Lewis Williamson has won the 2011 McLaren Autosport BRDC award, an annual honour bestowed on Britain’s best young driver. The 21-year-old Scotsman has earned himself a test in a McLaren F1 car and a £100,000 cash prize. That cash is not to be sniffed at, but with a season in GP2 costing upwards of two-million Euros you’ve got to feel the run in the car is what it’s all about.
This year Williamson finished as runner-up in Britain’s Formula Renault 2.0 championship driving for the Virgin Racing-affiliated Manor team.
Almost every previous winner has gone on to make their living in racing, with some reaching the most dizzying heights of the sport. 1989 winner David Coulthard enjoyed a long and successful F1 career, whilst 1992 victor Dario Franchitti has gone on to be one of the most successful drivers in Indycar history.
Ralph Firman (1993) and Anthony Davidson (2000) won the award and later raced in F1 whilst Gary Paffett and Paul di Resta – winners in 1999 and 2004 respectively – have both won DTM championships and worked as F1 test drivers. For the latter a race seat in the sport now looks a real possibility.
To date the only man to win the award and go on to claim the Formula One title is Jenson Button, who took the prize in 1998 following a championship-winning assault on British Formula Ford. He duly tested a 1998 McLaren-Mercedes, 12-years before joining the famed team as reigning world champion.
Elsewhere in the awards Kamui Kobayashi was quite rightly named rookie of the year whilst Red Bull’s RB6 was rather unsurprisingly proclaimed car of the year.
Badger wishes Lewis all the best in his battle to reach F1 and for his test in the McLaren racer.