05 Dec Matt Parry Wins McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award
Fortec NEC driver Matt Parry became the 25th winner of the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, capping a successful season with the chance to test a McLaren F1 car.
The 19-year old, who dominated the Formula Renault NEC champion in his first international single-seater campaign, received the accolade at the annual Autosport Awards ceremony in the heart of London, following several days of on-track assessment at Silverstone and interviews at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking.
This year’s driving assessment was conducted in Mercedes DTM, McLaren GT and F2 machinery, with Parry and each of the five other contenders having exclusive use of one of the single-seaters as their abilities were given a thorough examination over the course of two days.
“This is a remarkable award to have won, and a huge boost for my ongoing motorsport career,” the Caterham Racing Academy member commented, “I’m both honoured and privileged to join the other 24 names on the roll of previous winners, and can only hope to follow in their footsteps in the next few years.
“I felt that I had given my best in each element of the assessment, and enjoyed driving each of the cars – all of which were amazing pieces of kit. However, that didn’t stop me thinking about where I might have improved. Of course, I’m looking forward to driving the McLaren F1 car, but that is just a small part of what winning the Award can do for me. It’s an amazing opportunity.”
Parry, who also had to undergo physical and mental challenges as part of the assessment, saw off Fortec FRenault NEC team-mate and runner-up Jack Aitken, inaugural F4 champion Jake Hughes and FRenault BARC titlewinner Chris Middlehurst, as well as fellow Welshman Seb Morris and Charlie Robertson to claim his latest honour, which was presented in front of the great and good of international motorsport by McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale, BRDC president Derek Warwick and Autosport publishing director Peter Higham.
“If having to wait out the last six weeks to see if I’d won the Award wasn’t bad enough, I then had to follow an ‘on form’ Sebastian Vettel on stage” Parry joked after receiving the last honour of a star-studded evening, “But then I guess most people have had to follow Sebastian at some point this season, so it’s not like I was alone….”
As well as earning the chance to test an F1 car for the first time, Parry also receives £100,000, full membership of the British Racing Drivers’ Club and an Arai GP-6 RC carbon helmet as part of his prize.
“Deciding this year’s winner was harder than ever,” Autosport‘s Kevin Turner commented, “The judging process is now very tough and sophisticated, as is motor racing in general, but Matt is an exceptional young driver who we’ve been watching with great interest over the last few years.”
The Welshman, who expects to tackle next year’s Formula Renault Eurocup despite recently testing a World Series by Renault car as part of his NEC prize, joins David Coulthard, Dario Franchitti, Paul di Resta and Jenson Button, amongst others, on the list of Award winners.