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LIVE COMMENTARY: AUTOSPORT AWARDS 2009 - THE 2009 AUTOSPORT AWARDS
   GO TO LIVE INDEX ALL TIMES GMT  
As it happened: The 2009 AUTOSPORT Awards
By Geoff Creighton and Emlyn Hughes
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
Awards 200921:30 Good evening everyone and a very warm welcome to the 2009 AUTOSPORT Awards, brought to you in association with the 2010 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, from the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane, central London.

Since 1982, the world's leading motorsport weekly has celebrated the outstanding achievements of drivers across the racing spectrum, as well as the cars, teams and technical innovations that have become the talk of the sport.

Tonight, the 28th edition of this prestigious awards ceremony will take place, and you will find out who the winners are, live, right here on AUTOSPORT.com.

Awards 200921:33 Earlier this evening, the great and the good from the world of motor sport arrived in the Great Room at the Grosvenor House.

Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button leads a star-studded line-up, supported by past and present heroes of our sport, such as Lewis Hamilton, Damon Hill, Martin Brundle, Nick Fry, Ross Brawn, Ron Dennis, Patrick Head and Christian Horner.

Other top echelons of motor racing are also represented. Touring car stars Jason Plato, Andy Priaulx and Fabrizio Giovanardi are here. Monte Carlo rally legend Paddy Hopkirk, Prodrive boss David Richards and 1992 world sportscar champion Derek Warwick are all here to enjoy this glittering occasion.

The invited guests are just coming towards the end of dinner, and soon the all-important Awards will be presented on the main stage.

Awards 200921:36 You can join in the proceedings and feel part of the event tonight, by sharing your views on the Awards and reacting to events as they happen on the stage.

• Who will become the International Racing Driver of the Year? Will the 2009 Formula One world champion, Jenson Button, breeze his way to the trophy?

• Who got your vote for the 2009 AUTOSPORT.com Rookie of the Year Award?

• Most importantly, who is going to have their name etched on the most coveted trophy of them all – the Mclaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award for 2009?

The answers to these and many more questions will be revealed over the next two hours of coverage, exclusively live from the Grosvenor House hotel.

If you are an AUTOSPORT.com forum member, then click on the 'SHOW LIVE FORUM' link below to begin discussion on the event as it happens.

21:39 Just as in 2008, this year's AUTOSPORT Awards kicked off in triumphant fashion, as the 1,200 guests rose in unison to applaud new world champion Jenson Button as he made his way down the grand staircase into the Great Room.

One year ago it was Lewis Hamilton walking down those same steps to a warm reception and many people are interested to see how these two drivers shape up against each other at McLaren next season.

21:41 The Awards began this evening with a presentation to four young stars who could be the names to look out for in future.

Robert Reid and Kamui Kobayashi led the plaudits for the Formula Kart Stars championship winners.

George Russell, Jack Barlow, Matt Parry and Alex Albon spoke before an influential audience and will receive their trophies from Jenson Button at Autosport International.

Pirelli Star Driver UK winner Keith Cronin was also on stage to celebrate an outstanding season in the British Rally Championship.

Sarah Moore21:44 Following the karting and Pirelli presentations, Sarah Moore scooped the Award for Club Driver of the Year. She was presented with the Award by racing legends Tom Kristensen and Andy Priaulx.

Moore, the Ginetta Junior champion, sprung to prominence at Thruxton in April when she became the first female to take outright victory at a BTCC event, winning both rounds that weekend along with the next race at Donnington.

Two more wins and some impressive battling through the field allowed Moore to follow brother Nigel to the title, coming out on top of a late-season points battle with Jake Cook.

Colin Turkington21:47 The second Award, presented during an earlier break in dinner, saw Colin Turkington named as National Driver of the Year.

The BTCC champion became the first BMW driver to win the tin-top title for 16 years and gave Dick Bennetts' WSR squad an overall crown for the first time since it moved into the series in 1996.

A string of four wins from six races at Oulton Park and Croft was key to the Northern Irishman’s campaign before he successfully played the percentage game to hold off veterans Jason Plato and Fabrizio Giovanardi on a thrilling final day at Brands Hatch.

Tom Kristensen and Andy Priaulx remained on hand to give Turkington his Award.

F1200921:50 2009 has provided motor racing enthusiasts with many highlights across all disciplines, whether your passion is for racing or rallying.

The Formula 1 season - which at one stage looked like it could be a total walkover - was decided at the penultimate round in Brazil thanks to a superb summer fight back from Red Bull Racing, but finally Brawn and Jenson Button clung on to secure both titles.

Once again, the Indycar series went down to a thrilling final showdown and Dario Franchitti made it two championships in three years, while in NASCAR Jimmie Johnson clinched his fourth title in as many seasons for Hendrick Motorsports.

The World Rally Championship went down to the wire, where Mikko Hirvonen just failed to stop Sebastien Loeb taking a remarkable sixth title.

Throughout, championships were won and lost, providing thrills, incidents and marvelous moments. We would invite you to raise a glass of your favourite tipple and celebrate a wonderful 2009 motorsport season, as we salute the stars who make it all possible.

Dario Franchitti21:54 The highlight of the evening as always is the presentation of the McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award.

The idea to reward an outstanding young British driver was first conceived in 1989, and has since correctly identified a host of motor racing talent. David Coulthard - then the British Formula Ford champion - was the first recipient. Double IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti, world champion Jenson Button and Anthony Davidson are just some of the names who have won this prestigious Award since its inception.

As motor racing generated more and more television coverage, the AUTOSPORT Awards grew both in size and stature, into the major end-of-season event that we know today.

The prize awarded to the annual winner of the McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award has also grown, and is fiercely sought-after. This year the chosen driver will receive the following:

• £50,000 towards their racing future
• Full membership of the British Racing Drivers' Club
• Puma racewear for a year
• A TW Steel watch
• A test in a McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 car

Alexander Sims21:58 One year ago, Alexander Sims was the name on everyone's lips as he collected the big prize here at the Grosvenor House.

A long winter followed with just six days of testing available prior to his F3 Euroseries debut with Mucke Motorsport. The early rounds proved difficult, with just nine points on the board from the first four events, but all the while Sims was finding his feet.

Sims' season reached a turning point at the Norisring with his maiden F3 pole position and a strong second place finish. From then on the Cambridgeshire man racked up a string of positive results, ending the season fourth in the championship behind runaway winner Jules Bianchi. He is likely to campaign in the Euroseries again next season.

22:00 On the video screens in the Great Room, the racing highlights of 2009 are being played out.

For the six drivers nominated for this year's McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award, the tension is rising as they wait to hear who will join the best of British.

They are: James Colado, Adam Christodoulou, James Cole, Callum MacLoed, Chrissy Palmer and Dean Smith.

McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC contenders

22:03 Now it's time for the main presentations at tonight's AUTOSPORT Awards.

The next Award is voted for by the readers of this website – the 2009 Rookie of the Year Award. Last year you voted for Sebastian Vetttel, following his amazing first full season in Formula 1.

However, the Award is not always collected by a Formula 1 driver. in the past Dan Wheldon and AJ Allmendinger have been your choice, proving that there is more beneath the surface than just Formula 1.

22:03 Voting took place throughout November on AUTOSPORT.com. The votes have been counted and the winner is about to be revealed.

13-time grand prix winner David Coulthard joins host Steve Rider on stage to present the Award.

22:06 Coulthard chats with Steve Rider, with his humor entertaining the crowd as he looks back over a long career and his new role in broadcasting.

22:10 The entertainment continues as Rider shares banter with the BBC's Jake Humphrey.

22:11 With the jokes over for the time being, Coulthard announces that Kris Meeke is the AUTOSPORT.com Rookie of the Year.

Kris Meeke22:13 The 30-year-old, who won four rallies for Peugeot UK to take the Intercontinental Rally Challenge title, steps up to the stage to receive his trophy.

Meeke got his break into rallying back in 2000 when he won a Motorpsort News competition to make his debut in a Peugeot 106.

"I'll never forget that this time last year I was sitting with nothing on the table and it's been a fantastic year. A massive, massive year for me."
Kris Meeke, AUTOSPORT.com Rookie of the Year

22:14 The AUTOSPORT Pioneering and Innovation Award recognises the never-ending research and development across the motorsport spectrum.

Previous winners since the Award's inception in 2004 include the SAFER barrier, the Audi R10 - the first diesel-powered prototype sportscar to claim victory at Le Mans - and the Head and Neck Support (HANS) device, which is now used widely across all forms of the sport.

Last year the Award was presented to the Singapore Grand Prix, Formula 1's first night race.

22:15 Formula 1 team principals Ross Brawn and Christian Horner, whose squads dominated the 2009 season, will present the Award.

22:16 Brawn and Horner reflect on an incredible season in Formula 1.

22:18 F1 in Schools wins the AUTOSPORT Pioneering and Innovation Award.

F1 in Schools22:20 The initiative, celebrating its 10th anniversary, encourages teams of students aged 9 to 19 to design, manufacture and then race miniature gas powered balsa wood Formula 1 cars.

31 teams from 20 countries recently battled for the Bernie Ecclestone World Championship Trophy in London, attended by Lewis Hamilton and VIP guests from the world of Formula 1 and education.

Andrew Denford from F1 in Schools will receive the Award.

"I often said that 2009 was the first truly Force India year in Formula 1. We designed out car, established the partnership with McLaren Applied Technologies and used the Mercedes engine. In the second half of the season we were truly compeitivie."
Vijay Mallya, Force India

22:24 Next up is the Racing Car of the Year Award and there are several top contenders from Formula 1 and sports prototype racing. Last year McLaren took the honour with its stunning MP4-23.

This season, Brawn GP and Red Bull went head to head for the world constructors' crown in Formula 1, while at Le Mans Peugeot finally broke the Audi diesel stranglehold with its sleek 908 HDi FAP.

22:24 1996 Formula 1 world champion Damon Hill is now on stage to reveal the winning machine.

22:25 Hill is tight lipped with questions on the future of the British Grand Prix, with a press conference scheduled for tomorrow here at the Grosvenor House.

22:26 Hill announces that the Brawn BGP 001 is Racing Car of the Year.

Brawn BGP 00122:27 Brawn engineers John Owen and Russell Cooley head to the stage to receive the Award.

The BGP 001, designed by Brawn and his team with Honda's backing throughout 2008, made an immediate impact when it finally hit the track with a Mercedes engine in early March.

Winning six of the first seven races to laid the foundations for Button's drivers' title and the BGP 001 also took Rubens Barrichello to a pair of wins, securing the constructors' crown for the Brackley-based squad.

"It was always our intention to be success in 2009. All the people who worked so hard in the factory, it's such a dream come true."
John Owen, Brawn GP

22:30 Since 1985 the John Bolster Award for Technical Excellence has honoured outstanding technical achievement in motor racing.

Last year, Carl Haas was given an emotional standing ovation as he recieved the Award in the wake of Newman-Haas team co-owner Paul Newman's death earlier in the year.

Previous winners of the award read as a who's who in motor racing technology: Don Panoz, Pat Symonds, Ross Brawn, Roger Penske and the late Ken Tyrrell have all been presented with this coveted accolade.

22:30 Damon Hill is joined by Williams technical chief Patrick Head to present the Award.

22:31 Formula 1 design guru Adrian Newey is 2009's recipient of the John Bolster Award for Technical Excellence.

Adrian Newey22:32 Newey is applauded by the 1200 guests in the Great Room as he steps up to accept his Award.

The 50-year-old led the design of championship-winning Williams throughout the 1990s before a move to McLaren that yielded further title success.

In recent years, Newey has been technical director at Red Bull Racing. His 2009 car, the RB5, was skillfully developed into the fastest on the grid, taking six wins including a hat-trick of triumphs to close the season.

"We had over 10 years with stable rules and no real new ideas coming out. This year has been much more of a blue sky, trying to understand what's involved with the new regulations and I love that."
Adrian Newey, Red Bull

22:36 Already this evening we have paid homage to the skills and achievements of some of the finest circuit and open wheel racers in the world. Now it is time to move things sideways – quite literally – with the Awards for Rally Car of the Year and International Rally Driver of the Year.

Ford and Citroen once again battled across the globe for supremecy and Mikko Hirvonen got mighty close to toppling the flying Frenchman, Sebastien Loeb, but ultimately missed out on the title by a single point.

The rallying world has received a huge boost in the last few days with the announcement that 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen will switch disciplines next season.

22:38 FIA presidential candidate and rally legend Ari Vatanen will present both of tonight’s rallying Awards.

22:40 Vatanen reveals that the Citroen C4 WRC is Rally Car of the Year.

Citroen C422:41 Gary Savage, Managing Director of Citroen UK, is on hand to accept the Award.

While Ford's M-Sport run Focus put up a stiff challenge, the versatile C4 again took Loeb to the title with victory in seven rallies - including an incredible five-in-a-row winning streak to start the season.

AUTOSPORT readers have given it this coveted accolade once again, following up success for the C4 in this category last year.

22:42 Citroen's Loeb took a remarkable sixth title but will he again be crowned International Rally Driver of the Year? We are about to find out ...

22:43 Vatanen announces that his compatriot Mikko Hirvonen is International Rally Driver of the Year.

Mikko Hirvonen22:44 Hirvonen won four rallies this season and finished on the podium at all but one event, in Argentina, when his engine expired.

His win in Finland was particularly notable, as Loeb couldn't find the pace to beat him, but unfortunately he couldn't recreate that speed at the decisive Rally GB and the Frenchman took the title for a record sixth time.

The Finn steps up on to the stage to claim his Award.

"I'm sure you can imagine it was really frustrating. Losing it [the title] by one point makes me want it even harder for next year."
Mikko Hirvonen, International Rally Driver of the Year

22:48 We move back to circuit racing, and time now for a very special presentation.

The Gregor Grant Award, named after AUTOSPORT's founder, is presented to motorsport personalities in recognition of lifetime achievement.

Previous recipients of the Gregor Grant Award include Bernie Ecclestone, Sir Jack Brabham, Tom Wheatcroft, Sir Stirling Moss and Professor Sid Watkins.

22:50 1979 Formula 1 world champion Jody Scheckter takes to the stage for the next presentation.

22:52 80 years this week after the formation of his Scuderia, the Gregor Grant Award goes to Enzo Ferrari.

Enzo Ferrari22:55 A video acceptance by Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo is played to the Great Room.

Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari’s Formula 1 team principal, steps forward to accept the Award.

"His presence is always alive because he's the founder and everyone around the world knows that.

"It's great to see that atmosphere stay around, especially in what's been a difficult year for Ferrari. It's pretty great," Domenicali tells Steve Rider.

22:58 The second Gregor Grant Award tonight will see another legend of motorsport join the impressive list of winners.

22:59 2008 Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton will make the next presentation.

23:01 Hamilton announces that the man who launched his career, McLaren Group chairman, Ron Dennis, is the recipient of a Gregor Grant Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Ron Dennis23:02 Hamilton famously approached Dennis at the AUTOSPORT Awards in 1995, leaving his contact details with the then McLaren team boss, which lead to support that has taken Hamilton to world champion.

Dennis' involvement in motorsport stretches back over 40 years, beginning as a 1966 as a mechanic for the Cooper team, working with Jochen Rindt. After starting and managing several teams in the 1970s, he took over the reigns at McLaren in 1980.

Following 10 drivers' and seven constructors' titles, Dennis stepped back from the racing team in 2009 to focus on McLaren's burgeoning road car business.

"My career has been - first of all it's most definitely not over - just been so fortunate to be part of the team. We are, I've been doing the calculations, 17 years younger in Formula 1 than Ferrari. I'm fiercely proud of the team it and what it has achieved. We've won one in every four races that the team has participated in."
Ron Dennis, AUTOSPORT Gregor Grant Award

23:09 The British Competition Driver of the Year is presented to an outstanding British driver in any class at International level.

Last year, Allan McNish received the Award in recognition of his amazing night-driving stint at the 2008 Le Mans 24 Hours.

Previous winners in this category include great names such as John Watson, Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill.

23:09 Dennis wraps up a lengthy appearance on stage and is applauded warmly by the guests.

23:13 James Corden, star of the hit BBC comedy Gavin and Stacey, takes to the stage to hand out the Award.

23:15 Britain’s latest world champion, Jenson Button, is crowned British Competition Driver of the Year.

Jenson Button23:17 Button is applauded by all present in the Great Room as he makes his way to the stage.

The world champion scored the most wins in 2009 and all six came in a dominant first half of the year.

While he often struggled to get the best out of the Brawn and its tyres after that, particularly in qualifying, the absence of mistakes on race day and his determined drive to the title in Brazil made Button a worthy champion.

His title year is capped off as he accepts more silverware for his growing collection.

"It's been a long fight to get here, over the last 10 years of my Formula 1 career - especially over the last year, we've been been through a lot. It was a very tough winter for Brawn and everyone at Honda who was working through the winter.

"It's a year since the Honda news. Coming here to the AUTOSPORT Awards last year was pretty tough. I picked my head up and we worked our asses off. I need to say a massive thank you to everyone at Brawn GP for what we've achieved."
Jenson Button, British Competition Driver of the Year

"The way that Jenson tackled the championship - he's an incredibly honest guy. The second half of the season was tough, Jenson was honest and we absolutely deserve this world championship. He drives beautifully."
Ross Brawn

23:23 Six young hopefuls are nervously waiting to hear their fate, but they will have to wait another few minutes ...

The penultimate Award tonight is the International Racing Driver of the Year Award, which is open to professional drivers competing worldwide. This award often goes to the year’s F1 star, but Nigel Mansell has won it as Indycar title holder.

Last year, world champion Lewis Hamilton claimed his second Award of the evening in this category.

23:24 Murray Walker, recently voted the greatest sports commentator of all time, will present the Award.

23:25 Jenson Button makes it a double as he is revealed as International Racing Driver of the Year.

Jenson Button23:26 This is the second time Button has claimed the Award. Back in 2004 he achieved the honour following a solid season in the BAR-Honda.

Keke Rosberg, Niki Lauda, Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell and Michael Schumacher have all received this Award in previous years.

23:27 And so, the moment that many people have been waiting for and the reason why we are all here tonight - the 2009 McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Driver Award.

For one of the six nominated drivers, a dream will be realised and a path to motor racing stardom created in the next few minutes.

23:28 To remind you, these are the six candidates:

James Colado, 20, Formula Renault UK runner-up

Adam Christodoulou, 20, Star Mazda series champion

James Cole, 21, British Formula Ford champion

Callum Macloed, 21, European F3 Open Cup champion

Chrissy Palmer, 18, Formula Ford festival winner

Dean Smith, 21, Formula Renault UK champion

Testing at Sliverstone23:29 For the first time in five years, the McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award tests took place at Silverstone – the home of British motorsport and the British Racing Drivers' Club.

The six finalists chosen by the panel from AUTOSPORT readers' nominations took part in two days of running on the Grand Prix circuit with F3 and BTCC cars, as well as a fitness assessment at the Porsche Human Performance Centre.

The seven judges then interviewed the half-dozen at the McLaren Technology Centre, before settling on the outstanding candidate from the best of this year’s British driving talent.

23:30 The prize on offer is amazing, and sets drivers on a path to further success.

• £50,000 towards their racing future
• Full membership of the British Racing Drivers' Club
• Puma racewear for a year
• A TW Steel watch
• A test in a McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 car

23:30 Britain’s last three Formula 1 world champions: Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Damon Hill will present the prestigious accolade.

23:30 There is anticipation across the Great Room as one of six young drivers is moments away from a major career boost.

23:31 Dean Smith is the winner of the McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award for 2009!

Dean Smith23:32 An amazed and delighted Dean Smith makes his way through the cheers of the audience as they give him a standing ovation.

Smith's path to the Formula Renault UK title this year made him a very strong candidate. Despite missing the first two rounds of the season, the Manor Competition driver racked up seven wins on his way to a 34 point championship lead by the end of the year.

"I've worked hard this year. It has been a phenomenal year and this has just topped it. My heart is racing!

"I'm looking at GP3 and hopefully this will further my career."
Dean Smith, McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award winner

23:35 So Dean Smith joins an impressive list of Mclaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award winners over the last two decades and, as the guests mingle and chat in the Great Room, we look forward to monitoring his progress next season.

23:37 Congratulations to all our Award winners tonight. They are sure to provide motorsport fans with more great moments in 2010.

This was the 28th AUTOSPORT Awards. Thanks for celebrating a marvelous season with us this evening. Stick with AUTOSPORT for more of the world's best motorsport coverage in 2010.

  AWARD WINNERS UPDATED LIVE 
Award Winner
British Club Driver of the YearSarah Moore
National Driver of the YearColin Turkington
AUTOSPORT.com Rookie of the YearKris Meeke
AUTOSPORT Pioneering and Innovation AwardF1 in Schools
Racing Car of the YearBrawn BGP 001
AUTOSPORT John Bolster AwardAdrian Newey
Rally Car of the YearCitroen C4
International Rally Driver of the YearMikko Hirvonen
AUTOSPORT Gregor Grant AwardEnzo Ferrari
AUTOSPORT Gregor Grant AwardRon Dennis
British Competition Driver of the YearJenson Button
International Racing Driver of the YearJenson Button
McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC AwardDean Smith
  AUTOSPORT AWARDS 2009 SPONSORS
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Emlyn Hughes and Geoff Creighton are AUTOSPORT's live commentary team.

Tonight, they exclusively report live from the the Grosvenor House Hotel in central London as AUTOSPORT hosts its annual celebration of outstanding personal and team achievements from the past season.

All photographs © LAT.