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Formula E

How McLaren star's parents discovered last-minute debut 'on Instagram'

RacingNews365 spoke exclusively to McLaren reserve driver Taylor Barnard in Berlin, where he will replace Sam Bird for the second event in a row.

Barnard Monaco
To news overview © Sam Bagnall / Formula E

McLaren sensation Taylor Barnard had a Monaco E-Prix like no other a fortnight ago, with his parents having discovered his Formula E debut in the most extraordinary way possible. 

F2 driver Barnard has been working as McLaren's reserve Formula E driver since the start of Season 10 and was in Monaco to fill his role; however, he was thrown into Sam Bird's seat 10 minutes prior to free practice two. 

Bird crashed in the opening practice session at the Circuit de Monaco and required an immediate trip to hospital, where it was discovered that he had broken his hand. 

It left Barnard to make his competitive debut at the Circuit de Monaco of all places, something he had no time to be nervous about given how little notice he received. 

Thankfully for Barnard, he was a sensible 19-year-old the night before the Monaco E-Prix and had a traditional driver's breakfast, ahead of going to the circuit for what he assumed would be a day as reserve.

"I had a normal breakfast," Barnard comically revealed to RacingNews365. "And because, obviously, it was a night in Monaco, the night before everyone was like going out for dinner and all that. 

"And to be honest, I was very tired. And I was quite conflicted, whether I should actually go to bed or go out with everyone and have dinner, I did the clever thing and went to bed and had dinner and went to bed very, very early. 

"It was a very early start, it was like 5am. I was in bed asleep at nine o'clock. And I had a full eight hours sleep and a proper breakfast and I was fully ready. Not knowing, having no idea, that I needed it. 

"But I did, which was in hindsight, very, very good thing. So normal drivers breakfast and good sleep."

How his parents discovered debut

An understandable question to a 19-year-old after making their debut is what was his parents reaction? Full of emotion, pride, amazement? 

Well, remarkably, Barnard failed to inform his family of his debut, as he simply did not have enough time to tell them! 

Instead, his parents discovered that the McLaren star was making his debut through his sister, who found out on Instagram herself.

"I'll be honest, I didn't," said Barnard. "I found out 10 minutes before second free practice, and didn't touch my phone again till the end of the day at like 7pm. 

"So I think my sister saw it on Instagram, and then told my mom and dad, and then they watched it."

He added: "They knew but not from me. I didn't tell them. So a bit of a strange one there."

In making his competitive debut, Barnard became the youngest Formula E driver in the history of the all-electric series. 

For most, making a debut at Monaco would result in a bag of nerves; however, the Monaco atmosphere did not add pressure onto the young driver's shoulders. 

"I mean, it's definitely something special to say that I made my FE debut in Monaco, I don't think the atmosphere really added any pressure or any kind of negative effect. 

"I guess it's quite nice that I was racing during Monaco. But I don't really think of it as extra pressure or anything like that. It's still a circuit in a car. So I say it more of a simple way."

			© Simon Galloway
	© Simon Galloway

Berlin expectations

Prior to Monaco, Barnard's only Formula E running was during a non-competitive rookie practice session in Misano, which only lasted 30 minutes. 

Despite his sheer lack of experience, he was still disappointed by his maiden qualifying performance. 

Staggeringly, in the race, he recovered from last to 14th, without as much of a scratch on his car. 

"I was not that happy with the qualifying, I messed up a little bit on my second lap, which I'm not really sure if I could have gained a position because I was a fair bit behind," Barnard explained.  

"But I still wasn't really happy with my performance if it changed the position or not. The race I kind of was told to just go out there and learn as much as possible. I wasn't really given a strategy, let's say, it was just go and learn as much as you can. 

"Because I didn't know if I was needed for this weekend. So I took the strategy upon myself to just hang back and save as much as I could at the beginning. Obviously keep out of trouble. That was the main aim was to just stay out of trouble and finish the race."

With Bird still being unfit to drive, Barnard's Formula E appearances will increase to three this weekend, as he will replace the veteran in the Berlin E-Prix double-header. 

It gives him more time to understand the car and the championship, although he does have it going in his favour that this season sees a brand-new layout at the Tempelhof Airport. 

Whilst this benefits the British driver, he highlights the unique surface as a big challenge, as the majority of the paddock have experience of this. 

"Not having that experience on this surface, I think is the biggest thing that I'm missing," said Barnard. A new layout, of course, it's a bit different for everybody, but the surface is the biggest thing. 

"So that's something I need to get on top of quite quickly. And I think the layout does help me slightly, but I just need to get on top of that as quick as I can."

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