Despite joining the series relatively late-on, Axcil Jefferies
enjoyed a promising debut Formula Two season to finish 12th
overall, scoring points in eight of the 12 races he started. Backed
by sponsor Afri-Hype, the 18-year-old Zimbabwean is only the second
African driver to compete in F2 after Ricardo Teixeira, who raced
for Angola in 2010. Speaking to formulatwo.com, Axcil reflects on
how his season played out and talks about his plans for 2013…
How difficult was it for you starting the season three rounds in, especially given you'd also been away from racing for two years?
It was very difficult for me to deal with as I had not been racing for two years due to budget constraints, and I thought 'Oh, here we go again!' But my dad is a fighter and promised to get me back in a race car so worked really hard to make things happen. To be honest, we went into the first F2 test at Silverstone not expecting too much given my time out of racing and the jump from Formula BMW to F2. However, we surprised ourselves at our pace and that gave us the motivation to push hard to make it happen.
It must have been tricky though getting to grips with the 500bhp of the Williams designed F2 car compared to previous single seaters you've driven?
Initially, the speed was a shock to my system and I just had to be patient and get my sights in and believe the car would do what was expected.
Your debut weekend at the Nűrburgring was quite a 'fiery' one - what was going through your mind when you saw your car ablaze?
Yeah, that was interesting! On approach to the first corner I saw flames in my mirrors and thought it was just from the down shifts, then exiting the corner I was just engulfed in flames. Strangely, I didn't panic, just hit the extinguisher, pulled up in a safe place, jumped out, put the steering wheel back in - all in a ball of flames. I can't believe it when I watch the video back!
So when did you start to feel everything was coming together?
I think I started to get to grips at Brands Hatch, but I 'clicked' in Hungary. That's when I started to feel I was back and confident enough to make my decisions on set up, as I started to understand the characteristics of the car. All of a sudden it was fun again!
As the season progressed you got quicker and quicker and were almost on pole in Monza - are you pleased with the progress you've made?
Every time I got into the car I was learning so much and pushing myself. It was a steep learning curve, but I needed to prove myself quickly. I have been racing for 12 years, and we are not happy unless we get upfront, so we will keep pushing. I went into Monza feeling I was ready for a podium, and had the pace for it. Unfortunately, on Saturday we ran out of fuel in qualifying after constantly being in the top three, and on Sunday we caught ourselves out time wise, and I got the chequered flag on what would have been my flying lap with the boost. Shame, but that's motorsport. Overall we are pleased with the progress, considering.
Any favourite moments from the season?
Monza in race two, where I had dropped to 13th in the first corner and raced to eighth, making some nice overtaking moves along the way. I enjoyed that one!
Do you get plenty of support from back home?
I have the most amazing support in Zimbabwe!! It's really cool, in fact I am in Zimbabwe now and on arrival at the airport all the media and hundreds of fans were there to meet me. I felt like a celebrity. As such I must say a big thank you to all my fans and of course to my sponsors Afri-Hype for making it all possible.
And finally, any idea where you will be racing next year? Hopefully back in F2?
We have been looking at the different options, but F2 is a great championship and I understand the car now and feel I will do well there next year.