SMITH BECOMES 2009 McLAREN AUTOSPORT BRDC AWARD WINNER! Motor racing star Dean Smith capped off a stunning 2009 in perfect style in Central London last night, Sunday, 6th December, by winning the 21st McLaren Autosport BRDC Award and, with it, a...
SMITH BECOMES 2009 McLAREN AUTOSPORT BRDC AWARD WINNER!
Motor racing star Dean Smith capped off a stunning 2009 in perfect style in Central London last night, Sunday, 6th December, by winning the 21st McLaren Autosport BRDC Award and, with it, a prize Formula One test drive with the McLaren Mercedes F1 team.
The 21-year-old, from Wombourne, near Wolverhampton in the West Midlands, was named one of six finalists for the hugely prestigious award for the second time in three years back in October after becoming Formula Renault UK Champion with seven race victories and a total of 15 podium finishes from 18 races.
Not only does Dean follow in the wheeltracks of the likes of current Formula One World Champion Jenson Button as a winner of the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, he has also written his name in the history books as the first ever driver to achieve the accolade having been a nominee on a previous occasion.
"Winning this award is the culmination of an incredible year", said Dean, "To be nominated for a second time was a great feeling but to actually win such a prestigious accolade is unbelievable. Adding my name to the list of former winners is very special and, obviously, I can't wait to be able to test the F1 car - that really will be a dream come true."
Dean was presented with his award in front of a star-studded motorsport audience at Sunday evening's annual Autosport Awards ceremony by the last three British F1 World Champions - Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton (himself Formula Renault UK Champion in 2003) and Damon Hill (President of the British Racing Drivers' Club).
Thoroughly impressing a panel of judges, including 1996 F1 World Champion Hill, former Grand Prix racer Anthony Davidson and DTM star Jamie Green, during a track assessment at Silverstone in Northamptonshire and a physical fitness test at the circuit's Porsche Human Performance Centre, Dean fended off stiff competition.
His rivals for the prize were Formula Renault UK Vice-Champion James Calado, UK Formula Ford Champion James Cole, Formula Ford Festival winner Chrissy Palmer, Star Mazda Champion Adam Christodoulou and European F3 Open front-runner Callum MacLeod.
In addition to the headline prize of a Formula One test with Button and Hamilton's McLaren F1 team, Dean also receives 0x00a350,000 towards his 2010 racing budget, a TW Steel wristwatch, the use of free Puma racewear for a year and full membership of the British Racing Drivers' Club - of which he is already one of its acclaimed 'Rising Stars'.
Since graduating to single-seater racing in 2004, at just 15-years-of-age, Dean has been one of the true rising stars of British motorsport. In only his first season of car racing action in the Formula BMW UK Championship he was third in the Rookie Cup before going on to win the outright title the following year with three wins and nine podiums.
The Black Country youngster stepped-up to Formula Renault UK in 2006, where he was Vice-Champion of the Graduate Cup for category newcomers, and then mounted a sustained title bid in 2007 before concluding the year as overall Vice-Champion with three wins and 14 podiums. He was also named a McLaren Autosport BRDC Award finalist for the first time.
Eurocup Formula Renault beckoned in 2008 but a luckless campaign didn't give Dean the opportunity to show his true pace and potential, although he did produce some stand-out race drives. Returning to Britain this year, the Kiddisave-backed racer looked all set to focus on a future in sportscars after contesting the opening two rounds of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship.
But he then completed a deal to return to single-seaters in Formula Renault UK with multiple title winning squad Manor Competition and although missing the first two rounds of the season, he delivered a breathtaking string of results to put himself in a position to win the title with one race to spare - which he duly did.
Finishing each of the 18 races he contested, the West Midlander achieved seven victories, 15 podiums in total, seven pole positions, six fastest laps and a brace of 'Driver of the Day' accolades on his way to a 34-point winning margin in the championship.
He added: "It really has been an amazing year for me, everyone at Manor Competition worked so hard during the season to give me a fantastic car with which to fight for the championship - a massive thank you goes out to Tony (Shaw), Sarah (Shaw) and the rest of the team as, without them, I wouldn't have been in a position to win the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award.
"We knew it would be an incredibly tough challenge to win the Formula Renault title after missing the first two races, and without any testing either, but we all had the belief in our ability to get the job done. Now I'm looking forward to hopefully making the step up to the new GP3 Series although we do have a number of options to consider in Formula 3 too so we'll have to see what happens."