Winner of the last Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 race, Russell defeats Alexander Albon, Ben Barnicoat and Seb Morris who drove Formula Renault 2.0 single-seater this year.
The panel was chaired by former F1 racer and World Sportscar Champion Derek Warwick – President of the British Racing Drivers’ Club – two-time BTCC Champion Jason Plato, team boss and erstwhile GT racer Andrew Kirkaldy, McLaren Head of Vehicle Engineering Mark Williams, veteran commentator Ian Titchmarsh and Kevin Turner, editor of AUTOSPORT’s sister publication Motorsport News.
The teenager earned £100,000 and a McLaren F1 test.
“It’s been such a long wait over the last few weeks,” reflected Russell, at just 16, both the youngest driver in the contest and indeed the youngest ever to clinch the illustrious accolade. “I went into the Silverstone test off the back of two fantastic weeks, winning the final race of the Formula Renault Eurocup season followed by the BRDC Formula 4 title.
“I focused on treating the shoot-out exactly the same as I would a normal race weekend and didn’t put any extra pressure on myself. I gave it 110 per cent and put absolutely everything into it, and came out of it believing I was in with a shout.
“I’m just over-the-moon now. To receive such a prestigious award is something incredible. Winning the BRDC F4 Championship was the biggest achievement of my career at that point, but this definitely tops it. Some unbelievable drivers have won the McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award, and I’m struggling to put into words how it feels to have joined that list myself. I’m hoping it will open a lot of doors for me – and to be able to drive an F1 car will be a dream come true...”
The McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award was inaugurated in 1989, when future F1 star Coulthard won. The aim is to boost the prospects of young British racing talent, and the list of former winners is impressive. As well as Coulthard, 2009 F1 World Champion Button, former Force India F1 driver di Resta, multiple IndyCar Champion Franchitti, DTM protagonists Gary Paffett and Jamie Green, World Endurance Champion Davidson and fellow sportscar aces Oliver Gavin, Jonny Kane, Darren Turner as well as Oliver Rowland, Jake Dennis and Matt Parry, who drove Formula Renault single-seaters.