While £100,000 in your pocket and the honour of joining the award’s roll call of winners are certainly perks of winning the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, for the young driver successful each year, the part of the prize fund they look forward to most is the Formula One test.
Out of all the drivers that compete in junior single-seater formula across the globe every year, the percentage that get the chance to drive a modern Formula One car is miniscule. That’s what makes the award prize so very special.
The latest driver to receive the potentially once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was Jake Dennis, the 2012 victor getting the chance to test a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes at the home of British Motorsport, Silverstone.
Watched on by his friends and family, and the 2013 award finalists and judges, the 2012 Formula Renault 2.0 NEC champion immediately impressed behind the wheel of the MP4-26 chassis that won the dramatic 2011 Canadian Grand Prix in the hands of Jenson Button.
TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk caught up with Dennis, who’s recently announced he’s competing in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship with Carlin this season, at this year’s Autosport International Show to find out how he found it:
“It was a surreal experience. When I first went full throttle down the back straight, it was unbelievable, my head went right back into the headrest and it just kept going and going, I’d select the next gear and it just got faster and faster and faster.
“The grip was unbelievable, especially with it being dry. They said it hadn’t been dry for these award tests for years, so to get the chance to go out on slicks and feel the true grip was amazing. The Pirelli tyres did start to go off, and I started to feel the traction fade away in the second and third gear corners, which taught me a lot.
“You have so much to take in and adapt to in such a short space of time, with so many different buttons on the steering wheel you had to press, and the fact everything came at you so much quicker. I feel I did well.
“Not many people can say they’ve driven a Formula One car, and now I’ve been in it, I just want to get into Formula One even more. It was just an amazing experience, it made my year, and drives me to push even harder this season and beyond.”