British F4 graduates win big at Autosport Awards

  • British F4 graduate Dan Ticktum scoops McLaren Autosport BRDC Award to land prize F1 test with McLaren.
  • 2015 FIA British Formula 4 Champion Lando Norris wins National Driver of the Year.
  • 2015 Rookie Champion Enaam Ahmed awarded British Club Driver of the Year.

4 DECEMBER, 2017 – British F4 graduates were out in force at last night’s glittering Autosport Awards in London, with class of 2015 stars Lando Norris, Enaam Ahmed and Dan Ticktum receiving accolades. The latter scooped one of the most coveted prizes for young drivers in motorsport, the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, and ensured that for the second consecutive year the prestigious Award was won by a British F4 graduate.

The Award gives Ticktum the chance to test a McLaren F1 car and play a simulator role with the team, as well as full BRDC membership and an Arai crash helmet.

Fresh from his thrilling Macau Grand Prix victory just a fortnight ago, Ticktum emerged triumphant having been up against fellow British F4 graduates Max Fewtrell (2016 FIA British Formula 4 Champion), Enaam Ahmed (2015 Rookie Champion), and Harrison Scott (2013 and 2014 vice-champion) in a comprehensive test which put them through their paces.

The quartet went head-to-head over two intensive days of assessments at Silverstone in October, featuring on-track tests on the Grand Prix circuit in Formula 2, Mercedes DTM and McLaren GT3 cars, plus fitness tests conducted by McLaren.

“I had an amazing weekend in Macau and this has exceeded that,” said Ticktum.

“I cannot put into words how proud I am right now to have won this award.

“It’s been an incredible experience right from the outset. The two days were incredibly difficult and having to wait six weeks to find out who the winner was was agonising to say the least.

“People know I had a tough career to start with and there have been some very important people who believed in me, particularly Red Bull, Christian Horner, Dr Helmut Marko – they’ve given me a chance and I hope I can do them proud.

“I fought back and learned from my mistakes and my immaturity and I’m stronger because of it.”

The judging panel was led by ex-F1 driver, 1992 world sportscar champion and outgoing BRDC president Derek Warwick, and comprised two-time British Touring Car champion Jason Plato, 1997 Award winner and GT boss Andrew Kirkaldy, ex-F1 designer and engineer Mark Williams, leading circuit commentator Ian Titchmarsh, Autosport magazine editor Kevin Turner and Autosport Plus editor Scott Mitchell.

Spa 24 Hours victor and 2008 Award winner Alexander Sims was the guest judge.

“It’s such a big challenge for these guys at this stage in their career to jump into these three different cars,” said Sims.

“Dan this year was outstanding.”

Sims was joined by McLaren’s Éric Boullier, Turner and BRDC chairman John Grant to present Ticktum with the Award.

Other previous Award winners include 13-time GP victor David Coulthard, 2009 F1 world champion and 1998 Formula Ford champion Jenson Button, triple Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti, as well as Ticktum’s 2015 British F4 rival Lando Norris.

Ticktum will look to further emulate Norris in 2018. He makes the step up the FIA single-seater pyramid to the FIA European Formula 3 Championship, in which Norris took the title in his first year in the series with Carlin.

2015 FIA British Formula 4 Champion and newly crowned FIA European Formula 3 Champion Norris had plenty of reason to celebrate at the star-studded ceremony, winning National Driver of the Year. It capped another sublime year for one of motorsport’s brightest young talents, in which he was announced as McLaren’s F1 test and reserve driver for 2018.

Enaam Ahmed made it a hat-trick of British F4 success by winning British Club Driver of the Year. Having clinched the Ford EcoBoost-powered Rookie title in 2015, the 17-year-old looked unstoppable for much of this season as he romped to 13 victories from 24 races on his way to the British F3 crown. 2017 FIA British Formula 4 Champion Jamie Caroline was also nominated for the Award which was won by Norris in 2016.

Images by LAT Photographic.

Enaam Ahmed, Rookie Champion

BRANDS HATCH 11 OCTOBER, 2015 – For 15-year-old Enaam Ahmed his first season of car racing has been a tale of two halves: a struggle to adapt from karting at the beginning of the year and then a massive improvement in pace during the second half of the season, culminating in his first outright MSA Formula race win yesterday at Brands Hatch and with it victory in the Rookie class championship for drivers with no previous car-racing experience.

The TRS Arden driver says his turnaround was all down to hard work: “My early results were a real shake up for me and made me realise how much harder you have to work in car racing. In karting I could always just jump in and be quick, but in cars you have to have the full package to be quick and it was a wake-up call. But if I had been quick from the start I wouldn’t now be working as hard as I am; it’s made me a better driver…

“TRS Arden have done a brilliant job for me this year – given me a kick when I needed it and been hard on me – and I’ve learned a lot from my team-mates Ricky and Sandy. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to work with.

“It’s a great feeling to have won the Rookie championship but, more than that, it was so special to win my first race yesterday. I hadn’t won one and it was bugging me! I’m not really sure about my plans for the future but I hope to be staying in junior single-seaters, maybe F4 again, but there’s no rush to decide…”

Norris secures championship title as Ahmed claims maiden win

  • Seventh place enough for Lando to put his points tally out of reach with a race in hand
  • Enaam Ahmed takes his first outright race win and Rookie class championship honours

BRANDS HATCH 10 OCTOBER, 2015 – A breathtaking penultimate round of the Ford EcoBoost-powered MSA Formula Championship saw Lando Norris set the seal on a brilliantly successful season, the Somerset 15-year-old securing championship victory with a seventh-place finish, right on the tail of his chief title rival Ricky Collard. Meanwhile at the front of the field, another 15-year-old, Londoner Enaam Ahmed, took his maiden outright race win in the series and with it the Rookie class championship title.

Norris needed to finish no more than one place behind Collard to earn enough points to put his tally beyond Ricky’s reach ahead of tomorrow’s final round and that’s exactly what the Carlin man achieved despite Collard’s best efforts to pull clear of his tenacious pursuer.

Lando succeeded despite a late start to the race caused by lengthy pre-event track repairs, which led to badly fading light, to emerge as the FIA Formula 4 Champion of Great Britain. He was delighted and relieved in equal measure: “It was a tough race and I’m really relieved to have got through it. It was getting so dark out there and at one stage I had to pass Dan Baybutt around the outside so that I get on to Ricky’s tail; it was pretty scary. It was tough out there and hard to see. But I finished where I finished and the job is done, and now I can go out tomorrow in the final race and enjoy myself.”

The race was a cracker from the outset, with Collard’s TRS Arden team-mates Sandy Mitchell and Ahmed getting storming starts from second and fourth on the grid. Mitchell overcame pole-sitter Baybutt (JTR) through Paddock Hill Bend to take command of the race, with Ahmed relieving SWB Motorsport man Rafael Martins of second place on lap two. Mitchell and Ahmed then circulated nose-to-tail for the whole race, with Sandy ahead by a whisker and equal to his team-mate’s many challenges.

But a slight error from Mitchell – by now suffering from a badly steamed-up visor – on the final lap gave Ahmed the inch he needed to launch an attack around the outside at Hawthorns, one of the quickest corners on the Brands Grand Prix circuit. It was a brave manoeuvre but it paid off for Enaam, who finished the final lap 1.1s clear of Sandy for his first MSA Formula win. “I got a run on Sandy at Surtees and carried the momentum down the hill,” said Enaam. “I got alongside him and thought ‘it’s the last lap – go for it’ and I kept it flat. Usually it’s not flat! I slid and we touched but I got through… Mad!”

Added a disappointed Sandy: “I was a bit slow out of Surtees, and my visor was steamed up – I wouldn’t blame it on that but it didn’t help. It was all a bit unfortunate. We were both lucky to finish to be honest because we clipped wheels…”

Martins drove his most convincing race since his Thruxton podium finish to keep tabs on the frontrunners throughout, and held off the much more experienced Toby Sowery (MBM Motorsport) to the end to make it an all-rookie podium 1-2-3, the first of the season.

But all eyes were on the battle for fifth, which position was held from mid-distance onwards by Carlin’s Colton Herta. The American, struggling with tyre wear, had Collard in his mirrors all the way to the line, Ricky well aware that if he could put another car between himself and his pursuer Norris, he might be able to carry the championship battle down to the wire tomorrow.

Herta held steady to the end for fifth, however, with Collard and Norris in line astern, just six-tenths separating them at the flag. Sennan Fielding (JHR), James Pull (Fortec) and Baybutt completed the top 10, ahead of Carlin’s Petru Florescu and Fortec man Josh Smith.

Provisional results Round 29 Brands Hatch 10 October 2015
14 laps / 34.06 miles
1 Enaam AHMED / GBR / TRS Arden 20m 48.766s / 98.20mph
2 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden +1.177s
3 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / SWB +1.470s
4 Toby SOWERY / GBR / MBM +1.507s
5 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin +3.793s
6 Ricky COLLARD / GBR / TRS Arden +4.005s
7 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin +4.443s
8 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR +6.743s
9 James PULL / GBR / Fortec +10.541s
10 Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR +12.026s etc
Fastest lap Norris 1m 27.165s / 100.49mph

Rookie class 1 Ahmed; 2 Mitchell; 3 Martins; 4 Baybutt; 5 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin; 6 Josh SMITH / GBR / Fortec; 7 Darius KARBALEY / GBR / Falcon; 8 Ameya VAIDYANATHAN / IND / JTR

Provisional championship standings
1 Norris 395 points; 2 Collard 367; 3 Herta 329; 4 Fielding 290; 5 Leist 267; 6 Dan Ticktum 242; 7 Mitchell 191; 8 Ahmed 161; 9 Martins 113; 10 Florescu 98 etc
Rookie class 1 Ahmed 414; 2 Ticktum 408; 3 Mitchell 383; 4 Baybutt 351; 5 Florescu 340 etc

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