F1 fan drives Lewis Hamilton’s F1 McLaren: Video
Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Oct 2011   |  11:36 am GMT  |  63 comments

Here is my video of the day a F1 fan drove Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren F1 car at Silverstone. Djorge Simic works in a bank in Serbia, but for one day he got to taste the shattering performance of a 2008 F1 McLaren, the car in which Lewis Hamilton won the 2008 British Grand Prix.

Contributing to the video are Mika Hakkinen and Hamilton – “I bet he’s crapping his pants!” says Hamilton when asked how the fan will be feeling moments before the off.

Simic was chosen from 17 finalists to win the drive as the top prize in McLaren sponsor Johnnie Walker’s Drive of a Lifetime competition.

His reaction after driving the car is hilarious!

Keep your eyes on this site as we will be launching a very exciting competition of our own shortly, which will give two JA on F1 readers a chance to do something unique.

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Is it possible for girls to be picked up x) ?


It’s sort of extraordinary that F1 safety has progressed to the point that you can feel pretty comfortable about putting a member of the public in one of these cars.

Sure, there will have been a lot of driving, and health and fitness checks that will have happened before they did so – but even so – what a remarkable testament to the safety of these cars these days.

Of course, motorsport safety is right back in the spotlight these days, after the two recent deaths in other divisions of motorsports, Kubica’s accident, and the Senna movie reopening talk of F1’s most recent fatalities. And this is exactly right: we should always be pushing to make the sport safer. But it’s remarkable that a member of the public can take one of these out for a spin.


WOW. I am very jealous. What a lucky guy. I was in last year’s Red Bull banging out the laps in Suzuka a few weeks ago. I was even faster than vettel’s and Webber’s quali times in the same car. But then I woke up… And cried!


Im feeling nothing but Jealousy between the layers of excitement for the “banker”! It’s great to root for the fan who is behind the wheel mainly because; A, it promotes a strong tether between the fans of formula one and that of its constructors. Also, as Lewis pointed out, it allows us to truly emgage and on a much deeper level appreciate just exactly what it is that F1 drivers feel and perform during a GP.

Now James, I think one of the issues that needs to be bridged between f1 and America, if it’s to be successful here once again, is greater understanding of the sport. Our culture must change or rather learn to embrace F1 but that won’t be easy. There seems to be a disconnect between fans here and the sport because we are so used to the interaction between our own sports heros and teams. The visible and interactive enjoyment has as you know fueled NASCAR, INDYCAR as well as NHR Drag racing. I am not a huge fan of either of those series but as a motor sports fan I can attest to its strong connection for its fan base. My love has and will always be F1 but in talking with fellow enthusiasts here it seems as if the circumcision between the fan and sport needs to be suspended by such events like the Johnny Walker Promo here in the states. Why can’t the FIA – Bernie – partners and sponsors along with the constructors market events that not only target fans but seek to cultivate new ones. I don’t mean this just during the course leading up to and during the Austin GP but throughout the year. It would be great to see a program like F1 in schools here, the chance to win an f1 drive in this country or a driving lesson from an f1 pilot.

I know I’m dreaming but my conscious desire is to see the longevity of f1 spirited rather than become a passing phase once again…


That was awesome! I couldn’t stop smiling the whole time I watched it. Good for Djorge. 🙂 Thanks for sharing James!


Ok people, he is a lucky bloke but there are many reasons why there is no need to jealous.

Trust me, F1 car is too fast for us. He will be lifting and braking way too early.

Even if you try a Kf kart for the first time, it takes a while to get used to it. Then you can always try those Formula Ford or Formula BMW which you can pay to drive.

I mean you would rather drive a kart or something properly instead of driving an F1 car like a safety car.

I am not bashing the fan, I think he did look ok but like Lewis said anyone who tries that F1 would be crapping his pants. Because it is seriously scary.


Undoubtedly true, but the jealousy is of a friendly nature because most of us here if not all, dream of driving an F1 car, just for the experience. Let a dream be a dream, and not clouded by reality.


Oh yeah I mean I am jealous abit too haha.

The fact that he has a story that he can talk about. Plus can you imagine what he can write in his resume?

Achievements – tested a world championship winning Mclaren F1 car.


I think i actually turned green watching that video. What an amazing opportunity and a fantastic experience to have two world champions giving you advice as well.

Id give anything in this world to sit in an F1 car let alone drive one. The pressure of not binning the car must have been huge 🙂


This is a bit of a simplistic comparrison. F1 and Indycar could probably learn much from each other.


Err, this was supposed to be in reply to a comment further up – feel free not to post this as it’s a mistake!


Great video James!

Simic did a great job and clearly deserved to win. I am really glad to see a mere mortal doing so well.

James, any video of your single seater driving? I was impressed by your Ferrari drive; I’d like to see how you did in the single seater.


Sadly not. I’d love to see it too, because that’s probably the best I’ve ever driven! Ian Flux the chief instructor confirmed it afterwards, which made me feel pretty good. Unlike several F1 journos, I’ve never fancied myself as a driver, doing driving events mainly to get a better understanding of the feel and of the physics of it rather than to be a “wannabe” – as my Dad was a professional racer with Lotus I’m well aware of how far off competitive I’ve always been!


Green with envy!


You can’t help but love Mika Hakkinen… even if he is channelling the ghost of Alan Partridge.


Great video. I’d love to see the guys full run. It’s such a hard task. You really need a full hour or more to get used to it. Presumably he was mostly concentrating on not doing anything too stupid and being nice and smooth. It looked like that from the snatch of in car footage. …Anyway it looked like he was doing really well.


Thanks much. Remarkable. Good for him and McLaren for making it possible.


That was great James,…..but as you said, that you thought that you would have a go, well then how did you do? Hmmmmmm?????


Quite quick in the single seaters, according to the instructors. I didn’t drive the F1 car, obviously!


They were flattering you in the hopes of getting a free copy of this year’s book! When is that available by the way?


Working on it now. It’s a nightmare with the last race being end of November. We’ll turn it around asap after Brazil so we should be sending out around second week of December. There will be a cool incentive to order early..


Did you remember any of Malcolm Strachan’s coaching tips following your Ferrari 458 experience? Did the training give you any useful feedback?

The rest of this is just for the suggestion box, particularly if you know any neuroscientists.

I vaguely remember a comment about Senna that essentially said that he was able to process information about 50 per cent quicker than the average person, so that the car’s speed was within his mental capacity to manage where others may have been struggling to keep up. I’ve no idea whether Senna would have let anyone measure him in this way, or if it was just an estimate or if it had any credibility beyond the obvious that Senna was very fast in a l980s-early 90s F1 car.

I guess that if you have the brain speed, the confidence and the ability to be smooth with your hands and feet, then you should be quite quick as you’ve spent a lot of time studying driving from the outside, so you’d know all the lines. I’ve heard it suggested that for day time driving, even great eyesight isn’t that necessary.

I am certainly interested in how much the reaction skills and sense of balance/gravity is developed and how much is just natural ability. It would make sense that there is a basic skill level that then gets trained. But is there a key age before which a driver needs to be exposed to racing to develop fully?

I wonder whether gynamistics has anything to offer in the training of racing drivers? Nico Rosberg’s juggling on a unicycle is not completely unrelated to this, and I remember Peter Windsor commenting on Kimi Raikkonen’s sense of balance.

While on balance, I remember a TV science show measuring the sense of balance of men and women. The one thing that stuck in my head was that for women the results varied throughout the menstrual cycle.




Actually yes. This was the first time I’ve driven a single seater since the Fiorano experience and I was pleasantly surprised how the lessons, particularly on braking and releasing the brake, had stuck. It made a huge difference to me.

As for the brain processing speed, I’m sure it’s a factor. Certainly the engineers who have worked with the great drivers say that what stands out is their ability to drive consistently on the limit while having a good percentage of their brain left available for thinking about the race and communicating with pits etc. Whether many fans want to believe it or not, Vettel has this quality in spades, apparently


What a fabulous treat, the guy could clearly drive, and thoroughly deserved his chance. From watching Richard Hammond struggle in the Renault F1 on Top Gear, just getting round the lap is no mean feat.

A nicely put together video. This is what makes JA.F1 such a good site to visit.

Thank you


Nice one James.


Awesome. I’m not at all jealous or anything. 🙁

Good for him 🙂


Sorry, this is off-topic…

I just watched SENNA movie and I am speechless.

I have never seen him racing. I started watching F1 as of 98/99 and did not have access to any of Senna races. Later on I simply never bothered. I watched the movie today and I am deeply touched by who he was. His personality is so rare, so unique. He was a very religious person and I wonder whether he indeed knew God personally. I also wonder what God thinks about people like Senna.

I am so sorry that I never saw him racing. With all respect, but the championship that Vettel had this year seem to be a joke vs what Senna was able to achieve.

I am glad that God allowed people like him to live. I also think that the life he had, his passion, his deep commitment and strong will have really consumed him.

P.S. There is a problem with posting on the blog


Thanks for that


Here is the essence of the difference between Indycar and F1:

Indycar’s idea of fan participation is to pair up a driver and a fan, and let them split $5 Million if the driver can go from last on the grid to win. Unfortunately, the driver is killed in the race and the fan probably ends up with psychological problems and hating Indycar.

F1, however, actually makes it possible for a fan to go to one of the worlds most famous tracks, meet 2 former world champions, and actually DRIVE an F1 car at speed – safely and memorably. A day none of them is soon to forget.

I can’t think of a better example of how to do something wrong and how to do something right.


Way too simplistic. There are always things different series’ could learn from each other.


If there’s one thing all forms of American Motorsport get right compared to F1, whether its IndyCar, NASCAR, ALMS or Grand-Am, its keeping in touch with the fans and letting them get real close to the cars and drivers. And this was a Johnny Walker event, not an F1 event.



What about the cost of a ‘fan’ such as myself going to an F1 race as opposed to an Indycar one?

I can’t think of a better example of how to do something wrong and how to do something right.


It cost me $510 for a three day seat at Montreal GP and $50 for one day of IndyCar at New Hampshire (not that far from Montreal).

Also IndyCar and Honda had a promo this year of having a fan at every race getting to be a passenger in a

two seater IndyCar driven by Mario Andretti or Al Unser Jr. They got to be interviewed by the TV announcers when they were being driven around too.

But IndyCar NEEDS to get rid of big tracks with high banking that were designed for NASCAR


He is lucky and i am jealous

hey James,i want to ask you

I am a Mclaren fan since 2005,but i don’t live in england,just wanna ask you,if i got the chance to go to england which is soon,can i visit the Mclaren factory?,is it opened for all the fans?i just want to get into that mclaren without driving,just like a pose,can i do that?

than you in advance


I’m not sure it is possible, apart from in organised groups/events. They are funny about photography in the boulevard area, where the old cars are.


What if I am ‘an official McLaren Team Member’ – it says this on my fanclub card ;). Surely I have a right to go in whenever I want…..


You just apply through the fan club. I’ve done the tour through them, and they definitely strong on not letting cameras in. In the initial email they said they banned phones with cameras, although this all got sorted.

It’s a brilliant tour, lots of lovely things to see


I suspect things might have changed too much these days but I remember taking a couple of Bulgarian Police officers, who were attached to my unit for a month, to a test at Silverstone. I managed to blag taking them into the Mclaren garage and they met Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard. Mika gave them each a pair of gloves and every team member really looked after them. It might well be worth an email in advance just in case.


Hi James, which contest did he enter?

Will there be a chance for international fans like myself?


Yes, and as I posted the other day, if Johnnie Walker do it again next year, I hope I can persuade them to let me have one place in the final for a JA on F1 reader.


Lewis is looking a lot happier than we’ve seen him in recent weeks. Is that just because he’s away from the F1 press, or is this a genuine improvement in his mood?


I’ll drink to that, sounds and looks fantastic.

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