How did you become a development driver?
The root of it all was basically failing at university (laughs). My father was a racing driver and was doing endurance racing and I worked on the race car, so from a young age I immediately got to grips with the mechanical side and learnt all the workings of a race car. Later I went to a racing school and started racing in various categories myself, but it wasn’t until I won a championship that things really started to take off.
The manufacturer that I won the championship with approached me and asked me to develop the car for the following year, and it started from there. Later on I just contacted teams with the message, ‘I can set up your car for you faster than you can, and I will save you time, money and fuel – all you need to do is pay me the equivalent of a set of tyres’. So that’s how it all started, and I got to drive an enormous number of cars that way.
So a development driver, not a racing driver?
I’ve done my fair share of racing too, absolutely. I did Le Mans a couple of times, and I was racing for Vauxhall in the BTCC. I always thought I’d be a full-time racing driver, until Ron (Dennis) gave me a proper cold shower by calling me into his office and saying. ‘Chris, this racing career, it’s not for you. But I want you to come work for me instead’. It was a hard blow but it was for the best.