It’s been over two years since we chatted with Fabienne Wohlwend! A lot can change in two years, not just graduating to her mid-twenties (the first time I met Fabienne she was a young 21 in her second year with W Series) and all personal growth that comes along with it.. but a huge professional growth faster than Doordash.

Two years ago I asked Fabienne what she wanted to continue doing or pick up in the next few years, “Of course I’m going to continue W Series if I can” she had said, this time coming back with community-owned team CortDAO.

“So much has happened, she said, “It’s crazy how fast the time has gone by and still racing in W Series!”
I asked Fabienne to bring me back to the day she found out W Series will have support races with Formula One: “It was amazing. Last year when we were racing alongside Formula One with COVID, the was still some restrictions. I couldn’t really bring any friends or family with me. So this season finally racing without any masks or restrictions is wonderful!” Last weekend in Silverstone was the first time Fabienne finally had her parents come watch her race since 2019, “it was really special and it’s just been insane” Fabienne exclaimed. “All the Formula One race being fully sold out, the fans just love it. And W-Series has such great timings, especially like our Saturday race is always straight before the Formula One qualifying.

Fabienne Wohlwend / CortDao, W Series / Photo by Felix Timmermans / Fueler Canada Magazine

“So everyone is already on the grand stands. And especially in Silverstone, in the last lap I was looking out on the grand stand. It was really crazy to see how many fans are there, sitting there and cheering for us. And not only coming for Formula One, also starting to recognize W-Series and following and all my fan base since three years ago to now, it’s such a massive growth and so everywhere we get a massive cheering people and following us and supporting us. So that’s really great!”

N.S:
W-Series did make a new record as far as I understand. A million people tuned in last week to watch, and it was such a jam-packed race. What are you taking away into next weekend?

Fabienne:
That was just a milestone. I was really happily surprised when I heard the news that one million people were watching us. Also, a bit embarrassed because like one million people have watched me locking up into turn 3 and losing the podium, but it is how it is. So onto next weekend in France, very positive. Of course, now, the good result in Silverstone just gave me a lot of self confidence again, because my first two weekends didn’t really go to plan. So I really needed a good result at a megastar and maybe one roll up and it would’ve been a podium, but we still have a long season ahead.

Also, big step since the first season. Now, we have 10 races driving really international, not Canada yet. Hopefully, maybe next year, but it’s really great momentum. I really want to carry this on into France and then busy two weeks because we fly home Sunday from France, two days at home and then back to Hungary. So mentally and physically, I feel really well prepared and I used the little summer break we had before Silverstone well. Spent a lot of time in the mountains with my family to be ready for the double header.

Fabienne Wohlwend / CortDao, W Series / Photo by Felix Timmermans / Fueler Canada Magazine

N.S:
Absolutely. You’ve got to say on focus, especially coming up one after the other! Your teammate Marta Garcia is a wonderful driver with a different driving style, tell us about your dynamic.

Fabienne:
Being with Marta is great. We are really different in driving, but off the track, really get along. We have a lot of fun. And driving style-wise, it’s really funny because really fast corners suit me. She likes more the slow speed corners, but we did one test day back in March, April together in France where we were like sharing the car. And it was really great because we can learn so much from each other because she can try to copy me in the fast corners, I can learn from her in the slow speed corners. And after track, CortDao is doing an amazing job. We do so many activities with the community, for the community, and creating some more funny off-track content. So it’s been a great journey so far.

N.S:
Who doesn’t love the content, it’s so fun! Apart from winning, of course, what are your goals for the end of this season?

Fabienne:
Of course, winning my first W-Series race. I was so close couple of times. Now, I would say for friends in Hungary, we really aim for the podium. I think we have a great pace. I really have what it takes to be fighting for it. In general, just having fun, enjoying all the great locations we’re going to. It’s got to be the first time, racing overseas and traveling so much within racing because the last couple of years, I’ve only been racing in Europe. Also, handling jet lag, traveling. Also now, all the planes are fully booked again, baggage getting lost. It’s quite a challenge at the moment and apart from that, my goal is definitely to achieve, I would say, top straight finish. In the end, I missed up a bit like the first two race weekends. So it’s going to be tough, but I think the top five finish and the standings is still possible. So we’re going to cross my fingers for that.

N.S:
A very achievable set of goals. What advantages do you feel you have coming into this new season with W-Series being there right from the start, and with new teammates that are much younger than you.

Fabienne:
Of course now, I’m 24. Still, I would say middle age and adult on W-Series grid. We have some really young girls coming in, which is great also for the series to get some younger girls in, to develop and learn. Now, I feel like a lot more relaxed going into the season and going into a race weekend because I know every from one from W-Series so well. I know the procedures and most of the tracks now, quite some similar tracks from last year, of course, some new ones, but I like the challenge as well. And I think with the age also comes just being more relaxed and not as nervous, same with media commitments because now, with Formula One, we quite have a lot of media interviews, fan visits. I think I handled it way better than I did or less nervous. And apart from that, I think I haven’t changed that much. Like I say, I’m 24, but I still feel like 19, I haven’t changed that much I think.

Fabienne Wohlwend / CortDao, W Series / Photo by Felix Timmermans / Fueler Canada Magazine

N.S:
Well, your hair is still long.

Fabienne:
It’s long again. I chopped it off a bit during COVID and now I’m trying to grow my Rapunzel hair back.

N.S:
You had a quote and I remember putting it in [Issue 1 of Fueler] actually. I thought it was so funny and it was about your hair. Now I need to find it again.

Fabienne:
I think that I wanted my hair to waist down. And at the moment, I would say a little bit is missing but we’re getting there again.

N.S:
Take me back to in the beginning of a race day, what is the first thing that you do?

Fabienne:
On my race day or when I wake up, I try to relax and then have a healthy, good breakfast before leaving to the track. I always try to eat minimum two hours before I jump in a race car. And then I would say one hour, half an hour before I jump in a car, I normally eat half of a banana or protein bar or something. Racetrack procedure, I don’t have any crazy rituals or music that I listen to because my coach always tells me, everyone needs to hype up to race and I have to calm down and just brave and always shortly before I jump in a car, I go through with my engineer, my driver coach. What is the approach of the day of the race qualifying. I always have my notes with me. So I go through the notes and then I really just try to hide a little bit, lay down and really focus, calm down. And then jump in a car and be absolutely ready.

N.S:
Being right next to action of Formula 1, do you have a favorite F1 driver?

Fabienne:
I’m really cheering for Ferrari. I’ve been a Ferrari fan since growing up. So at the moment I’m really pleased how it’s going.

N.S:
Absolutely, they’re quite the team! In Miami, in the first season opener race, you came in very strong at finishing second during practice at the first race of the season, how does this season feel different amongst the others? That you’ve been in W-Series.

Fabienne:
So I wish I would’ve become second [overall] in Miami. I had quite difficult race weekend. I kissed the wall and destroyed my race. In Barcelona, finally some points and now, Silverstone finally, some good points. Always podium finish, but happy with P4. The rest of the season, I would say same approach as in the other race weekends, really trying it step by step. I’ve been in Le Castellet, so I have some data, some on onboard videos to analyze before going there. I feel like it’s been less stressing than coming to a complete new track, like Miami, for example. But it’s still always different on race weekends. I would say we see after the free practice.

N.S:
I assume that you can’t imagine a life without driving now. Your last three seasons with W-Series has surely opened many more opportunities for you apart from being just a driver. What hobbies have you picked in your spare time?

Fabienne:
Well, since we last spoke, I quit my job as a banker, so I’m racing full time. I have way more time than before. I always say like I have a life again next to racing and I just like working and working. I love the nature; I live in the mountains; I’ve been in the mountains a lot during winter! I picked up cross country skiing because during COVID, skiing was still quite a pain with restrictions, mask, and some skiers were closed and stuff. during summer, I love to go hiking. So yeah. I spend a lot of time in the mountains. Apart from that, no other crazy hobbies.

N.S:
You do live in beautiful country. Formula really is quite a serious business, tt takes a lot of time beyond the racing, not only your free time to make sure that you’re training and fit and well fed, but to be successful driver and a businesswoman. What excites you most about CortDao and their marketing and business strategy that is different from other teams?

Fabienne:
I love racing for CortDao. I love being part of it and it’s just something new and it gives us or the fans a possibility to be part of a race team and just be closer to us, drivers as well. And I think that’s pretty unique I would say in the short amount of time, you created quite a fan base already. Marta and I we’re doing a lot of content with Michael or our boss to make sure that the fans feel welcome. For example, we also launched our first NFTs and I’m not sure if you’ve seen as of our helmets. So the fans can buy NFT.

Just reinvest the money into W Series and that’s helping us, I think that’s pretty special. I would say also our merchandise, we got some shirts, some caps and everything, and always when we do autograph sessions, we give some to the fans. I would say the pink cap is getting close to a fashion statement I hope so. We really having great interaction with the fans and trying to meet them and also answering on Instagram and social media. So I think that’s pretty special to other normal racing teams.

Fabienne Wohlwend / CortDao, W Series / Photo by Felix Timmermans / Fueler Canada Magazine

N.S:
I’m excited to get into NTF’s with CortDao too! I feel like I cheated the team a little bit here because I got a cap sent to me but I didn’t wear it today. The funniest moment when I was wearing the cap just a few days ago, I went into this local cafe and I didn’t even know that cortdao is a drink: an espresso with a little bit of milk, no idea, the staff loved it.

Fabienne:
That’s cool. You should definitely tag us, so we can re-share it.

N.S:
Yeah! Let’s dive into the last two years, what have been some of your greatest challenges in the last two years and how have you ever overcome those?

Fabienne:
Well, I would say rephrasing a lot of challenges come. I would say my biggest challenge in the past two years were when I quit my job in the bank and of 2019. Then training, preparing the entire winter and then COVID hit and W Series was unable to race that year. First, I unpacked a little bit, not knowing how my future would look like if I would have to go back to work or how I’m going to finance my life. Then luckily, I had a second racing program with Ferrari challenge going. So I was still pretty busy. All of my sponsors really were so supportive. They helped me. Of course my family have been supportive. So that challenge was better to master than I initially thought. And I would say just general in racing mentally, it’s just tough.

People sometimes just think like you’re driving nice cars in circles traveling the world. But mentally, I would say, especially after a bad race weekend, you clearly struggle. I’m lucky. And I know in case I ever fail a phrasing or don’t find a seat or something happens or I get injured, I can still go back to banking or working in an office. So I think that takes quite a lot of mental pressure away from me. Apart from that, I’ve been really lucky. I’ve been always been healthy and fit. So I haven’t had that many struggles in the past two years, luckily.

Fabienne Wohlwend / CortDao, W Series / Photo by Felix Timmermans / Fueler Canada Magazine

N.S:
Have you noticed your diet changing?

Fabienne:
No, I would say like my lifestyle has always been quite healthy. Of course, now being racing in single seaters, you have to watch your weight and your diet just to be… Also, because I would say I can really feel it in my training, especially if I’ve been drinking too much or eating unhealthy, my trainer can immediately tell that. So during the season, I’m really taking a bit more strict, especially with that. Apart from that, I would say like, diets are really not for me. I would say and also I say to all the people always eat healthy and you can eat whatever you want. But of course, I cheat there with a pizza and then chicken wrap or something. But in general, I would say if you eat healthy and do enough sports, you don’t have to starve yourself to death almost.

I would also say, I struggled the most with my diet when I’m traveling, because when I’m at home, I can go chop my fruit myself, cook it myself. It’s easy also on the racetrack, especially with W Series, our catering team is so good. And we also always love a buffet with salad. Then some protein, but always super healthy, mostly salmon, chicken, then some rice, some noodles that where you can mix up. Then it’s easy. But when I’m like traveling, I would say the airport is the worst because everything is so overpriced and not healthy and all you really get is like sandwiches or burgers. So I would say that’s quite a challenge sometimes and airplanes.

N.S:
Oh yes. Even worse. I know that you’re midway through your season, so there’s many more opportunities creep, so many more memories to come, but so far, walk me through your most memorable weekend, it doesn’t have to be in this season, and what made that special?

Fabienne:
Oh, good question. I would say like Silverstone. Last year… and this year, was the highlight last year of course. Leading the whole race! Small mistake finish and second, but still my best ever W Series finish. This year, I would say Silverstone was really special just because my parents were with me for the first time, since a long time. Apart from that, I would say racing in the states is always special because it’s just overseas and fans are going really crazy. Last year, Austin, this year, Miami, it’s just been insane. And also, how interested they are in female sports and female racing. Apart from that, I had so many great race weekends. Just recently, my fan page for me that I’ve done my one hundred race in motor sport, carding excluded. And apart from that, I would say still, one of the biggest highlights is still winning the Ferrari Championship in Monza, back in 2018. So I think we need a W-Series win to top that.

N.S:
Two years ago, your favorite car was the 488 Pista and the Imola being the favorite track, have these changed?

Fabienne Wohlwend / CortDao, W Series / Photo by Felix Timmermans / Fueler Canada Magazine

Fabienne:
Not yet. No. I was really say road-car wise Ferrari definitely has my heart still, even though I’m racing the BMWs this season at not Ferrari anymore. Also, racing in Italy, that track is just amazing. So fingers cross for Imola next year.

N.S:
Or maybe even Canada.

Fabienne:
And that would be great. Never been.

N.S:
We will be waiting! Thank you so much for sitting to chat with me again Fabienne. You’re such a well-rounded woman and I wish you all the best in success and good luck in the double header!

Fabienne:
Thank you so much, Nina. And it was really great to catch up. It’s been long. Thanks also like for all the messages always on Instagram and supporting and everything. And hopefully, see you somewhere in the world.

N.S:
Thank you.

Ann Bradshaw:
Thank you for all your support. We really appreciate it.

Fabienne Wohlwend / CortDao, W Series / Photo by Felix Timmermans / Fueler Canada Magazine

Fabienne Wohlwend / CortDao, W Series / Photo by Felix Timmermans / Fueler Canada Magazine

 

 

Nina@Fueler