Vivien Keszthelyi hopes that if she performs successfully, new opportunities will open up – this year the Hungarian race car driver will has already tested with two teams: Carlin and Motopark.
The most successful pilot in terms of the first Formula season, the best Hungarian female racing driver in 2019, Vivien Keszthelyi has recently entered the “twenties club”.
The Debrecen-born athlete started her professional career in 2014 in the FIA Swift Cup Europe series at the age of 13, after her outstanding results in Hungarian races. As a young girl, in an international field of mostly adult men. After a hugely successful season, in her second year the promoter of Swift Cup Austria has already put her in the Austrian championship at his own expenses. Then the German Audi Sport noticed the talent and the raw pace of the young lady, who had little racing experience at the time due to her young age.
Five years ago, another change took place: from the autumn of 2015 she continued her career as the youngest and first female driver of the Audi Sport Racing Academy, thus to this day she can say that she is the only Hungarian pilot who was able to learn her trade at a factory academy reserved for racing drivers. Thanks to Audi, she gained professional racing knowledge and experience each year due to the comprehensive, all-encompassing training she received.
From the age of 15, she continued her successful touring car and GT racing with Audi. In these categories, Vivien finished her touring car career with 3 championship titles and nearly eighty podium finishes in 3 years.
One of the biggest steps in her career arrived as a three-time touring car champion at the age of 18.
“I was able to try myself in the Formula category and also get started in a Formula talent search. I had previously participated in a similar programme in the touring car category, as I also had to succeed in selectors in 2017, this was the only way I could get into the Audi Sport TT Cup series” – said Vivien Keszthelyi in an interview to SZON.
She added: “To get into the bloodstream of the Formula category, I also needed these experiences, and thanks to a talent search programme, I managed to get into the top 20 female pilots in the world. After that, I had the opportunity to compete in F3 as the first woman in the F3 Asian Championship certified by FIA. I raced among talented men, several of whom competed in European F3 championships and even in F2 or as a Formula 1 test driver this year”.
A greater challenge
Vivien revealed what influenced her decision at the time to switch categories.
“At the beginning of my career, there was no option at all for me to race in the Formula category as my parents explicitly opposed it. It was only the introduction of a safety frame around the head (Halo) that convinced them to lift this ban. After Formula 1 the safety innovation was also introduced in the F2 and F3 categories to protect the heads of the pilots, as it is the only part of their body that used to be unprotected while sitting in the cockpit.
In 2018, when it turned out that the DTM (German Touring Car Championship), which is the top category in touring cars, would not continue in its current form, we had to make a decision as the Audi factory team did not want to participate in the series. Two options remained for me: the already familiar GT or the unfamiliar, more challenging Formula category. We stayed with the latter.”
Not a personal sport
This year’s coronavirus epidemic had a significant impact on Vivien’s season as well.
“As we were preparing for the season at the beginning of the year, traveling from one place in the world to another, from the ever-increasing readiness and inspections, we sensed a little earlier that there would be something wrong with unrestricted travel. The members of my management (who professionally organize my career) took action virtually immediately after the official information appeared in the world” – Vivien remarked.
She added: “After that, we got the maximum out of the situation. Motorsport is not a personal sport. About 35-40 is the total number of the staff of the team who travel to the sites and work with the pilots. Everyone’s work is important and needed. Without exception, everyone has to produce a negative test before the trip, and at the different locations. If someone doesn’t show up, the process stops. This requires extremely precise organization and discipline from all participants. I am very happy that we were able to do it successfully, so I had the opportunity to complete the tasks we have planned for this year”.
Another step forward
There is tough competition for the seats among the best, and the coronavirus epidemic severely limited the opportunities.
“We worked with two teams in 2020: one of them was Carlin, then after the racing season I took part in tests with a champion team, Motopark, with whom I will continue to work in 2021. It’s a performance-based industry, and I hope what what they have seen so far has solidified the team’s opinion of me. Hopefully this will be another step forward in my career, but the hard work will only start after that. In the future, I will focus exclusively on the Formula category” – emphasized Vivien Keszthelyi, who looks forward to getting back to normal.
The accident can be a warning example
The 20-year-old Hungarian driver commented on the Formula 1 season as well: “Despite the difficulties, this season did not seem to have significantly affected the top categories of Formula racing. From the inside, this is not the case at all; the pandemic situation has placed an extraordinary burden on everyone. At least the season ended with a measurable result. At the Bahrain Grand Prix, Haas driver Romain Grosjean had a lucky accident and apart that the season ended without major problems. The collision drew attention to the fact that all the pilots in the Formula category can pay for their beloved profession with their lives. This is an extremely life-threatening sport”.