09 Oct 2014
THE SIX FINALISTS FOR THE 2014 MCLAREN AUTOSPORT BRDC AWARD REVEALED
The selected drivers are Formula Renault Eurocup frontrunner Alexander Albon, FR NEC champion Ben Barnicoat and race winner Seb Morris, BRDC Formula 4 title contenders George Russell and Sennan Fielding and British Formula Ford points leader Harrison Scott. Five are finalists for the first time, with NEC race winner Morris returning for a second year in succession.
They will be assessed in Formula 2, DTM Mercedes and McLaren GT3 machinery on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit later this month. Each will also have access to a McLaren MP4-12C road car for sighting laps.
The judging panel includes ex-Formula 1 racer and BRDC president Derek Warwick, British Touring Car Championship star Jason Plato, team boss and former GT racer Andrew Kirkaldy, McLaren head of vehicle engineering Mark Williams, leading circuit commentator Ian Titchmarsh, and Motorsport News editor Kevin Turner.
The winner, who will be revealed at the AUTOSPORT Awards in December, will receive Â£100,000, a McLaren F1 test drive, full BRDC membership, and an Arai GP-6 RC carbon helmet.
2014: Fourth in Formula Renault Eurocup with KTR
The London-born Thai is in his third year of the two-litre Formula Renault Eurocup series, having stepped straight into the highly-competitive category out of karting.
There have been no wins in the World Series by Renault championship but he claimed three podiums and did bag a victory in one of three guest appearances in the Formula Renault Northern European Cup.
He says: "I had no idea I was in contention. My first year in Formula Renault was a really difficult one, so the second was almost like my learning year. This season we really worked on the areas I needed to improve and over the winter we thought it'd be pretty good. "The McLaren GT car will be interesting. All I've ever driven are karts and single-seaters."
2014: Formula Renault NEC champion with Fortec Motorsports
The latest Racing Steps Foundation-backed karting superstar to step into cars, Barnicoat won the Formula Renault BARC Autumn Cup title on his single-seater debut at the end of last year.He made the transition to full-time racing with aplomb in 2014, despite going straight into European competition, and bagged the FR NEC title in impressive fashion.
He says: "It's such an amazing thing to top off my first year in cars, I'm over the moon. Just to be part of it goes down in history. It's something a lot of great racing names have done. "It was on my radar. I'm really looking forward to the F2 because it'll be a lot faster than anything I've driven before. It'll be challenging but a great experience. Hopefully I'll be able to learn fast."
2014: Currently third in BRDC Formula 4 with HHC Motorsport
Fielding was runner-up in the 2012 Ginetta Junior title race to former Award finalist Charlie Robertson, but his graduation to single-seaters last season was halted after two BRDC F4 rounds. This year he has been at the sharp end throughout, and four wins from nine races since the summer - including the series' first-ever hat-trick - has propelled him into the title fight.
He says: "It's something I've been trying to get all year. It's a great accomplishment just to be nominated. Now I've been given the opportunity I need to make the most of it. I've got to show what I can do. "My races in Italian F4 show I can jump into any car and be competitive. Hopefully that will give me an advantage."
2014: Fourth in FR ALPS; currently second in BRDC F4 with Lanan Racing
Another karting star stepping into cars for the first time, Russell's season began racing a Peugeot 206 and a Citroen 2CV - against Barnicoat - as he raced to get the required licence signatures to compete in Formula Renault ALPS. He finished fourth there, despite missing a round through illness, but his domestic efforts have been even more fruitful - he lies second in BRDC F4 with one round remaining and four wins to his name.
He says: "You can't think about the Award while you're racing, you just focus on your job. It's a great honour.
"Driving the DTM car will be a great experience. It's a really quick car with a lot of downforce. I'm also looking forward to the F2 - I hear it is a bit of a beast to drive!"
2014: Currently joint-first in British Formula Ford with Falcon Motorsport
Runner-up to runaway champion Dan Cammish last year, Scott started his sophomore single-seater campaign impressively and won three races before the summer break.
A car issue has hindered his charge since, but metronomic consistency has kept the 18-year-old atop the points and his Falcon team is confident the car is now sorted ahead of this weekend's Brands Hatch showdown.
He says: "Wow, that's amazing! Last year I was a possible nominee and I didn't make it.
"It's such a prestigious award and to drive any of the cars will be great. The F2 car will have a lot more aero than I am used to."