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JANUARY 13, 2003

The F1 Awards

Australians continue to make an impact in Formula 1 with the Formula One Awards in Birmingham seeing two of the six prizes going to Australia. Mark Webber won the Best Newcomer Award for his performances for Minardi in 2002 while the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne was voted the best circuit by a panel of F1 experts.

There was no surprise in the vote for Best Driver of the Year with Michael Schumacher getting the nod but there was an odd moment when the award was picked up for Michael by his bitter rival from years gone by Damon Hill.

Ferrari won the Best Car Award while the judges also recognised Ron Dennis's contributions to the sport with a Lifetime Achievement Award while a prize for the Oustanding Contribution to F1 in 2002 went to Race Director Charlie Whiting. There was also a Special Safety Award presented by Professor Sid Watkins to American Terry Trammel for his work on the development of the HANS safety device, whioch helps to protest drivers' heads and necks in big accidents. F1 drivers will all use HANS devices this year.

Giancarlo Fisichella has had a pretty thin time in recent years in F1 but on Saturday night he walked away with the inaugural "Driver's Driver" award, voted by his fellow F1 drivers and test drivers.