‘Was I flat out? You bet I was flat out!’ Anthony Davidson told GRR today after becoming the first driver for 20 years or more to take on the Motor Circuit in a contemporary Formula 1 car.
The reigning World Endurance Champion said: ‘On the Lavant Straight I was flat out and had just reached top, seventh gear, so I was doing whatever the car’s top speed is – around 180mph.’
The IWC Track Moment – which pitched three AMG sports and racing cars against each other in a unique handicap ‘race’ – provided Anthony with his first taste of the 2013 Mercedes W04 F1 car. The three-car sprint saw Jochen Mass set off first in the 300 SEL 6.3 ‘Red Pig’, followed by Karl Wendlinger in the new AMG GT once the old-timer had a chance to get away. Then, after what seemed like an age, it was time for Davidson to leave the grid.
‘We had some problems at the start. The car just went over the edge of overheating and went into failsafe mode and I had to do some high rpm but low-speed running to cool it down.
‘Then I had to really push to catch the others. I was genuinely pushing as hard as I could within the safety limits. I caught the AMG GT and 300 SEL 6.3 just before the straight. I could see the fans waving so I did a bit of showboating on the pit straight – they wanted burns-outs and I had time for one and still win the race.
It was Davidson’s first drive of the Motor Circuit ‘in anger’, as he told us. ‘I have only ever driven the circuit once before and that was in a road car (a Toyota GT86 – ed) so this was a bit of a step up to say the least.
‘It never fails to surprise you just how much faster an F1 car is around a circuit than anything else. On a circuit like this where it’s all about high-speed corners the Mercedes F1 car running maximum downforce was really impressive. I enjoyed it and hope it looked good for the fans as well.’
Anthony added: ‘I would would love to drive the circuit again.’ What about a historic F1 car? ‘Yes, in time. But as an active race driver my mind is still very much about the latest technology.’
But that’s for the future. Right now, you can enjoy the spectacle in the gallery above.