South African Alan van der Merwe has totally dominated this year's British Formula Three Championship, winning the prestigious title from his Carlin Motorsport team mate Jamie Green by an incredible 71 points.
The British F3 series is regarded as one of the most important training grounds for future Formula One stars, and Alan has proved that he is one of the hottest young drivers in the world, scoring nine wins, five pole positions, four fastest laps and over 300 championship points on his way to the crown.
"It's been a nearly perfect season. We haven't won 24 times ? which would have been perfect, but compared to the rest of the field we've done a very good job," said Alan. "Carlin is a tough operation and my three team mates have never given up. That's made the season difficult but we've never given up either. I find the team is a good environment for drivers to thrive because there is real pressure and I revel in that pressure to produce a good performance."
All season the pressure was put on Alan from his highly rated rivals, including the Brazilian youngster Nelson Piquet Jr, but the former Formula Ford Festival winner saw them all off in convincing style. "I've been on top of my driving all year and there's been very few races where I look back and say 'I could have done much better'," said Alan.
"I've given my best and I've been able to achieve that success because the package around me has been right. My mechanics, my engineer, my manager ? the whole team has enabled me to be in a position to win races."
The season began on a high note and victories kept coming Alan's way. At the second meeting at Snetterton, the South African ace dominated qualifying and the race to lead every single lap of the double-header, but the Carlin star cites his performance at the legendary Belgian Formula One circuit at Spa-Francorchamps as a real highlight to his all conquering year.
He said: "Because of the hand injury I sustained in a racing incident at Thruxton, I struggled at Spa to cope with the pain, yet despite that, I was able to take the two wins and at such a legendary track, it was the perfect antidote."
Alan van der Merwe is an extremely talented and intelligent racing driver who has shown an outstanding ability in his technical feedback and has established an extremely tough mental approach to his racing. Hisvictoriesat some of Britain's premier circuits, including Snetterton, Croft, Silverstone, Castle Combe and Oulton Park, are a testament to his desire allied to natural raw talent.
"What I've learnt this year is to overcome the difficulties and to get the best out of myself. If you can bounce back from anything you're going to be strong. Too many drivers meander their way through the season. If you do then you'll never win a championship."