Autosport Awards: Gamble wins 2018 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award

BRDC British Formula 3 racer Tom Gamble has been announced as the 30th winner of the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award at the 2018 Autosport Awards.

Autosport Awards: Gamble wins 2018 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award

As part of his reward for winning the prize, Gamble, who recently turned 17, will test a McLaren Formula 1 car next year and earns full membership to the BRDC.

Gamble contested his third year of car racing in 2018, after two campaigns in the British Touring Car Championship-supporting Ginetta Junior series that he won last year, finishing fifth in the overall British F3 standings with Fortec Motorsports with two victories.

That performance - Gamble was the highest-placed Briton in the title race - earned him a finalist spot, alongside fellow British F3 race winner Jamie Caroline, Formula Renault Eurocup title winner Max Fewtrell - a finalist for a second year in a row - and British F4 champion Kiern Jewiss.

All four drivers were put through their paces during a two-day programme at Silverstone, where they drove MotorSport Vision Formula 2, McLaren GT3 and Ligier LMP3 cars.

Gamble succeeds double Macau Grand Prix winner Dan Ticktum, who won the National Driver of the Year category earlier on Sunday evening at the Autosport Awards, as the prize winner, and was presented with the Award by two-time British Touring Car champion Jason Plato.

"I can't believe it," said Gamble. "it's been a dream since a kid to win it. I'm lost for words. 

"Two of the best days of my life at Silverstone driving three mega cars and the experience and skills I learned...I can't thank everyone involved enough."

The judging panel was led by Ex-F1 driver and former BRDC president Derek Warwick and also comprised Plato, former McLaren and Lola designer Mark Williams, GT team boss and 1997 Award winner Andrew Kirkaldy, BMW Formula E driver Alexander Sims, experienced commentator Ian Titchmarsh, McLaren's Amelia Lewis, and Autosport's Kevin Turner and Scott Mitchell.

Plato said of Gamble: "Every year the judging team is knocked over and it gets tougher and tougher. The level they operate at is something to behold at. 

"Genuinely this year there was not a clear cut winner, one stage beginning of day two there were four cars around a GP circuit covered within three tenths of a second. Two cars were less than a tenth of a second. 

"Lap time is important but there are a lot of elements we look at.

"The last three or four years we've had some fantastic drivers go on to be a star of the future and Tom is a fantastic winner."

Other previous Award winners include 13-time F1 race winner David Coulthard, 2009 F1 world champion Jenson Button, triple Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti, and respective ‘19 Williams and McLaren F1 recruits George Russell and Lando Norris.

Why Gamble won

by Kevin Turner, McLaren Autosport BRDC Award judge

One of the keys to winning the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award is being quick out of the blocks, but another less-heralded factor is a driver’s progress over the two days at Silverstone.

Given Tom Gamble’s relative lack of experience – only one year in single-seaters – it was not a surprise that he was not the fastest driver at the beginning of day one in the MotorSport Vision Formula 2 car. But his rate of progress was very impressive and once he was battling at the top of the timesheets he stayed there.

That was true both with the new-tyre/no-boost runs on day one and the new-tyre/extra-boost sessions that followed on day two. The margins covering all the drivers were small, but Gamble was always in the mix and ended up quickest. He also impressed in the final 10-lap ‘consistency’ run that concluded the tests.

Perhaps the highlight, though, was Gamble’s run in the Ligier JSP3. The 420bhp LMP3 machine was new for the Award in 2018 and was therefore a fresh challenge to all the finalists, even returnee Max Fewtrell.

The running was limited compared to the MSV F2 cars, with one session on used tyres and one on new rubber. Gamble, who was 16 years old at the time of the assessment, was comfortably fastest on the new tyres and even outpaced benchmark driver Alexander Sims. Gamble was particularly fast in the high-speed corners and backed that up by setting the pace in the McLaren 650S GT3.

So, the well-prepared Gamble quickly came to terms with the challenge of the Award and impressed in all three cars. He is a worthy 30th winner.

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