When Lewis Williamson picked up the 2010 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award on Sunday, it capped a perfect hat trick for front running Formula Renault UK team Manor Competition. The Nottinghamshire squad has now produced the last three winners of the prestigious award, continuing its reputation for producing some of the most talented young drivers in the country.
The award capped off a sensational season for 21-year-old Williamson. He took five wins – more than any other driver – four other podiums and five pole positions on his way to second place in the 2010 Formula Renault UK Championship, narrowly missing out on the coveted title.
Williamson becomes the 22nd winner of the award after impressing the judges with his skills behind the wheel of a Formula 2 machine and a Mercedes DTM car at Silverstone. As he looks to move into GP3 in 2011, the award is a dream come true for Williamson:
“When they announced my name last night I could hardly get up from my chair as the table went about five feet in the air and I nearly ended up with a black eye as everybody started hugging me!”, he said, “When we got to the venue I didn't get my hopes up and I wasn't feeling nervous – we had nothing to lose. To win the award is amazing. It's all very emotional and difficult to put into words.”
For Scotmsan Williamson, the moment was made extra special with fellow countryman David Coulthard and Paul Di Resta presenting him with the award:
“To be given the opportunity to even sit in the same room as some of the great names in attendance last night was something else but to receive the award from David and Paul, two hugely talented and successful Scots, was unbelievable”, added Williamson, “For them to acknowledge what I'm doing is a huge moment in my life.
“So many people have asked me, 'what is it about Manor – how do they produce so many winners of the McLaren Autosport award' and the answer is simple. Tony and Sarah [Shaw] and the whole team don't just teach you how to drive, they teach you how to approach the racing too.
“The whole package they offer makes you better on track and a better person off track. To have had three Manor drivers win the award for the last three years and to look at all of the success the team has had over the years speaks for itself – all credit to them.”
Manor team co-owner Sarah Shaw said: “We're really happy for Lewis, he absolutely deserves this. We've seen him evolve over the course of the year from a driver who was blindingly quick, but prone to making the odd error, to one able to channel his aggression into absolute determination to succeed and the calmness to soak up immense pressure. He has all of the attributes to go all the way.
“From a team perspective, it's no coincidence so many of our drivers have won the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award and it confirms to us our methods are effective in preparing drivers and enabling them to go on to achieve at the highest level.”
Williamson follows in the footsteps of an established list of Manor drivers who have won the award before going on to more success. Their first winner was Di Resta in 2004, who after finishing third in Formula Renault, has won the 2006 Formula 3 Euroseries title and this years DTM crown, and is widely tipped to get a Formula One race seat next season. Oliver Jarvis won the award in 2005 after winning the Formula Renault championship for the team. He has since won the 2007 Macau F3 Grand Prix and become a frontrunner in DTM.
The two most recent winners were Alexander Sims in 2008 and Dean Smith in 2009. Sims became Formula Renault vice champion and has now graduated to the F3 Euroseries, while Smith won the Formula Renault championship and enjoyed a successful season in GP3 in 2010.
Their continued success in the award underlines Manor's superb driver development work, which has continued to give their drivers the necessary skills to succeed in their future careers. Successful graduates from the Manor stable include the 2007 and 2008 Formula One World Champions Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton, who won the 2000 and 2003 Formula Renault UK championships respectively with Manor.