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F1 fan drives Lewis Hamilton’s F1 McLaren: Video
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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.


Great! What a lucky man!

How many laps did he do?


Three in total- he could have gone all day!


Copse Corner, Beckets, Hangar Straight in a Mclaren. So that’s what jealousy feels like!!I’ve just turned green with envy.

Respect to Djorge.


Oh really?!

The winner of the Johnnie Walker drive of a lifetime is a…. BANKER!!! Hahahahahahahaha

No doubt about it, those saints have all the luck in the world.

Now, now, now… JA on F1 you have got me all excited about this new competition, I wonder what it’s about?

Hopefully the answers will be easy or else I ain’t winning nothing!


”I bet he’s crapping his pants”

I will try and remember that, the next time Lewis appears in his rivals rear view mirror


Well he’s not a banker in that sense, he works behind the counter, as far as I know.

New competition is very exciting and it’s about driving


I know this is a F1 blog. And the article is not related. But I’m really upset about Marco Simoncelli death. Do you know any deeper information about the injuries & safety of moto gp James?


Also, remember when F1 drivers complained about HANS and didn’t want to wear it? I’d like to see the “hero” that would get into an F1 car today without a HANS on.

To me it’s clear that MotoGP and for that matter all motorcycle racing must start testing HANS, adopted to armor suits applications. I don’t care what they have to do, helmet should never be allowed to come off the head, and they must clearly find a way to distribute neck forces across the torso via an interconnect system of armor suit, HANS, helmet.


I’m no doctor, but it seems like the dreaded basilar skull injury. I was stunned to see his helmet come off, and even more stunned to learn that this is not the first time that it happened with death as result. And in recent times too.

I can’t believe some form of HANS has not been adopted in MotoGP when riders are potentially and clearly subject to the same type of injury which has taken many lives in car racing. I can understand the issues in motorcycle racing and abilty to look backward for example with HANS, but surely now something must be done.

They wear armor leather, I can see a HANS attached to this torso strapped armor in effect moving forces away from the helmet and neck and preventing removal of helmet from rider at all cost. Also, they could consider some sort of outward firing airbag in their suits once rider is detached from bike. Clearly there is room for improvement here, with only challange being balancing safety with head movement freedom – which I don’t doubt can be done. Whatever limitation is imposed from the HANS application in MotoGP can be compensated with the rider turning at his torso to look back, not at the neck.

Just a sickening sequence of events in motorport recently. Just when we thought it was safe.


1987-2011: R.I.P Marco, he was a good person and a talented driver. I’ll miss him a lot.


No, I’m very sorry to hear about it. Saw the incident later and it seems his helmet came off. A tough time for motorsport


All I can say is I am very jealous!!


Don’t be. It’s not a good emotion.

There are countless F1 cars you can drive for a price. Start a piggy bank. For those that have the means we all know about the Ferrari program.

Once again, F1 in my view shows the limits of reach and relevance by not allowing true fan participation. Lucky that some privateers have taken it upon themselves to let some who can pay a few grand run 10 or 12 laps in a 90s F1 car. An of course teams are teaming up with sponsors to give a few a crack at a dew laps.


Perfectly healthy to be jealous in a light-hearted, pleased for the guy, living a boyhood dream sort of way – and you know it. I too am jealous 😉

James, what on earth are all those wings on the car? Is that the aero equivalent of stabilisers to drive the car into the track, heat the tyres and thus give the guy a fighting chance of actually driving the thing?

I too would be crapping my pants but only because of the terrible thought of binning the car in front of Hamilton.

P.S, I would not have been able to resist giving the Hamilton double fist pumps as I cruised majestically back into the pits!

(NB. James still having the issue where I post, the page refreshes to the top of the story but my post is not entered. Worked out that it cannot be to do with the email address entered as I tried all manner of email addresses this morning and nothing would work. Judging from other posts I am not alone in this (WE8). It obviously recognises the post in some way, as if I try and paste it back in I get a ‘duplicate comments’ warning. However, none of the posts where this has happened has ever made it onto your site so it doesn’t recognise them fully – this post is as a result of numerous different attempts at a later time).


Jump on a decent motorcycle and you’ll experience similar acceleration. Sure, not same braking(although quite good) and agreed not same cornering, but more fun in my view. Let’s be honest, most people who get into an F1 “fun-ride” car won’t commit to a corner the way Lewis or Mika would anyway.

high performance bikes have sufficient power to get you plenty of thrill and in most if not 99% of the cases offer performance beyond the reach of the rider. For a cost of a 10-12 lap F1 ride, you get to keep the bike too with my idea.

Those here who live close to a race track in Europe know all too well about where to safely enjoy their machines and their 0-100 accelaration in the 2 – 2.5s range – same as F1 cars. I find it’s the most engaging, affordable way to get your motorsport thrills, with open cockpit feel and serious performance on hand. The lovely 1198 or always reliable and affordable GSXR are quite choice. No laptop needed to start the engine. I highly recommend a performance riding course before you engage in a weekend at the track.

And just like that, you can have feelings of joy and excitement, instead of jealousy or envy. Don’t mean to preach, but it’s so freeing to not experience that emotion and to really be happy for someone. Djorge got his dream thrill, and it was special in every way.

I’m just happy someone from the grandstands got to cross the fence. After all, he’s from our team; Team F1 Fan. He represented us really well. Purple in all sectors.


I’d agree with that. I’ve ridden a few v high performance bikes and the acceleration is comparable with the two seater F1 car I ran in.


Thanks Sebee for your advice, here in Australia I don’t think there is alot opportunity to drive an F1 car. Can you please enlighten me on the Ferrari program please.


Contact your financial advisor, tell him to free up 3-5M asap!


You might be able to boy yourself a few Laps on a Jordan, Lareousse or if your really lucky a nice Ferrari. However will you have two former World Champions on hat to advise you with a current top flight team running the car?

I say lucky guy – well done to him.


Spot on with the two world champions point.

Lucky indeed, but we shouldn’t be jealous. I’m happy for the guy. No doubt this type of sponsor team-up provides a little bit of hope and chance at dream-come-true for many F1 fans. Something we normally have no chance at realizing.

I really don’t like seeing Mika close to an F1 car. I really miss him on the grid.

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