Victorious in the 2010 Formula 2 Championship, 20-year-old racer Dean Stoneman was on top of the world.
After finishing ahead of Jolyon Palmer in the junior series, the Englishman soon impressed in the F1 Young Driver Test with Williams in Abu Dhabi.
There was also a move up to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series with ISR in the offing. For the young man from Hampshire, 2011 was looking like a stellar year.
That all came to a halt in February last year when Stoneman was diagnosed with testicular cancer, leaving the Englishman sidelined for a year while he underwent treatment.
Following a major operation at Spire Southampton Hospital last August, Stoneman is now eyeing 2012 with optimism. At the recent AUTOSPORT INTERNATIONAL show in Birmingham, the young Briton spoke to TheMotorsportArchive.com about what lies ahead. “It’s all going in the right direction. The main focus is fitness now. I’m on programme at the gym with my trainer, which is designed to build stamina, and body strength, which was completely lost during my treatment,” says Stoneman, his quite demeanour belying his racing driver status.
“I received two courses of chemotherapy including a new ground breaking type of treatment for which I was one of the first people in the UK to receive it. This allowed me to me in a position for to have a massive operation in August. I’m now checked every two months with no further treatment as such required.“
Unsurprisingly, the nature of the treatment heavily interrupted Stoneman’s fitness regime – something he is very keen alleviate should he find a full-time racing seat for 2012. “The treatment prevented any form of serious exercise for most of 2011. Racing fitness is something I’m aiming for of course. You have to be at peek fitness to drive at the highest level and having been where I have for most of last year its work in progress, but by start of this season I will be ready.”
Stoneman recently had his current fitness level pushed to the limits at a Formula Renault 3.5 test at Motorland Aragon in Spain – a test that left the Briton feeling somewhat confident. “I was pushed physically in the test. I did experience some fatigue, which was to be expected. I took part simply to get back in a car and evaluate where I was. “It was great to be back behind the wheel and I would like to thank ISR so much for the chance. I was totally comfortable in the car; felt like I had never been away.”
The ordeal has left the 21-year-old with a new found sense of perspective, grateful for the help and good feelings that came from all sides of the motorsport industry. “The support I received was incredible and provided me with a massive boost. The BRDC in particular were very supportive along with a number of leading drivers who were in regular contact with me. I can’t thank everybody enough for their kindness. My family and team around me have also been a major help in getting me through a tough twelve months.”
Asked whether he had solid plans for the upcoming season, Stoneman was keen to temper expectations; however he is also open to options beyond European borders. “We have lots of possibilities for this year which we are still evaluating. I want to return at the highest level possible with the best possible team. It’s hard to commit until we have weighed up all options both in Europe and in the US. It’s been great to have so much interest shown in me.”
With his options open for now, Stoneman flew to Las Vegas this week to test an Indy Lights machine. Whether this points the Englishman to horizons anew remains to be seen.