McLaren Autosport BRDC Award

jez101

Bookies drive nice cars because of people like me
Contributor
No relation of Ron, Jake Dennis has been announced as the 24th and latest winner of this award. Certainly his record is impressive but he is only 17. So, while the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award (MABA) is rightly regarded as prestigious, it made me wonder how successful it was at supporting future stars.

Read the wikipedia link for more details but that's not much more than a list of past winners. Maybe the educated members of this forum would like to expand, especially on things like eligibility and the selection process? You know who you are ;)

Past winners have included many familiar names
F1 World Champion: Jenson Button (1998)
IRL World Champion: Dario Franchitti (1992)
F1 Race Winners: David Coulthard (1989)
F1 Race Drivers: Ralph Firman (1993), Anthony Davidson (2000), Paul di Resta (2004)
F1 Test Drivers: Oliver Gavin (1991), Gary Paffett (1999), Oliver Turvey (2006)

Notable MABA runners up include Dan Wheldon, Justin Wilson and current F1 Test driver Sam Bird.

Although it doesn't look that great, only one F1 world champion in 24 years giving out the award, it also pays to look at it the other way, how many drivers British drivers didn't win the MABA and yet still made it to F1.

It's a short list: Alan McNish and everyone's favourite subject, Lewis Hamilton.

I believe Lewis may already have been ineligible in some way as he was under contract with McLaren (from 1998. He he was eligible for the award from around 2001). Neverthless, Lewis beat the 2003 MABA winner Alex Lloyd 10 races to 2 in Formula Renault UK in 2003.

[polite notice: there are other places to argue about how good Lewis is, not here please] :)

Lewis aside, it does seem that for a British driver getting into F1 without the MABA under your belt is a long shot, but also that the MABA is nothing like a passport to the big time. Of course we can't produce a world champion for every award given out, that would mean a new brit winning the WDC every year - not going to happen, right.

But where does it go wrong for some of these guys? Does anyone have any near miss stories for past winners and tidbits of history to fill in what these MABA winners who never made it to F1 are up to now? Does anyone know of any more Lewis Hamiltons, who seem to be outside and above the scope of the award right now?

Are there any foreign equivalents of the MABA too?
 

teabagyokel

#dejavu
Valued Member
Although it doesn't look that great, only one F1 world champion in 24 years giving out the award, it also pays to look at it the other way, how many drivers British drivers didn't win the MABA and yet still made it to F1.

It's a short list: Alan McNish and everyone's favourite subject, Lewis Hamilton.

Max Chilton soon to be #3?
 

jez101

Bookies drive nice cars because of people like me
Contributor
So, what's Chilton's story? How come he wasn't ever nominated for the MABA?
 

Galahad

Not a Moderator
Valued Member
The eligibility criteria are here (though they have definitely allowed in older drivers in the past):
http://www.thecheckeredflag.co.uk/2012/09/2012-mclaren-autosport-brdc-award-launched/

Essentially it covers all championships up to but not including senior Formula 3 (i.e. British/Japanese/European series), so typically the Formula Ford and Formula Renault title contenders are thrown in together with a few outstanding wild cards.

This means that drivers have a lot of learning to do in the years between being eligible for the award and being a realistic F1 prospect, so it shouldn't surprise us that a fair few fall by the wayside. What's the average entry rate for British drivers into F1 these days anyway; 1 every 3 years or something like that I'd guess?

The thing that strikes me from looking at the list of past winners is that, although they didn't all go on to do great things, they generally were the best choice, in hindsight, from the list of contenders for the year in question. Of course, you could argue that winning the award got them opportunities that the losing finalists didn't have, but I think over the long term this usually plays itself out.

You could certainly argue for Dan Wheldon in 1997, or Danny Watts in 2001, maybe Nick Tandy for 2007, but I don't see a huge number of glaring "errors".
 

The Artist.....

Champion Elect
jez101
I have always wondered about the omission of Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren/Autosport/BRDC young driver award.... I'm fairly sure that it's something to do with the fact that he was already a McLaren young driver, so it stopped him being selected!
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
The McLaren page on this is interesting as it seems to link the award with Hamilton, without actually specifically stating so.

The McLaren Group has been heavily involved in the foundation, funding and running of the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver Award, the celebrated British scheme that has helped develop the careers of junior racers, since its inception back in 1989.
...
The most notable success in this area has been Lewis Hamilton, whom McLaren helped develop from a 13-year-old kart racer into a Formula 1 world champion.


http://www.mclaren.com/formula1/page/mclaren-driver-development-programme

So a cleverly written page which gives the impression that Hamilton has been the recipient of this award, even though he hasn't.
 

Chad Stewarthill

Champion Elect
Contributor
One BRDC winner who has not thus far been so fortunate since is a one-time big hope of mine, Alexander Sims. He won the award in 2008. I saw him some time ago in junior karting and thought then that he looked like the 'Next Lewis Hamilton'.
He did get into GP3 and did pretty well, but somehow failed to progress into GP2 (partly I suppose because his GP3 team, Status, didn't run a GP2 team so there was no natural route of progression.
Status however did run a LMP2 car at Le Mans, in which Alex gave an excellent showing until the car expired after 239 laps (around 2/3 distance).

Alex did well in a recent GP2 test drive at Jerez with the Barwa Addax GP2 team, coming second and beaten only by Marcus Ericsson who has three years experience in the formula. So far though it doesn't appear to have led to an opportunity for a competitive drive.
 
Top Bottom