Watching motorsport on a regular basis always leave you wondering what it would be like to burn around race tracks at searing pace.
But Pirelli have made it easier to get that sensation, thanks to its Hot Laps programme that was available at 10 Grand Prix in 2019.
For anyone who has been lucky enough to try the flying lap in either a Mercedes, McLaren, Lamborghini or Aston Martin with a highly-skilled driver, it is an incredible experience that I can’t recommend enough.
This writer unfortunately doesn’t know how to go above 60 km/h in his ageing Nissan Sunny so having the luxury of being a co-pilot in one of these stunning cars was a joy to behold.
Launched in 2018 by Italian tyre manufacturer Pirelli, the F1 Pirelli Hot Laps programme provides invited celebrities, VIP guests and competition winners with a once-in-a-lifetime experience during which they are driven around circuits during the race weekend.
And after a thrilling Formula One season, the Pirelli Hot Laps programme returned to the final grand prix of the season in Abu Dhabi earlier this month and that was where I was given this unique opportunity.
Occasionally, stars like Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen, Esteban Ocon or Fernando Alonso will do the driving. Other times it could be former driver and current Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle.
The experience is unique, and having a former or current driver in the car alongside you to talk you through the lap is even more magical.
It’s also an opportunity for the many car manufacturers involved in F1, as engine suppliers, teams and partners, to showcase the brilliance of their products, as well as for the drivers to promote the cars of their respective teams.
The idea is to capture the essence of performance: not only from the cars themselves, but also from their durable Pirelli tyres, which are developed from the experience honed on the race track itself.
Given the tight schedule for the track on race weekends, each vehicle goes four laps, with each participant getting one lap of the circuit.
I was fortunate enough to be the second last person to go in Brundle’s car. Therefore, the tyres had warmed up for the Englishman to pull the car around.
The Aston Martin DBS purred with blistering confidence. We easily swept to 260 km/h per hour, especially down the famous back straight at Yas Marina Circuit.
If Brundle collected me trackside in a suit and no helmet, I would have believed it to be James Bond picking me up such was the beauty and well-balanced nature of the DBS.
It was only around the halfway turn that I started to feel more comfortable in Brundle’s reliable and capable hands. Up until that point, there was an element of nerves.
The lap experience itself was incredible. Not only is Brundle a brilliant commentator, but he’s got a serious eye behind the wheel.
Even with the car, at times, clipping the curb, he moved it around the track perfectly, winding up his next move and pushing to the maximum each time.
Unfortunately, as much as I loved it, it was over before I knew it. But Brundle was superb, talking through the different elements of the track and what he liked to do when behind the wheel.
I’d even said to him halfway around the track to pull over so I can show him how it was done.
Maybe a step up from my Sunny to Brundle’s DBS on a Saturday afternoon was too much to take, especially for a man who has driven in 158 grand prix.
Everyone who participated spoke highly about what their driver had done and how fast the car went.
It was a whirlwind experience, one that I’m highly appreciative of, especially when never trying anything of this calibre before.
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