Born in Vejle, Denmark, Frederik Vesti is one of the most exciting talents of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team’s Junior Programme. After achieving success in lower categories, Frederik moved up to Formula 2 last year, and he remains in F2 for 2023 but switched teams from ART to Prema.
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“Frederik comes from a family with minimal financial means. But he has an uncompromising and hardworking father. During a test in Barcelona with Van Amersfoort Racing at the end of 2016, he set faster times than Max Verstappen did with the team. It opened the door and possibility for him into the German Formula 4 championship with Van Amersfoort Racing in 2017. At that time, I still had not agreed to become his manager. But I helped him with his first DKK 1 million through a current sponsor, Give Steel. He received the rest of the money from his father. His father made a quick decision and opted to sell his home and his farm to find enough money for Fred to drive in the 2017 season,” – said Dorte Riis Madsen, manager of Frederik Vesti.
“Since Frederik was tiny, he has taken career matters into his own hands. At 12, he jumped on his bike and set off to collect money in and around the neighbourhood where he grew up. Fred had made a small brochure including photos that he hoped would help convince the town’s local shopkeepers, businesspeople and craftsmen that he is a young lad worth their support,” – Dorte continued.
“I got on my bike in all kinds of weather, and I remember it like it was always raining, but people welcomed me. Of course, many people like me constantly ask businesses for money for this and that. Whether you are successful or not, I believe it’s about how you ask and present yourself. It sends a strong signal if you dare to show up at the front door without your mother or father holding your hand. So, it makes an impression when a 12-year-old boy suddenly stands in front of the manager’s office in the local company and asks for money,” – Frederik explained.
His father quickly decided to sell his home and farm to find enough money for Fred to drive in the 2017 season.
How to find your manager
“I tried many times to write to her, and I sent lots of emails with photos and texts about how it was going and how I was progressing. But nothing much came of it,” says Fred.
One day, Dorte Riis Madsen suddenly got back to Fred on a positive note. She wanted to meet him, but only to give him some good advice.
“It was a tough meeting because I knew that Dorte was the only person in the country with invaluable real-life experience and expertise from the tough business in motorsports. She has already proved herself at the highest level by taking another young driver into F1. I needed Dorte to do the insanely hard work on the business side to keep the dream alive of reaching the world’s hardest and most prestigious racing series one day.”
Dorte Riis Madsen, Fred’s manager
“I started working with Kevin Magnussen when he was 14 and promised to take him to F1. We succeeded with that. When I stopped working with him after eight years and which ended in a legal battle, I decided I would never get involved in racing again. As fate would have it, Fred made me reconsider my decision, and he was the only one out there who stood a chance of convincing me to start all over again from scratch and develop a young driver. No one has ever come close to impressing me like him. And I must admit I have seen a lot, known many world-class junior drivers and worked with some amazing and talented drivers over the years.”
“Fred was 14 years old when he actively and completely himself tried to recruit me as his manager. He never backed down despite my consequently telling him ‘no’. It is a good way of testing people to determine their degree of willpower and perseverance! I have constantly been monitoring his progress from the sideline. Structure, discipline, consistency, and, not the least, initiative. He doesn’t wait for others to act on his behalf but always takes matters into his own hands. As the saying goes, luck favours the prepared mind”.
“At the age of 15, he invited potential sponsors for a meeting at the local Inn and successfully convinced the Inn to pay for all the food and beverages. He constantly participated in network meetings and did not hesitate for one second to give the wealthiest people in the country a call. Most of those successful businessmen had never tried being approached by such a young ‘entrepreneur’ his age. Showing a strong sense of entrepreneurship early to help advance his profession as a race car driver – driven, determined and committed. He also gave lectures for businesses and at schools at the age of 10, where he inspired youth to pursue big goals in life, never to quit and the joy of being ambitious.”
“Frederik usually succeeds in getting the most out of all situations. That has given him a solid backbone, making him hungrier and more determined than most. When his competitors could afford to put on new tires in karting, Frederik always had to settle with used ones. In the first years of his career abroad, he would stay in an old, worn-out camper that his father brought from Denmark. He could not afford the hotels where other drivers would stay.”
Most of those successful businessmen had never tried being approached by such a young ‘entrepreneur’ his age.
Mercedes and Toto Wolff
In May 2018, Fred met with Gwen Lagrue (Driver Development Advisor at the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team) on a yacht in Monaco. He met him alone. Fred and his manager had been reaching out to Mercedes over a few months. The meeting with Gwen resulted in a good chat and a promise to keep an eye on him.
When Fred learned that Mercedes was unwilling to bring him aboard, his answer was concise: “It simply motivates me even more. I know what needs to be done, and my objective is clear: I need to dominate Formula 4. I must get out there and prove I belong in the Junior Programme. And that’s all very fair – it would be too easy if they had considered bringing me aboard in my first attempt!”
From that first meeting with Gwen, Fred began to provide Mercedes with his race reports. He wrote as much about what didn’t work for him as he wrote about his strengths. Today he feels that writing all these reports made a difference – always truthful in his statements about the positives but, perhaps even more importantly, also covering the negatives you can learn from.
Fred first met Toto in Hockenheim – on the podium. He won an F4 race, and Toto was presenting the trophy. Frederik stopped and greeted Toto on his way up to the stage. From that moment, all Fred had his sights on was becoming a future junior driver at Mercedes.
The following year – also at Hockenheim – Frederik, with determination, sought out Toto several times but only got the email for his PA.
Slowly but gradually and after winning the Championship in the F3 Regional series, he started to appear on the Mercedes’ radar.
At the beginning of 2020, he had his first simulator test for Mercedes, and at the end of 2020, he joined the Junior Programme.
Michael Mortensen (Main partner):
Fred’s appointment with the late Michael Mortensen was similar as with Fred’s first meeting with Dorte Riis Madsen. He tragically passed away at 49 last year. Michael was one of Denmark’s most successful entrepreneurs, whose company, Hybel, has been Fred’s primary sponsor for many years.
“He simply didn’t give up but kept trying to get in touch with me to set up a face-to-face meeting,” said Michael in an interview with Danish Financial Magazine ‘Boersen’. “I invited him over for a cup of coffee. Then Frederik appeared, I met a young man with an old head on his shoulders, extremely mature for his age, and then he was so well-prepared, polite and in full control of his things. It made an impression on me.”
“I didn’t need much persuasion because Frederik’s personality blew me away! That’s what I fell for and responded to. Immediately and instinctively, I could see and knew that this kid had a rare talent. It wasn’t just empty words.”
Immediately and instinctively, I could see and knew that this kid had a rare talent.
Fred loves the business part of racing too. He is expected to spend time with his partners to learn about the company, its employees and its profile. He wants to get the companies entirely under his skin.
“It’s pretty exciting to learn about the companies I am so lucky to have onboard as sponsors. I owe them so much. Being an intern gives me a lot of knowledge and experience. I have been attending meetings with Top Executives, visiting construction sites and working and spending time with the company’s employees. At the private airline JoinJet, I was a ‘handler’ and had to prepare the planes before takeoff. That also meant emptying toilets! Taking on a new challenge is similar to racing (laughs).”