Behind the scenes at the Philips Driving Academy prizewinners’ day

As competitions go, this has to be one of the big ones: enter an online game of reflexes and win a drive at Silverstone in a Formula One car, courtesy of Williams’ sponsor Philips.

Prizewinners and support crew at Silverstone

It’s not quite as simple as that, of course – the web-based test is only the first stage in a process that also includes a day of testing in all manner of racing cars and then a second being comprehensively assessed at the Williams F1 factory.

But for the winner – Chicago student Rob Tarlton – the prize made the toil worth it. A warm-up run in a Lotus Exige, then more training in a Formula Three car. Coaching from Superleague driver Jonathan Kennard and F1 pilot Kazuki Nakajima.

And finally five laps flat out around Silverstone’s National circuit, alone in the cockpit of one of the world’s most powerful racing cars.

BritsOnPole has been following this year’s competition since it was announced, and we were at Silverstone to see Rob take his prize and chat to him afterwards. Here is our coverage:

The fan, the F1 car – and the experience of a lifetime
Imagine this: instead of watching the British Grand Prix from the safety of your sofa at home, or sat in the Silverstone grandstands with ear protectors and a bacon sarnie, you’re suddenly transported to the pitlane, strapped into a powerful F1 car, and told ‘off you go’. Reckon you could cope?
The Philips/Williams F1 Driving Academy winner’s day in photos
After months of preparation and anticipation, it came down to this: one powerful car, one iconic race track and one amateur driver about to go where millions of fans would give their eye teeth to follow. Except, as this photo gallery shows, there was far more to it than just one man and one machine.
Rob Tarlton’s F1 drive: what the experts thought
So, what happens if you put a novice driver in an F1 car? It turns out that, with plenty of expert help and assistance, he does just fine. Here are three of the people who worked to make Rob Tarlton’s prize a success.
Q&A with Rob Tarlton
Rob Tarlton, a 21-year-old aerospace engineering student from the University of Illinois, USA, flew over to Britain last week with his twin brother Tom. We had the chance to chat with him during his prize day, at the point when he had been out in a F3 car but was yet to attempt his F1 drive. Here’s what he had to say.
 
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