Two weeks ago I embarked on a new chapter in my life. I had spent the last 2 and-a-half years working for AOL and decided a new challenge was needed. My age of 33 puts me into the Generation X bracket, but I feel so much more Generation Y - I need that pursuit of continued change and challenge in life to be inspired and energised to succeed. So with that in mind I look back fondly at my time with Huffington Post UK and whilst I will keep attached to it through this blog I found myself at my desk at home searching in earnest for my next role. "You'll be fine", "You always land on your feet" and "You can always come back...yeah?" is all I heard for the weeks leading up to my last day - nice to have those comments said to me but deep down I was having thoughts of concern, anxiety and 'I am so not going to get that new car I've been thinking about.'
This time of year is a great time to be looking for a job. Businesses are largely on a go-slow as so many employees are out on summer holidays, so those businesses advertise their jobs ready for a big recruitment push come September. I'm sure there are many interviews being lined up and decisions being made as we speak - no less at a certain office headquarters in Milton Keynes as we await the decision of who is taking the most lucrative seat in Formula One: the replacement for Mark Webber, Red Bull Racing driver. My gut feel is that it will be Daniel Ricciardo, currently driving for Red Bull's sister team, Toro Rosso and part of Red Bull's driving academy. My heart would like to see Kimi Raikkonen take it, but the driving academy is there for a reason and it should be seen as giving up-and-coming racing drivers the opportunity to progress into the leading team.
Talking of giving opportunities, I was privileged to attend Silverstone last week for the UK National Finals of the GT Academy. This is an annual competition run in collaboration with Sony PlayStation and Nissan to source pure motor racing talent for those that have not had the opportunity to go through the more traditional channels of grass-roots racing. It was estimated that it costs £4m in funding to get to F1 these days. No disrespect to some drivers on the current F1 grid but some are there because they have funding available in order to "buy" a place on the grid. Pastor Maldonado brings in excess of $25m in Venezuelan government money in order to race, and Max Chilton from Reigate in Surrey has a wealthy background. Not to say they do not deserve to be on the grid, but are we necessarily seeing the best talent in the world in the pinnacle of motorsport? Probably not.
So, GT Academy was setup in 2010, using the Gran Turismo computer game to prove that games players could compete on the same platform as proven motor racing drivers. As you can expect there was some scepticism around it and from the outside people not believing that a computer game can truly prepare someone for the realities of motorsport. The 2011 winner, British driver Jann Mardenborough placed 3rd in his class at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours - to think that two years previously he had never driven a racing car is proof that it can work. Jann is now in British Formula 3 and the goal is for him to get to Formula 1.
The event at Silverstone was the final for the UK entrants into the competition. They are put through races using Gran Turismo 5 on PS3, auto cross testing in a Nissan Juke, mock press conferences and a full fitness test to see whether they have the commitment required, confidence in themselves and racing craft ability to be considered for the prize to be a Nissan-funded racing driver. As I am preparing for interviews and thinking about how I should present myself it was fascinating to see real pressure on the entrants into this very real assessment process. I was also there supporting Team VVV (I am a cameraman in my spare time) and to get an excellent insight into this event please view the video below.
GT Academy UK National Finals (courtesy of Team VVV)
Back to the spare seat at Red Bull - whoever takes that seat will trigger off the annual silly season of F1 and we will no doubt see a chain reaction of placements being filled across the grid.
As for myself, well I have been able to secure a new interim job which is all very exciting. As long as you believe in yourself and know what you want out of life I firmly believe that success will follow. Just look at Lewis Hamilton - the endless comments that he made an error of catastrophic levels last year in signing for Mercedes and leaving McLaren. Making that change was the best thing he has done in his career and editorial words are being eaten by even some of the best critics. Change is good for the soul and I feel I'm on adventure right now and cannot wait to see what happens next.