McLaren Young Drivers bring home Silverware
McLaren’s Young Driver development programme successfully brought home the silverware last weekend after two of its illumni, Nyck de Vries and Ben Barnicoat, each wrapped up the titles in their respective single-seater championships.
Dutchman Nyck de Vries, who successfully earned the Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS title at Mugello at the start of September, added further glory to a triumphant season by winning the prestigious Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup championship last weekend. Nyck’s two wins at Paul Ricard comfortably pushed the title beyond the reach of his rivals with one round remaining.
“I’m obviously very happy to have won both titles – ALPS and the Eurocup – ahead of each championship’s final round,” said Nyck. “That’s a bit of a relief.
“It’s been a fantastic season, and I was really able to put my experience to good use this year. Last season, for instance, I was in my second year of Formula Renault 2.0 and was expecting to fight for the championship – as a result, I probably put too much pressure on myself; spent too much time chasing results rather than looking at the overall goal.
“For 2014, I was more relaxed and comfortable in my environment – that meant I was more focused on what I needed to do. I’m extremely grateful to McLaren for all the help they’ve given me with this opportunity – without their support, I simply wouldn’t have been where I am right now.”
The Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup concludes with a final double-header at Jerez on October 18 and 19, and Nyck is eyeing a switch to World Series by Renault 3.5 as a logical career progression for 2015.
Derbyshire racer Ben Barnicoat also enjoyed title glory last weekend, lifting the trophy in Formula Renault 2.0’s North European Championship (NEC).
Ben won two races en route to the title – cruelly missing out on a third following an engine failure – and emerged as the championship’s most successful rookie in only his first full season of car racing.
“This was a massive learning year for me,” said Ben. “In my first full year of single-seaters, I had to spend the winter just learning technique: how to drive the car on the limit. By the time of the first race, that all ramped up once again as I really began to understand how to go racing. That meant learning just how much downforce you lose when following another car; how to do standing starts – which I’d never done in karting; I also had to learn how to overtake again, because you can’t follow a racing car as closely as you can a kart, where you just dart out to pass – you need to be committed.”
Despite the steep learning curve, it’s a mark of Ben’s abilities that he was able to secure the title despite the challenge from more experienced competition.
He admitted: “At the start of the year, I thought it was going to be a very hard season, because there were fewer rookies in the championship than I’d perhaps anticipated.”
Ben still has to finalise his plans for next year, but admits that graduating up to the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup would be a logical step.
“For 2014, McLaren really helped with my physical preparation,” he said. “They did a fantastic job of getting me physically ready to drive a single-seater, so as soon as I stepped into the cockpit, all I had to do was think about my driving. That took a lot of stress off my shoulders as I didn’t need to worry about whether I’d be fit or strong enough to go racing. McLaren gave me such a lot of support.”