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Win a chance to drive a Williams F1 car – for real

If you’ve watched F1 drivers on the telly and thought ‘I could do that’, here’s your chance to prove it in a competition that could put you behind the wheel of a Formula One car for five laps.

Last year's winner shares a joke with the professionals
Last year’s winner shares a joke with the professionals

Run by Philips Consumer Lifestyle, which sponsors the Williams F1 team, the competition will narrow down entrants in a series of driving tests and evaluations until one emerges as the winner.


Starting on the Philips website with a few Williams-related quiz questions and an online ‘test track’ called the Driving Academy, the competition will heat up for the 10 fastest who will win an expenses-paid trip to the UK from wherever in the world they happen to be based.

Then the contest really gets going, with an assessment that involves progressively more challenging cars, including fast open wheel single-seaters and Caterhams.

The best three from that will come to the Williams HQ to be assessed in the driver simulator used by F1 pilots Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima – and ultimately it will be down to technical director Sam Michael to decide who gets the big prize.

You'll have to impress technical director Sam Michael
You’ll have to impress technical director Sam Michael

“The main thing I’ll be looking for is maturity,” he said, making it clear that he expected the finalists to listen to advice, learn from the experts and not get any foolish ideas about impressing him enough to land a job as a test driver.

Underlining the seriousness with which the competition is being taken, if Michael doesn’t think any of the entrants are capable of handling the car there will be no winner and the PR campaign can go hang.

One man who will be hoping that doesn’t happen is Patrick Overwijk, the F1 Sponsorship Manager for Philips Consumer Lifestyle. He said: “Last season we found fourteen very talented drivers who demonstrated a perfect combination of skill, track awareness, consistency and a willingness to learn.

“In 2009, we’re hoping that the Philips Driving Academy will unearth a number of men and women who also have what it takes to drive the AT&T Williams car.”

How to enter

One of last year's finalists under assessment
One of last year’s finalists under assessment
  1. Enter the Philips Driving Academy at www.philips.com/attwilliams
  2. Register your details and set your own ‘hotlap’ on the specifically designed Philips test track
  3. The closing date for the competition is 20th September 2009

The prize

  1. The ten fastest entrants globally will win an expenses paid trip to the UK to compete in an assessment day
  2. The third-placed finalist will get to drive a sports car around the circuit with instruction from Kazuki Nakajima
  3. The second-placed finalist will practice the track in a sports car, as above, and then get to drive an F2 car for five laps of the circuit
  4. The overall winner will practice the circuit in both the sports car and F2 car, receive a one-to-one briefing from Kazuki Nakajima, and then drive a Williams FW29 for five laps

The Williams FW29 has been chosen because it’s the most recent to have traction control, while the track is likely to be the Silverstone national circuit. Last year, however, the day chosen was so wet it had to be called off part-way through and the whole event was rescheduled in the new Portimao circuit on the Algarve.


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