In the week before the latest addition to its growing roster of talent is due to be announced, McLaren continued to provide both previous Young Driver of the Year Award winners and its talent-spotting scheme with an early taste of Formula One potential.

The past two winners of the award - Jamie Green and Alex Lloyd - were joined by McLaren-backed F3 racer Lewis Hamilton for a one-off test with the team at Silverstone this week. While Green and Lloyd were receiving the prize drive that accompanies the cash sum presented as part of their award, Hamilton was finally receiving his first run in an F1 car having been spotted by McLaren boss Ron Dennis and supported through the ranks from his karting days.

"We are proud of the support that we have provided to young drivers over the year and, at Silverstone on Wednesday, Lewis, Jamie and Alex all had the opportunity to drive the MP4-19," confirmed McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh, "Having spoken to the engineers who were at the track, all three drivers adapted to the MP4-19 well and put in good performances. And as they have all raced against each other for a number of years, I'm sure the day had a competitive edge!

"We are all particularly delighted that Lewis has had this one-off opportunity - it has been a competitive season for him and this is a fitting reward for all the hard work he has put in to maintain his steep learning curve. Having worked closely with Lewis over recent years, I know how keen he has been to get behind the wheel of one of our Formula One cars and, of course, it has always been a scheduled element of our programme with him.

"From feedback we have received from all three drivers, it was a positive and enjoyable experience for them and we hope they will have benefited from the session. In addition to the technical and fiscal side, activities such as the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award also help to provide media coverage which, to an upcoming driver, is invaluable. We are now looking forward to congratulating the 2004 winner on Sunday."



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