The McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award was inaugurated in 1989, when future Formula 1 star David Coulthard won. Since then it has grown to include driving, simulation and fitness tests for six finalists each year, with the winner being announced at the AUTOSPORT Awards every December.
The aim is to boost the prospects of young British racing talent and the list of former winners is impressive. As well as David Coulthard, 2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button, former Force India driver Paul di Resta, multiple IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti, DTM aces Gary Paffett and Jamie Green, and sportscar stars Anthony Davidson, Oliver Gavin, Jonny Kane, and Darren Turner are all among the 25 previous winners.
2014’s six finalists tested at Silverstone in late October, in F2, Mercedes DTM and McLaren GT3 machinery. Each also had access to a McLaren MP4-12C road car for sighting laps. Interviews with the judging panel then followed.
The 2014 winner, revealed as George Russell at the AUTOSPORT Awards in London, recieves £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.
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.
2014: Fourth 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.
2014: Third in Formula Renault NEC with Fortec Motorsport
After following up his title-winning Ginetta Junior campaign in 2011 with race-winning exploits in Formula Renault BARC and BRDC F4, Morris made the move abroad for this season.
Set-up issues blighted the first half of his FR NEC season but Morris starred with his second win of the season and three more podiums in the final five races.
George Russell - WINNER
2014: Fourth in FR ALPS; BRDC F4 champion 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 - taking the BRDC F4 crown.
2014: British Formula Ford runner-up 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 kept the 18-year-old atop the points until the Brands Hatch showdown.
All three partners – McLaren, AUTOSPORT, and the British Racing Drivers’ Club – are represented each year in the expert judging panel.
The judges usually consist of a mix of successful drivers, F1 technical expertise, experienced followers of the sport, and those with an overview of national-level motorsport.
The chairman of the judges this year is former F1 racer, 1992 world sportscar champion, and BRDC president Derek Warwick. Team boss and former GT racer Andrew Kirkaldy along with double British Touring Car champion Jason Plato join him on the driving expertise part of the panel.
McLaren head of vehicle engineering Mark Williams brings the F1 technical knowledge and data analysis, while veteran commentator Ian Titchmarsh has seen the finalists in action during the season and is a long-serving judge for the award.
Motorsport News editor Kevin Turner, who was AUTOSPORT’s national editor for nearly four years, completes the team.
The test drives are a crucial part of the McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award. They take place at Silverstone, the home of the British Grand Prix, and the six finalists get their hands on three different cars.
Formula 2 returns for another appearance in the tests, with each driver having access to their own Williams-built machine. A series of different sessions, such as qualifying runs and short race simulations, challenges the drivers in a number of different ways.
DTM Mercedes provide a high-powered tin-top challenge, while McLaren’s new MP4-12C GT3 machine gives them a taste of GT racing.
Each driver will also have access to a McLaren MP4-12C road car for sighting laps.
McLaren MP4-12C GT3
Engine: 3.8-litre V8 twin-turbo
Power: 500bhp approx
Williams JPH1B F2
Engine: 1800cc four-cylinder turbo
Power: 425bhp (480bhp with overboost)
Mercedes C-class DTM
Engine: four-litre normally aspirated V8
Weight: 1100kg (including driver)
2013 - Matt Parry
After an impressive karting career, which included the Super 1 National Rotax Max Junior title, Parry stepped up to the British Formula Ford Championship in 2011 and won the Award in 2013.
2012 - Jake Dennis
Became the 24th recipient of the McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award in 2012 and the youngest yet at 17 years, five months and 16 days old.
2011 - Oliver Rowland
Graduated to car racing with an impressive karting CV. Despite being hit by personal tragedy – the death of his father and of mentor Martin Hines – Rowland became an exciting performer in his first year of Formula Renault UK.
2010 - Lewis Williamson
Started car racing in 2008 and was Formula Renault UK runner-up in 2010, scoring more wins than anyone else. Won a race in GP3 in 2011, and tried Formula Renault 3.5 for 2012.
2009 - Dean Smith
After winning Formula BMW in 2005, and being Formula Renault UK runner-up (and Award finalist) in 2007, Smith almost gave up on single-seaters, but instead won the FR UK crown in 2009. Has raced in GP3 for the last two years.
2008 - Alexander Sims
Finished second in Formula Renault UK in his second season and was then a frontrunner in the F3 Euro Series for the next two years. Was a race winner in GP3 in 2011 on his way to sixth in the standings, and took a British F3 win on a one-off appearance.
2007 - Stefan Wilson
Was second in Formula Palmer Audi in his first year of car racing. After a year in British F3, Wilson moved to Indy Lights in 2009 and finished third in the series in 2011.
2006 - Oliver Turvey
Funding issues hampered Turvey’s early career, but he was runner-up in Formula BMW UK in his part-campaign in 2006. Moved to the Formula Renault Eurocup after winnning the Award and then picked up Racing Steps Foundation backing for British F3. Narrowly missed out on crown, then won races in Formula Renault 3.5 and GP2, and became a McLaren test and reserve driver.
2005 - Oliver Jarvis
Formula Renault UK champion moved to F3 after taking the Award and won the F3 Macau GP in 2007. Impressed in A1GP before joining the DTM with Audi in 2008.
2004 - Paul di Resta
Another winner in Formula Renault UK, di Resta moved to F3 in 2005 and took the Euro Series crown the following year. He then moved into the DTM with Mercedes and became a star, taking the title in 2010. Graduated to F1 with Force India in 2011 and put in an impressive rookie campaign.
2003 - Alex Lloyd
Current IndyCar racer won the Award after his second year of Formula Renault UK. Dabbled in F3000, then switched to America in 2006. Won the Indy Lights title the following season and first raced in IndyCar in 2008.
2002 - Jamie Green
Took the Award after finishing as runner-up in his first season of Formula Renault UK. Was second in British F3 in 2003 before taking the F3 Euro Series title the following year. Graduated to the DTM in 2005 and has become an established frontrunner with Mercedes.
2001 - Steven Kane
Stepped up from Formula Ford to F3, via a brief appearance in Formula Renault. After racing in Formula Renault 3.5 he switched to tin-tops, first in the Porsche Carrera Cup and then the British Touring Car Championship. He won races in both. Kane was also an LMP1 winner in the ALMS in 2011 with Dyson Racing.
2000 - Anthony Davidson
Formula Ford Festival winner was a British F3 frontrunner in his rookie year. Became a BAR Honda test driver and made it into an F1 race seat for two races in 2002 with Minardi. Was also part of the Super Aguri team in 2007-08 before moving to GTs and sportscars. Now an LMP1 ace with works Toyota squad.
1999 - Gary Paffett
Formula Vauxhall Lotus champion starred in Formula 3 before moving into the DTM, while also becoming test driver for McLaren in F1. Took the DTM crown in 2005 and has also been runner-up in the series four times.
1998 - Jenson Button
Karting ace exploded into car racing in 1998, winning the British Formula Ford Championship and the Award. Button was a British F3 race winner the following season and was in F1 by 2000. Went on to win the F1 world championship with Brawn in 2009 and is still a race winner for McLaren.
1997 - Andrew Kirkaldy
Another Formula Vauxhall graduate, Kirkaldy made it to Formula 3 before switching to GTs. Took the British GT2 title in 2005 and was a race winner in FIA GT2. Now runs CRS Racing’s GT programme and is helping develop McLaren’s MP4-12C GT3 contender.
1996 - Darren Turner
Formula Renault racer moved into F3 after winning the Award and was then a winner in the inaugural Formula Palmer Audi season. A long-term F1 test driver, Turner also raced in DTM, ASCAR, and the BTCC, but has established a sportscar career with Aston Martin, winning GT1 at Le Mans twice and racing for the company’s LMP squad.
1995 - Jonny Kane
Started in Formula Ford and raced in Formula Vauxhall Lotus before winning the British F3 title in 1997. Had a spell in Indy Lights, then moved into sportscars and GTs. Has been an LMP2 ace with Strakka Racing in recent years.
1994 - Jamie Davies
Used Formula Vauxhall Lotus success to graduate into F3 and then F3000. Moved successfully into sports-prototypes and GTs, which he raced until 2008.
1993 - Ralph Firman
Won the Award after a fine season in Formula Vauxhall Junior. Took the British F3 title in 1996 before a long spell in Japan, winning in Formula Nippon and the domestic GT series. Got to F1 with Jordan in 2003 before heading back to GTs.
1992 - Dario Franchitti
Franchitti went from Formula Opel Lotus and British F3 to the DTM, where he proved rapid. He then made a successful switch to American single-seaters, becoming an IndyCar legend. Franchitti has won the Indy 500 twice and in 2011 took his fourth IndyCar crown.
1991 - Oliver Gavin
Formula First champion in 1991, Gavin went on to take the 1995 British F3 crown. There were spells in the DTM and F3000 before Gavin found his niche in GT racing, where he has become a star with the crack works Chevrolet squad.
1990 - Gareth Rees
Another Formula Ford star, Rees successfully graduated to Formula Opel Lotus and then British F3 before making it as far as F3000.
1989 - David Coulthard
Awarded the prize based on his Formula Ford performances, Coulthard then starred in F3 before making it to F1 in 1994. He went on to score 13 grand prix wins for Williams and McLaren. Currently races for Mercedes in the DTM.