British Teenager Norris wins McLaren Autosport BRDC Award
Lando Norris was announced as the recipient of the prestigious McLaren Autosport British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Award at The Grosvenor House Hotel in London last night (4 Dec). Norris, who turned 17-years-old less than a month ago (13 Nov), wins a Formula 1 “test”, a funded simulator role and a fitness programme both with the McLaren F1 team, an Arai GP-6 RC carbon race helmet and becomes a full BRDC member. He was presented with the Award by Éric Boullier, McLaren F1 Racing Director, at the glittering awards evening attended by the sport’s leading personalities including 2016 F1 World Champion Nico Rosberg and Britain’s former F1 World Champions Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill. The McLaren Autosport BRDC Award dates back to 1989 and was established to reward and recognise the best young racing talent from the UK. Members of the public are initially invited to nominate drivers before a shortlist of finalists is decided upon by the Award’s judging panel.
This year’s panel comprised of BRDC President Derek Warwick, McLaren GT Managing Director Andrew Kirkaldy, two-time British Touring Car champion Jason Plato, Le Mans winner David Brabham, leading circuit commentator Ian Titchmarsh, McLaren representative Mark Williams plus Autosport magazine’s Scott Mitchell and Kevin Turner. They monitored the performance of Norris and three other drivers, all older than Lando, in a McLaren simulator, two days driving Formula 2, Mercedes DTM and McLaren GT cars at Silverstone combined with a fitness assessment to determine this year’s winner. In addition to the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, Lando was also presented with the Autosport British Club Driver of the Year Award by Force India F1 Team Principal Vijay Mallya last night (4 Dec).
In winning the Award, Norris follows in the footsteps of 2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button, 2001 F1 championship runner-up David Coulthard and multiple IndyCar Series champion and Indy 500 race winner Dario Franchitti. Formula One is Lando’s ultimate target with the next step towards realising that ambition being a season contesting the FIA Formula 3 European Championship in 2017 – former Award winners Jamie Green and Paul di Resta having won the EuroSeries F3 titles in 2004 and ’06 respectively.
Norris won numerous karting titles including Formula Kart Stars (2012), CIK-FIA KFJ European, CIK-FIA KFJ Super Cup, WSK Euro Series KFJ, CIK-FIA International Super Cup and World Karting Championship (all 2013) and the CIK-FIA KF World Championship (2014). The BRDC “Rising Star” won the 2015 MSA Formula Championship while this season claimed the Toyota Racing Series, Formula Renault Eurocup and Formula Renault Northern European Cup titles. Bristol-born Lando, who also finished eighth in the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship despite only contesting half the season, accumulated an incredible 43 podium finishes, including 21 race wins, 26 pole-position starts and 13 fastest race laps. Norris attends the BRDC Annual Awards in the Grand Connaught Rooms, Covent Garden, London, today (5 Dec) where it’s expected he will collect more silverware for his outstanding year in motorsport.
Lando Norris (GB): Born: Bristol, England. Aged 17.
“I’m honestly overwhelmed to win this prestigious prize that caps off an incredibly successful season for me. To be voted by the [Autosport] readers and to ultimately be chosen by the judges is a dream. The McLaren prizes can only help me in my quest to ultimately reach Formula One. It’s now my job to keep working hard and stay focussed to achieve this goal.
My favourite car I drove in the ‘shoot out’ at Silverstone was the 2016 Mercedes DTM car. I loved every moment in it, the downforce being particularly surprising. The toughest to get used to quickly was the GT3 car. It was the most different to what I've ever driven. The DTM was ‘different’ but more similar to a F3 car, so I felt comfortable in it pretty quickly. The weather at times was a little tricky for one session on the opening day being half wet, half dry. The first time I used a simulator was in 2014 when I was competing in the Ginetta Junior Championship. I have since driven a number [of simulators] but the McLaren one was to the highest level and unsurprisingly extremely professional. The fitness tests were pretty tough featuring endurance and strength tests.”
Derek Warwick, former F1 driver, 1992 World Sportscar champion and BRDC President commented:
“Lando has had an amazing season, especially considering he was only 16-years-old until last month. He was quick in the GT3 and DTM cars but was absolutely stunning in the Formula 2 single-seater. He definitely has a great career in front of him. Lando’s a future F1 driver and I believe a future F1 World Champion.”