FORMULA RENAULT UK CELEBRATES SEVENTH MCLAREN AUTOSPORT AWARD WINNER AS SMITH TAKES PRIZE Michelin Formula Renault UK Champion Dean Smith (Wolverhampton) has been named the 2009 McLaren Autosport BRDC award winner collecting the prize of ...
FORMULA RENAULT UK CELEBRATES SEVENTH MCLAREN AUTOSPORT AWARD WINNER AS SMITH TAKES PRIZE
Michelin Formula Renault UK Champion Dean Smith (Wolverhampton) has been named the 2009 McLaren Autosport BRDC award winner collecting the prize of GBP50,000 together with a Formula One test with McLaren Mercedes.
Twenty-one-year-old Smith, who secured this year's Formula Renault UK title with Manor Competition, won the prestigious award which is often referred to as indicating the best young British driver competing at a National level. Smith is now the seventh winner to come from the one-make single-seater championship which is a prominent support race to the British Touring Car Championship.
Despite entering the 2009 season late, Smith won an impressive seven rounds, collecting a total of 15 podiums together with six fastest laps and two lap records to beat Fortec Motorsport rival and fellow McLaren Autosport BRDC finalist James Calado (Worcester) to the title.
Smith was presented with his award at a star-studded ceremony in London by the last three British F1 World Champions - Jenson Button (a former McLaren Autosport BRDC winner himself), Lewis Hamilton (who also won the Formula Renault UK Championship in 2003) and Damon Hill.
Joining Smith as finalists were 2009 Formula Renault UK Vice-Champion James Calado, American Star Mazda champion Adam Christodoulou (last year's Formula Renault UK Champion), British Formula Ford champion James Cole, European F3 Open Class B champion Callum MacLeod and Brands Hatch Formula Ford Festival winner Chrissy Palmer.
This year Smith impressed the judging panel, which included 1996 F1 world champion Damon Hill, ex-Minardi and Honda F1 driver Anthony Davidson and DTM star Jamie Green, across a number of tests including a track assessment at Silverstone and a physical fitness test.
Commenting on winning the award, Dean Smith said: "It's just been a phenomenal year for me and this award caps off an incredible season. I knew the competition would be tough so I just set out to be as professional as possible throughout the tests. I was quick in both the Formula 3 and BTCC cars at Silverstone and had been working hard on my fitness, and thankfully it all paid off.
"This award certainly means a lot to me and has raised my profile as well as helping with my funding for next year in which I hope to step up to the GP3 Series. I couldn't have done this though without a huge amount of support in particular from Manor Competition who always gave me a fantastic Formula Renault UK car."
Smith added: "To be the seventh winner from Formula Renault UK just goes to show how competitive the championship is. Everyone in motorsport knows how high the standard of teams and drivers are in the series and what a platform it can provide to aspiring Formula One drivers like myself."
Smith is now the seventh Formula Renault UK winner to pick up the award. Successful British Touring Car driver Darren Turner was the first winner to represent Formula Renault UK, winning the award in 1996 after finishing as Vice-Champion to David Cook. In 2002, Jamie Green won the award after finishing as Vice-Champion to Danny Watts, 2003 winner Alex Lloyd was Vice-Champion to Lewis Hamilton, while 2004 winner Paul di Resta was third overall behind champion Mike Conway and Westley Barber. Meanwhile last year saw Alexander Sims, who like Smith also drove for Manor Competition, take the honours.
In addition to the host of McLaren Autosport BRDC award winners, Formula Renault UK also boasts back-to-back Formula One World Champions in Kimi Raeikkoenen (2007) and Lewis Hamilton (2008), who won the Formula Renault UK title in 2000 and 2003 respectively.
Next year's Formula Renault UK season sees the introduction of a brand new car featuring a new, lighter chassis, a more powerful engine and for the first time will see drivers using a seven-speed sequential gearbox.
Formula Renault UK Championship McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winners:
1996 -- Darren Turner
2002 -- Jamie Green
2003 -- Alex Lloyd
2004 -- Paul di Resta
2005 -- Oliver Jarvis
2008 -- Alexander Sims
2009 -- Dean Smith
-credit: frenault uk