Saturday’s Six Hours of Bahrain saw a pair of World Champions crowned, as Toyota’s Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi locked up the 2014 FIA WEC World Drivers’ Championship.
While the race didn’t go to plan for the No. 8 Toyota TS040 Hybrid, with alternator issues dashing hopes of a fifth win in seven races, the pairing managed to finish 11th overall, which was good enough to lock up the title one race early.
Below is a Q&A with Davidson, courtesy of Toyota Racing, with the 35-year-old Brit reflecting back on his history making year.
How does it feel to be World Champion?
“It hasn’t hit home yet. I always consider myself to be a top sports car driver and now I have the World Championship to show for it. It is incredible; the biggest thing I have won in my career by a long way and the first championship I have won since 1995 in karting.
“I have never been a World Champion before. It feels fantastic. It has been an amazing year and now we have one more job to do in Brazil; we are going to push to win the manufacturers’ World Championship for the team.”
The competition in WEC is very strong, does that make this championship even more significant to you?
“To be a World Champion in anything is special, let alone against the serious competition we face in Audi and Porsche. Everyone knows their credentials and the history they have in sports car racing.
“For us to be standing here having won the World Championship is phenomenal. It is testament to our team, who have built the best and fastest car this year.”
Tell us about the race in Bahrain…
“We should have won the race. I wanted to win but it wasn’t meant to be. When we had the problem I wasn’t stressed or upset. It was just one of those things.
“I trusted the team and the mechanics to repair the car and send us back out. It was one problem we haven’t had all year and that put us out of contention but we still showed our speed.”
What were your expectations at the start of the season?
“Before we even turned a wheel this year I expected we would be more competitive compared to Audi due to the new regulations but not necessarily stronger than them.
“So it was a pleasant surprise to find out we were in fact the fastest car after the first few races. I did not know what to expect from Porsche but we knew they would get stronger as the season went on.”
Did you expect to be fighting for the World Championship at that stage?
“No. You hope but you never expect to be fighting for the championship. Our main focus before thinking about the championship was Le Mans, which is the biggest race of the year.”
What has been the biggest challenge for you this season?
“The biggest challenge has probably been leading a championship, something which I have not done for many years, since my karting days.
“I have won big races like the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Formula Ford Festival and other single-day events but winning a championship is a different challenge because you have to be consistently at the front.”
After Le Mans, what were your thoughts during the long summer break?
“Directly when we got the No. 8 back on track after the accident, my focus switched. Since that moment my total focus has been on the championship. After this opportunity was taken away I knew what we had to do and we’ve been focused on winning the World Championship since.”
It was five months between your Spa victory and the Fuji one-two. How sweet did it feel to be back on the top step?
“After a few months away, not just from driving but also from being on the top step of the podium, it was great to have this one-two in front of our home crowd and our colleagues from Toyota.
“It was the first time I felt dominance from the team. Fuji was a pinnacle where we showed the real speed of the car and the precision of everyone in the team. That was a really good race weekend.”
How has the team developed over the season?
“We have come a long way since the Prologue. During this test I remember worrying that we didn’t have the car to fight for the championship. But the team found a lot of performance.
“Even after Silverstone the performance kept coming and that’s been impressive. We really understood the regulations and the car more every time we have been on track. The level of performance we have now is testament to our understanding of the car.”