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Davidson Finds “The Right Time” to Step Back from Racing

Anthony Davidson explains his decision for stepping back from professional racing after 8H Bahrain…

Photo: MPS Agency

Anthony Davidson feels now is “the right time” to step back from professional racing and dedicate more time to his family at the end of a career spanning more than two decades. 

The 42-year-old announced on Sunday that this weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship race in Bahrain will be his last as a full-time driver.

Davidson has since explained the reasons behind his choice to step down, including a need for more time at home and a declining interest in competing professionally.

After a single-seater career that included a spell in Formula 1 with Super Aguri, Davidson switched to sports cars where he drove for the Peugeot and Toyota factory LMP1 programs between 2010 and 2017.

His major accolades included winning the 2014 WEC title alongside Sebastien Buemi and the 2010 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with Marc Gene and Alex Wurz.

“The future will hold everything else I’m currently doing, but no professional race driving,” Davidson told Sportscar365.

“We only have six weekends a year, so they don’t take up a huge portion of my life and commitments. It’s weird to walk away from it, but I feel like I’ve got too much going on.

“With a young family at home, a 10-year-old and an eight-year-old, the needs and desires to be at home more didn’t really fit that work-life balance.

“I feel like now’s the right time to be at home more with boring things like secondary school decisions coming up. I feel like I just want to be there with them more.”

Davidson expects to continue in motorsport beyond the end of his racing career. He currently works with Mercedes as a simulator driver and with Sky Sports as a TV analyst.

“I don’t think my other work will ramp up and replace WEC weekends,” he said.

“I think that will stay the same, the work I do for Mercedes in the simulator and Sky for example. I can’t see myself doing more.

“Just because I’m stopping this doesn’t mean I’ll necessarily expand out and look for other activities.

“I feel like I was overloaded with three proper jobs going on, and trying to juggle that with a young family as well. It was very tough, not just for me but for my wife as well.

“I hope that I can spend more time at home. You never know what’s going to happen, but I’ve always promised them that when I stop racing, I’ll be at home more. So they’re excited for that.”

Davidson hasn’t ruled out taking part in future races for fun, despite the chapter closing on his professional driving career.

While he continues to enjoy motorsport, the demands that come with committing to a high-level championship no longer appeal to him.

“I’ll still do racing for pleasure but not in a professional context,” said Davidson. “I have offered my services to JOTA to do test drives and things. Just not the competition.

“I just felt a little bit overly burnt out from squeezing out that performance you need to fight against people like in the sister car: Stoffel Vandoorne and Tom Blomqvist. These are serious drivers who you’re having to pull your sleeves up and race against.

“It’s still serious competition. People might think that LMP2 must be more of a laugh going racing with an Am or a Silver, but for me I could never take it lightly. I want to perform at my best all the time.

“And that, when you put yourself under it, takes its toll. So I just feel like that’s the one bit I didn’t look forward to.

“Coming here is great, I love the camaraderie with the teammates. I love driving the car.

“I just didn’t like the competition anymore. And that’s the thing that I realized I needed to step away from.”

LMP2 Made Davidson “Fall Back Back in Love” with Racing

Speaking during the pre-event press conference for the 8 Hours of Bahrain, Davidson said that his move to LMP2 in 2018 marked a pivotal moment in regaining his love for racing after being dropped by Toyota’s LMP1 team in favor of Fernando Alonso.

He spent three seasons in the WEC’s second-tier prototype class, first driving for DragonSpeed in 2018-19 before switching to JOTA for the next two campaigns.

“I remember speaking to David Coulthard a long time ago when he retired,” said Davidson.

“I asked him, how do you know when it’s time to retire? As a young driver, you live and breathe racing. I could never imagine getting to that stage where you didn’t want to drive a racing car.

“He just went to me: ‘when you know, you’ll know’. I think it was probably my last year at Toyota where I started to feel like that.

“Life gets more complicated the older you get. Family comes along and you want to spend more time at home.

“You start weighing up all the different options and start realizing that there is more to life than motor racing. That’s when you realize it is just a sport, and not completely your world anymore. That’s how I felt at the time.

“On top of that, there were other things going on that I won’t go into detail, when I fell out of love with the sport a bit during the end of my Toyota years.”

Davidson cited Roberto Gonzalez, his co-driver of three seasons, and DragonSpeed team principal Elton Julian as key people in getting him on board for an LMP2 program.

“I felt like I should give it a go, to go racing to enjoy it again,” he said. “I didn’t know much about LMP2, but I knew it was fun and had very close battles. I wanted to be a part of that, and just enjoy going racing again like a lot of the Am drivers do.”

Davidson’s LMP2 term included wins at Spa with DragonSpeed and Shanghai with JOTA in 2019. He finished second at the 24 Hours of Le Mans the following year with JOTA after taking the wheel for a thrilling final-stint duel with United Autosports’ Phil Hanson.

“I had the best time and completely fell back in love with everything that racing can offer,” Davidson reflected.

“It’s thanks to [Roberto] and Elton to give me that chance. Not just to get back out on track again, but to be in a lighter headspace. I still felt like I was able to operate at my best.

“I had a pole position at Fuji with DragonSpeed and second place at Le Mans with JOTA. I really felt like I was able to operate at my best, and that’s how I wanted it to end.

“I didn’t want it to end slipping down gradually, as I got older and older. I wanted to end while I still knew I could still mix it with the lap times of the younger guys and girls.

“I just had to be honest with myself. I’ve had a great three years since Toyota. Three years that I would never imagine I would have, honestly speaking. I can now leave on my terms how I wanted to end.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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