“As Tough As Expected” – Analysing The BTCC Debut Of Nic Hamilton

Taking the spotlight away from his brother on the race track most recently, Nicholas Hamilton said that he “took no stupid risks” on his maiden Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship weekend at Croft Circuit.

The brother of two-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton made his BTCC bow for AmDTuning at the North Yorkshire venue two weekends ago, netting three finishes from three and scoring a best result of 22nd in the final outing.

While the rookie’s pace and results improved throughout the weekend, the man himself looked back fondly on the experience, admitting that he felt “huge improvements” compared to test outings prior to the event.

“It was as tough as I expected it to be”, Hamilton said. “I did what I needed to do when you consider it was my first race start, the first time I’ve run down to turn one in the pack and so on.

“The track was a lot different to [Saturday], so I need to build up my confidence again and there is certainly more to come – I know I can go quicker.

“I’m still learning all the time and it was tough again. I’m gaining in confidence and it’s all about keeping out of trouble and not taking any stupid risks.”

Hamilton finishes all three races - Photo: Craig McAllister - CMC-Images
Hamilton finishes all three races – Photo: Craig McAllister – CMC-Images

Risk-taking is something that AmD-Tuning team boss, Shaun Hollamby, had factored in when bringing the youngster to his squad prior to the 2015 campaign, the former BTCC racer electing for a part-time programme for Hamilton to allow for more effective prepartion in the Audi S3 leading to his debut.

“I think any rookie coming into a series as competitive as BTCC would benefit actually from having a proper testing programme in the right conditions rather than throwing them into a race situation”, said Hollamby to TCF, who praised Hamilton’s performance.

“What we want to do now is push him forward and then move him up the grid in BTCC.”

After practice and qualifying concluded with little drama to speak of, Hamilton found himself able to get into the groove quickly on the Sunday afternoon in North Yorkshire.

Photos: btcc.net
Photos: btcc.net

Qualifying just 4.1s off the pace of Sam Tordoff – driving a West Surrey Racing BMW that dominated the weekend – was certainly an encouraging start for a competitor with so much to overcome, particularly when you consider that he was previously confined to a wheelchair.

A finish in the opening race also left the man himself smiling, finishing ahead even of a tactical Jason Plato before backing off following contact with a tyre barrier late on.

Hamilton added: “The race itself went okay and I’m happy with what I did. I planned to pick up places where I could, which is what I was doing, and it was good to run with the field and see how others were driving. I made a small mistake a few laps from the end when I clipped a tyre stack and I thought the car was damaged, so I eased off a bit and that was when the leaders caught and lapped me.

“I made up quite a few places into turn one but then just wanted to focus on myself and what I have to do, so when others tried to make a move, I was happy to let them go.”

Mistakes learned, Hamilton was not to be lapped for the remainder of the day, and comfortably so. In fact, three finishes were on the board by sunset as the action concluded at Croft, results of 25th and 22nd rounding off the AmD man’s debut.

“No Need To Take Risks At This Stage”

Summing up the action, Hamilton added: “With the position I’m in at the moment, there was no point trying to defend against an aggressive move and risk damaging the car when the most important thing is to finish the races.

Photo: btcc.net
Photo: btcc.net

“Race three was really positive as it was the first time I’d done a race on the soft tyre and I had to learn about how it would perform as we’d only done a few runs in testing.

“It all came down to experience. I wasn’t quite as consistent in my times and the performance of the tyres dropped away, but it was good to pick up another solid finish.”

Hamilton will not be present for the meeting at Knockhill, but will next race at Snetterton next month (8/9 August).

Analysing his own progress, Hamilton said the maiden race weekend in BTCC machinery was, albeit eye-opening, hugely positive.

“Overall, the progress I think I’ve made from the first test at Brands Hatch to the end of the third race here has been huge and I’m only going to get better with more time in the car and more experience.”