Following the news last month that a planned Formula Renault UK revival has been scrapped for this season, the 2011 edition of the single-seater championship currently sits in the history books as the 23rd and potentially final running of the prestigious series.
For many years, Formula Renault UK was the leading single-seater championship in Britain, with the champions roll of honour including Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton, while Heikki Kovalainen and Paul Di Resta were amongst others to use the series as the start of a route to Formula One.
Though the series suffered an untimely demise in 2012, its cancellation coming after ballooning budgets caused low entry numbers, its final run in 2011 featured one of the most talented grids in the championship’s recent history.
The Checkered Flag have decided to take a look at how the class of 2011 have progressed in the three seasons since, seeing who has moved up the ladder towards Formula One or who has moved into different disciplines.
First up, the 2011 champion ….
Lynn’s name currently sits in the record books as the last Formula Renault UK champion, with the Essex-based racer having dominated the championship with Fortec Motorsport, taking twelve wins in the twenty race calendar.
The champion went on Formula 3 in 2012, sticking with Fortec for a British F3 campaign. Nine podium finishes earned him fourth in the standings, with some FIA European F3 appearances alongside it leading to a full campaign there in 2013.
Lynn finished as top rookie in third overall in his first European campaign with Prema Powerteam, notching three wins during the campaign. He also starred in a couple of the landmark F3 events, including finishing second in the Masters of Formula 3 event at Zandvoort.
The highlight though was a stunning win in the Macau Grand Prix, having finished third on his debut a year previous, a result that captured of the attention of the team behind the Red Bull Junior driver scheme.
Signed up as a member of the programme, Lynn stepped up to GP3 last season with Carlin. Bursting onto the scene with two wins in the first three races, another success later in the campaign at Spa helped him win the championship at the first attempt.
Lynn’s first Formula 1 experience soon followed with Lotus F1 in the end-of-season test in Abu Dhabi in November.
The 21 year old was reported to be in the frame for a Torro Rosso drive in 2015, but instead Lynn will be tackling GP2 with reigning champions DAMS alongside a driver development role with Williams F1.
After making his car-racing debut in the 2010 Winter Series, Rowland produced a stunning first season in Formula Renault in 2011, securing the vice-champion honours thanks to six podiums in the first nine races and a superb run of seven consecutive top two finishes including four wins to end the campaign.
He ended the year taking the ‘Finals Series’ title with four wins in six races, setting him up for a campaign in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup in 2012. Remaining with Fortec Motorsport, the Sheffield-based racer visited the podium three times en-route to third in the championship.
Rowland switched to Manor MP Motorsport for his second Eurocup season in 2013 and he went one better in the standings, a total of eight podium finishes taking him to second. Alongside that Rowland also took fourth overall in Formula Renault NEC, winning four of the eight races he competed in.
Rowland returned to the Fortec camp last season as he stepped up to Formula Renault 3.5. Adapting well to the more powerful machinery, Rowland put together an impressive ‘rookie’ campaign to finish fourth overall with two wins and five other podium finishes to his name.
Since 2011, Rowland hasn’t finished lower than fourth in a championship and will aim to continue that run this year as he returns to FR3.5 as the early title favourite.
Ellinas was Lynn’s main challenger for the title throughout the 2011 season, taking fifteen podium finishes in twenty races including two wins, but he ended up third in the points after Rowland snatched the runners-up spot on countback.
The Cypriot moved up to GP3 in 2012 with Marussia Manor Racing and was a regular top six finisher throughout the campaign, ending it on a high with a second place and a maiden win in the final rounds at Monza.
Those performances earnt him a second season with the team in 2013, as well as a first F1 opportunity in the Silverstone young drivers test, which made him the first driver from Cyprus to drive a Formula One car.
Ellinas’ second GP3 campaign started and ended in style with wins in the first and last races of the campaign, with regular top six finishes including a third podium of the year securing him fourth in the final standings.
The natural progression to GP2 followed last season, but it only proved to be a part campaign of eight races for the 23 year old. It started well with two top ten finishes in his first three races with MP Motorsport, experience he’ll hope to build on with a Formula Renault 3.5 campaign in 2015 with Strakka Racing.
While Lynn, Rowland and Ellinas have headed up the single-seater ladder towards Formula One, Hawksworth has gone in a different direction following his Formula Renault exploits, having finished fourth in the standings with a single win at local circuit Croft to his name.
For 2012, Hawksworth made the big decision to head to America to join the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, a switch that has been fully justified with his success in the past three years.
In his first season stateside, Hawksworth adapted perfectly to his new surroundings and his first experience oval racing to win the Star Mazda Championship with Team Pelfrey, superbly finishing in the top two in twelve of the seventeen races.
That moved him up to Indy Lights for 2013 with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and while the 23 year old couldn’t add another title to his resume, an equally impressive campaign saw him notch three wins en-route to fourth in the points.
For 2014, Hawksworth stepped up to the pinnacle of US single-seater racing, IndyCar, and produced a brilliant rookie campaign with three top six finishes including a maiden podium in Houston, and a finish on his Indy 500 debut with Bryan Herta Autosport.
Those performances caught the attention of AJ Foyt Racing, who have signed him up for the 2015 campaign to partner Takuma Sato.
Cammish only joined the Formula Renault UK grid partway through the 2011 season, but made an immediate impression with Mark Burdett Motorsport, running in the top six from the off and ending the campaign with three consecutive podium finishes.
The Leeds-based racer aimed to build on those results in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup in 2012, however injuries sustained in a massive crash on the opening weekend at Motorland forced him to sit out the remainder of the season.
Cammish returned to racing in Formula Ford GB in 2013 and produced one of the most incredible title victories in the championship’s history, utterly dominating proceedings by winning all 24 races he contested with JTR.
Despite that success, Cammish made the move into GT racing last year, signing a British GT deal with Team Parker Racing. Racing a Porsche in the GT4 class, Cammish and team-mate Barrie Baxter took a best finish of fourth en-route to eighth in class.
Alongside that the 25 year old made a superb one-off outing in the final rounds of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, taking a pair of pole positions and a maiden race win, a performance that has led to him joining the series full-time this season.
Fresh from making his car-racing debut in 2010, King enjoyed a good first full campaign in Formula Renault 2011 alongside some outings in FIA Formula Two.
A top ten finisher throughout the year with Manor Competition, the highlight was a maiden podium at Croft that helped him to eighth in the points.
Next up for King was full seasons in Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and NEC in 2012. While he notched just two top six finishes in the Eurocup, finishing thirteenth overall, a great run in the NEC saw him pick up nine podiums including one win en-route to second in the championship.
It was another busy campaign in 2013, the Stoneleigh-based racer combining British Formula 3 and FIA European F3 with Carlin.
It was a successful one too, four wins helping King add his name to the roll call of British F3 champions, whilst he also took an impressive sixth in Europe with four podiums.
King stuck with Carlin for a FIA European F3 again last year, and while he took more podium finishes second time around with seven, he finished up one spot lower in the standings in seventh overall.
Tests in Formula Renault 3.5 and GP2 machinery followed over the winter, with King securing a GP2 drive with Racing Engineering for the upcoming campaign.
Powell joined Formula Renault UK in 2011 as the reigning FR BARC champion, and it proved to be a strong campaign with Manor Competition, producing four top six race results and a top ten championship finish.
For 2012, Powell made the big step up to GP3 with Status Grand Prix. Improving through the campaign, she finished it off with a season’s best of eighth place in the Monza finale, becoming the first and currently only female driver to score points in the series.
Unable to raise the budget required to continue in GP3 full-time in 2013, instead being limited to just one outing at the end of the year, Powell’s full-time racing came back in the UK in the F3 Cup.
It went well for the Chipping Norton-based racer, securing five wins and second in the championship, missing out on the title by just eleven points.
Powell got some more F3 Cup races under her belt in 2014, as well as a one-off outing in British Formula 3, but primarily she returned to Formula Renault action in the Asian national series.
Despite missing the opening meeting of the season, Powell went on to secure her second Formula Renault title thanks to five wins and four other podium finishes with the FRD Racing Team.
At the end of the campaign, Powell was heavily linked to a possible F1 test with Caterham in Abu Dhabi and she heads into 2015 continuing to chase the dream of being the first female F1 driver of the modern generation.
Stevens only completed a four race run in Formula Renault in 2011, but the 2010 title contender still took two podium finishes alongside a run to fourth in the FR2.0 Eurocup.
That is part of an association with Formula Renault competition that stretches back to a debut in the 2008 UK Winter Series, and has continued since with three consecutive seasons in Formula Renault 3.5.
Stevens started with Carlin in ’12, a sole podium finish securing him a solid twelfth in the standings in his rookie year. A switch to Strakka Racing followed, with five podium finishes securing him a current best of fourth in the standings.
While a second campaign with Strakka saw him secure a long-awaited maiden win in the opening race in Monza and a second victory in Jerez, it yielded just a sixth place finish in the standings.
Alongside his recent FR3.5 exploits, Stevens has making a name for himself in the Formula 1 paddock, starting with an outing in the Young Drivers Test at Silverstone with Caterham in 2013.
More test opportunities and simulator work followed last year with Caterham and Marussia, with it culminating in a maiden F1 race drive in the 2014 season finale in Abu Dhabi, the Brit finishing 23rd in a Caterham.
In the process, Stevens became the first driver from his FRUK class to compete in F1, and he could be set to continue at the top level this year after being named by Marussia Manor as their first driver for 2015.
Not forgetting …..
Gilbert was the only driver other than Lynn, Ellinas or Hawksworth to win a race in 2011, and like the eventual champion his next move was Formula 3. After finishing fourth in the German series in 2012 with two wins, Gilbert stepped up to the FIA Formula 3 European Championship.
The Australian notched three top ten finishes in his maiden campaign with Mucke Motorsport, with a move to Fortec for 2014 seeing him break into the top six before leaving F3 mid-season. Five outings in GP3 followed, with a best finish of fourteenth, and he’s secured a return to that series full-time this year with Carlin.
For Hill, son of former F1 world champion Damon, it proved to be a short and sweet racing career. A solid maiden Formula Renault campaign in 2011 saw him finish seventh overall with a best result of fourth, before he won his first race in the Finals Series.
A great campaign in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC in 2012 featured five race wins and a third place championship finish, leading to a move into FIA European F3 for the next year. Despite a second place finish early on, Hill made the decision to retire from motorsport halfway through the season.
After following up tenth in the main UK championship with an impressive second in the season-ending Finals Series, Wells made the decision to seek opportunities in Asia from 2012 onwards. It started well with a successful first season in Formula Pilota, the 23 year old finishing second overall with KCMG.
Budget problems left him making just two outings in 2013, but he returned full-time to the renamed Formula Masters series last year. Wells finished third overall and also made one-off outings in Japanese and British F3, a discipline he’ll be aiming to race in full-time in 2015.
A race-winner in FRUK in 2010, Millroy was a regular top six finisher early in 2011 before leaving the series before the halfway mark. It was at that point he, like Cammish and many drivers of their generation, made the switch from single-seaters to GT racing.
Signed up by Ecurie Ecosse, Millroy made a name for himself with the team in the Blancpain Endurance Series, British GT and ELMS, before switching to the Asian Le Mans Series last season with AAI Motorsports, winning the class title in a BMW Z4 GT3 to hint at a bright GT future.
The remainder of the field consisted of: Oscar King, Pedro Pablo Calbimonte, Alex Walker, Geoff Uhrhane, Felix Serralles, Ed Jones
*All 2011 images: Jakob Ebrey Photography*