Path to the podium – the 2019 Young Driver of the Year Award

Path to the podium – the 2019 Young Driver of the Year Award

If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to succeed at the very top level of motorsport, the annual Aston Martin Autosport BRDC (AMABA) Young Driver of the Year Award gives a unique insight into just what is required.

Although the award has gone by different names since its inception, it was first conceived in 1989 to reward and recognise the UK’s best young racing drivers. The first recipient was none other than the BRDC’s President David Coulthard and since the inaugural award 134 drivers have been nominated by members of the public to compete for the Chris Bristow trophy.

Previous winners

  • David Coulthard – F1, 13 wins
  • Oliver Gavin – Five-time class winner at Le Mans
  • Dario Franchitti – 3 x Indy 500 winner, 4x IndyCar Champion
  • Darren Turner – Aston Martin Racing factory driver
  • Jenson Button – F1 World Champion
  • Gary Paffett – DTM Champion
  • Anthony Davidson – F1, World Endurance Champion
  • Paul Di Resta – F1, DTM Champion
  • George Russell – F1 (Williams 2019 – present)
  • Lando Norris – F1 (McLaren 2019 – present)

Now backed by Aston Martin, the award secures the winner a test in a Red Bull Formula 1 car, laps in an AMR GTE race car as well as a £200,000 cash prize, full membership of the BRDC, an Arai helmet and all finalists receive a TAG Heuer watch.

2019’s impressive and – let’s be honest, intimidating – judging panel included ex-F1 driver and BRDC vice-president Derek Warwick, double BTCC champion Jason Plato, successful McLaren and Lola designer Mark Williams, Le Mans-winning engineer Leena Gade, factory Aston Martin driver and 1996 Award winner Darren Turner, GT team boss and 1997 Award winner Andrew Kirkaldy, BMW Formula E driver and 2008 Award winner Alexander Sims, experienced commentator Ian Titchmarsh and Autosport magazine editor Kevin Turner.

Judges deep in conversation.

The judging panel’s job is to assess every aspect of each driver’s performance – from their racecraft and driving skill to physical fitness and their ability to get the best out of their car with their engineers. They are on-site at Silverstone, observing the candidates at all times.

This year’s nominees were:

  • Enaam Ahmed (19) – 3rd, 2019 Japanese Formula 3 championship
  • Jamie Chadwick (21) – 2019 W Series Champion, 2015 British GT Champion (GT4)
  • Johnathan Hoggard (18) – 2nd, British Formula 3 championship
  • Ayrton Simmons (18) – 3rd, British Formula 3 championship
Jamie Chadwick
Jamie Chadwick

The driver assessments include 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.

Driver assessments: Silverstone

The driver assessments took place at a cold and damp Silverstone circuit at the end of October. It can be an intimidating place – presumably, even more so for the four young hopefuls when the attention of every person at the circuit is focussed solely on them and £200,000 & an F1 test are hanging in the balance.

Despite the circuit being closed to all other activities, the Wing was a hive of activity. As support teams continuously prepared cars for the drivers’ track rotation, PR and media teams relayed updates and judges, BRDC members and the circuit safety team observed intently. With drivers expected to improve their lap times throughout the day, one of the key elements was working with their engineers to improve their cars, all the time under the scrutiny of the judges and the pit telematics.

Getting settled into the Ligier

For the drivers, it is a mentally and physically punishing day experiencing unfamiliar cars on a slippery, high-speed circuit whilst all the time trying to improve their performance with nothing to benchmark it against – their lap times are a closely guarded secret.

Hoggard wins at the AutoSport Awards

The winner was finally announced at the annual Autosport Awards at London’s Grosvenor House. The judges pointed to Johnathan Hoggard’s consistency, raw speed, ability to get on the pace quickly in any given car and his capacity for listening and asking questions as key elements contributing to his success. Hoggard picked up the Chris Bristow trophy the next day at the annual BRDC awards.

Hoggard picks up the trophy – image credit: Jakob Ebrey/ BRDC

I’m over the moon! I’m lost for words. I’ve been waiting for over a month for this and it’s been agonising.

Johnathan Hoggard

Competitive. Dedicated. Fast.

Make no mistake, winning the AMABA Young Driver of the Year and becoming a member of the BRDC will afford Johnathan Hoggard many opportunities to further his racing career and we hope he will achieve the same success as the very best of his predecessors. He has already proven himself to possess the rare qualities that are required to be the best.

We wish him luck.

Magnitude Finance is proud to be a Patron of the BRDC Young Driver Program.