Hamilton to do demo laps at Brands Hatch After finishing second in last weekend’s European Grand Prix, McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton will be taking part in the team’s Monza testing session this week before racing again on the weekend. While it won’t be an official Formula One event, Lewis will be driving his Formula One contender at a DTM event at Brands Hatch instead….
What was the idea behind driving your Formula 1 car at the DTM event at Brands Hatch on Sunday?
I am really looking forward to the DTM event at Brands Hatch next Sunday. It is always really good fun when we run the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 car away from the race weekend, as the spectators can get closer to the action. I have done a couple of events this year in front of my home crowd, such as Goodwood and the Double 12 Festival, and you get to have some fun and spend some time with the fans. I’ve not driven at Brands Hatch for a few years, but I love the track, so it is great that Mercedes-Benz have organized for this demo. I think the last time a current Formula 1 car ran at the track was in 1986, when Nigel Mansell won the race, so it is pretty cool to be taking it back!
What do you think about the DTM?
DTM is fantastic! I was involved with the DTM when I competed in the F3 Euro Series supporting races back in 2004 and 2005. It is a great series, the racing is always pretty exciting, and the atmosphere is really open and welcoming. The drivers get close to the fans, as they can buy tickets for the paddock pretty easily. There is always something happening on and off the track, it is definitely worth coming down for the day.
Will the Brands Hatch Indy-Circuit be challenging for the DTM drivers?
Definitely, it is a great track and they get to race 82 laps of the shorter Indy circuit. There is so much going on a lap of the track because it is so short with so much packed into it, that the drivers have no time at all to relax. I can always remember thinking the lap at Brands is over so quickly… the drivers will have to be very fit to stay focused in those hot DTM cockpits for 82 laps!
Have you ever raced in Formula 3 at Brands Hatch?
I competed in a couple of races at the end of the 2003 season in the British F3 series at Brands Hatch, after I had won the Formula Renault title that year. Racing through Druids in a F3 car was just awesome, I cannot wait to see what it will feel like in my Formula 1 car, but I won’t be pushing so hard! Other sections of the track, such as when you go up the hill to Paddock Hill Bend are also fantastic, you can’t see the corner and then when you plunge downhill on the exit, you hit this enormous compression. It is unlike any other track I have raced on. When I was in the F3 Euro Series, it didn’t support the DTM at Brands Hatch, which was a shame. But with the British F3 races and the three victories I took at the track in Formula Renault in 2002 and 2003, I know the circuit quite well.
Do you know any of the DTM drivers personally?
I know all of the Mercedes-Benz drivers as we often bump into each other during the year, but of course I know the British drivers that I competed against as we came up through the ranks better. For example, I raced with Susie Stoddart in Formula Renault, we shared the podium a couple of times. When I won my first Formula 3 race in 2004 at the Norisring, I finished just ahead of Jamie Green, the year when he won the Euro Series title. Gary Paffett is my teammate at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, so we spend a lot of time working together on developing our Formula 1 car. I used to do lots of fitness training sessions with the Mercedes DTM guys, which was challenging and always a lot of fun as well. We are all so competitive, whatever part of the program we were doing, so running, cycling and so on, we all wanted to win, badly. I can remember the first session I went to, I was so much younger than the DTM guys and was there with legends like Bernd Schneider, I couldn’t believe it. But after a couple of hours, I soon found my competitive streak!
Which of the DTM drivers will be your favorite at Brands Hatch?
I will be supporting all the Mercedes-Benz DTM drivers, however a victory for a British driver in a Mercedes in front of his home crowd would be fantastic. I was fortunate to experience winning my home race in front of my home crowd at Silverstone this year, the atmosphere was something else, so it would be great to see that happen again at Brands Hatch.
Will you be available for the fans during the Sunday race day?
Absolutely. Events like this give me the opportunity to spend some time meeting fans, signing autographs. I am never able to sign as many as I would like, but I promise I do try! It is very important to me to have the chance to do this as the support I get from the fans is incredible and you must never take that for granted. I think I will be in the Mercedes-Benz display area for an interview over the tannoy and an autograph session on Sunday morning. Then after that I will watch the race together with my family, it will be like going back in time to three years ago!