Just as he did in the 2006 drivers’ championship, Fernando Alonso pipped Michael Schumacher to the post for the ‘International Driver of the Year’ prize at the prestigious Autosport Awards on Sunday.
The Renault driver’s ‘R26’ also won Car of the Year, presented to the French squad at London’s Grosvenor House in glitzy Park Lane.
The inimitable sixteen season career of retiring 37-year-old Schumacher, however, was honoured by his former fierce rival, 1996 champion Damon Hill.
Eleven years after meeting Ron Dennis at the very same event, the GP2 champion and 2007 McLaren racer Lewis Hamilton was named Rookie of the Year.
“I didn’t know who Ron was (in 1995),” the 21-year-old recalled, “my dad just told me to go up to him and introduce myself.
“I told him that one day I’d be in formula one.”
The centrepiece of the evening, meanwhile, was the unveiling of the up-and-comer Oliver Turvey, 19, as the winner of a McLaren F1 test next year. Among the former recipients of the award, who were also present in the British capital last Sunday evening, are David Coulthard and Jenson Button.
Honda’s Button has been nominated on a shortlist of ten Britons for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. The 27-year-old, who scored his breakthrough win in Hungary this season, is among stars in the worlds of tennis, golf, boxing, cycling, cricket, equestrian, darts and gymnastics.
The winner will be announced on Sunday.