Fortec Motorsport's Tom Blomqvist came out on top in the 2010 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship. The 16-year-old emerged from an enthralling four way battle to take the crown, in the process becoming the youngest champion in the series history. Once again the single seater series had a high quality, ultra-competitive field, producing ten different winners over the course of the season.
Blomqvist came out on top despite a slow start to his season. A best result of fifth in the first two meetings meant many discredited him as an early contender for the championship. This was quickly changed after a third at Brands Hatch began a great run of four consecutive podiums. Another podium followed at Snetterton, but it wasn't until Silverstone in August that Blomqvist picked up his first wins of the season, with victory in Rounds 13 and 14.
He made it three consecutive wins with victory in the first race at Knockhill, catapulting himself right into contention for the championship with two meetings remaining. Two podiums around the in the penultimate meeting around the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit saw him head into the season finale at Brands Hatch with a slender one point advantage at the top of the standings. He handled the pressure perfectly though, with a third place in the first race and a second place in the final race enough to see him take the championship.
Blomqvist's closest challenger turned out to be Manor Competition's Lewis Williamson. The 20-year-old also suffered a slow start to the year, taking just one podium in the first three meetings, but his first win of the year at Oulton Park began a real strong run over the middle of the season. Wins at Croft and Silverstone followed, as well as two other podium finishes.
It was the season's second trip to Silverstone where Williamson really put himself in contention, with a superb double win around the new Grand Prix circuit in front of 125,000 fans, leaving him just one point behind heading to Brands Hatch. A second in the first race gave him real hope, but his title dreams faded in the final race, when stuck in 4th and unable to make progress to get past Blomqvist.
The early leader of the championship was Hungarian driver Tamas Pa'l Kiss. Driving for Atech GP, he dominated the first few rounds, taking six podiums in seven races, including wins at Thruxton, Rockingham and Oulton Park. He wasn't able to maintain the pace though, taking just two more podiums over the rest of the year. Regular top six finishes meant he still entered the finale in contention, though a stall on the grid in the penultimate race ended his slim hopes.
The fourth title contender was Will Stevens, who was another to enjoy a good start to the season. The Manor Competition driver picked up four podiums in the first five races, including wins at Thruxton and Brands Hatch, before taking three more podiums over the mid-season to remain in contention. He headed to the finale still with a mathematical chance of the title, but suffered his worst weekend of the year to lose out.
For much of the season, CRS Racing's Harry Tincknell was also part of the championship fight. The reigning Graduate Cup champion picked up four consecutive podiums at the start of the year, including a win at Rockingham. A second win of the year at Snetterton kept him in the hunt, but a poor final few rounds ended his chances.
CRS also saw driver Robert Foster-Jones take to the top step of the podium during 2010. A regular runner in the midfield, he stunned the frontrunners with a superb performance at Knockhill, finishing second in the opener before going one better and taking his maiden win in Round 16.
Another driver to pick up their maiden win during the season was Ollie Millroy. Starting the season with Fortec Motorsport, the 20-year-old moved to Manor Competition early on in the year. It turned out to be a good move, picking up his first podium at Croft, before taking his first win in Round 11 at Snetterton. Another podium at Knockhill saw him make it three Manor drivers in the top six of the championship.
Another team enjoying great success over the year was Atech GP, with Nick Yelloly and Marlon Stockinger joining team mate Pa'l Kiss in picking up wins during the season. Yelloly picked up his first win during the penultimate race at Brands Hatch, while a win at Croft for Stockinger saw him become the first Filipino driver to win a Formula Renault UK race.
The Graduate Cup class in 2010 was all about one man, Fortec Motorsport's Alex Lynn, who was dominant throughout the year. With the class suffering from low numbers, Lynn's only real rival was Brazilian Fabio Gamberini, but Lynn beat him comprehensively for the title, taking an outright podium in the final round of the year to end his season on a high.
Tom Blomqvist takes the championship to join the long and distinguished list of Formula Renault UK Champions, including the likes of Kimi Raikkonen (2000), Lewis Hamilton (2003), Oliver Jarvis (2005) and Dean Smith (2009). While in the Entrants Championship, Manor Competition take the crown for the first time since 2000, ending an eight year domination by Fortec Motorsport.
Here's TCF's choice of the top five drivers of the season:
- Tom Blomqvist- A deserving champion, was able to turn it up a gear when it mattered in the final four meetings and was simply magnificent, not letting the pressure show. Underlined his class by taking more podiums than any other driver over the season.
- Lewis Williamson – Really stood out this year, taking more wins than any other driver. His performance at the World Series meeting was outstanding and he didn't give up on the title right till the very end.
- Tamas Pa'l Kiss – Was brilliant at the beginning of the year and it's a shame he was unable to maintain the momentum to sustain his challenge. Impressed with his consistency too, finishing outside the top six just once in the first seventeen races.
- Will Stevens – Enjoyed a good start and consistently picked up podium finishes throughout the year. Wasn't able to step up a gear and really push for the championship, but impressed in his second year.
- Ollie Millroy – Took the tough decision to switch teams during his debut season, but it really paid off. Came on strong during the middle of the year and richly deserved his first win. Will have high hopes in the series in 2011.