Wet weather has dashed Lewis Hamilton’s hopes of topping a second set of F1 standings – Top Gear’s “star in a reasonably-priced car” challenge.
But, with the competitive spirit that makes or breaks an F1 driver, he’s cheekily secured himself another go in the dry.
The 22-year-old was hoping to beat the leaderboard-topping time set by the show’s resident driver The Stig round the circuit – a sprightly 1:44.4.
The nearest any other F1 driver has come is Nigel Mansell at 1:44.6. And the only other contender to go round in the wet has been Mark Webber, putting in a 1:47.5 lap.
So, how did Hamilton do? Well, despite the conditions, he beat almost everyone to get round in 1:44.7 – the same speed as Jenson Button in the dry.
And he did it while singing, cracking jokes and criticising the performance of the Suzuki Liana he was driving.
When presenter Jeremy Clarkson asked how he’d managed it, the McLaren rookie didn’t have an answer.
But he said he’d like to come back and have another go on a dry circuit – something Clarkson agreed to with alacrity.
So maybe The Stig shouldn’t rest on his laurels just yet…
Elsewhere in the interview Hamilton boosted his Stevenage street cred by talking about sticking 24in custom alloys on his Merc. Perhaps some nice under-car neons would be just the ticket too.
And he talked about the thrills of a high-speed crash: “It’s quite exciting when you’re flying towards a barrier head first, especially when you hit the gravel trap and you get some air. It’s pretty cool. I had a really good one this year at the beginning of the season.”
Tell that to Richard Hammond.
“The team worked very hard to get two brand new cars out for the first test, so there’s me and Fernando testing and I shunted it in Valencia at 180 mph backwards into a wall, and I remember going over the gravel backwards thinking ‘OK — this is going to hurt’, and bracing myself, and I put my head back, and it was actually quite a nice shunt.”
“They couldn’t fix the car, they had to fly it all the way home and fix it … thankfully I didn’t get the bill!”
He also mentioned driving with his dad, revealing that he’s still having to nod and smile at Anthony’s driving tips: “He truly believes he’s a better driver than me and that if he had been given the opportunity, he would be in F1 right now.”
We may not all know what it feels like to drive a F1 car. But I think most of us can sympathise with you there, mate…
Read a Top Gear blog entry about the interview here.