“Pursuing a passion with your family is great.”
In 2021, Augustin Bernier represented France in the FIA Karting Academy Trophy. Supported by his ASN and at the same time racing in OK-Junior, a category that saw his brother Victor become World Champion in 2018, the young driver spoke about his busy season.
What did you think of the general philosophy of the 2021 FIA Karting Academy Trophy?
The concept is excellent. Its uniqueness comes from the fact that all the drivers have the same equipment and that the teams are not directly involved. This means that the gaps between us are extremely small, as we only have a few technical parameters to work with. There are many contenders for victory. In the paddock, the atmosphere seems to be different from that of OK-Junior. In France, I have already had the opportunity to experience similar categories. I started in Mini-Kart at the age of eight through the Kart Racing Academy, a very formative championship that no longer exists, but which allowed you to compete on equal terms from a very young age. And this season, I took part in the French Junior Championship with the FFSA Academy, which uses the concept and OTK equipment chosen by the CIK-FIA.
In parallel to this experience, you have raced in OK-Junior in 2021. What are the main differences between the two formulas?
Technically, we have more latitude in terms of settings in OK-Junior. Work with the team is pushed to the maximum. The VDK Racing team with which I race in OK-Junior tries to constantly involve its drivers. We have the opportunity to analyse the data acquisition system. In both cases, the briefing with our mechanic is important. I’m lucky enough to have been selected for the French Karting team, so I benefit from special follow-up. Marc Berteaux, one of the federation’s coaches, came to the three events of the Academy. He is a former top level driver and he gives me a lot of technical and personal help.
Is it easy to adapt when you move from one formula to another?
Contrary to previous years, OK-Junior and the Academy used the same tyre manufacturer this season. On the other hand, the brand of chassis I chose for the FIA Karting European and World Championships was different, which required a little time to adapt. As far as the engine is concerned, the performance is similar, except that the OK-Junior uses a diaphragm carburettor with adjusting screws, whereas the Academy Trophy engine has a bowl carburettor.
How does it feel to have a brother who is a World Karting Champion? Do you feel any extra pressure?
When Victor reached his goal in 2018 in OK-Junior, I was super happy for him and I am not jealous at all. The age difference means that there is no rivalry between us and no real comparison. He now has a career in motor racing and I would obviously like to do the same in the future. Maybe it adds a little bit of pressure to me unconsciously, but I honestly don’t think about it when I’m on a track. I try to make my own way and get the best results I can. Becoming Junior World Champion is also my goal, but there is only one every year, so it is an extremely difficult goal to achieve. Ideally, I would like both of us to have a successful career in motorsport. It’s quite nice to pursue your passion with your family, with my brother and my parents.
What does your future look like?
We have to take stock with all my supporters, as well as with the French federation as a member of the French team. The FIA Karting Academy Trophy did not bring me the results I expected. I did manage to perform well on many occasions and to set fastest laps in races, but this was not confirmed in terms of points. I was able to highlight myself in OK-Junior, as well as becoming French Champion. For 2022, racing in OK is one possibility, but there are others…
Info FIA Karting / Photo © KSP