Elliott Shaw, a professional go-kart racer, has been notching up successes on the international circuit. He also suffers from Asperger Syndrome and hyperactivity.
The 16-year-old Swiss with English parents is part of an Italian-based karting team that prepares young champions for international competitions. Many Formula One drivers start their careers in a kart, and F1 is exactly where Shaw would like to be in the future.
The young man started karting in a rental vehicle in 2012, at the Vuiteboeufexternal link track in western Switzerland. From the very beginning, he loved speed. After one season, he decided to race more seriously and began progressing through different categories until making the jump to the adult X30 Elite in 2017. The same year, he finished first in the Swiss Vega Championships and 4th in the national Championships.
And in 2018, he joined Ferrara Kart, a team with three drivers set up in Varese, Italy by the highly-regarded international karting mechanic Domenico Ferrara.
Shaw says he opted for the Italian-based team mainly because of its international credentials; Swiss teams tend to compete mainly in national championships.
Then, in 2018, Elliott finished 2nd in his first Super ROK Race. Team boss Ferrara says the young man shows a lot of promise.
His kart has a 125 litre, 40 HP ROK DVS engine made by Vortex. It has no gears, is mechanically very simple, and has to be pushed in order to start. But it can travel at speeds of up to 130kmph on a straight stretch.
During racing season (February to October), the Shaw family is constantly on the move. All their money and energy are focused on Elliott’s racing career, but they say it's worth every franc as they are convinced that their boy has what it takes to become a champion. The couple have to pay CHF5,000 ($5,047) for every race Elliott participates in – some CHF50,000 per year – and say they have not had a holiday for many years.
Elliott’s mother Becki is English, an accountant by profession, and has lived in Switzerland for 24 years. Dad Andrew is an IT professional who has lived in Switzerland since he was four.
No longer at school, Elliott is now planning to spend more time with his team in Italy. swissinfo.ch met with him at his home in Villiers, canton Neuchâtel, and also filmed him in action at the karting track where he started his career. As we also find out, the mild form of autism from which he suffers is not always a hindrance but can help him to focus.