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Win a VIP tour of McLaren factory and signed Jenson Button shirts and mini helmets
Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Nov 2011   |  6:21 pm GMT  |  205 comments

We’ve very proud that this year here on JA on F1 we’ve given many fans a chance to get closer to the sport, sending 14 fans to Grands Prix, one fan to Abu Dhabi, we’ve put two fans on a real F1 simulator and we’ve had lots of other great prizes for competitions.

Our friends at Santander, with whom we did the FOTA Fans Forum in June, have given us a few nice things to celebrate the end of a great season of F1 – a VIP trip for two people to the McLaren factory (known as the McLaren Technology Centre), two replica mini-helmets signed by Jenson Button and two McLaren team shirts also signed by Button.

To enter just send me a few short lines, in the comments section below, with your favourite recollection or highlight of the McLaren duo’s 2011 season so far. Deadline for entries is Sunday night at 8pm.

The best one will win the VIP Tour plus a shirt and mini-helmet, the runner-up will win a shirt and mini-helmet.

The winners will also each get a signed copy of my 2011 review book of the Year “Vettel steals the show”, which comes out on December 12th priced £9-99.

Santander also have more great prizes to tempt you – including tickets to next year’s British Grand Prix, signed merchandise from Lewis and Jenson and VIP tours of McLaren – to find them click on this link and check out the Competitions tab on Lewis and Jenson’s Facebook page:


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I have been waiting 5 weeks to write a note of thanks….

Whilst 48 hours was very short notice about the visit to McLaren we had an enjoyable day. It was obviously a day put together more for corporate muppets rather than genuine fans but entirely understandable from the teams point of view. I would love to spend days chatting to some of the technicians but quite impossible from their point of view. Having said that it would have been wonderful if some of the older guys could have joined us for lunch – that would have made the day incredible.

Thank you so much for the day.

Many thanks for your efforts in compiling this website – here is hoping for another exciting season.


Jonathan Lodge


My wife bought me tickets as a gift for the Canadian Grand Prix. We were unable to attend, but we watched the race live on TV. The rain delay really changed the feel of the event, but it was well worth the wait. Jensen Button, after having a close call with Lewis and a strange series of pit stops, proceed to pass driver after driver in one of the best comebacks I’ve ever seen. When he forced an error on Vettel on the last lap and brought it home for McLaren my wife and I were jumping around and cheering like little children. It was a hard fought victory for McLaren. I only wish we had been there to see it live, rain and all. Congratulations on an impressive 2011 season!


My favourite moments from the season were theMclaren pit team’s reaction to Jenson taking the lead in Canada having put Vettel under so much pressure and forcing the mistake, and equally, the way Jenson drove the last few races with skill and intelligence and the respect between Lewis and Jenson. Bring on 2012.


I guess I missed out on this one, but I’ll comment anyway because my top JB moment was also my top F1 moment of this season. I got a chance to go to Montreal and jumped on it. It was my first F1 race ever, although as a 15 year old I tried to slide into the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona but got foiled by the dreaded Francoist Guardia Civil. Besides, it was a long time ago in a galaxy far far away and has nothing to do with Jenson! Montreal was just a beautiful city. It was a first time there and it seemed that it was such a wonderful counterpoint to my beloved New York. Fast forward to the race. I had general admission tickets but was able to secure a decent spot at Epingle. It started out in typical fashion, Vettel out in front. Then it started to rain, and rain, and rain…The race was stopped, people ran for cover and it rained, and rained and rained…The masses started filing out. I think most people thought the rain would never stop; the 2 hour rule was surely in effect so there was no sense staying. I was drenched; I came to the track woefully unprepared, although my girlfriend had the good sense to bring a rain poncho. My girlfriend pleaded with me to leave, but a little voice that sounded suspiciously like Bernie kept saying stay stay, you’ll be glad you did. Finally the rain abated, sort of. By that time the place was practically empty and my girlfriend and I found an empty park bench about 20 feet from the track. The race started and we were treated to a tremendous vantage point, we got to see and hear the cars, literally a few feet in front of us come barreling down the straight into a Epingle, decelerating around the curve and then accelerating into the straight with a blast of speed. At that distance from the track our ear protectors were practically worthless and the mechanical arias produced by those engines were just spellbinding. A Vettel win was practically a foregone conclusion. Then in the last lap, with the few remaining fans fixed on the jumbotron Screen, Button did what he did and the cheers were almost as loud as the cars. A grand memorable moment for Button and a grand memorable experience for me.


I’d like to be able to report that my highlight of the season was going to watch Jenson and Lewis talk to the crowd after qualifying at Silverstone, putting on one of the Jenson facemasks that I had made, asking him some “hilarious” question, like “Who are you, and what are you doing in my car?”, then shaking hands with the great man himself amid much laughter and back slapping. However, as it was raining, I stayed sat in the grandstand at Club (wearing my Jenson facemask), hearing instead from my friends that had braved the rain that they’d seen the Mac lads in the flesh. There’s a moral in there somewhere.


[i]”What is he doing!?”[/i] in Montreal.

Definitive moment this season as Jenson forcefully asserts he will not be the number 2 driver in McLaren and underlines it with an extraordinary win in difficult conditions.

Any remaining doubters were silent after this race and rightly so.


Canadian Grand Prix – Jenson Button coming from last in the rain to finish first forcing Vettel to spin off under pressure on the last lap was the best Mclaren race of 2011.

Well done Jenson and well done Mclaren!


This has been a great season for Jenson, especially as he is in ‘Lewis’s Team’! So for not only turning McClaren into their team, he is the first person to beat Lewis. For that reason, my 2 moments would be Jenson’s win in Japan which gave him one more race win than Lewis, and making it a great occassion for himself and his girlfriend. As before the japanese race, you could sense that he was really hoping to win that race more than most others because of all the circumstances that surrounded the race and what the country had gone through.

The second moment would be from Abu Dhabi, when Jenson claimed 3rd place that meant it was mathmatically impossible for Lewis to over take Jenson in the championship standings, which cement what a great year he has had in the McClaren team, and making alot of people change their views about him, including Flavio Briatore, Which in itself is remarkable that he would say that about Jenson, as he had no need to as it has been many years since he was Jenson’s boss.

Lets hope that McClaren can produce a great car out of the blocks so he can have another crack at the championship.


The wheel to wheel action at the Hungaroring was amazing and epitomised all that is great about F1 and McLaren. It showed that the values of racing are still alive and that even in the age of team orders and conservative team strategies, team mates are still able to keep each other honest, keep it clean and provide great entertainment.


My favourite memories from McLaren this year are: Lewis winning in China (my heart was in my mouth before the race started). Jenson winning in Canada (haven’t shouted at the TV that much since Lewis won the Championship). Aside from the obvious McLaren moments from 2011, JB made me smile in Singapore when the following message was published on the McLaren Pitwall as he was was on his way back to the pits after the race “Smell of bangers at turn 17 guys. If you’re hungry get down to turn 17″……..never thought I’d read (hear) something like that on the McLaren Pitwall. Love it!


McLaren moment of the year has to be Button winning the Canadian GP. It was an incredible race but what made it very special to me was the build up as well as the race itself. On the Friday I saw the Senna film (for the first time). Saturday afternoon until Sunday we had the epic Le Mans 24 hours. Then surpassing both was the Canadian GP itself. My wife left at the start of the race due to work reasons (Taunton to Bradford) but due to the delays made it to the hotel when the race restarted properly after the rain delays and switched from listening to it on the radio to watching it on t.v. And to have a change of lead on the last lap. Amazing! During the delays and safety cars I was keeping in touch with my partner. A different set of circumstances to watching a GP perhaps making the race even more memorable.


Lewis’ superb drive in China sums up what a truly Senna-esque driver he is – inventing places to overtake – made even more amazing because at that stage in the season, the tyres were still a relative unknown.

Who can fail to be amazed by Jenson’s win in Canada in a race that saw just about everything – a clash with his teammate, a drive-through penalty, an accident with Alonso, multiple safety cars and some of the worst weather F1 is likely to experience .. and yet he won the race. Utterly sublime!


For me, Australia. After the winter testing it looked a pretty gloomy season, but then came qualifying with Hamilton 2nd ‘just’ 7 tenths behind. Then the race where he it looked like Button was starting the year ahead of Lewis, but due to his penalty gave Lewis the 3rd place.


It has to be Canada, not for Jenson’s drive but because it summed up the two men’s seasons and differing styles. Lewis’ impetuous nature and desperation to get past everyone as soon he as he could saw his race end after just a few minutes as his efforts to show he just needed a tiny gap to make a pass once again ended badly. Meanwhile, Jenson played the patient, long (four hours long!) game and came away with a superb, dramatic victory that had me bouncing up and down on my coach.

I imagine Jenson’s cry of “What is he doing?” pretty much sums up most people’s thoughts on Lewis’ season!


My favourite recollection from the year is the resigning of Jenson Button to a multi-year deal with McLaren and how a few weeks later, Lewis Hamilton responded with a win in Abu Dhabi.

Button staying with McLaren is a no-brainer. He’s performed beautifully, seems happy and will always be challenging for the title in the twilight of his career.

Contrast this with Hamilton. Martin Whitmarsh, showing the harder side of Formula One by publicly announcing that Button was doing Lewis’ head in, responds by sorting out his personal life and coming back strong and smiling.

All good recollections in my book.


Well I’m not going to mention just the races in wich Jenson has won, I’m going to say all of this season has been spectacular for him, the fact that he’s been so consistent in podium finishes, and a couple of wins means that he was able to put preassure and beat Hamilton, for that you need to be at the top of your game. McLaren shouldn’t feel dissapointed either because in my view they were not beaten by Red Bull they were beaten by Vettel and with a strong end in this season and Hamilton coming back now I predict an exciting season for 2012 with a three way battle between Vettel and the two McLaren drivers… we’ll just have to wait and see.


The best has to be China, when Lewis Hamilton dived on the inside of Jenson Button into the first corner. They could both have easily thrown it away – Lewis locking up and running straight into the side of jenson or jenson by turning into the corner.

Jenson kept his eyes open for the move and did well to steer out of his team mate’s way and Hamilton did well to not catch a break or do anything rash that would mean a contact with his team mate.

This could have ended in tears for the McLaren team, it didn’t and I respect both the drivers greatly for the race they drove and McLaren for allowing their drivers to race that close and hard in a year where team orders are allowed!


For me one of the most memorable moment of the season was during Hungarian GP. I consider it as a real classic of 2011 campaign. I keep in mind that moment when Jenson and Lewis were fighting togather. Two state of the art machines and extraordinarly talented drivers fighting wheel to wheel in extremely difficult conditions. Balancing on the edge and searching for grip with this sixth sense which is posesed only by best drivers. Despite this intense battle they respected each other like gentelmen from previous years. For me essence of Formula 1 emotions and at the end another sunday evening in rocket red colour.


Funnily enough it was something that Vettel said one one of the BBC aftershow in Korea that I think of, where he talked about as an F1 driver, while it matters about winning, what’s sometimes even more important is knowing that you’ve got everything you can out of the car and out of the weekend. For me, this sums up the positivity around Jenson and McLaren this year- yes, they might not be winners overall, but you can feel the positivity from that team as they keep pushing with everything they’ve got!


The inter-team battle between Lewis and Jenson has been the most compelling of the grid pairings, both given free rein to fight at every race. While Canada was one of the best races I’ve seen in a decade the race I would pick is Japan.

Jenson’s win was a fairy tale result that clichés are made of and his running back up the pitlane to the rostrum after running low on fuel after the chequered flag to the applause of the fans is my moment of the season.


Without doubt it was this year’s Canadian Grand Prix.

It was both the lowest and highest moment of McLaren’s season in my opinion.

Going from the drama and low point that was Lewis’ nearly taking out his team mate and finishing his race parked up on the side of the track. Then Jenson finding his way to the back of the field after a few more mishaps.

When the race restarted who would have thought that Jenson would fight his way through to win? It brought a tear to my eye and reminded me of Senna at Suzuka in 88 triumphing over adversity by racing his way to the front after finding himself much further down the field than he ever deserved to be. On that day Senna came back to win the championship. In Canada we saw the resurgance of Jenson Button. Since then not even Lewis could stop him. Remember also it was this Canadian Grand Prix with Jenson’s performance that showed Vettel could be beaten in a fair fight after his early season dominance.

It was not only one of the greatest moments in F1 history but also sporting history in general. It was Jenson’s Donnington if I could be so bold to make a comparison and the memory of the race will live on for a long time.


The races which for me have show the class of Mclaren were China and Canada.

With minutes to go before the start, Lewis’ car was in pieces, the got their head down fixed the car and then won the race.

In Canada Jenson went from last to pull off a fantastic win in a thrilling Grand Prix, the longest in F1 history. He kept his head and drove the wheels off the Mclaren.

Two fantastic wins of the 6 Mclaren have achieved so far this year which will be remembered for Red Bull domination.


My favourite moment of the 2011 season, although not the typical race win, would have to be Lewis’ battle with Felipe Massa on the last lap of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. At the after race party, he pretty much admitted that he was either going to finish the race in fourth, or not finish at all. It really showed the natural fighting spirit in Lewis, even for a fourth place finish.

We were sat at Luffield, and when the pair came into Brooklands looking closer than ever, tension was in the air and could be felt from all the fans in the grandstand. The rest of the lap was watched on the giant TV screen (and the Kangaroo TV) complete with “oohs” from the crowd. The final corner and race to the line was definately a ‘head in hands’ moment, but the sound when Lewis crossed the line in fourth was actually quite emotional and sent shivers down my spine. He certainly got a well deserved round of applause from the Brits at Luffield. The atmosphere continued on to the after race party and the campsites (even though it was the end of the race weekend). An experience and feeling I will certainly never forget.


Abu Dhabi – a double podium for McLaren with Lewis on the top step and Jenson in third after probably one of the best drives of his season.

Lewis probably could have taken a fight to Vettel, but we’ll never know for sure, however, he had to put up with a relentless Alonso and put all his recent ‘issues’ to the back of his mind and drive a controlled yet aggressive race at his pace.

Jenson dealt with all manner of technical issues and put up with pressure of Webber. Its drives like that, which during a championship season would have made the difference – driving round issues has always been the mark of a full and complete driver, and if there had been more pressure for a decent result I think that drive would have got just as much attention as his Canadian win.

All in all, a great win for the team! And in the season like this, its something the whole team can embrace.


It has to be Monza, because I saw them racing live for the first time of my life:)!

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