Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Award finalists revealed
The four finalists that will contest the 2019 Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award have been selected.
Japanese Formula 3 race winner Enaam Ahmed, W Series and MRF Challenge champion Jamie Chadwick, and BRDC Formula 3 frontrunners Johnathan Hoggard and Ayrton Simmons are the finalists. Only Ahmed has been a finalist before, in 2017.
There will be fitness and simulator elements at Aston Martin Red Bull Racing before a two-day test at the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in MotorSport Vision Formula 2, Ligier LMP3 and Garage 59-run Aston Martin Vantage GT3 machinery.
Prizes for the winner, who will be announced at the Autosport Awards on December 8, include a test in a Red Bull Formula 1 car, £200,000, a run in Aston Martin's GTE World Endurance Championship challenger, full BRDC membership and an Arai helmet. All finalists will also receive a TAG Heuer watch.
British Racing Drivers' Club vice-president Derek Warwick is the chairman of the judging panel, which includes Award winners Darren Turner, Andrew Kirkaldy and Alexander Sims, double British Touring Car champion Jason Plato, successful Lola and McLaren designer Mark Williams, Le Mans-winning engineer Leena Gade, leading commentator Ian Titchmarsh and Autosport magazine editor Kevin Turner.
Aston Martin is a new partner for the Award, which has previously been won by 2009 F1 world champion Jenson Button, 13-time grand prix winner David Coulthard, current F1 drivers Lando Norris and George Russell, triple Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti, and 2014 World Endurance champion Anthony Davidson.
The 2019 finalists
2019: 3rd in Japanese F3 with B-Max with Motopark
It's been a familiar car for Ahmed this year, but a different culture. After a race-winning F3 European Championship campaign, he has switched to Japan and is third in points - with two race wins - with one round remaining. He also made a Euroformula Open cameo at Silverstone, taking second in both races.
He says: "I had no clue I'd be chosen! I didn't win Japanese F3 so I wasn't sure I'd be considered.
"It's been a hard year - I signed the deal late and rocked up not knowing the tracks, which are quite difficult. It's been a good learning year so I think I will be more professional when I come back.
"It's definitely an advantage to have done it before and I know how the Award works. There are a lot of things I'll do differently. I know where I was lacking before and it took me too long to be quick."
2019: 1st in W Series; 1st in MRF Challenge
An impressive victory in the Indian-run MRF Challenge upgraded Chadwick from a likely frontrunner in W Series to surefire title contender. She lived up to this by bursting out of the blocks with a win in the inaugural Hockenheim race, also topped the podium at Misano, and was never headed in the points.
She says: "Every year it's something I think every young UK driver is aiming for. I've never had a strong enough year to warrant a nomination until now. My season finished early so it's been something I wanted.
"I know quite a few other finalists and they've said the two test days are some of the best days of their careers. I'm really looking forward to it."
2019: 2nd in BRDC British F3 with Fortec Motorsports
Third in British F4 last year - and the form man at the end of the season - Hoggard remained with Fortec for the step up to F3 and was on the pace immediately. His tally of seven wins is far greater than anyone else's, but he lost the title to the consistent Clement Novalak on reversed-grid results.
He says: "I've seen BRDC F3 drivers being nominated before and Tom Gamble won it last year so it's a good championship to be in. My main goal was to win the championship - that didn't work out, but I'm still happy with the season.
"It's such a wide variety of cars, you get a challenge in all of them. My background is in single-seaters and I hope to adapt to the F2 car quite quickly, but the GT3 will be really different.
"With how much backing there is from Aston Martin it's a big prize this year and it's a great list of people who have won it, including current F1 drivers."
2019: 3rd in BRDC British F3 with Chris Dittmann Racing
After a toe in the water in British F3 last year, the 2018 British F4 runner-up stepped up full-time with the small Dittmann team. Simmons proved a star of the season, staying in the championship hunt until the finale and, like Hoggard, scoring more race wins than Novalak. Has also raced in Asian F3.
He says: "It's amazing. It's something I had in mind and it's such a prestigious award.
"I had a lot of pace this season, but didn't always get the results. It wasn't a surprise to be in the final 10, but I wasn't sure I'd make the final four. It's been a good year and I've learned a lot.
"I'm looking forward to the Aston Martin and I've heard the F2 car is good. I'm looking forward to pressing that boost button!"
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