Behind the Helmet: Edoardo Mortara – Part 1
Edo, when did you first come into contact with motor racing?
Edoardo Mortara: I took up karting as a hobby when I was eight and began racing competitively when I was about ten. Back then, you had to be ten before you could race. It had something to do with the categories. However, the moment came later when I first realised I could actually become a racing driver. It was never on my radar before. When I was karting, I wanted to become world champion. I pursued that goal for a few years, stayed in kart racing for a long time and then moved up into single-seater racing.
What sort of upbringing did you have? What were your parents like?
Edoardo Mortara: I grew up in Geneva. My mum always used to take me and my brother to races. My dad was a pilot, forever travelling all over the world. He also worked in finance. He did that all his life.
How did you first get into karting?
Edoardo Mortara: My uncles on my mother’s side used to compete in rallies in France when they were younger. My father also went rallying. It’s in the family, so to speak. I went to the track for the first time when I was eight and enjoyed it. Everyone in my family pushed my brother and me into karting.
What happened in your brother’s case?
Edoardo Mortara: He also went karting when he was younger, so we would go together, but it wasn’t his thing, and he packed it in when he was 16 or 17.
Did you drive in Italy right from the start?
Edoardo Mortara: You couldn’t really go motor racing in Switzerland. The major championships and the entire karting industry are in Italy, so that’s normally where you’ll find the best karting. I’ve always driven there.
How did that work out with your family? Did they always go with you?
Edoardo Mortara: They used to travel with me in the beginning when I was about ten. We would travel together, as my brother also competed and my father couldn’t be there most of the time. And then, when I was 12 or 13, I started travelling on my own to races.
How did you get on in school?
Edoardo Mortara: I had no problems at school, which was very important for my parents. They certainly wanted me to finish school and go to university. It worked out quite well, though, because they set me on the right path. If I hadn’t done well at school, I would never have been allowed to go karting. It became my greatest passion at some point, and I had to be good at school in order to continue, so I had no real choice.
You once said that you were also pretty good at football.
Edoardo Mortara: I never said that I was any good, but yes, I wanted to be a footballer. I started out with a club in Geneva and was later promoted to play with the big boys in the club. It was pretty good there. They won the Swiss league and also played in the European Cup. I spent most of my childhood playing with them. I was also scouted for youth teams and would have probably turned pro later. My problem was that I got injured and had to stop as a result, but I was quite good in my early teens. I was even called up to join the Swiss national youth team but didn’t get to play. It was not easy to combine football and karting.
That was going to be my next question. How did you combine the two together?
Edoardo Mortara: It wasn’t easy, as I already said. I couldn’t play in certain matches, which, of course, the football coaches didn’t like. They pushed me to continue. I managed to do both in the end. I then stopped playing football, which was probably the right choice.
Your time was taken up with football and karting. What about your private life? Was it hard to maintain friendships?
Edoardo Mortara: You see your friends at school, don’t you, but of course, it wasn’t easy to take friendships any further, because there was nothing you could do together on race weekends. Gary said something that also applies to me. He said that you have friends during the week and that you also have your weekend friends. They are two different worlds, but I think it helped me grow up faster. You meet different people travelling alone at such a young age. The realities were simply different. I grew up in Switzerland and didn’t miss out on anything there, but you see things differently when you travel.