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F1: Hamilton takes on Top Gear challenge


Who wants to be F1 world champion anyway, when there are much greater prizes at stake?

Who needs to beat Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen when the satisfaction of knocking The Stig off the top of the rankings awaits?


Motorsport fans are in for a truly epoch-making experience, for the day is nigh when Lewis Hamilton takes on the Top Gear celebrity lap challenge.

He’ll join famous folk such as Jennifer Saunders, Gordon Ramsay, Hugh Grant and Billie Piper in putting a reasonably-priced road car around the programme’s very own circuit.

Current celebrity winner is Simon Cowell with a time of 1:45.90. But Top Gear driver Stig has put away a very tidy time of 1:44.40.

Who will triumph in this battle of the giants?

While former F1 greats Damon Hill and Nigel Mansell have taken the challenge in the past, the current F1 torchbearers are Jenson Button and Mark Webber who both drove it in a Suzuki Liana.

Jense managed an impressive 1:44.70 while Webber put in a wet time of 1:47.52 – showing the underside of the vehicle a good deal more of the kerbs than it was generally used to seeing.

So Hamilton knows what he has to do.

The test now takes place in a Chevrolet Lacetti – a car driven briefly by the Brits on Pole management while the Impreza was in at the garage.

We are happy to reassure him that it’s a very nice ride indeed, if maybe a little calmer than he’s used to.

And perhaps even with better cornering than the courtesy Merc he’s doubtless shoehorning around the hairpin bends of the Alpine foothills as we write.

The show will be broadcast on BBC Two at 8pm GMT this Sunday. Hamilton will be making his first appearance since the season’s end.

While he encountered Jeremy Clarkson at this year’s National Television Awards, the presenter was taken by surprise and only had time to get in one brief dig about Switzerland.

We’ll expect him to be on much better form this weekend.


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