The greats of worldwide motorsport will hit London’s Grosvenor House Hotel for a glittering evening of prize-giving at the 2013 AUTOSPORT Awards.
This year’s awards voting system has been changed to allow the magazine’s subscribers to cast their votes online, and the winners from each of the eight categories will be unveiled.
Formula 1 will be heavily represented across a number of categories, with Hamilton being joined by Jenson Button and Paul di Resta – as well as former F1 racers Allan McNish and Justin Wilson – in competition for the ‘British Competition Driver of the Year’ Award.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the categories’ nominees…
International Racing Driver of the Year
Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Räikkönen will compete for the ‘International Racing Driver of the Year’ Award, and will face stern competition from IndyCar Series championship-winner Scott Dixon and NASCAR Sprint Cup title-winner Jimmie Johnson.
Having wrapped up his fourth Formula 1 World Championship title in a row with a record-breaking season, Vettel would be an unbackable favourite for the award.
Racing Car of the Year
Open to cars competing on any class of circuit racing, the ‘Racing Car of the Year’ Award will serve as a recognition to motorsport’s finest designers.
The category sees three Formula 1 cars – the Lotus E21, Mercedes F1W04 and the Red Bull Racing RB9 – competing against two of Audi’s finest weapons: its phenomenal R18 e-tron Quattro Le Mans 24 Hours and WEC title-winner and the RS5 racer it took to championship honours in the DTM.
Dallara’s GP3/13 has also been shortlisted, with a new engine for the 2013 season giving the field a major power boost and come of the closest racing seen all year.
International Rally Driver of the Year
The ‘International Rally Driver of the Year’ Award will be a more closely-competed affair, with the masters of off-road, snow, gravel and tarmac all in fierce competition for the coveted award.
Outright honours will probably prove to be a battle between the two Sébastiens – Ogier and Loeb. The former took advantage of the latter’s part-time campaign to dominate proceedings after a year away from the coalface, while the latter still showed his class with two wins from four starts.
Thierry Neuville headed Ford’s tilt at World Rally Championship honours and took the fight to Ogier in the Citroen.
Once he stopped crashing, Robert Kubica showed that the speed certainly hasn’t left him, winning the junior-level WRC2 title in his Citroen.
Jan Kopecky was another star in the junior categories, dominating proceedings in the European Rally Championship in his Skoda.
And one cannot ignore the achievements of Stephane Peterhansel, who claimed his eleventh Dakar Rally crown.
British Competition Driver of the Year
Open to British drivers in any class at international level, from F1 to F3, the ‘British Competition Driver of the Year’ will see six incredible talents compete for the affections of the magazine’s readers and the voting panel.
Despite being the dark horse of the pack, Sam Bird’s efforts should not go unnoticed. His tireless efforts in the Mercedes F1 simulator helped lift the team to runner-up spot in the Constructors’ Championship standings, while his performances in the GP2 Series gave the Russian Time team the teams’ championship crown in its first year of competition.
Jenson Button and Paul di Resta both had an up-and-down 2013 season in Formula 1, but some sparkling showings in not-always-competitive equipment will make them contenders.
Lewis Hamilton took just one victory in his first season as a Mercedes driver, but five pole positions against the mighty Red Bulls showed that he is still one of the most exciting drivers on the F1 grid.
Allan McNish clinched his first World Endurance Championship title in his Audi e-tron Quattro LMP1 racer, including a brilliant victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours.
And Justin Wilson also showed his style in the IndyCar Series. Driving for minnow outfit Dale Coyne Racing, the lanky Brit finished on the podium four times and claimed a top-six finish in the outright championship standings.
Rookie of the Year
Open to professional drivers in their first season of racing in their respective championship, the ‘Rookie of the Year’ Award is a coveted crown for any up-and-coming driver.
Formula 1 sees four rookie drivers up for consideration, although none was perhaps a great standout as they suffered bouts of inconsistency in less-than-competitive machinery.
BTCC racer Sam Tordoff was impressive in his first season of the championship, claiming his first race win at Snetterton and managing to keep pace with teammate Jason Plato, one of the series’ most experienced and successful campaigners.
McLaren protégé Stoffel Vandoorne showed he is a star of the future with an outstanding maiden campaign in the Formula Renault 3.5 Championship. He gave fellow McLaren junior driver Kevin Magnussen a serious run for his money with four race wins in the season. It’s no wonder that McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh raves about him.