During his career as a kart driver that began almost 20 years ago, Nicolas Picot has raced at all levels and in many formulae, with increasing podium finishes.
Although he turns 28 on 20th October, the Frenchman does not want to consider himself a gentleman-driver. Constantly on the hunt for adrenaline and exciting new challenges, he has found an ideal playground with the 2019 FIA Karting European Championship – OK.
AT THE AGE OF 27, WHAT ARE YOUR MOTIVATIONS FOR RACING IN THIS CATEGORY, WHICH CONSISTS MAINLY OF YOUNG DRIVERS UNDER 18?
Since my debut in the early 2000s in France in Minime, I have raced in almost every category: Junior, KZ2, the brand challenges for Rotax, DD2, Rok Cup and X30, and even KF2 in 2010. With the debut of the new OK regulations in 2016, I wanted to try this formula that I had briefly discovered that same year during a French Championship of France. I like new experiences, my age is not a hindrance to that.
ACCORDING TO YOU, YOUR TRAINING IS NOT FINISHED YET?
In karts and especially in OK, we are learning every day. Whatever the level we are already at, we can always progress. We must never rest on our laurels and must know how to question ourselves. On the track, the conclusions from a test day or a race are not always valid the next day. We must constantly adapt to the conditions we encounter and seek to make a difference against our competitors, which is exciting.
HAS THE CREATION BY YOUR ASN OF A FRENCH CHAMPIONSHIP OVER TWO MEETINGS IN ANGERVILLE AND LE MANS INFLUENCED YOUR CHOICE?
Of course, this has allowed me to plan a schedule of several races, to be able to prepare for the European Competitions thoroughly, without travelling too far from home. I found another level, another way of working and very powerful equipment. The OK is still the best of the non-gearbox karts. Without a clutch, the power comes instantaneously, it is reactive, and the feeling is intense. I think I will come out stronger from this season, it will benefit me for races in other categories in the future. The small complaint that I have regarding OK is the minimum weight, where we can quickly find ourselves above it if we are approaching a body weight of 70 kg.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE ORGANISATION OF THE FIA KARTING CHAMPIONSHIPS?
It’s very professional. The organisation is rigorous and the decisions taken seem to me more accurate than at the national level. You are not systematically sanctioned if you touch with another kart. It is often robust, but there is fair play on the track, as there is at the finish between the mechanics. I race with very young drivers, we are sometimes more than 12 years apart, but I enjoy racing in OK. The system of front spoiler fasteners and race-control cameras obviously contributes to this situation, there is more respect today.
IN FRANCE, YOUR TECHNICAL AND KARTING KNOWLEDGE ALLOWS YOU TO RACE IN YOUR OWN TEAM. WHY NOT CHOOSE THIS SOLUTION IN FIA KARTING?
Technically, I am missing benchmarks in OK, having not raced in this category in recent years. It was safer to join a team with good experience of this type of international competition and management of the engine. Having team-mates in the same category is important to have points of comparison. We pull each other up. For these reasons I joined the Belgian team VDK Racing, who know the category well and who, moreover, speak the same language as me.
HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO MOVE FROM ONE CATEGORY TO ANOTHER, FROM ONE KART TO ANOTHER, IN THE SAME SEASON?
I have four different categories on my programme this season, including KZ2. With experience I am able to manage this aspect. I have already entered in two categories at the same Competition! Free Practice is there to fit the engine, chassis, braking system and tyres. Finally, I realise that managing the tyres remains the most difficult aspect to manage. In the end, trying to be fast and versatile is something that motivates me.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE BAN ON RUNNING THE ENGINES IN THE PADDOCK?
It’s a good decision. If you have to change an ignition, I can understand the engine builder trying to check that everything is working normally. But in the end, everyone was abusing it. It is now up to the drivers to get the engine up to speed on the track.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE FUTURE?
2019 is a big season for me, with a lot of races on the programme. My 100% professional involvement at in karting helps me, as I provide parallel assistance and driver coaching during the year. I hope to continue in 2020 and hopefully a few years longer.