It’s a coveted award that can provide a footstep into Formula 1, has helped launch the career of world champions and is the most prestigious accolade any junior British racing driver can hope to receive.
And now it’s time to meet the four talented finalists for the 2017 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award: BRDC Formula 3 champion Enaam Ahmed, Formula Renault race winners Max Fewtrell and Dan Ticktum, and Euroformula Open champion Harrison Scott.
There’s plenty at stake, with Dario Franchitti, Jenson Button, Anthony Davidson and Paul di Resta just a handful of the previous winners who have gone on to greater things, while current F1 hopefuls George Russell and Lando Norris have also collected the award in recent years.
This year’s winner will also be offered a McLaren simulator role for 2018, as well as receive a test in a Formula 1 car.
The announcement will be made at the Autosport Awards on December 3, but the nominees have already been put through their paces. Following fitness and simulator work with McLaren, the youngsters took part in a two-day, closed-door Silverstone test (no phones allowed!) – in which they drove several cars including a Mercedes DTM and an F2.
And ahead of the big day next month, the four finalists joined Sky Sports F1 for a special sit-down interview as Natalie Pinkham got to know this latest batch of British talent that little bit better…
It’s been nothing short of a sensational year for Enaam Ahmed. After making his debut in the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship last year, finishing fifth, the 17-year-old made the format his own in 2017 with a superb title victory.
Not only that, but by claiming a mammoth 13 race wins in the season with Carlin, Ahmed broke an F3 record previously held by childhood hero and F1 legend Ayrton Senna.
But while he credits Senna with igniting his interest as a youngster, Ahmed says he only started racing after a certain four-time world champion claimed his first crown.
“When Lewis Hamilton won the title in Brazil in 2008, I drove a go-kart for the first time the next day,” Ahmed, the youngest of this year’s finalists, said.
“My family have nothing to do with racing, but even though I didn’t like the go-kart at first and I cried quite a few times – it was a lot of fun about a year later! I started doing it properly and here I am today.”
And though Hamilton could be the only British driver on the F1 grid next season, Ahmed is adamant there is British talent coming through the ranks and says two previous winners of the BRDC Award are creating a pathway.
“Lando and George are the best drivers of their generation and Lando has set a new benchmark for other drivers, winning everything he’s ever done,” Ahmed added.
“I’m really happy with what he’s done because it shows the capability of what young drivers can do – just like Max Verstappen. It gives me encouragement because it shows that the sky’s the limit.”…