Dunlop MSA Formula Ford of Great Britain champion. Formula Ford Eurocup champion. BRSCC Formula Ford Festival winner. Autosport McLaren BRDC Award finalist. It's fair to say 2011 has been a sensational year for Scott Malvern. The Checkered Flag caught up with him recently to reflect on his incredible campaign.
Malvern headed into 2011 off the back of a strong year in British Formula Ford in 2010, the Jamun Racing driver taking the runners up spot in the championship. While the champion Scott Pye and fellow top five finishers Josh Hill, Tio Ellinas and Daniel Cammish all moved on, Malvern was forced to stick around and have a second crack at the single-seater series.
Malvern said: “Having had such a good year in 2010, it was a tough winter to be honest, going into the new year we were looking at various options, Formula Renault, Formula 3, Formula 2 and GP3 with an open mind, unfortunately due to their own circumstances, two of my main sponsors had to withdraw in early January meaning my options were then somewhat limited.
“By mid January we started looking at a second year in Formula Ford, we knew it would be a big risk as winning the championship by racking up lots of points wouldn't be enough after coming so close last year; I would also have to go out and win lots of races along the way.”
Staying in Formula Ford paid off for Scott though, the Essex-based racer dominating the whole season, taking eighteen wins in 24 races to win the championship by over 100 points. This came despite a tough start to the year at Silverstone, where he picked up two retirements in three races, though he bounced back instantly and went on a record-breaking run of thirteen consecutive wins, going on the seal the championship a weekend early.
Malvern commented: “It's a fantastic feeling, after the first weekend at Silverstone it seemed as though we might have made the wrong decision, we had to regroup and plan how we could resurrect the season. With the points system being so close I just had to win as many races as possible.
“At that early stage winning all those races seems like such a tall order but I just treated each race like it was my last and it paid off! I can't describe how it felt to be on the top step after the third race at Brands Hatch GP having just taken my third hat-trick of wins, when you achieve something like that it gives you the confidence that you can do anything!”
BRDC Rising Star Malvern believes that his previous experience in the series has helped him be successful this season, reflecting: “Being a second year driver always helps, you understand how the championship runs and also the importance of certain races and circumstances, sometimes it can be crucial to take full advantage of a situation that may seem irrelevant when you are learning the championship.
“I think a large part of the reason we had such a god year has come from the fact that I was confident that I knew the car well, I knew the team well and I had a great relationship with my mechanic and my engineers. We set out a program for each test and race and everyone did their best to maximise every aspect of the weekend.”
Malvern's success makes him the seventh consecutive champion for Jamun Racing, with Malvern really praising the team: “Jamun Racing is made up of a great bunch of people, they work tirelessly to make their cars the best on the grid, the preparation of the cars is flawless. James and Tony Mundy are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the setup of the car, the car works in every situation on every circuit due to the hard work and endless research & development that all of the guys work towards. Their main priority is to win!”
The 2011 season also saw the introduction of the Formula Ford Eurocup, which saw Malvern and his British colleagues compete against the best Formula Ford racers in Europe around some of the best tracks on the continent. Malvern's dominance in Britain continued in Europe, the Brit taking nine wins in eleven races to win all four Eurocup weekends.
Scott commented: “I think it was a great idea from the series organisers to introduce such a concept, for the drivers it's great experience to race on some of the European circuits such as Spa and Zolder, it's great preparation for when a driver progress' through their career and it's also a new and enjoyable experience for the British teams to race abroad and see some new circuits.
“For me it was brilliant, the Eurocup was an extra for us, so to win all four weekends was a dream really. When you go to race against people you have no experience of in their back garden you're not sure what to expect but we had some great races on the new circuits and managed to win 9 of the 11 races even after having to start last for all three races at Spa!”
Malvern followed up his championship and Eurocup wins with what he describes as his biggest win of the season, a comprehensive victory in the 2011 BRSCC Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch, a result that Malvern admits is a dream come true: “All year I have been thinking about the Festival, winning the championship is one thing but winning the Festival is another and requires a completely different approach. I knew that it would be a very tough weekend; no one has anything to lose its just every man for himself with no consequences.
“It was massively important to me as it is a race that I have always wanted to win, so many past winners have made it to the top, it is a real test of your ability consistently finish at the front and yet save enough so as you don't peak before the final. I think I'm right in saying that I am only the third person to win both the Championship and the Festival in the same year, it was a fantastic way to round out the season.”
Malvern's achievements have been recognised once again this year with the Barkingside-based racer getting nominated for the Autosport McLaren BRDC Award for the second year running, which will see him compete against five other young British racers for a prize fund that includes a McLaren F1 test and £100,000.
Malvern enthused: “It's such a prestigious award; to be nominated twice is a real honour. For me it is of huge importance, it has been the springboard for so many great drivers in the past and I would love to be in that list. To be approved by some of the most influential people in British motorsport is what dreams are made of, also to be a member of the BRDC is something that is so hard achieve. Not forgetting the test with Mclaren! The prizes truly are money can't buy and the £100,000 would be a massive help towards my budget for 2012.”
Malvern has already started looking ahead to next season and within a week of winning the Formula Ford Festival, he was heading out to Spain to test a GP3 car for the first time. Running with the Status Grand Prix team, Malvern had a big learning curve to overcome, jumping from a Formula Ford to a GP3 car, but he impressed and set some competitive times at Barcelona.
Reflecting on the test, Malvern said: “For me it was a huge learning curve, heading into the test I had to learn a new car, new tyres, a new circuit and a new team. There is so much to take in when you're in a situation like that, I knew that I wasn't going to just turn up and be quickest so my objective were just to learn as much as I possibly could about aero cars and that things I need to work on before I make the step up.
“In terms of top speed the cars are not much different, however what is so vastly different is the grip and braking power available to you, making the most of the grip sounds relatively easy however compared to a Formula Ford the apex speed can sometimes be as much as 30mph faster so it's more about commitment.
“Left foot braking was also new to me, when you have been braking with you right foot for the past three years it feels more than a little odd when you start having to master your braking technique with the other foot. Overall it was a great experience, I learn a lot and I'm looking to put it to good use in the near future.”
As well as GP3, Malvern is exploring other avenues ahead of next season, as he concludes: “My aim for 2012 is to continue to build on the momentum that we have accumulated over the past year and to ensure that we put a good package together for my new and longstanding partners. At the moment we are looking at either Formula 2 or GP3, both series I feel have their strong points and now it is down to where we can get the best value for our supporters. I think both are great cars and both present a different challenge but my aim is to win wherever I go.”