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UK Fan Ambassador to Abu Dhabi winner announced
UK Fan Ambassador to Abu Dhabi winner announced
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Sep 2010   |  10:24 am GMT  |  51 comments

We have a winner of our UK Fan Ambassador to Abu Dhabi competition – his name is Neil Donnell, 34, a games developer from Poole in Dorset.

He will travel to Abu Dhabi next week for a two day experience meeting other fans from the UAE and around the world and finding out what it takes to become and F1 driver with a driving programme from karts to the threshold of F1.

Neil was chosen by our panel because of the personality which came through in his girlfriend Tashi’s nomination (number 31). We loved the humour and the heartfelt warmth of her writing and the description of the level of trade off going on in their household over real life vs Formula 1, “He’s also the father of twins. Our babies Peach and Yoshi sleep in F1 racing baby gros. Every night. He wanted to call our son Kimi like his dog, but I put my foot down.”

There are also five runners up all of whom will receive a signed copy of the new book “James Allen on F1 2010” – when it comes out at the end of November.

We had over 400 entries to find a fan to represent the UK in a special event in Abu Dhabi next week.

Drive on the Abu Dhabi GP circuit (Darren Heath)

Yas Marina Circuit’s amazing two day event demonstrates all the mental, physical, and race craft skills that F1 drivers need to master. Nicolas Todt’s ART Grand Prix organisation has structured an exciting programme, bringing in top specialists from the world of F1, who will put Neil through all the behind the scenes training which real F1 drivers undertake – mind management, stress tests, diet, and physical assessments.

He will get tuition in karting, junior single seaters, F3000s, Aston Martin GT4s, and, to cap it all, laps in Yas Marina Circuit’s F1 two-seater. There will also be a ride in a three seater dragster.

We’ll get Neil to shoot a video diary of his experience which we will edit up and show here on JA on F1.

The five runners up each receiving the JA on F1 2010 yearbook, are:

Laura Mohess – (70) clearly an F1 devotee, who had many nominations from friends and colleagues.

Gylen Boardman – (151) who has had a tough time fighting back from a near fatal car crash

Michael Thompson (197) – Who was touchingly nominated by his eight year old daughter, Chloe

A father who was not named by his daughter Felicity (224) but who has had an amazing love affair with cars over the years

Sufyaan Patel (314) who sounds positively evangelical about Formula 1!

Thanks very much to everyone who made nominations. There were many amazing stories and we were overwhelmed by them. We will work hard to do something like this again in the future.

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This man deserves it simply for the names of his children. Brilliant! I hope you both have a great time, and once again, thanks very much for the opportunity, nice to see a competition where you can't be selfish!

Have fun Neil!

Thanks James.


Brilliant initiative! And thanks for a great F1 website...


Congratulations to Neil and all the runners up.


Congratulations. Man, am I jealous!!! I never win anything, except a pot plant at a raffle once. (it died within 2 days).

Seriously though, what a prize! Well done and enjoy...


Really lovely. If only Bernie and the rest of the F1 world did things like this.


I think I can safely write on behalf of everyone here James and give you our thanks for the work you do to bring the fans to the forefront of the sport. It is much appreciated.

well done also to Neil, enjoy it mate.


Well done Neil, great competition James.


What a competition and best wishes to the winner, totally deserved. I just want to say thanks on behalf of my daughters and husband for his being considered, and he is very pleased to be a runner-up and is looking forward to the book 🙂 Hope to catch you all on Twitter on race day #f1


Hi James,

What a superb idea for fans and well done pulling it all together. Hope the guy has a great time - definitely deserves to win!


Truly awesome competition! We non-UK residents are waiting for our chance in the future 😉


I remember reading Tashi's nomination of Neil in the comments a few days ago. At the time I thought he sounded like a deserving winner and I think this was echoed by others' replies to her post. Congratulations to Neil. I'm totally jealous, but cannot wait to see his video diaries.



Congratulations Neil, have a great time and hope we get to see some photos!

Great prize James - the website just keeps getting better.



Congrats Neil!!


Good on you, Neil. And good on you JAF1 & readers for a super feel-good contest. Now don't forget we will want to share big-time: so prepare for videos, pics, twitter feeds and the whole ball of wax when Neil is on site.


Thanks. We'll try. He's definitely going to do a video diary for us, pics etc.


Well done Neil.

Hopefully if you have connections in the gaming industry you'll be able to get hold of a copy of F1 2010 pretty sharpish 🙂


"...put my foot down"

I see what you did there 😉


Twins called Peach and Yoshi?

That is GENIUS.


Methinks our Neil is a Super Mario fan - good job he didn't have boys as they might have ended up as Bowzer and Goomba 🙂


Congratulations :o)


Lucky guy. Jsmes have all the entry numbers been re-set to #1 - I'm wanted to look up the winners but all the posts have number 1.

Brilliant blog by the way.


It does that sometimes on different versions of browsers. I use IE8 at home with no problems, but at work we have IE-ancient and usually (but weirdly not always) all replies are numbered 1


Sure he didn't write it himself?


Hi Allen,

Top site!

Do you think you could write an article on corner cutting? - its seems the rules are applied very unevenly - ie last race with the Williams cutting corners everywhere to stay in

front of the Redbull.

Keep up the great work.


Children called Peach and Yoshi? Could have called the dog Bowser...


It is under consideration (along with Luigi)!


Brilliant Mr. Allen...great generosity towards the F1 fandom & Congrats to Neil, have a great time...Cheers!


Yep, I remember I read Neil girlfriend's nomination and it sounded great. For sure, one of the best candidates.

Amazing the names for the twins.

So Neil, bring us all the comments and videos/pics you can, so we can imagine how it is, and envy you even more!!


Thank you to everyone for the kind comments, Tashi for writing such a lovely nomination and James for running such a fantastic competition.

I will do everything I can to get and share material for everyone that is interested.

I'm going to try and spend a bit of time learning the circuit tonight to increase my chances of success/decrease my chances of a crash!

A very excited (and slightly nervous),



Just enjoy it and have fun.


Well done especially to Tashi !!

regards from your first "seconder"


Good on ya, m8! I am insanely jealous atm so plz do *not get within arms reach!


Great news for the man. Love it! Better hope Nintendo don't have a big stand there, or you'll never get him back to his kids!


Congratulations to Neil what an amazing opportunity. I'd give anything just for the tuition alone..looking forward to seeing the video diary.

One jealous F1 fan 🙂


well done neil, sounds like you made a good decision picking this guy james, i think he will do the uk f1 fans proud! I hope we can get a follow up article shwoing us pics and and maybe a video of his experience!


I just want to join in to congratulate Neil and Tashi. Couldn't be happier for you guys.


Well done to the winner maybe next time to thos other people who entered this great competition am so jelous


Don't really know why my comments get modded off. Any details James?

Once again, fantastic idea and amazing site James! You really fuel our passion. Keep up the great work! You have a sufficient following and should start an online store on the site. There are many here who would be interested in everything from books to memorabilia.


Great competition James. Congrats to Neil.

Look forward to seeing Neil's video and what you come up with next for JA on F1!! Not sure how you could top this (but then I said that last time - after the fan's forum!).

I love the banners you do at the top of the site for each race - I'd love to have the current one as a poster or screen saver, is that possible? Am happy to pay!!


Firstly given the thread - huge congrats to Neil... you seem like a very genuine fan and a very decent bloke. I hope you make the most of it, I'm sure you will.

Second, to fully support this fine idea above re: photo's/banners... Mr Heath's photography is just too good to not exploit further! I'm thinking a nice JAF1 2011 wall calendar - with selected relevant race photo for each month naturally. As well as stand alone commemorative prints / posters with or without finishing positions etc added - limited run for registered site visitors only. (If Uncle Bernie will sanction such merchanising)...


Congratulations Neil. I'm sure you will make the most of it 🙂

I was pleasantly suprised when I found out that my wife had submitted an entry. And even more so when reading that I came runner-up! Can't believe I came so close to being in Abu Dhabi next week!

James, sorry for being so eager but will my wife be notified via email regarding your book? My eagerness is down to the fact that this is a first for me i.e. never won an F1 comp. Seeing as my wife has had better luck than me, I may as well get her to enter from now on.

Anyway, love your blog! Its great to know that you're reading genuine info and news on F1. Keep up the good work. Just wondering, will we see you as part of the BBC F1 crew next year?


Congrats to Neil, what a lucky guy!! Hope you realise your in debt to the misses forever.. Do you get to stay in the hotel that the track runs through? What an amazing prize, im so jealous. Hats off to James and the team for putting it all together, keep up the good work.



many thanks for the competition and for picking my nomination of my dad for runner up prize. Brilliant.

I think I will keep quiet about it and save your book for his Christmas present !

Anyway he is happy today as he got MOT for his Miura after spending hours sorting out the 4o years old electrics.

BTW he used to race as "Martin".

Thanks again,

Felicity Martin-Daly


Simple amazing prize.

Congrats Neil. We are all truely envious!!!

Have a great time and i'm looking forward to seeing the results!


Give the powers that be a nudge to get more if this and other initiatives going to give the fans something back!

Fantastic competition!


Congratulations to the winner and thanks everyone else, some posts were really funny.


Seconded, some very amusing ones. Thanks again to all


EXCELLENT !!!!!!!!! I am happy and proud to say I was the first person to 2nd his nomination 🙂 do I get to accompany him ? LOL.

http://jaonf1.wpengine.com/2010/09/ja-on-f1-looking-for-uk-fan-ambassador-for-all-expenses-paid-trip-to-abu-dhabi/#comments (31) 🙂

So following my success in very early identifying the eventual winner of this competition who wants to know my tip for this years F1 World Driver Championship ?


Excellent and acutely jealous!

James - will we still have the chance to buy a signed copy of your new book like last year, from your preferred seller-website?

Really enjoyed your last book and eagerly anticipating this years. Enjoying your blog!


Great competition and very pleased for the winner. It's very nice for true fans to get a competition to live the dream and I'm sure Neil is still in dreamland. Hope it all goes well and looking forward to the updates on the site.

Great stuff, Thanks again James

Great site.


Congratulations neil! I've won the daily express competition for the same prize! Can't wait to get out there and meet fellow fans and meet the people involved in our favourite sport.

Such an unbelievable opportunity for us to see what it takes. You never believe it could be yourself that wins these things!

Great website James.

Enjoy the race

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