Pepe Martí, before the Monza Formula 3 race.Joe Portlock – Formula 1
Pepe Martí (Barcelona, 2005) is barely 18 years old. He’s more than a kid in a car. He wants to run. And win. A young man with a well-equipped head, smiling and educated, but who has a clear dream and objective: to reach F1, and be a champion. His self-demand and his work keep him on the right path. At the moment, he has achieved promotion to F2 with Campos Racing, he has finished his second season in F3 in fifth position after fighting for the runner-up position with three victories, and the almighty Red Bull has signed him for its young drivers program. With a family environment, accompanied by his mother, Montse, his introducer and shield in the world of motorsport, he is at A14 Management, Fernando Alonso’s representation agency. His childhood idol and his teacher on the track.
He was always very competitive. On his first time on a kart, on a circuit for rented children spending the summer in Menorca, he crossed the grass to overtake his sister. He was only six years old. But he does not identify when he became interested in engines: “My first memory is when I was two or three years old, sitting next to my mother while she watched the races.”
He tried football on the Xavi Hernández campus, with his cousin. But the ball doesn’t call him as much as the four wheels. He made it clear to his father, Josep María: “I like football, but not that much.” He tore his cruciate ligaments riding a mini motorcycle. “We had to look for a doctor who specializes in operating on knees in growing children,” says his father. Everything went well, and now he is 1.86. It was then, after insisting to find a karting, that at the age of 11 he started at the Kartòdrom Catalunya, in Lliçà de Vall.
But the highlight came when, as a Christmas gift, his parents bought him a kart. In 2017 he already competed in the Social Kartòdrom Championship and in the Catalonia Championship. He made his international leap in 2018 with the help of Genís Marcó, his “automotive father.” And the lower categories of Formula 1 followed, where he left his mark.
Pepe is a constant smile. He feels comfortable between jokes, but he does not lose his politeness. And even less before the attentive and proud gaze of his father. Normally it is Montse, his mother, who accompanies him to the interviews and attends all the races. These years only one has been lost, and it was due to COVID. “My mother has always been very protective in racing. But the problem is that she is the most aggressive of all,” Pepe confirms with a laugh. He tells her to go “with your head”, but also to put your foot “down.” In one of this year’s races, Montse turned around so as not to see her son leaving. “At the hotel, when Genís, my mother and I are together, we say: tomorrow at the exit we will put ourselves first,” confesses Martí.
For Pepe, his family is important. “I am lucky to have had a very family environment.” And within that family, there is also room for Fernando Alonso, who acts as a mentor. He met him at the WSK Open Cupa in Lonato in 2018. It was his first year with Tony Kart, and Alonso went to see Genís. Now, the Asturian pilot guides him and resolves doubts. On new circuits, he always has questions: “From degradation, to what gear to use, RPM adjustment, how to enter the corner or braking. There are a thousand things that help you with those decisive hundredths.” For him, he is a reference in terms of work ethic.
“I always think I can do more. “I try to force myself, because I tend to be a little lazy,” says Martí. He goes to the gym six days a week, but he recognizes that the best preparation is on the car. Before each session, he sets aside five minutes to concentrate, and for a year now, he has been juggling tennis balls. “My coach suggested it to me, and since I am very stubborn, now I juggle three balls and if I concentrate I can be non-stop.”
This year he completed his second season in F3 with the Spanish team Campos Racing. He managed to win the Spanish Grand Prix, also in Monaco and in Bahrain. “It has been the best season so far,” acknowledges the pilot. But, despite reaching the end of the championship fighting for second place, the last two races did not go the way he wanted. “In Hungary I made a couple of mistakes in qualifying. At Spa we were denied the opportunity to fight. And in Monza it was a totally adverse race that ended with two accidents.”
Not everything has been easy in these two years of F3. “Last year I had a very hard time after SPA.” His partner, who was a substitute, had better results in both Hungary and Zandvoort. “I was mentally down. At that moment you have to do a reset. Since that year I have improved my self-confidence.”
His childhood was not easy either. She suffered bullying from the age of seven to 11. “I was unlucky, and I was in a very toxic environment. He was a boy who weighed a little more than normal. And that’s what people make fun of when you’re a child,” Martí recalls. In his studies, however, he continued to perform. They were a priority. “One day, Pepe, when he was about 10 years old, told me: ‘I don’t understand the kids who talk in class. Because if they attend, you’ll learn it.”
It has not been easy to combine his sporting career with his educational career: “In the fourth year of ESO, I think I had about 300 or 400 fouls. In the Second Year of Baccalaureate, the months between March and May, facing the Selectivity, were chaos. The second year of F3 you need as many hours as the better. “It is a decisive year.” His plan this year is to finish mastering Italian and French, and maintain the thread to, in the future, pursue a career in mechanical engineering. “It’s in the air,” says Pepe. He has a deal with his father: not to lose mathematics, physics or the inertia of studying.
The future, however, is already clear: F2 thanks to the Red Bull young drivers program. He had a “first date” with Helmut Marko, top advisor of the Austrian brand, in the Montmeló race. He found out as he climbed the steps to the podium. “Change, and then you’re going to see Helmut,” they told him from his team. His family knew about it since Friday, but they didn’t want Pepe to lose focus at the home GP. And, after a second visit to Silverstone, young Martí became part of the Red Bull team.
But he wants more. “Self-demand is something that I have been taught at home since I was little. I want to make the last lap that makes the difference and be able to beat them all. My goal is F1, and I am going to do what I can to get there,” the driver says with conviction. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe I had a chance of making it to F1. Many stars have to align, it is difficult to have a seat in the premier category,” he recalls. At the moment, he still has to get his driver’s license. “I hope, one day, to be F1 champion.”
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