Spanish F4’s Maximus Mayer on racing with Type 1 diabetes: ‘I’m managing it pretty well now’

Maximus Mayer is one of eight rookies on the grid for the 2022 Spanish F4 season, racing for Fórmula de Campeones. Ahead of his home event in Valencia, where his journey in motorsport began, the 16-year-old spoke to F1 Feeder Series about climbing the ladder in karts, stepping up to car racing and the challenges of racing with diabetes.

By Oorjit Mishra

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“It all started for me when I was five years old,” Mayer said about the moment that began his racing career. “I went karting for the first time at a rental karting track, and I was hooked from then.” 

Years after that first outing in Valencia, Mayer made the step up to national-level competition in 2015, racing in the Alevin class. In 2016, he finished third in the Spanish championship. He moved up to the Mini class for 2017, when he also raced in international competition in both WSK and IAME events. Despite having to adapt to new machinery, Mayer was immediately competitive, finishing third in the IAME Euro Series in the X30 Mini class.

“I moved up to the Mini series in the European category, which was quite [an] intense and challenging bit of my career, getting used to adapting to the new engine, getting used to the new tracks, new rubber, and everything.”

For 2018, he moved up to the Junior class in both the Spanish championship and the IAME Euro Series. He also joined Fusion Motorsport in 2018 and competed with them for several years. He capped off his time with the team with an impressive performance at the 2021 IAME International Games, charging from 19th in qualifying to finish fourth in the finals.

Mayer reflects fondly on his time in karting with Fusion Motorsport. “Most of the best races I’ve had were with Fusion at the European level,” Mayer told F1 Feeder Series.

Battling diabetes on and off the circuit

While nearly every young driver faces the physical challenges that come with climbing up the ladder into faster karts and cars, Mayer had the additional challenge of living with Type 1 diabetes, with which he was diagnosed when he was just 11 years old. Sometimes known as juvenile diabetes, Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas are destroyed.

“My pancreas stops and doesn’t produce enough insulin,” Mayer said about his disease. “So basically, without it, if I eat normally and everything or be healthy, my sugar levels are going to go up anyway. So I’ll have to put some insulin, which I’ve got, which I always carry with me. And then when I have too much insulin, that’ll make me go low on sugar, which is basically where [I have] to take a bit of sugars. An example is a banana, which will help it level out a bit more.”

Mayer’s continuous glucose monitor helps him keep track of his blood sugar levels | Credit: Kokoro Media

Mayer also detailed how his disease can affect his on-track performance, saying, “I’ve had challenges in the car where being high on sugar might make you stress a little bit when you’re driving or when you’re racing.

“And then also, being in the car when you’re low on sugar, then I don’t have any strength and start to not breathe properly. I just feel weak and do not have the exact brain capacity to do the stuff that I need.”

Despite the extra demands posed by diabetes, Mayer was positive about his situation. “I think I’m managing it pretty well now. And I just have to keep it this way to keep healthy and up to date with all stuff.”

A challenging yet encouraging campaign

With a best finish of 16th after Round 2, Mayer reflected on the start of his 2022 season in the Spanish F4 Championship, admitting that he had struggled with the step up to cars. 

“The first two rounds have been quite difficult and challenging. But I think with the steps and progress that we’re doing with the team and the people around me that are helping to achieve the stuff that we’re trying to achieve, I think we can do really well and get some points towards the end [or] mid-season,” Mayer said. 

“I think we’re going in the right direction now after tons of work. So, again, we’ll just keep on working hard to achieve our goals.”

Maximus Mayer on track at Jerez, which hosted Round 2 of the Spanish F4 Championship | Credit: Spanish F4

Mayer won the 2021 Fórmula de Campeones Liga Interescuelas scholarship, which earned him a full Spanish F4 campaign with the team. When asked about his thoughts ahead of Round 3 at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo just outside Valencia, Mayer was excited about the opportunity to race at his and the team’s home event.

“In general, it’s a good boost, more because it’s like my home. It’s where I train every day, basically. I know it [like] the back of my hand, so I’m feeling good and confident going into this race.”

It’s like my home. It’s where I train every day, basically. I know it [like] the back of my hand.

Maximus Mayer (Fórmula de Campeones) on the Circuit Ricardo Tormo

This optimism was well founded, as Mayer scored his first top ten of the season with ninth in Race 2 and moved up from sixth to fourth in the rookie standings.

When asked about his goals for the future, Mayer remained grounded and focused on his current campaign, in which there are four more rounds.

“The main goal is to reach the highest level in motorsport,” he said. “But [I’m] really going to focus on this year to try and do the best we can, try and make the most of it in preparation for next year. So we’re going to give it all we’ve got and make the most of it.”

Header photo credit: Spanish F4


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