Button swaps McLaren for V8 Supercar in Melbourne
Australia got a taste of what it can expect at the Gold Coast SuperCarnivale in October when Formula One star and reigning world champion Jenson Button hopped aboard a V8 Supercar at Albert Park in Melbourne today.
|(l-r) Jenson Button and Jamie Whincup experienced life on the other side today when they swapped cars at Albert Park|
The 2010 Gold Coast SuperCarnivale will see 18 international drivers join the 29 regular V8 Supercar stars on the streets of the Gold Coast for the third endurance event on the series calendar, from October 22-24.
While the SuperCarnivale is still more than 200 days away, today’s activity gave fans and media a chance to see an international star steering a V8 Supercar around the Albert Park street circuit ahead of this weekend’s Qantas Australian Grand Prix.
As part of a Vodafone car swap, TeamVodafone driver and reigning V8 Supercar champion Jamie Whincup swapped one of his team’s cars for the 2008-spec McLaren Mercedes F1 car which Lewis Hamilton steered to victory in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on his way to his world championship.
While Button cannot be on the streets of Surfers Paradise in October because of a clash with an F1 round in Korea, event organizers are firming up a list of international stars for the unique event where the “guests” will be required to drive at least 30% of the 300km V8 Supercar races on both Saturday and Sunday.
Button was impressed, and surprised, with the Commodore VE that he drove, while admitting to a handling difficulties with his new machine.
"It was great - a really good experience. I’ll have to strengthen my right leg if I ever want to drive these again, or get the chance to drive these again. In the V8, you brake with your right leg, where as in our cars, it’s with your left. It’s quite difficult to get used to," said Button.
"I was actually surprised at how much grip the car had, especially on low speed corners and it excels at high speed. It’s very impressive.
|Jenson Button gets comfy aboard the TeamVodafone V8 Supercar ride car|
"It’s hot in there as well. It’s not as physical in the way of g-forces, but its physical because of the heat."
Gold Coast SuperCarnivale General Manager, Shane Howard, said he believed that the list of world renowned international drivers being put together for the October event would take Queensland to the rest of the world through the existing international television partners of the sport which cover most of the globe.
"We are 90% there with our list of international stars for the SuperCarnivale and have a who's who list of drivers confirmed for the event," said Howard.
"Some of the names we have involved are some of the biggest in world motorsport and we cannot wait to see them on the streets of Surfers Paradise.
"Today’s event in Melbourne was terrific exposure for the AGP and V8 Supercars and we look forward to doing it for real in October."
The V8 Supercars will be on track this weekend at Albert Park for non-championship races, before the championship chase continues with the ITM Hamilton 400 in New Zealand on April 16-18.
The Gold Coast SuperCarnivale will see each regular V8 Supercar team linked with an international driver for the third endurance event of the V8 Supercar Championship Series calendar.
Racing for championship points, the event will see two 300km races complete with driver, fuel and tire stops held over the Saturday and Sunday of the event, while the rest of the Gold Coast comes alive with entertainment both on and off the track in the tradition of one of the world’s largest motor racing festivals.