My father was a motorbike dealer in a small rural area of New South Wales in Australia. I think I have had a little bit of gasoline in the blood since I was very young. My father was hitchhiking to many races himself, to watch Sir Jack Brabham, and Sir Jackie Stewart back in Sydney. Racing is something that has been in my family for a long time, and I’m so happy that my dad has been able to follow the whole of my career.
To me, driving a race car is man and machine pushed to the limit, tenacity and bravery and all of those things. I wanted to race against the best people, I wanted to race on the best tracks in the world, in the best arena, and in the most competitive, vicious, high-intensity precision sport there was in motor racing, and that was Formula 1®. I had the chance to race at that level. And what keeps you going? Well, it’s the unknown. You have to keep going back and saying, “I want more, I want more out of myself, I want more out of the people around me, I want to keep striving for better results.”
2009 was a huge year for me. The circumstances were not ideal building up to that season because I had a nasty mountain bike crash. I broke my leg, cracked a shoulder and some ribs, and I was really on the back foot in preparation. But this taught me resilience and toughness, and to finally win in Formula 1® at that level was tremendous. To beat the best drivers in the world fair and square, no flukes, no luck, was special.
After that first victory, I bought my Rolex GMT-Master II. I’d been looking to buy a very personal and special gift for myself; after a win like that, you want to have something that symbolizes the effort and, I suppose, all the sacrifice that you went through. I wanted to get something that was going to last forever, something that was going to be with me for my whole life and could go through generations. With the Rolex GMT-Master II, I knew I could get that.
This buy was super special not only because of the journey I had been on, but also because there is a part of this Rolex that is linked to my relationship with Sir Jackie Stewart. I first met Jackie Stewart when I was still racing in Formula 3 and the relationship went from strength to strength. He has been like a father figure to me — still is. He’s given me so much great advice along the way, in and out of the cockpit, on both sides of the pit wall; twenty years or so later, we’re still very good friends.
When my father turned 70, I wanted to get him something super personal from my side, from son to father. Rolex had just released the new Daytona, and I wanted a watch that was special for him, and with a great racing heritage because I would not have raced at all if it was not for my father. It’s a reflection of the journey we both went on together. I’m a country guy from Australia so to have a Rolex was never even on my radar; it was something you only look at other people wearing, to a degree. So when you have the chance to work hard and give yourself something that you can keep forever, it makes it all the more special.