OTHER FI­NAL­ISTS Philip Bate, Steve Bro­gan, David Cuff, Shaun Nicholson, James Rhodes He says: “The driv­ing as­sess­ments in­volved a few laps in a sa­loon car with one of the judges – Mika Hakki­nen in my case – then driv­ing a car from the for­mula above that in which you had com­peted that sea­son, which for me meant the Vaux­hall Lo­tus. It couldn’t have gone any bet­ter and my quick­est time would have put me com­fort­ably on pole for the pre­vi­ous week­end’s Bri­tish Vaux­hall Lo­tus race, so a last-minute de­ci­sion was made to put me in Mika’s F3 car. There wasn’t time to fit me in prop­erly, which wasn’t ideal as I’m sig­nif­i­cantly shorter than Mika. Wedged in with foam, strug­gling to reach the ped­als prop­erly, barely able to see over the screen and with dusk de­scend­ing, I set off down the pit­lane for my first drive in an F3 car. I was never go­ing to set pole times in those cir­cum­stances but it was a great ex­pe­ri­ence to work with the reign­ing Bri­tish F3 cham­pion driver and team, and to drive the cham­pi­onship-win­ning car.

“Although the iden­tity of the win­ner is kept se­cret, I did have a cou­ple of in­di­ca­tions that gave me cause to feel op­ti­mistic. Firstly, at the Mclaren fac­tory they had pre­sented awards to the win­ners of the phys­i­cal and driv­ing as­sess­ments and I had won both, so I fig­ured it would be a bit odd to win both of those but not the over­all award! Se­condly, in the re­cep­tion be­fore din­ner, the film di­rec­tor re­spon­si­ble for the evening’s cov­er­age pulled me to one side to tell me where the cam­eras would be when

I went up to col­lect the Award!

“There is ab­so­lutely no doubt that win­ning helped my ca­reer enor­mously. Mclaren was the top F1 team at that time and be­ing en­dorsed by them and Autosport was in­valu­able, giv­ing my pro­file and cred­i­bil­ity a huge and sus­tained boost. The re­la­tion­ship I en­joyed with Mclaren through most of the 1990s pro­vided me with great ex­pe­ri­ence, not only in the F1 car but also in learn­ing how to work within a large or­gan­i­sa­tion, re­ceiv­ing as­sis­tance with mar­ket­ing and spon­sor­ship ad­vice and much more. I am proud to have won it and I am grate­ful for the op­por­tu­ni­ties and ex­pe­ri­ences it pro­vided.” WHAT HAP­PENED NEXT Won the 1994 Marl­boro Masters F3 and ’96 Bri­tish For­mula 2 ti­tle be­fore run­ning out of funds and be­com­ing a mo­tor­sport com­men­ta­tor

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