And the winner is… Alexander Sims is the 20th young driver of the year to be named since David Coulthard took the first ever McLaren Autosport BRDC Award in 1989.
And it’s a prize worth having – as well as the recognition and the invaluable oxygen for a burgeoning career, it brings Sims £50,000 in prize money, a McLaren Formula One test, an Aston Martin GT1 test and BRDC membership – plus a few extras like a fancy watch and some racewear.
In order to come top in a field that also included Wayne Boyd, Adam Christodoulou, Jason Moore, Dean Stoneman and Aaron Steele, Sims had to demonstrate his skills in a single-seater, a DTM car and an Aston Martin N24 during an evaluation over two days of testing at Snetterton in November.
The finalists were interviewed at the McLaren Technology Centre by former award winner and F1 driver Anthony Davidson, Steve Hallam, McLaren’s Head of Operations, the BTCC and GT racer Darren Turner, veteran commentator Ian Titchmarsh and Autosport’s Marcus Pye and Kevin Turner.
Sims was described by Autosport as having performed superbly across the two-day award shootout test, particularly impressing the judges with his speed in the DTM car.
He was presented with his award at a ceremony held in London on Sunday evening by former world champion Damon Hill.
He said: “To be honest, coming into this night I didn’t know what to expect. I knew I’d done a pretty good job on the track.
“It’s a fantastic achievement and I’ve got to say a massive thank you to my father first and foremost, because he’s been there pushing me throughout my entire career.”
Sims started karting in 1999 at the age of 10 and went on to win four titles. He made his debut in Formula Renault during 2007 with the Manor Competition team which earlier featured the young Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton.
He finished on the podium three times in his rookie season and achieved a spectacular win at Donington Park.
In 2008 he made a bid for the title which most observers expected to be successful. He took pole position in the opening race and went on to score two wins and 12 podiums – more than any other driver in the series.
With these results, he scored more points than any other driver but lost out on the championship due to dropped scores, handing the title to fellow finalist Christodoulou.