Dean Stoneman keeping Formula 1 dream alive

Nearly a year-and-a-half ago, Southampton racing driver Dean Stoneman had the Formula 1 world at his feet.

The cancer spread to his liver and lungs and he was days from death, but having won his battle, Stoneman is now focusing on reviving his F1 dream.

"My aim is to still be in Formula 1," Stoneman told BBC South Today.

His story is a remarkable one, and having been given the medical all-clear, he is now back in training, driving and hoping to race again.

Fourteen months ago, it was a very different story for Stoneman, who had finished the 2008 Formula Renault UK series with a better record than Lewis Hamilton managed in his debut year in the competition.

"After winning the F2 championship I was training very hard for the F1 test," said Stoneman.

"I was strengthening my neck and doing two or three hours' training a day to get myself ready for the best day of my life.

"Then in January 2011, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. It was a big shock to the system. The cancer spread from my right testicle, liver and chest. To be told that is not a nice thing to hear.

"I didn't sit there and cry. I said: 'Can you cure me?' They said there is a 40% chance of survival and it was hard to take in. But we sat there and dealt with it.

"The specialist said if I didn't go in and have treatment I was two days away from being untreatable and two weeks from being dead.

"At the end of the day my time was not up, it was not my turn, I am a fighter. It was a big shock to a lot of people, but a lot of people supported me.

"I was having 14 hours of chemotherapy a day. Because I am a racing driver I was pushing things all the time, having an hour break and then going back and doing another session.

"Losing your hair is hard, but it is going to happen and it is what it is. You've got to be strong and move on."

Stoneman admits to experiencing some very dark days during that time, but says the thought of racing again helped motivate him during the tough periods.

And now that he is back to full health, Stoneman is already back in the car and looking to make up for lost time.

"I had racing in my head, but my number one goal was to survive," he adds.

"Now after what I've been through over the past 14 months I want to get back to racing.

"It was so tough on the body after being out for a whole season. You don't realise how much you rely on your hands and your fitness and that was a big ask to get in the car.

"I was quick for the first 10 laps but after that I really struggled. It's a big ask.

"To be back in the car was amazing. The car I drove prior to that was a Formula 1 car.

"So I went from the F1 car to a hospital bed for a season and then back into a world series car [which] is a good achievement.

"My goal this season is to go racing, train and get myself fit. And hopefully go back to where I was at the end of last season.

"I want to go back to where I was but I've got to do a lot of fitness, I've got to get back into the car and the best training for me is racing.

"The main thing I missed was the speed. I missed being able to get into a car and drive the pants off it. I've got a lot of years ahead of me now and I can do that in the future."