better? Are you in an F1 car or Lewis Hamilton in an FD car?
"Oh, my goodness. Well, I have massive respect for F1, right? And I think Lewis is pretty handy and I've seen him, you know, playing around. And on the other hand, I think it'd take me some time to really learn aero and all that stuff. I think Lewis would do better and probably very well, but I'm not discrediting drifting. I've done some stuff, I've done some racing, I've done some reaction tests and I'm not too far off, and sometimes better than some other drivers in other series. So it'd be a cool moment, witness for sure."
You're going for the three-peat, clearly, that's your mindset, you're ready to go and the team's ready. Who do you think is the most dangerous driver to take that away?
"It's very hard to pinpoint one driver. Matt (Field) and I have had a great rivalry over the last couple of years. Obviously, James (Deane) will be a big contender. I think he's gonna get that team to the next level too, he's the missing link for what that team needed. And there are some drivers that are fantastic, that perhaps haven't had the best couple of seasons leading up to this, Odi (Bakchis) you know, Vaughan's (Gittin Jr) coming back.
He can always be a spoiler, as we all know. So it's really hard to pick one of them. You know, the fact of the matter though is that Chris (Forsburg), James (Deane) and myself are fighting for that fourth championship and there's a lot of hype and a lot of interest and a lot of hunger from all of us to clinch that. So I think it can be anyone's game and ask me again in October and I'll have the answer for you."
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