McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award winner to be crowned at AUTOSPORT Awards

Britain’s brightest young motor sport prospect set for major career boostAlexander Albon, Ben Barnicoat, Sennan Fielding, Seb Morris, George Russell and Harrison Scott the six finalistsWinner to be announced at glittering AUTOSPORT Awards this weekendThe 2014 McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award winner will be announced at the star-studded AUTOSPORT Awards ceremony at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel this Sunday (7 December), with the recipient set to follow in the wheeltracks of motor racing legends Jenson Button, Dario Franchitti and David Coulthard.Arguably the most prestigious accolade in the junior echelons of the sport, the McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award has in the past set many a gifted young driver on the fast track towards motor racing superstardom. British Racing Drivers’ Club President Derek Warwick affirms that this year’s six finalists are as talented a crop as has ever been seen.In alphabetical order, they are Alexander Albon, Ben Barnicoat, Sennan Fielding, Seb Morris, George Russell and Harrison Scott – and all were selected based upon their achievements in 2014.Albon, 18, was a consistent front-runner on his way to third position in the fiercely-disputed Formula Renault Eurocup with KTR; 17-year-old Racing Steps Foundation protégé Barnicoat belied his lack of experience to clinch the coveted Formula Renault NEC crown with Fortec Motorsports as a car racing rookie; and Fielding (18) was a four-time race-winner with HHC Motorsport in BRDC Formula 4, tallying the series' first ever victory hat-trick.Second-time award finalist Morris, 18, was a title challenger and double race-winner in Formula Renault NEC with Fortec Motorsports; Russell – the youngest of the sextet at just 16 and like Barnicoat, a rookie – scooped the BRDC Formula 4 spoils with Lanan Racing and finished fourth overall in FR Alps; whilst 18-year-old Scott fought tooth-and-nail for the British Formula Ford laurels, concluding the campaign as runner-up following five triumphs and 24 podium finishes for Falcon Motorsport.Fittingly, the six drivers came together for a circuit showdown at the celebrated ‘Home of British Motor Racing’, Silverstone. After sighting laps in a McLaren MP4-12C road car, they each got behind the wheel of Mercedes’ 500bhp DTM tin-top contender, McLaren’s new MP4-12C GT3 sportscar and the Williams-built Formula 2 single-seater run by Jonathan Palmer's MSV team. They were assessed on their capabilities in several different scenarios, from qualifying runs to short race simulations.The on-track test was accompanied by a rigorous physical fitness assessment at the Porsche Human Performance Centre and interviews with the expert judging panel, representing all three of the award’s partners – McLaren, AUTOSPORT and the BRDC – and combining a blend of successful drivers, F1 technical knowledge and data analysis, experienced followers of the sport and those with an overview of national level motor racing.The panel was chaired this year by former F1 racer and World Sportscar Champion Warwick, two-time BTCC Champion Jason Plato, team boss and erstwhile GT racer Andrew Kirkaldy, McLaren head of vehicle engineering Mark Williams, veteran commentator Ian Titchmarsh and Kevin Turner, editor of AUTOSPORT’s sister publication Motorsport News. Whichever driver secures the illustrious prize will not only win £100,000, a McLaren F1 test, full BRDC membership and an Arai GP-6 RC carbon helmet – but will also firmly establish himself as a bona fide star of the future. Warwick reveals that a deserving winner has now been chosen – but that the selection process was far from easy.“Every year, I never cease to be amazed and impressed by just how competitive this award is,” he reflected. “These guys seem to get younger and younger but more and more mature at the same time. I find it incredible to see drivers as young as 16 and 17 – some in only their first season of car racing – climb behind the wheel of a full-blooded DTM car and set a stunning pace within barely a handful of laps. Each of them got out with the biggest smile you’ve ever seen!“It was a very strong field; they all did their homework by speaking to previous award-winners, displayed an extremely professional approach and understood what was required. We prepared them well with some simulator work and track time at Bedford Autodrome to make sure they were physically and mentally in a good place – and then we unleashed them.“Raw speed was of course paramount, and beyond that we looked at their fitness and media skills. Gradually, the top three emerged and then we whittled them down to the final two, and at that point the debate kicked off in the judges’ room to determine the winner. It was as close as I’ve ever seen, but what I can say is that the driver who has won was spectacular – very fast from the very first lap of the competition – and consistently quick across all of the disciplines. He has a bright future ahead of him.”The McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award was inaugurated in 1989, when future F1 star Coulthard won. The aim is to boost the prospects of young British racing talent, and the list of former winners is impressive. As well as Coulthard, 2009 F1 World Champion Button, former Force India F1 driver Paul di Resta, multiple IndyCar Champion Franchitti, DTM protagonists Gary Paffett and Jamie Green, World Endurance Champion Anthony Davidson and fellow sportscar aces Oliver Gavin, Jonny Kane and Darren Turner are all among the 25 previous winners.