SIMS WINS 2008 McLAREN AUTOSPORT BRDC AWARD!

Alexander Sims scooped by far the biggest prize of his motor racing career last night, Sunday, 7th December, after being named the 2008 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winner -- one of the most prestigious accolades in UK motorsport.

Not only does the award confirm the 20-year-old's promise as a stand-out prospect for future Formula One glory, as part of his prize Alexander will go on to test a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 car -- undoubtedly the highlight of his young career.

The 2008 Formula Renault UK Vice-Champion, who resides in Wansford, Cambridgeshire, is the 20th winner of the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award and is the latest in a long line of huge names who have previously claimed the honour -- including recently retired Formula One star David Coulthard (the award's first winner in 1989) and Grand Prix ace Jenson Button.

Receiving his award from British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) President and 1996 Formula One World Champion Damon Hill, McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh and Autosport's publishing director Peter Higham, Alexander was overwhelmed to have claimed the greatest success of his career so far.

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, I just didn't know what to expect though. It's a fantastic achievement and I've got to say a massive thank you to my father (Christopher) first and foremost because he's been there pushing me throughout my career."

Along with the Formula One test drive, Alexander's prize also comprises a sum of 0x00a350,000 towards his racing budget for 2009, full membership of the British Racing Drivers' Club - of which he is already a 'Rising Star' - Puma racewear, a TW Steel wristwatch and a test run in an Aston Martin DBR9 GT1 sportscar.

Greatly impressing the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award judging panel throughout an intensive two-day test at Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk last month, Alexander showed blinding speed, outstanding feedback and great consistency in an Aston Martin N24, a Formula 3 car and, most impressively, at the wheel of a Mercedes DTM touring car.

Off the back of a stunning karting career which brought a huge number of race wins and championship titles, Alexander made the step-up to single-seater car racing in late 2006 after signing a deal with the Manor Competition squad.

Immediately proving his pace and potential during the four-round Formula Renault UK Winter Championship, the Cambridgeshire ace went on to become a race winner in his first full year in the category in 2007 with Manor. He then established himself as a true title contender this year where he missed out on the championship by the slimmest of margins.

Claiming two race wins, a total of 12 podiums and racking up more points than any other driver, Alexander only lost-out on the title during the final round of the season due to Formula Renault UK's 'drop-score' ruling. Effectively, his greater consistency throughout the year ultimately worked against him!

"We had a fantastic year in Formula Renault UK and I was also delighted to join the MSA British Race Elite and to become a BRDC Rising Star", he added, "It was great working with Tony Shaw and his wife Sarah at Manor over the last couple of years, I learned a lot and I want to thank them for helping me improve as a driver -- they run a great team."

European Formula 3 graduation confirmed for 2009 During his McLaren Autosport BRDC Award acceptance speech at London's Grosvenor House Hotel last night, Alexander also confirmed his graduation to Formula 3 in 2009 where he will compete in the F3 Euroseries with leading squad M0x00fccke Motorsport.

"Next year we're going to be racing in the Formula 3 Euroseries with M0x00fccke Motorsport and I can't wait for the season to begin", he commented, "Testing so far has gone well so I'm confident we should be strong in our first year. It is the toughest F3 championship in the world but we need to race the best and beat the best, that's our plan.

"I must say a special thank you to all of my sponsors who have given me wonderful support over the years and, without whom, I wouldn't be competing. Winning the McLaren Award and having the opportunity to test a current Formula One car truly is a dream come true."

-credit: alexandersims.com