This Sunday at the annual Autosport Awards in London, the 25th winner of the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Award will be announced, with one of Britain’s brightest young racing talents set to join a prestigious roll-call of winners and earn their first opportunity to test a Formula One car.
The award, introduced back in 1989 to recognise and reward the achievements of young British single-seater drivers, is one of the most coveted awards available in British motorsport, with this year’s competition being one of the hardest to call in recent years.
The winner will secure an incredible prize fund of £100,000, full membership of the British Racing Drivers’ Club, a brand new Arai GP-6 RC carbon helmet and a Formula One test drive at Silverstone with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.
As well as this, the winning driver will join a select group of award winners that includes inaugural victor David Coulthard (1989), Dario Franchitti (1992), Jenson Button (1998), Gary Paffett (1999), Anthony Davidson (2000), Paul Di Resta (2004) and most recent winner Jake Dennis (2012).
The awards process saw the six drivers tested on their fitness, simulator work and on-track driving.
All the drivers spent a day at Porsche Human Performance to have their fitness assessed, as well as half a day with Base Performance Simulators, driving the Silverstone circuit and a fantasy circuit, to assess how quickly they learn a new track.
The two days of on-track action started with sighter laps in a McLaren MP4-12C road car, their opportunity to learn the Silverstone International circuit.
The busy opening day then included three sessions in their own, identical Formula Two cars, followed by outings in a Mercedes DTM car and a McLaren GT3 racer.
Day two focused solely on the 425bhp F2 cars, with the drivers now allowed to make changes to the car over the course of the day as they tackled two final sessions.
The process ended at McLaren’s HQ, with the finalists all interviewed by the judging panel, which consisted of BRDC chairman Derek Warwick, circuit commentator Ian Titchmarsh, BTCC racer Jason Plato, Autosport’s Kevin Turner, McLaren’s head of engineering Mark Williams and former winner Andrew Kirkaldy.
18 years old
2nd Formula Renault 2.0 NEC
The step up from InterSteps to European Formula Renault competition is a big one, but one that Aitken made superbly. While he wasn’t able to pick up a race win, he came close many times with five podium finishes helping him to the runners-up spot.
19 years old
1st BRDC Formula 4 Championship
Hughes’ debut car-racing campaign was nothing short of sensational, emerging from the hugely-competitive inaugural F4 championship on top. A brilliant run of eleven top four finishes in the final fifteen races, coupled with a total of four wins, gave him the crown.
18 years old
1st Protyre Formula Renault Championship
Middlehurst’s nomination for the award came after a dominant campaign in Formula Renault. In his second season of ‘slicks and wings’ racing, the 2011 national Formula Ford 1600 champion took thirteen podium finishes in sixteen races, including six wins, en-route to the title.
17 years old
2nd BRDC Formula 4 Championship
After being a multiple race-winner and Winter Series champion in Formula Renault in 2012, Morris was a pre-season favourite for the F4 title. While unable to take the honours, Morris impressed with ten podiums including one win taking him to the runners-up spot.
19 years old
1st Formula Renault 2.0 NEC
With backing from the Caterham F1 driver development programme, there were high hopes for Parry this season and the reigning InterSteps champion certainly delivered. A superb run of eleven consecutive top four finishes, including five wins, ensured he comfortably won the title.
16 years old
3rd BRDC Formula 4 Championship
Robertson enjoyed a sensational maiden single-seater campaign this season, with the reigning Ginetta Junior champion running at the front of the field from the off. Three wins, including a sensational double on the final weekend, nearly got him the vice-champion’s spot.
*The Checkered Flag will be announcing the winner of the 2013 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award live from the Autosport Awards in London this Sunday (1st December), with a in-depth interview with the winner to follow in the new year*