Returning to the Autosport Awards for the first time since 2019 after it could not be held during the COVID-19 pandemic, the prize has been revamped for this year.
Preston, an engineering graduate from the University of Southampton, was chosen as the winner as a result of his work as an engineer on Williams’s professional Esports team, which competes in the official sim racing competitions organised by Formula 1, NASCAR, MotoGP, and others including the Le Mans Virtual Series.
As engineering has even more in common across real world and virtual racing than driving due to all the methodology, tools and processes being the same to harvest data to make car changes – whether on a physical machine or a model – the Award will from now on be chosen from applicants that replicate Preston’s work with Williams’s Esports squad.
After impressing Williams with his engineering skills as part of its Esports team, Preston went on to gain real world experience working with the Carlin squad in GB3 and engineering driver Will Tregurtha in GT racing this year.
As part of his Award win, Preston will attend a Formula 1 test day with Williams in 2023, supporting its trackside engineering team.
Speaking on stage at the Autosport Awards at Grosvenor House after receiving his Award trophy from new Williams F1 driver Logan Sargeant, Preston said: “If you told me in January that I’d be winning at the Autosport Awards, I’d call you crazy. This time last year I was driving around delivering Christmas trees as a job!
“It is a great honour to win this award and follow in the footsteps of the likes of Adrian Newey. There are only two awards an engineer can win at the Autosport Awards, this one, and the international car of the year.”
Details of how young engineers can apply to be a part of the 2023 Autosport Williams Engineer of the Future Award selection process will be revealed soon.
Other awards decided by expert judging panels include the Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award, the Gold Medal for lifetime legacy, the Gregor Grant Award for lifetime achievement, and Esports Team of the Year presented by Motorsport Games. Moment of the Year presented by Bang & Olufsen is the other award that has returned for 2022.
Further categories, which are decided by fan voting, include International Racing Driver of the Year presented by Pirelli, International Rally Driver of the Year, British Competition Driver of the Year, Rookie of the Year, International Racing Car of the Year presented by Blink Experience, Rally Car of the Year, National Driver of the Year and Esports Driver of the Year presented by Motorsport Games.
To find out who our other Award winners are, go to autosport.com/awards