The six finalists of the 2015 McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award were announced two weeks ago, with Jack Aitken, Ben Barnicoat, Ricky Collard, Jake Hughes, Will Palmer and Toby Sowery receiving the news that they were the nominees for this year’s prestigious Award.
The deserving Brit that is crowned on the evening of Sunday 6 December will join an illustrious list of previous winners. As the countdown begins, AUTOSPORT is proud to look back on a selection of the 26 recipients of the Award, who can count among them Formula 1 Grand Prix and Championship winners, Le Mans victors and Indy 500 stars.
1989 – David Coulthard
The first ever recipient of the Award, David Coulthard was awarded the prize based on his Formula Ford performances. Coulthard then starred in F3 before making it to F1 in 1994. He went on to score 13 Grand Prix wins for Williams and McLaren and went on to race for Mercedes in the DTM.
1992 – Dario Franchitti
Dario Franchitti went from Formula Opel Lotus and British F3 to the DTM, where he proved rapid. He then made a successful switch to American single-seaters, becoming an IndyCar legend. Franchitti has won the Indy 500 three times and in 2011 took his fourth IndyCar crown.
1996 – Darren Turner
Formula Renault racer Darren Turner moved into F3 after winning the Award and was then a winner in the inaugural Formula Palmer Audi season. A long-term F1 test driver, Turner also raced in DTM, ASCAR, and the BTCC, but has established a sportscar career with Aston Martin, winning GT1 at Le Mans twice and racing for the company’s LMP squad.
1998 – Jenson Button
Karting ace Jenson Button exploded into car racing in 1998, winning the British Formula Ford Championship and the Award. Button was a British F3 race winner the following season and was in F1 by 2000. He went on to win the F1 World Championship with Brawn in 2009 and still races in F1 for McLaren.
1999 – Gary Paffett
Formula Vauxhall Lotus Champion Gary Paffett starred in Formula 3 before moving into the DTM, while also becoming test driver for McLaren in F1. He took the DTM crown in 2005 and has also been runner-up in the series four times.
2000 – Anthony Davidson
Formula Ford Festival winner Anthony Davidson was a British F3 frontrunner in his rookie year. He became a BAR Honda test driver and made it into an F1 race seat for two races in 2002 with Minardi. He was also part of the Super Aguri team in 2007-08 before moving to GTs and sportscars. Now an LMP1 ace with works Toyota squad.
2004 – Paul di Resta
Another winner in Formula Renault UK, di Resta moved to F3 in 2005 and took the Euro Series crown the following year. He then moved into the DTM with Mercedes and became a star, taking the title in 2010. He graduated to F1 with Force India in 2011 and put in an impressive rookie campaign. Returned to the DTM with Mercedes in 2014.
2005 – Oliver Jarvis
Formula Renault UK Champion Oliver Jarvis moved to F3 after taking the Award and won the F3 Macau GP in 2007. He impressed in A1GP before joining the DTM with Audi in 2008. He is a winner of the Sebring 12 hours and Daytona 24 hours and in 2015 was promoted to compete in the World Endurance Championship for Audi Sport.
2011 – Oliver Rowland
Oliver Rowland graduated to car racing with an impressive karting CV. Despite being hit by personal tragedy – the death of his father and of mentor Martin Hines – Rowland became an exciting performer in his first year of Formula Renault UK. He has competed in Formula Renault 2.0, the GP2 Series and Formula Renault 3.5 Series, the championship in which he took overall victory in 2015.
2012 – Jake Dennis
Jake Dennis became the 24th recipient of the McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award in 2012, the same year that he won the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC Championship. He is currently a multiple race winner in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship.
2014 – George Russell
Last year’s winner of the Award was George Russell. His debut season in cars saw him take the 2014 BRDC Formula 4 Championship title, which later led to him becoming victorious in the 2014 McLaren Autosport Award, the youngest ever recipient. In 2015 he became a race winner in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship.
BRDC President Derek Warwick, who is also Chairman of the McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award judging panel, said: “The BRDC, McLaren, Autosport and our partners are very proud of the achievements of the previous 26 winners of the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award. From the 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button to multiple Grand Prix winner David Coulthard and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti, each has contributed to the sport and represent some of the best drivers this country has produced. We are excited by this year’s six finalists and look forward to seeing how they perform over the two days of testing at Silverstone, where they will be stretched to limit with MSV’s F2 cars, Mercedes DTM and the McLaren GT3. This will be the first time that they drive cars with 500bhp plus. They also run in the Base simulator and Porsche fitness programmes.”