LONDON (Reuters) - Red Bull junior driver Dan Ticktum put McLaren in an awkward position on Sunday after winning a coveted award that includes a Formula One test drive and simulator role with the Woking-based team.
Macau Formula Three Grand Prix winner Ticktum, 18, beat three other young Britons to win the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award.
Previous winners include 2009 Formula One world champion Jenson Button and three times Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti.
Last year’s winner Lando Norris is now the McLaren Formula One reserve driver.
Ticktum, however, has been contracted to rivals Red Bull since the start of the year and has been in that team’s simulator already.
McLaren sources told Reuters the prize would be honored, with Ticktum probably getting to drive a 2013 Formula One car, but a meaningful factory simulator role with them was out of the question.
McLaren and Red Bull will both have the same Renault engines next year after the former ended a three-year partnership with Honda.
Ticktum was still delighted to be the 29th recipient of the award, whose first winner was now-retired Formula One racer David Coulthard back in 1989.
“I had an amazing weekend in Macau and this has exceeded that,” said the Briton, who was handed a part-suspended two year ban in 2015 for ignoring safety car conditions. “I cannot put into words how proud I am right now.”
“People know I had a tough career to start with and there have been some very important people who believed in me, particularly Red Bull, (team principal) Christian Horner, (Red Bull consultant) Dr Helmut Marko,” he added.
“They’ve given me a chance and I hope I can do them proud.”
Mercedes’s four times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton, who did not attend, sent a video message after being named best international racing driver and British competition driver.
There was also an award for retired Brazilian triple world champion Nelson Piquet, who struggled to contain his emotions, honoring his contribution to motorsport.
Piquet was presented with his award by former Brabham designer Gordon Murray, whose cars took him to his first two titles in 1981 and 1983. The third crown was won with Williams in 1987.
“It is much easier to race than to see your son racing,” said Piquet, whose son and namesake also competed in Formula One and was the first champion in the Formula E electric series in 2014-15.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Greg Stutchbury