BRITISH MOTORSPORT LEGENDS NEW AND OLD CELEBRATED AT THE AUTOSPORT AWARDS Britain's new Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton was honoured at motorsport's most prestigious end-of-season gala event, the 2008 Autosport Awards, which were held...
BRITISH MOTORSPORT LEGENDS NEW AND OLD CELEBRATED AT THE AUTOSPORT AWARDS
Britain's new Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton was honoured at motorsport's most prestigious end-of-season gala event, the 2008 Autosport Awards, which were held at London's Grosvenor House Hotel on Sunday night.
Autosport readers voted the 23-year-old as International Racing Driver of the Year, after a dramatic season that saw him become F1's youngest ever world champion. He was presented with the accolade by another driver who has won the world championship for McLaren, Mika Hakkinen, in front of a packed audience, filled with the most important and influential figures from around the world of motorsport.
"It's very overwhelming to receive this award," he said. "It's always a privilege just being here and thinking about all the other times I've been here. Just to see the whole journey from the beginning and see the number of people that have made it possible, is very emotional for me. It makes me very proud."
Alexander Sims became the 20th winner of the coveted McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, earning the accolade after finishing runner-up in the Formula Renault UK Championship and impressing the award's judging panel in the F3, DTM and Aston Martin cars used for the evaluation at Snetterton.
"I knew I'd done pretty good job on the track, I just didn't know what to expect on the night," he said. "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."
Hamilton was not the only British racing legend to be recognised by Autosport. Sir Stirling Moss, who won 16 Formula One grands prix between 1951 and 1961 - 24 years before Hamilton was even born, was given an Autosport Gregor Grant Award for a lifetime of achievements in the sport.
Moss, or Mr Motorsport as he is often referred to, is considered the greatest driver never to win the F1 World Championship, was presented with the award by the BBC's new commentator Martin Brundle.
Among the other legends of motorsport to be saluted during the illustrious evening were 1981 World Rally Champion Ari Vatanen - who also received a Autosport Gregor Grant Award -- and Sebastien Loeb, who won the International Rally Driver of the Year Award for the fourth time.
Legendary American team boss Carl Haas received the Autosport John Bolster Award on behalf of his partnership with the late Paul Newman for their services to motorsport, while Le Mans 24 Hours winner Allan McNish was presented with the British Competition Driver of the Year Award and Formula One's youngest ever winner Sebastian Vettel was voted the autosport.com Rookie of the Year.
Finally, following his retirement from Formula One after a 15-year career, the first ever McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winner, David Coulthard, was lauded with a special presentation in recognition of his achievements.