Ben hopes to follow Jenson Button’s lead

Ben Barnicoat (GBR) Racing Steps Foundation
Ben Barnicoat (GBR) Racing Steps Foundation

A Chesterfield teenager is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Jenson Button after being nominated for a top motorsport award.

Ben Barnicoat has been announced as one of six finalists who will battle it out to win this year’s McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award.

Ben, a second time nominee for the award, is one of two of the finalists competing in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup.

The 18-year-old is currently in fifth place in the championship after securing two race victories.

Ben, who joined the McLaren Young Driver Programme in 2010, said: “It’s such a relief. I’ve got the biggest smile.

“I’ve had a tough season, not really through much fault of my own, I’ve had to dig in deep and it’s paid off in the last two races.

“Obviously last year was my first season in cars and there was quite a lot of pressure but I think this year I’m a lot more relaxed and I don’t have to worry about things, it just comes to me more naturally.

“That is one of the things I think will help with the award. I’m so grateful to get another opportunity.”

The winner of the 2015 McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award will be crowned at a ceremony at the Grosvenor Hotel in London in December and among other prizes will receive £100,000 and a McLaren F1 test drive.

Drivers will have to undertake three days of driving, simulator and fitness tests, as well as interviews with the judging panel.

Derek Warwick, chairman of the judging panel, said: “I’m excited because we’ve got six very worthy contestants. We’ve got a really strong year in terms of three drivers who have been there before, and three new guys who I think will push them to the max.”

Former winners of the award include 2009 F1 world champion Jenson Button and ex-F1 drivers David Coulthard and Paul Di Resta.

Derek added: “The Formula 1 test is the pinnacle of the award for me.

“It’s not the £100,000 prize money, it’s all about driving the grand prix car.

“When you’re here and watch the winner get into it for the first time, and watch the six current finalists looking on, it gives you a massive buzz. It makes it all worthwhile to see the excitement in their eyes.”