05.05.10: When Car Dealer met Lewis Hamilton

Time 7:16 pm, May 5, 2010

95754591It’s not very often you get to see a Formula One car up close, or indeed the drivers. So, when I was invited by Mobil 1 to visit McLaren’s Technology Centre in Woking to do just that, I jumped at the chance.

The reason for the event was to talk about the relaunch of Mobil 1 and a few new products that will be in your parts department very soon. More efficient, harder working and consumer focused products is the name of the game.

TV chef James Martin has been commissioned by Mobil 1 to drive a new Mercedes C-Class around the UK, talking to the general public about their favorite roads. So, if you see a day-glow Merc with Mobil 1 Mission plastered on the side, knock on the window and ask for a bacon sarnie! 

But, the cook did surprise us all and introduced none other than Lewis Hamilton! The pint-sized world champ took centre stage and told us about his favourite roads and how he still gets a buzz every time he steps into his race car.

I managed to grab him for a quick chat and he even signed our McLaren special issue from October. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures on the day, but we did take a shot of the mag he signed. We’re looking for a suitable frame for it now!

We were then taken in small groups for a tour around the Formula 1 part of the centre. My word, it is amazing!

The amount of research and development put into these cars is just mind blowing. In the 2009 season, they were working around the clock to catch up with Brawn GP, and in doing so, developed a new component for the cars every six minutes!

And it’s not all about the current cars. The team also runs all of the heritage cars from this site, from the 1970s yellow machines to the 1980s MP4-4 driven by legend Ayrton Senna.

All of these cars are kept ‘ready to drive’, our guide explained. It really is a stunning place and goes to show just how much work and effort goes into making a car go round a track faster than the rest.


Video: Inside McLaren Technology Centre

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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