DANNY WATTS: THE FULL STORY
BRIT RETIRES FROMTHE SPORT
Last year two drivers who had beaten Lewis Hamilton announced their retirements from racing. And one was Danny Watts.
Considered by many to be one the most talented British drivers never to have made it to Formula 1, Watts has opted to bring the curtain down on a stellar driving career that has brought success in singleseaters, sportscars and GTS.
His decision to stop driving entirely may not have been as high profile as Nico Rosberg’s, but that’s Watts in a nutshell – unassuming, humble and bloody quick.
Across his 24-year career, Watts has taken on, and beaten, some of the biggest names in the sport. Alongside three-time world champion Hamilton, Watts also took on Kimi Raikkonen in Formula Renault, Indycar star Will Power, Nelson Piquet Jr and DTM ace Jamie Green in Formula 3 as well as a host of stars in sportscars. He’s also a master of Macau.
In truth, 2016 was a partseason for the 36-year-old from Aylesbury. Having started his eighth season with the Strakka Racing team in the FIA World Endurance Championship, he was replaced in the driver lineup after Le Mans to give young gun Lewis Williamson a shot. And that set the wheels in motion for his decision.
“I’ve been phenomenally lucky in my career,” says Watts. “When I got started in racing it was just a weekend hobby, a bit of a laugh with my dad and grandad, and it’s always been like that for me. I just got hugely lucky that eventually I was getting paid to do what I love.
“Last year was a difficult one, and I think I lost a bit of that enjoyment along the way, and I always said when I’m not enjoying it any more it’s time to stop. My time with Strakka has been amazing, we’re like a big family, and I’m so thankful for my time there, but now is a perfect chance to concentrate on new things.”
Watts will now step back from driving and will hang up his helmet, which has always been painted in the colours of his beloved Oxford United Football Club. Instead Watts will concentrate on coaching full-time with the Hitech FIA Formula 3 European team.
“I get a huge kick out of working with the younger drivers and seeing their progression,” adds Watts. “For me it’s just as rewarding, if not more so, than the driving side of things. I’ll miss competing at some point I’m sure, but for now this gives me freedom to do other things.
“And, above all, more time to watch Oxford United..!”
Watts has called time on his racing career