Who will it be this year? Is one young British hopeful on his way to a dream career in the top flight of motorsport?
Autosport magazine has just published the shortlist for this year’s much-coveted young driver of the year award, which it operates in association with McLaren and the British Racing Drivers’ Club. Here are the six finalists:
- James Calado
- Calado, 20, who is backed by the Racing Steps Foundation charity, was runner-up in this year’s Formula Renault UK contest in his second year of competition.
- Adam Christodoulou
- One of last year’s finalists, 20-year-old Christodoulou went to the States after winning last year’s Formula Renault UK championship and is about to contest the Star Mazda title in the last race of the season.
- James Cole
- The 21-year-old Cole was crowned British Formula Ford champion in just his third season of single-seater racing.
- Callum MacLeod
- MacLeod, 21, appears for the second year in the award shortlist. He took the Formula Ford title in 2007 then sat out most of 2008 thanks to a limited budget. He moved to European F3 Open for this season where he has been a front-runner in his class.
- Chrissy Palmer
- Palmer, 18, won Formula Ford’s scholarship class in his first season in the series then went on to establish himself as a frontrunner, with five race wins secured for three different teams.
- Dean Smith
- A finalist in 2007, 21-year-old Smith is this year’s Formula Renault UK champion after sticking with the series for four years. He has also taken a Formula BMW title.
The six finalists must now impress a panel of experts with their driving skills. This year the judging team includes BRDC president Damon Hill, former Honda and Super Aguri F1 driver and sportscar racer Anthony Davidson, 2002 award winner and DTM Mercedes driver Jamie Green, and motorsports commentator Ian Titchmarsh.
Representing McLaren will be Mark Williams, the company’s head of vehicle engineering, while National editor Kevin Turner and columnist Marcus Pye will join the panel on Autosport’s behalf.
The finalists will undergo a fitness test as well as demonstrating their prowess on the track in both open-wheel and tin-top machinery.
The winner is due to be unveiled at this year’s Autosport Awards in London on Sunday December 6 and will receive a cash prize of £50,000, a coveted McLaren F1 test drive, full BRDC membership, and a year’s supply of Puma racewear.
Recent winners include Alexander Sims, last year’s Formula Renault UK runner-up, currently racing in F3 Euroseries, and Oliver Turvey, who is testing with the iSport GP2 team for the second time after a season spent in World Series by Renault.