Oliver Turvey, a 21-year-old from Penrith, who is in his fourth year as an undergraduate here in the Department, has managed to juggle a successful international motor sport career with his engineering degree. In recognition of his achievements Cambridge recently awarded him an extraordinary Blue, he made history at Silverstone as it is the first time that a Full Blue has been awarded for motor sport. A Full Blue is the highest honour that may be bestowed on a Cambridge sportsman or woman, and is a much-coveted and prestigious prize. In general, the Full Blue standard is approximately that of being successful at a national level of student competition, and the Half Blue standard is that of being successful at county or regional level.
It has been hard work but having an engineering degree is a big advantage. F1 is becoming more and more technical and the relationship between a driver and engineer is very important.Oliver Turvey
The award was presented to Oliver by the secretary of the University Men's Blues Committee, Dr John Little, who said: "We judged Oliver's outstanding achievements on the race track to be wholly worthy of this, the first ever Full Blue for motorsport."
Oliver started racing karts at the age of eight and won two national titles. He moved up to cars in the Formula BMW series, but lack of funds threatened to end his career prematurely. He finished second in the championship, despite missing six of the races, and was awarded the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award, which brought him to the attention of The Racing Steps Foundation who have picked up the £500,000 GBP bill that enabled him to compete in F3 this year. He has also received the Dunhill Future Champion prize from Racing Steps Foundation ambassador John Surtees, an award which aims to highlight the most promising British driver.
“It has been an extraordinary year for me in more ways than one,” says Oliver. “The Racing Steps Foundation UK, a group which identifies and funds Britain’s best drivers, stepped in and saved my racing career with a fully funded drive with Carlin Motorsport. I’ve come through my third year at university successfully. And now I have been awarded a Full Blue.”
This season Oliver has finished as Vice-Champion with 4 wins and 12 podium finishes which is more than any other driver in the British F3 International Championship series.
He said: “It’s been tough fitting in motor racing and course work over the last three years. I’ve had to be very determined and focused, and be prepared to make a lot of sacrifices.
“If I have three or four days away racing, I would have to fit in course work around that. There was a lot of burning of the midnight oil. Sometimes I worked all night to meet a deadline.
“Cambridge is one of the top universities in the world and very successful academically so I wouldn’t have missed that experience for the world. It’s rare for a driver to be studying at university but I’m hoping that will be my trademark that sets me apart from other drivers.
“Most racing drivers and people I race against haven’t continued with their education and all they do is race.
“It has been hard work but having an engineering degree is a big advantage. F1 is becoming more and more technical and the relationship between a driver and engineer is very important.
“Top F1 drivers know about cars. Michael Schumacher was a good example of that as he knew everything about his car, and Lewis Hamilton puts a lot of work in on all aspects of his career.
“I can communicate much better with the engineers and help to develop the car and get more out of it.”