BRDC British F3 driver Tom Gamble was one of the star guests of the first day of the Autosport International Show at the Birmingham NEC today (Thursday). The winner of the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award appeared on the main stage twice to be interviewed, and reflected on the biggest night of his career so far.
Speaking in the afternoon alongside former BRDC President and F1 racer Derek Warwick, Gamble admitted he wasn’t sure he’d done enough to clinch one of the most prestigious prizes in world motorsport.
“It’s a competition with four top quality drivers, four of the best British junior drivers competing around the world and obviously I didn’t know until the night. I knew it was going to be tight, there was nothing between us, there were tenths of a second between us all and I had to give it my all over the two days, and I was lucky enough to come out on top.
The assessments saw the 17-year-old take to the wheel of three different cars, the MSV F2 car, a Ligier LMP3 machine and a McLaren GT3.
“The cars we were driving had double the horsepower of what I was used to, so it was a lot different, the cars handled quite differently. The F2 car was quite heavy, pointy and it wasn’t just the F2 car, there was the GT3 which had ABS and traction control which was something to get used to and there wasn’t a lot of time to get used to it either. But it was really good fun and an experience all of us will remember for the rest of our lives.”
Gamble also reflected on the support he’s received from his family, which has got him this far.
“All my family have been there since I started go karting, which was probably 10 years ago now, and there’s been a lot of hard work and financial backing needed to go with it. To win something like this was a bit of a relief and great to to give something back to them. It was a fantastic night, a massive build up and to win it was incredible.”
He now hopes that with the award next to his name, he’ll be at the top of the pile of prospective drivers for teams as he aims to move up the ladder.
“With this on my CV, it’s definitely going to help me. We haven’t finalised a drive yet for this year but it’s something that we are really pushing to get done soon and get started with testing. Hopefully in the next few weeks we should be able to get a deal done. I’ve got interviews and meetings lined-up and we will see what happens.”
Warwick admits the panel of judges were seriously impressed with Gamble’s efforts during the assessments.
“It was a great year with great drivers. After day one you couldn’t split these guys, we really didn’t know who was going to come out as the winner, it was so close. With Tom, it wasn’t a matter of ‘can you improve on the second day’ because he was already thereabouts after day one, but he just blitzed it.
“He came into day two really strong, and carried it out all the way through on new tyre runs, turbo runs, on everything. He was quickest in the GT3 car, he was quickest in the LMP3 car, actually quicker than the base line driver which really annoyed a certain Alexander Sims! Alexander actually went back into the car to try and go a bit faster, which goes to show [how impressive Gamble was]! When Tom did his first flying lap, I was with Alexander and we both just looked at it and he went ‘what!?’ Impressive.”
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