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“It is a tremendous honour for me to have had the opportunity to drive a Formula 1 car”: When fan drove Lewis Hamilton’s 2008 title winning McLaren F1 Car

Janmeyjay Shukla

"It is a tremendous honour for me to have had the opportunity to drive a Formula 1 car": When fan drove Lewis Hamilton's 2008 title winning McLaren F1 Car

Djordie Simic was given an opportunity to drive Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren MP4-23 F1 car after winning the Johnnie Walker competition

Back in 2011, Djordie Simic from Serbia got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to drive a McLaren Mercedes F1 car. He had won the Johnnie Walker ‘Drive of a Lifetime’ competition.

Simic works as a banker in Serbia drove Lewis Hamilton’s 2008 MP4-23 F1 car around Silverstone. It is a dream of every fan to drive a real F1 car.

Seventeen Finalists, One McLaren MP4-23

Johnnie Walker had initiated their Step Inside the Circuit campaign in a partnership with the team. It gave an opportunity to the final 17 participants out of the thousand entries to experience F1 action.

Over the three days of experience, the participants took part in many fitness, driving, and acclimatization sessions. On the final day, they drove Renault Cli0 and the Silverstone single-seater race cars. Former F1 World Champion Mika Häkkinen and Seven Times World Champion Lewis Hamilton were the judges to decide the winner.

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Speaking about the challenge, Hamilton said: “It’s a great challenge and experience for people to just get us an insight into what we go through and what we do.”

“When you watch it on TV it looks easy, but it’s by far a million light-years away from being easy. You need to be fit and thinking fast when you’re out there because you’re going it to him you know up to 200 miles.”

Silverstone Drive to remember

Djordje Simic won the competition as chosen by the judges. He drove the McLaren around the Silverstone circuit in some fashion with some help from Hamilton and engineers. Driving just like a Formula One driver with a bright smile on his face.

After driving the car, he shook hands and jumped around as a dream came true. Moreover, he gave a hilarious post-drive interview by stating: “When you go on to the track, it’s like (emulating the engine sound). It’s Incredible!”

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He further added that it was a dream of his to drive the car. Also, he stated how lucky he was to demonstrate his ability to drive the car and thanked Johnnie Walker for the experience.

Mika Häkkinen also appreciated Simic’s performance. He said: “Djordje was really impressive, particularly in his ability to control a car and respond to directions from instructors. Driving an F1 car is extremely difficult and he did fantastically well.”

About the author

Janmeyjay Shukla

Janmeyjay Shukla


Janmeyjay Shukla is an artist who contributes his expressions through words as an F1 writer and editor at The SportsRush. He is an F1 historian who has been watching the sport since he was a baby. Passed on from generation to generation, he has seen the prime of Michael Schumacher to the rise of Max Verstappen. A Mercedes fan from the days of the Brawn GP era, the sport runs in his blood. Besides Formula One, Janmeyjay is a Marketing Head and a musician who loves to sing and play Rock & Pop songs on guitar. His love for sports will never die as he is a loyal Liverpool Football Club fan as well!

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