Protyre Formula Renault Champion Chris Middlehurst (St. Helens) has been named one of this year’s six finalists for the coveted and hugely prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, the 18-year-old set to battle for a £100,000 prize purse and a test with the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 Team.
Following in the wheeltracks of 2011 Protyre Formula Renault Champion Dino Zamparelli and last year’s Vice-Champion Josh Webster, who both became McLaren Autosport finalists, Middlehurst will take part in an intense assessment to determine the 25th winner of UK motorsport’s biggest award.
“I couldn’t have asked for better news, I’m really excited about being a McLaren Autosport finalist but at the same time I’m staying focused on getting as well prepared as I can and working hard on my fitness – this is the biggest opportunity of my career”, said the Merseyside ace.
“It was definitely in the back of my mind after winning the Protyre Formula Renault Championship I could possibly be put forward as a finalist, but to actually be in the final six is a huge bonus after a fantastic year.”
Alongside fitness tests and an interview process with a panel of judges, which will include McLaren GT project director Andrew Kirkaldy, Vice-Champion of the 2002 Renault UK Clio Cup, Middlehurst’s on-track skills will be assessed around Silverstone at the wheel of a Formula 2 single-seater, a DTM Mercedes and a McLaren GT3 racer.
“The F2 car is the main car we’ll be driving and it’s not too far away from an F1 car, so I’ll be working hard on preparing as well as I can and focusing on things like my neck and shoulder strength for the G-forces – you can’t underestimate them”, he added, “Cardio will be important too, I do play a lot of squash so I’ll be doing that and in the gym every night, every morning to be as fit as I can.
“All of the cars are phenomenal, to drive an F2 car will be awesome but the DTM and the McLaren will be a fantastic experience. This is my one chance to prove myself, I need to be 150% on it with the driving and just try and impress the judges with my manner as well. I can’t wait.”
Renaultsport has been incredibly well represented in the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award over the years with Formula Renault UK producing no fewer than eight winners between 2002 and 2011, including the likes of current FIA Formula One World Championship star Paul Di Resta, Le Mans 24 Hours podium finisher Oliver Jarvis and DTM front-runner Jamie Green.
Commenting on Middlehurst’s selection, Protyre Formula Renault Championship promoter Simon North said: “We’re absolutely delighted for Chris he’s been chosen as one of this year’s finalists for the McLaren Autosport award, he thoroughly deserves his place after a truly sensational year with us in Protyre Formula Renault.
“Renault UK has a very strong link to the award over the years with so many winners, like Jamie Green, Alex Lloyd, Oliver Jarvis, Paul Di Resta, Alexander Sims, Dean Smith…the list goes on. Chris will be up against some very talented young drivers but we know he’ll do Formula Renault proud.”
Grosvenor House Hotel, on Park Lane in central London, will host the annual Autosport Awards on Sunday, 1st December, where the 25th McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winner will be announced.
Along with headline sponsor Protyre, Formula Renault is additionally supported by Michelin, The Lubricant Consultancy, Petronas Syntium and NGK Spark Plugs.