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LIVE COMMENTARY: AUTOSPORT AWARDS 2012 - THE 2012 AUTOSPORT AWARDS
   GO TO LIVE INDEX ALL TIMES GMT  
As it happened: The 2012 AUTOSPORT Awards
By Geoff Creighton and Emlyn Hughes
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
The Great Room21:30 Good evening everyone and a very warm welcome to the 2012 AUTOSPORT Awards, 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 31st edition of this prestigious awards ceremony will take place, and you will find out who the winners are, live, right here on AUTOSPORT.com.

Jackie Stewart21:34 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 Sebastian Vettel and World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb lead a star-studded line-up, supported by past and present heroes of our sport. David Coulthard, Christian Horner, Sir Jackie Stewart, Damon Hill, Murray Walker, Jo Ramirez, Rob Smedley and Derek Warwick are all here tonight.

Other top echelons of motor racing are also represented. Paddy Hopkirk, Rob Huff, Steve Soper, Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish, Matt Neal, Jason Plato and many others 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.

MABA21:38 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? Despite Vettel's stunning success, many acknowledged that Fernando Alonso performed brilliantly and consistently throughout the season. Do you, the AUTOSPORT readership, feel the same way?

• Who got your vote for the 2012 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 2012?

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.

Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Loeb enter21:42 Earlier this evening, the AUTOSPORT Awards kicked off in triumphant fashion with the 1,200 guests rising in unison to applaud the Formula 1 and WRC champions as they made their way down the grand staircase into the Great Room.

A standing ovation celebrated Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Loeb in recognition of their stunning achivements this season.

Vettel became the youngest-ever triple world champion last Sunday in that tension-filled climax to the Formula 1 campaign at Interlagos, while Loeb secured his ninth - yes, ninth - World Rally crown largely thanks to a stunning five-round winning streak in the summer.

21:46 The Awards began this evening with a presentation to seven young stars who could be the names to look out for in the future.

WTCC champion Rob Huff was on hand to help celebrate the young stars of British karting:

Dean MacDonald - MSA British Cadet champion
Kiern Jewiss - Formula Kart Stars Honda Cadet champion
Lando Norris -Formula Kart Stars Mini Max champion
Sam Marsh - Formula Kart Stars Junior Max champion
James Singleton - Formula Kart Stars Senior Max champion
George Russell - FIA/CIK European Junior Kart champion
Ben Barnicoat - FIA/CIK European Kart champion

All seven youngsters enjoyed their well-deserved moment of glory in front of a highly influential audience.

Ron Howard21:50 The AUTOSPORT Awards not only celebrates the outstanding achievements of the year, but also looks ahead to the prospect of a wonderful 2013 - particularly in the field of cinema.

Following on from last year's success of Senna, another production is set to bring Formula 1 history to a mainstream movie audience.

The producers and cast members of Rush are here tonight. Chris Hemsworth plays James Hunt in the film, which is released in September.

Scott Malvern21:54 The traditional early batch of national motorsport gongs kicked off with the presentation of the British Club Driver of the Year Award.

Open to drivers competing in TOCA support events and equivilant or lower, the broad list of eligible candidates included Nissan GT racer Jann Mardenborough, Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion Michael Meadows, Clio Cup champion Jack Goff, Ginetta champion Carl Breeze and many more.

But AUTOSPORT readers voted for Scott Malvern, twice a nominee for the McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award and the 2012 champion in Formula Renault BARC.

Malvern picked up his prize from Formula 1 legend Sir Jackie Stewart.

Gordon Shedden21:59 Next followed the presentation of the National Driver of the Year Award, which celebrates achievement in the likes of British F3, BTCC and BRC.

After a closely-fought season of tin-top action, readers voted for the 2012 BTCC champion Gordon Shedden as National Driver of the Year.

Shedden, who finally triumphed after a tight championship battle with Honda team-mate Matt Neal and MG's Jason Plato, was delighted to receive the recognition of AUTOSPORT readers.

Vettel22:04 2012 has provided motor racing fans with many highlights across all disciplines, whether your passion is for racing or rallying.

Formula 1 produced arguably its best season ever, kicking off with a magnificent seven different winners in the first seven races, enthralling fans throughout the summer as Vettel relentlessly closed down on Alonso's championship lead, before that edge-of-the-seat climax at Interlagos last Sunday.

The World Rally Championship entered its 40th season and the man on top was the fearless Frenchman Sebastian Loeb, as he comfortably fought off the challenge from team-mate Mikko Hirvonen with a stunning summer streak of five consecutive victories in Argentina, Greece, New Zealand, Finland and Germany to claim his ninth world crown.

IndyCar racing introduced the DW-12 and the competition stepped up as another top series went down to the wire. Will Power blasted his way to an early points lead, but Dario Franchitti proved once again that he is the man to beat at the Brickyard, claiming his third Indy 500 after a last-lap battle with Takuma Sato. Ryan Hunter-Reay won four of the last eight races to come through to a sensational title at the final round in California.

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 2012 motorsport season as we salute the stars who make it all possible.

Button22:08 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. Four-time IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti, 2009 F1 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. The chosen driver will receive the following:

• £100,000 towards their racing future
• Full membership of the British Racing Drivers' Club
• A TW Steel watch
• A test in a McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 car.

22:12 One year ago, Oliver Rowland was the name on everyone's lips as he collected the big prize here at the Grosvenor House.

The 2011 McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award winner stepped up to the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup series this year with Fortec Motorsport.

He found the going tough at first against an increased level of competition, but rounded out the year with three podiums and a season-ending victory at the Circuit de Catalunya.

22:15 Dinner is wrapping up in the Great Room and the main Awards presentation will begin shortly.

22:18 Two minute call from the Voice of God and we're just about to get the main part of the ceremony underway.

22:21 Solo percussionist FiSH is entertaining the guests with a live performance as tension builds in the room.

22:22 The racing highlights of 2012 are being played out on the video screens in the Great Room.

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

They are: Jake Dennis, Jack Hawksworth, Josh Hill, Jordan King, Melville McKee and Josh Webster.

McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award contenders

22:25 Now it's time for the main presentations at tonight's AUTOSPORT Awards.

The AUTOSPORT Pioneering and Innovation Award, in association with TATA Communications, 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 - the Head and Neck Support (HANS) device, which is now used widely across all forms of the sport and the Singapore Grand Prix, Formula 1's first night race.

Last year the Award was presented to Manish Pandey for his fantastic work on the docu-film Senna.

22:26 1996 Formula 1 world champion Damon Hill is invited onto the stage by tonight's host Steve Rider to make this special presentation.

Sid Watkins22:27 Hill presents the first Pioneering and Innovation Award to the FIA medical team, acknowledging the remarkable work of Professor Sid Watkins, who died earlier this year. In his honour, Sid's widow Susan is invited onto the stage to receive the Award.

It is a moving moment and the 1,200 guests rise to applaud as Susan Watkins makes her way through the tables and onto the stage.

22:29 "He was an extraordinary man", says Susan Watkins on stage. "In the hospital they called him 'Saint Sid".

22:29 Martin Donnelly, who was saved by the rapid intervention of the medical team after a horrific crash in qualifying for the 1990 Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez, is interviewed by Henry Hope-Frost.

22:30 Marino Franchitti is invited onto the stage to present the second Pioneering and Innovation Award tonight, here at the Grosvenor House hotel.

DeltaWing22:31 Franchitti has first hand experience of the winning machine and will present the second Award to the Nissan DeltaWing.

Designer Ben Bowlby comes up to collect the accolade in recognition of a daring vision for a radical new type of sportscar.

22:34 "We had to get out of the spec racing nightmare that we were in," says Bowlby on stage. "Racing has the opportunity to change people's perception of technology."

"You look at the reaction of people who didn't think it was going to work, the reality is it is a challenging concept but actually it did work."

22:35 Since 1985 the John Bolster Award for Technical Excellence has honoured outstanding technical achievement in motor racing.

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

22:35 Steve Rider invites Murray Walker onto the stage to present the John Bolster Awards this evening.

22:36 Walker shares a joke with Rider as our host this evening struggles with his voice.

22:36 And tonight's first recipient of a John Bolster Award for technical excellence is... Peter Sauber.

Sauber22:37 The Swiss motorsport icon, who is now stepping back from the day-to-day running of his eponymous team, gets a rapturous reception as he walks up to the stage.

Sauber began building sports prototypes as far back as the early 1970s, before becoming a leading force in the World Sportscar Championship in association with Mercedes in the late-eighties - propelling the careers of Michael Schumacher, Karl Wendlinger and Heinz-Harald Frentzen in the process.

Formula 1 was next on the agenda and Sauber has undoubtedly run a tight ship, while still being able to gain some remarkable results along the way.

22:39 Asked how he keeps going, Sauber says: "After about 20 years in sportscar racing and 20 years in Formula 1, it's not so easy."

22:40 Commentary legend Walker stays on stage for the second of tonight's John Bolster Awards.

Bob Dance22:41 There is a huge cheer from the audience, as Bob Dance is announced as the winner of a John Bolster Award.

The long-serving Lotus mechanic began work for the legendary marque in September 1960 and was chief mechanic from 1976 until the early 1990s.

Dance has worked for March, Brabham, Audi at the Le Mans 24 hours - and even now he still works three days a week for Classic Team Lotus.

22:44 Classic tales of the 70s from Dance have the audience captivated, as he chats with Rider and Walker on stage.

22:45 Already this evening we have paid homage to the skills and achievements of some of the finest open wheel designers and team strategists 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, in association with Skoda.

No-one could touch Sebastien Loeb in the World Rally Championship. At first 2012 loooked like it may be a close contest, but five mid-season victories for the Frenchman took him well away from the chasing Finnish duo - Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala.

In the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, Andreas Mikkelsen blazed a trail from the first event in the Azores. The Norweigian driver took one further victory at the Rally Romania, with six of his eight best counting scores being first or second places. He claimed the title easily ahead of Skoda team-mates Jan Kopecky and Juho Hanninen.

22:47 Highlights of a spectacular WRC season are played on the huge screen over the stage.

22:48 Eight-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen is invited on stage to present the rallying Awards.

22:50 "There were some TV commentators that are maybe colourblind," quips Kristensen as he reflects on his driver steward role at the Brazilian Grand Prix last weekend.

C322:51 Beating off competition from the Ford Fiesta, Mitsubishi Lancer and Skoda Fabia, Kristensen reveals that the Citroen DS3 WRC is the 2012 Rally Car of the Year.

AUTOSPORT readers have given it this coveted accolade, following up successes for the all-conquering C4 in this category over the last few years.

Citroen team boss Yves Matton is on hand to collect the Award.

22:53 Double IRC championship winner Andreas Mikkelsen is next to be interviewed by Henry Hope-Frost.

22:55 "It's been a special year and a very special relationship with Skoda UK," says Mikkelsen. "Coming out with two IRC titles, it's been very special."

Loeb22:56 Kristensen remains on the stage as we move on to Rally Driver of the Year.

Nominees for this accolade include IRC winner Juho Hanninen, Citroen man Mikko Hirvonen, Ford challenger Jari-Matti Latvala and rising Skoda star Andreas Mikkelsen.

But your votes are in and Sebastien Loeb is once again Rally Driver of the Year.

22:59 "For sure it was hard to decide to stop," Loeb says.

"I'm still winning, nine times in a row. We have a new plan with Citroen, WTCC, I wanted to do a bit more with my family. A few years now I think I have to stop rallying, so I think this year is maybe the right one."

23:01 The Gregor Grant Award, named after AUTOSPORT's founding editor, 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.

Loeb23:02 AUTOSPORT editor-in-chief Andrew van der Burgt joins the stage to make the presentation of a Gregor Grant Award for lifetime achievement to the retiring Sebastien Loeb.

Loeb23:04 Malcolm Wilson is asked to come up to the stage to present the second of tonight's Gregor Grant Awards, and it goes to a true British rallying legend.

Much applause in the room for Jimmy McRae, who deservedly receives the accolade this evening.

The Lanark-born ace won no less than five British Rally Championship titles between 1981 and 1987 and is remembered best for his exploits in an Opel Manta 400 for the Rothmans Rally Team, before moving onto the MG Metro 6R4.

23:06 "The British championship back in the 80s was like the world championship is now, it was a fantastic era," says McRae.

23:08 The next Award is voted for by the readers of this website – the 2012 Rookie of the Year Award.

Last year you voted for Paul di Resta, who went on to a strong second season in Formula 1 with Force India.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner is invited up to present the Award.

Here is a reminder of the contenders:

• James Calado
• Robin Frijns
• Romain Grosjean
• Josef Newgarden
• Simon Pagenaud
• Charles Pic
• Daniel Ricciardo
• Felix Seralles
• Matheo Tuscher
• Jean-Eric Vergne

23:10 "It's good to see Jake Humphrey is here to step in," jokes Horner as Steve Rider continues to struggle with his voice.

23:14 "I have never been so happy to see Jenson Button win a grand prix," says Horner as he reflects on a dramatic title decider.

23:16 The banter continues as Rider jokes about Jake Humphrey's future plans with BT, described as "football on the phone"

23:18 Horner announces that Matheo Tuscher has been voted the 2012 AUTOSPORT.com Rookie of the Year.

Tuscher makes his way through the tables to great applause from the assembled guests.

Matheo Tuscher23:19 At just 15 years of age, Tuscher is the youngest-ever winner of the Rookie of the Year Award, having finished runner-up in the FIA Formula 2 championship this year.

His career in single seaters began well with victory in the Formula Pilota China series last year, before moving to F2 this season - stunning the establishment in the opening round by qualifying on pole position.

The Swiss youngster claimed his maiden victory at Paul Ricard in July, before going on to take the season-ending round at Monza.

Tuscher's Award tonight is all the more remarkable, given the level of competition in this category.

23:20 "We did a super job in Formula 2," said Tuscher. "The only thing I can say is thank you to everyone who followed me this year."

23:23 Next we move on to the international racing section, presented by Pirelli.

First, within this batch is the British Competition Driver Award.

BBC Formula 1 pundit Eddie Jordan is invited onto the stage by Steve Rider to present the gong.

23:25 "You have to know some very dodgy people to come up with the stories I do," jokes Jordan as the TV banter continues.

23:28 Rider takes the time to suggest some new presenters for the BBC's F1 coverage. "I'm a nightmare to work with... ask Jake," responds Jordan.

Jenson Button23:29 Beating off strong competition from team-mate Lewis Hamilton, Scots Paul di Resta and Dario Franchitti, WTCC champion Rob Huff and DTM runner-up Gary Paffett...

Jordan announces that AUTOSPORT readers have voted Jenson Button as British Competition Driver of the Year.

23:29 Cheers from the audience as Button makes his way onto the stage to collect the Award.

23:31 "It's been a very up and down year for us," says Button. "Hopefully for all the guys at Woking this is a good thing going into 2013."

23:32 "He's unbelievably fast," concludes Button after some jovial one word answers to questions about outgoing team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

23:34 Preview clips from the upcoming movie Rush are being shown on screen.

23:36 Rush director Ron Howard is invited onto the stage to present tonight's Award for Racing Car of the Year.

Contenders include the Le Mans-winning Audi R18 E-tron, the DeltaWing DW LM12, Toyota's first hybrid Le Mans challenger TS030, Lotus's race-winning E20, McLaren's MP4-27 and the title-clinching Red Bull RB8.

23:40 "I figured I knew as much about Formula 1 as I knew about going to the moon before I did Apollo 13," says Howard as he talks about his film.

RB823:41 And the winner is...

The Red Bull RB8.

Red Bull technical chief Adrian Newey is joined on stage by head of aerodynamics Peter Prodromou, chief designer Rob Marshall, vehicle dynamics head Mark Ellis and head of car engineering Paul Monaghan.

23:44 "I must admit when we saw the fourth corner accident we thought that was it," says Newey on Brazil. "It was a huge reliability concern."

23:47 Back to the floor with Henry Hope-Frost, who is with John Watson and Rob Smedley.

23:49 Nine-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb is asked to come up to the stage to present the next Award - International Racing Driver of the Year.

Nominated for reader's votes towards the prestigious Award tonight are:

• Fernando Alonso
• Jenson Button
• Lewis Hamilton
• Ryan Hunter-Reay
• Kimi Raikkonen
• Sebastian Vettel

RB823:50 A huge reaction in the Great Room as Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel is announced as the International Racing Driver of the Year.

23:52 "It wasn't as per plan," says Vettel on his troubled first lap in Brazil. "It was obviously a horrible feeling to see cars coming the other way."

23:54 "Fortunately it was raining," reflects Vettel. "I was surprised after only a couple of laps to come from the back, due to the conditions we had I was able to pass a lot of guys. The race was still very long."

23:56 "I just tried to stay on it," says Vettel.

"Michael [Schumacher] was very fair. He was very helpful, probably most helpful on that day. We were very quick in the wet."

"It was a long, long year of ups and downs," concludes the world champion.

23:58 "Sebastian shows that he is really strong in his mind," says Loeb. "The last race started badly but he came back and closed the gap."

00:00 "I'm nervous, the only other guy up here without a tie was Eddie Jordan," jokes Vettel.

00:02 Another huge round of applause for Vettel, AUTOSPORT readers' International Racing Driver of the Year.

00:02 And so, the moment that many people have been waiting for and the reason why we are all here tonight - the 2012 McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC 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.

00:03 To remind you, these are the six candidates:

• Jake Dennis, 17, Formula Renault NEC champion
• Jack Hawksworth, 21, Star Mazda champion
• Josh Hill, 21, third in Formula Renault NEC
• Jordan King, 18, Formula Renault NEC runner-up
• Melville McKee, 18, Formula Renault Eurocup frontrunner
• Josh Webster, 18, Formula Renault BARC runner-up.

00:04 McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale, AUTOSPORT group publisher Rob Aherne and BRDC president Derek Warwick are invited up to present tonight's big Award.

Finalists00:05 The McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award tests took place in early November 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 Formula 2, DTM and McLaren GT cars.

The 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.

00:07 The prize on offer is amazing, and sets drivers on a path to further success.

• £100,000 towards his racing future
• Full membership of the British Racing Drivers' Club
• A TW Steel watch
• A test in a McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 car.

00:07 There is anticipation across the Great Room as one of six young drivers is moments away from a major career boost. The Silverstone test highlights are played out on the big screen.

00:08 Jake Dennis is the winner of the McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award for 2012!

00:09 The Dennis table explodes with delight as the McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award winner makes his way through the crowd and up to the stage.

00:11 "We had a great season in Formula Renault with Fortec Motorsport, Dennis continues. "This opens so many doors and everything."

00:12 So Jake Dennis 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.

00:13 Congratulations to all our Award winners tonight. They are sure to provide motorsport fans with more great moments in next year.

This was the 31st 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 2013.

  AWARD WINNERS UPDATED LIVE 
Awards
Award Winner
British Club Driver of the YearScott Malvern
National Driver of the YearGordon Shedden
AUTOSPORT Pioneering and Innovation AwardFIA medical team
AUTOSPORT Pioneering and Innovation AwardNissan DeltaWing
AUTOSPORT John Bolster AwardPeter Sauber
AUTOSPORT John Bolster AwardBob Dance
Rally Car of the YearCitroen DS3 WRC
International Rally Driver of the YearSebastien Loeb
AUTOSPORT Gregor Grant AwardSebastien Loeb
AUTOSPORT Gregor Grant AwardJimmy McRae
AUTOSPORT.com Rookie of the YearMatheo Tuscher
British Competition Driver of the YearJenson Button
Racing Car of the YearRed Bull RB8
International Racing Driver of the YearSebastian Vettel
McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC AwardJake Dennis
Haymarket