The end of many eras in Brazil

The Brazilian Grand Prix may be the last race of the season, but this year it is far more than just that. Interlagos will play host to the end of many eras. Felipe Massa will race in red for the last time, Mark Webber will bring his Formula One career to an end, and the paddock will bid farewell to Cosworth engines along with the V8. As if that wasn’t enough, McLaren’s long-standing partnership with Vodafone will also draw to a close and reports suggest Formula One will lose its Global and Technology partner LG. It also signals the start of an uncertain period for a number of drivers who have been left in limbo over whether they will be in Formula One next season, or visiting pastures new.

Felipe Massa leaving Ferrari after eight seasons

Felipe Massa joined Ferrari as a test driver in 2003 before being promoted to a race seat in 2006, alongside Michael Schumacher. Since then he has accumulated eleven wins, 36 podiums, 15 pole positions and 14 fastest laps. He became a bit of a Turkey specialist, taking pole position and winning the race three years in a row. He has also won his home race – the Brazilian Grand Prix – on two occasions as well as finishing on the podium two further times. He came close to winning the championship in 2008, but it was not to be int the end. He is second only to Michael Schumacher in terms of races entered for Ferrari. Brazil will be number 139 – meaning Massa is third in the all time list for number of races with one team.  Michael Schumacher managed 181 with Ferrari and David Coulthard reached 150 races for McLaren. He will begin the next chapter of his Formula One career by joining Williams for 2014 and beyond.

Mark Webber retiring from Formula One

Since his Formula One debut in 2002, Mark Webber has become a popular figure in the Formula One paddock. Not one for shying away from saying things as they are, Webber’s frank nature is refreshing in the current world of Formula One. Starting with Minardi, Webber drove for Jaguar before joining Williams, and eventually moving to Red Bull Racing in 2007. Nine wins, 13 poles, 41 podiums and 18 fastest laps make up his Formula One career. The Brazilian Grand Prix will be his 217th race, and his 129th for Red Bull, placing him fifth in the all time list for number of races with one team. He fought right to the last race of the 2010 season for the championship but unfortunately he has never won one. He has, however, been an important part of Red Bull’s rise to the top and part of the highly successful team who have won four constructors championships in a row. He has won at Brazil twice before – in 2009 and 2011. He appeared in the Thursday press conference and said: “I wouldn’t be leaving if there wasn’t things I’m happy to leave behind, and obviously if there’s more positives than negatives then obviously I would stay. But there’s more negatives than positives so, for me it’s something… I want a fresh change, a new chapter in my life basically – I’m ready for that personally and professionally.

Marussia-Cosworth split leading to Cosworth’s departure

Cosworth have been a familiar name in the Formula One paddock for 50 years, supported by Ford for a number of years as they supplied engines up and down the paddock. They have powered cars to 166 victories, the last of these coming in 2003 when Giancarlo Fisichella won the Brazilian Grand Prix for Jordan. After a brief spell away from the sport (2007 – 2009 inclusive), Cosworth returned in 2010 to provide power to the three ‘new’ teams who entered the sport then – the teams now known as Marussia and Caterham, along with HRT who dropped out after 2012. They also provided engines to Williams for 2010 and 2011. For 2013, Cosworth have just one team – Marussia – and they currently lie tenth in the championship, ahead of Caterham (who now use Renault engines) albeit with no points. After Marussia announced that they would be joining in partnership with Ferrari for 2014, when the new 1.6 litre V6 turbocharged hybrid power units come into play, it will mean the Cosworth name leaving Formula One once again.

Last race for Vodafone as McLaren’s title sponsor

Vodafone joined McLaren as title sponsor for the 2007 season, becoming their official Total Communications partners in 2010. Vodafone McLaren Mercedes have enjoyed a successful seven seasons together, including one world championship in 2008 when Lewis Hamilton became drivers champion. During their time together, Vodafone McLaren have won 34 races, secured 30 pole positions and 24 fastest laps. Considering the season McLaren have been having, it is unlikely they will win in Brazil, so Vodafone and McLaren’s last victory together will have been at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix. The announcement about the split was made before the Australian Grand Prix at the very start of the season. At the time Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh said: “We’re immensely proud that, having been set a number of ambitious challenges by Vodafone back in 2007, together we’ve met or exceeded each and every one.” McLaren will announce their new title sponsor when they launch their new car, early in 2014.

End of V8 era as teams look ahead to V6 in 2014

It will be the end of an engine era at the Brazilian Grand Prix with normally aspirated 2.4 litre V8 engines making their last appearance before they give way to turbocharged 1.6 litre V6 hybrid Power Units in 2014. V8 engines made their debut in 2006, replacing the 3 litre V10 engines that had been around since 1995. In 2007 the FIA froze engine development as part of their cost cutting measures and in 2009 a limit on the amount of engines available to teams and drivers was introduced. Since then, each driver has a limit of eight engines per season, which they can use whenever they want, but with every new engine over the limit comes a ten place grid penalty. The RPM limit has also evolved since 2007 when it was 19,000 RPM, being reduced to 18,000 RPM in 2009. Renault have been the most successful manufacturer in the V8 era, powering two teams (Renault and Red Bull) to five constructors championships (2006, 2010, 2011, 2012 & 2013) along with two drivers (Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel) to five drivers championships (same years as constructors). Along with that, Renault powered cars have won 59 races, taken 65 pole positions and set 55 fastest laps. Seven manufacturers in total have made engines during the V8 era – Renault, Ferrari, Mercedes, Honda, BMW, Cosworth, and Toyota. Only Cosworth and Toyota are without race winners, Toyota having left the sport in 2o10. In terms of race wins, Renault have most (59 victories) while Mercedes have taken 46 victories, Ferrari 39, Honda and BMW with one apiece. In terms of podiums, Renault also top that list with 95. Ferrari and Mercedes have 83 each,  BMW have 12, Toyota have 11 and Honda have three. Who can add to their tally in the last hurrah in Brazil?

LG end five year partnership with Formula One

It was announced at the end of 2008 that South-Korean based electronics group LG would be joining Formula One as Global and Technology Parners from 2009 onwards. Their logo appears on live timing and  Reports suggest that this relationship will come to an end after the Brazilian Grand Prix this weekend.

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McLaren ’50 in 50′: Iconic Partnerships

Over the years McLaren have been involved with a number of different sponsors, leading to some iconic branding for them. Title sponsors over the years include Yardley, Marlboro, and West. Their most recent, and current, title sponsor is Vodafone, but the team recently announced that that relationship would be coming to an end at the end of the 2013 season.

One of McLaren’s most iconic liveries was on the car from the mid 70s to the mid 90s. When Marlboro joined the team and became title sponsor, the cars ran a red and white livery, which has become as synonymous with McLaren as their orange liveries from the late 60s/early 70s. It also coincided with the successful Honda era (1988 – 1991) when McLaren won four constructors titles in a row, coming second in 1991. Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost also won drivers championships for the team during this period.

When Marlboro left the team to join Ferrari, McLaren had a livery and a title change. They became known as West McLaren Mercedes, and changed to a black and white colour scheme. It was this design that McLaren won their last constructors championship to date in 1998, with Mika Hakkinen securing the drivers championship two years in a row. After new tobacco advertising laws were introduced in Europe, McLaren dropped West as a sponsor and ran a season simply named Team McLaren Mercedes in 2006. This was also the time when they changed to their current livery – dropping the white and introducing a largely chrome livery and incorporating red.

McLaren’s longest running partnership is with Hugo Boss, with whom they have been working with since 1981. It is also the longest sports sponsorship of all time. Hugo Boss work with McLaren to provide team-wear. Vodafone became title sponsor of McLaren in 2007, becoming their Official Total Communications Provider in 2010. When Spaniard Fernando Alonso joined the team for 2007, Santander became a Corporate Partner. Other familiar names linked with the McLaren team are AkzoNobel, Hilton HHonors, Johnnie Walker and SAP.

McLaren’s engine partnership with Mercedes started in 1995 and will come to an end at the end of the 2014 season. McLaren will return to Honda engines, with whom they enjoyed considerable success, as mentioned above. The relationship with Mercedes will be investigated in a later post.

Tomorrow’s ’50 in 50′ post will take a look at the overall McLaren Group.

McLaren ’50 in 50′: Martin Whitmarsh

Martin Whitmarsh is the current Team Principal of Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes, having taken over the role from Ron Dennis at the start of 2009. He has been with McLaren for over 20 years, initially joining as Head of Operations in 1989.

Whitmarsh comes from an engineering background. He graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1980 and went to work at British Aerospace. There he worked first as a structural analysis engineer before being promoted to work in advanced composite structures research and development. By 1988 he had become Managing Director but left the company to join McLaren in 1989.

His initial role at McLaren was Head of Operations. After eight years with the team he became Managing Director of McLaren Racing. In 2004 he was promoted to CEO of McLaren’s Formula One operation. In 2009, when Ron Dennis chose to step down from his role as Team Principal so he could focus his attention on other aspects of the McLaren Group, in particular Automotive, Whitmarsh was promoted to the job. It was a baptism of fire as McLaren suffered a difficult start to their Formula One season. Lewis Hamilton was disqualified from the Australian Grand Prix after ‘liegate’, when he lied to the stewards about a pass involved Jarno Trulli and the safety car. Heikki Kovalainen also had a difficult start to the season, failing to get past the first lap of either of the first two races. A few points finishes was followed by a string of disappointing results for McLaren but, after Hamilton won the Hungarian Grand Prix, the team managed to get their season on track. They scored more points than any other team in the second half of the season and finished the year in third behind Brawn GP and Red Bull.

Whitmarsh is now arguably facing his toughest challenge yet with McLaren. In 2013 the team have failed to get any podiums and at times have struggled to finish in the points. With the deflection of Hamilton to Mercedes, McLaren have Sergio Perez driving alongside Jenson Button. The Mexican has come under some harsh criticisms since his debut for McLaren and Whitmarsh asked him to ‘toughen up’. McLaren are under increased pressure to provide results, and with big changes coming in 2014, they will be hoping they can get back to the front.

In an interview published on the official Formula One website, Whitmarsh said: ” We are our own harshest critics. This year we have made some big mistakes – that is very obvious, and difficult to rectify. I don’t like it, but there is no point in hiding from it. We’ve won 182 Grands Prix and I have been around for more than a hundred of them and, of course, it is much more enjoyable to go motor racing with the prospect of winning. We don’t enjoy going racing without that prospect, so it’s now painful and difficult, but that’s life.”

As well as being in charge of McLaren for the past five years, Whitmarsh has chaired the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA).  Seven of the current teams are members of FOTA (McLaren, Mercedes, Force India, Marussia, Caterham, Williams and Lotus), which aims to promote Formula One and enhance its worldwide reputation. It gives the teams a collective voice when it comes to negotiating with the FIA. Whitmarsh revealed this year that he would not stand for re-election as chairman as he feels it would be beneficial for someone else to take on the role.

Whitmarsh completes the posts on the four Team Principals. Tomorrow’s post will look at McLaren’s history at the Italian Grand Prix!

2013: McLaren Launch Transcribed

Sam Michael: Obviously Checo is new to the team, so the main challenges that we face with him is that he hasn’t done a great deal of simulator work before. So, there’s a very intensive simulator programme between when he started at McLaren and the first race in Melbourne.

Also, just getting to know the team. It’s a short amount of time, he doesn’t know McLaren, he’s only 23 years old and developing relationships with so many new people, and new faces, compared to where he was before – it’s a big challenge. He’s on a really good course to do that and so far he’s shown us he’s really pushing to do it properly.

Last year the Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes pit crew was consistently the fastest crew in the second half of the season. We made a lot of progress through the year with the development of technology, working on our technique with the pit crew. Our fastest pit-stop time was a 2.31s, which was a world record at the time, and still is, at the German GP, which enabled Jenson Button to overtake Sebastian Vettel in that race.

During the season we’d seen plenty of signs that we could get down to a low two second pit-stop, and even below the sub two seconds. So our target definitely for 2013 is to target consistently under 2.5s, as an average, and I think that will naturally result in pit-stop times close to the two second mark, perhaps below.

The regulations are quite stable from 2012 to 2013, and what that enables you to do is have more bandwidth to apply to the areas you want to refine. So, when you have practices that are working very well everything can be improved, so you can go around the loop again to look at areas where you can gain performance, areas where perhaps, obviously areas like reliability are key. So, you put a lot of effort into those. Although there are some regulation changes, such as  the DRS regulations – those things are pretty second or third order in terms of our preparation for the season. It then means you can go back in and concentrate on those small things.

Unfortunately, at the same time, that also means that teams behind you, and the teams close to you, have more ability to catch up because there’s less differentials. It then means those things that used to be second or third order, become first or second order – they shift up a notch, so it means it is very important to use your bandwidth. It’s not time to have a holiday or anything, it’s time to really focus on the small refinements.

Jenson Button (JB): First of all, good morning everyone. The winter for me has been long and very enjoyable – time to rest and recharge my batteries.

Sergio Perez (SP): Lucky him!

JB: As always a Formula One driver wants to get back in the car and feel the speed again, so it’s been an exciting few weeks – seeing the car come together in terms of building the car, and finally seeing it as one late last night.

Natalie Pinkham (NP) (to Sergio): How does it feel to be a McLaren driver?

SP: Amazing! It’s been a pretty busy couple of months since my last race, it’s been incredible. It’s hard to believe that I am part of this great family, this great history, but I am very motivated and looking forward to meeting the targets that we have this year.

NP: Talking of family we can see Team Perez – I bet it’s nice to have them here, isn’t it?

SP: Yeah, it’s very nice. I think it’s a very special moment for all of them because they have supported me a lot, all through my career, and it’s a great moment for all of us.

NP: What about this man here (points at Jenson)? What’s it been like working with him so far?

SP: Good, very good he came late this year, I’ve been working for some months already.

NP: You’re the new kid at class aren’t you (laughs)?

JB: I’ve been doing all the work, yeah yeah… (Sarcastically like Sergio)

SP: It has been really good.

NP: So 50th anniversary it is obviously a huge year, how does it feel to be part of that legacy?

JB: Ah well as you saw today this some of the achievements of McLaren over the last 50 years, and it really is phenomenal.  I think everyone who has been a part of it , in terms of the drivers today, really feels the history of this team and what if has achieved – and this is only a small part of it as well. That’s really exciting I think for all of us, not just the drivers – but for all of us in the factory, building our racing cars and helping us hopefully to some great achievements this year.

NP: So for you is it still exciting for you to see a new car for the first time?

JB: I’m not that old… Yes. It’s all relative, but no, of course it’s always exciting, especially, you know, when you think you have a good possibility to fight for world championships. So, yes it’s exciting and you know, it’s exactly the same colour scheme so some of you might look at this and go, ‘ah it looks kind of similar to last year’ but I tell you this is completely different to last year. Under the skin it is so so different, and I think that’s why it is such an exciting season.

NP: And for you Sergio, your first McLaren – how does that feel?

SP: It’s amazing to see it, to see my name on it – it’s really special. It’s hard to believe, as they say, and I think as Jenson said, the car might look similar with the colours, but it is a big project. The people here have worked, they are mad for it and I think we’ve got a very strong car.

NP: I mean it’s different, but does it feel like a natural evolution from last year?

JB: Yes, yeah of course. We all know that the regulations haven’t changed much since 2012, but they’ve changed enough to make a difference. We have taken a good approach, I think, to this season. Obviously the future is a very different Formula One, in terms of 2014 and the regulations… but you go into this season aiming to win the world championship, and that’s exactly what we’re doing in 2013. We don’t hope because we know how much hard work has gone into this, and we’re going to be fighting for it.

NP: So it’s expectation rather than hope?

JB: I think we’re just really excited, you know, a lot of hard work from the guys over the winter, and me… of course, but in different ways.

NP: Not according to Sergio…

JB: Tuesday is a big day for us. I first get to drive the car and run through all the system checks and do reliability work, and it’s always exciting for a driver. Whether it tells you the car is good enough to fight for wins or not, we have to wait and see but, it’s a day I’m very much looking forward to.

NP: Checo, I’ve got a question here from a Vodafone staff member – what do you want to achieve this year in order to personally consider it a success?

SP: Well definitely I want to win the championship. Everybody wants to win, that’s my target. Once you come to the best team that has to be your target, and it’s a very big target to do. I want to work together with Jenson, with the team…

NP: You can’t do both… you can’t work together with Jenson and be his pal, and win the world championship… just a thought.

SP: Why not? We can work together.

More to follow…

Sergio Perez’s Visit to McLaren

“At McLaren-Mercedes you are not here to fight for the points or the podiums, you are here to fight for the wins at every single race”

Having been announced as a McLaren driver back at the end of September, yesterday – Wednesday 9th January – provided Sergio Perez with his first real opportunity to visit the McLaren Technology Centre (MTC) in Woking. There he met with media from around the world; posed for photographs with Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh and around the MTC; while later taking part in a Google+ ‘hangout’ through McLaren’s official Google+ page. It was a busy day for Perez, full of interviews, but his smile did not seem to waver once.

Perez has been on the Formula One grid for just two years and was snapped up by McLaren after Lewis Hamilton left the team to move to Mercedes. Perez has impressed during his short time in the sport, taking three podiums in 2012 including second place at the Malaysian GP, where he pushed Fernando Alonso hard for the win. He went on to secure third place at the Canadian GP and took second place at the Italian GP later in the season. He was previously with the Ferrari Driver Academy, and had been tipped to replace Felipe Massa, but instead the Mexican has moved to McLaren where 2013 will be the start of a ‘multi-year’ deal. McLaren will combine Perez’s youth (as he is just 22) with Jenson Button’s experience for 2013. Button joined McLaren in 2010, off the back of a World Championship with the Brawn GP team. With McLaren he has won eight races, including the 2012 season opener and finale, and stood on the podium an additional 17 times. With 13 seasons and 228 race starts under his belt, Button will be the most experienced driver on the 2013 grid, following the departure of Michael Schumacher.

After meeting with the world’s press, and being grilled by a number of journalists, Perez was whisked away to take part in McLaren’s first Google+ hangout, which is basically a video chat. There Perez answered questions posed to him by five fans who had been given the opportunity to join the chat via video, while McLaren also encouraged fans to interact by sending questions via Twitter, using the hashtag #WelcomeSergio, Facebook and their Google+ page. Perez talked about everything from changing his underwear to what it meant to drive for McLaren (including the quote at the top of this post). If you missed the chat you can catch it in full via the McLaren website, their Google+ page, or Youtube!

And finally, when I asked him what he was most looking forward to in 2013, he said: “To start the season, to be racing. I cannot wait to Melbourne, as I am sure many of you are counting the days… to start the new challenge. I’m so much looking forward to starting a new challenge, to start the fight for the victories.”

McLaren will launch their 2013 car on the 31st January.

Give Sergio Perez a chance!

On 28th September 2012, after much speculation, Lewis Hamilton announced that he would be leaving McLaren and joining the Mercedes team for 2013. On that morning, McLaren made the jump first, confirming Sergio Perez on a multi-year deal. The news came as a bit of surprise, as Perez had been linked with a Ferrari move for some time due to his connections with the Ferrari Driver Academy and Sauber’s engine deal with Ferrari. It also caused some people to believe McLaren had jumped the gun, and made somewhat of an ‘impulse-signing’ after learning that Hamilton would be departing the team. Perez has said that his target is to “win titles with [McLaren] and to win the championship already next year” leading to further criticism for the Mexican driver as people believe he is setting his targets too high and he will not be able to live up to the expectations. I think, however, that we should give Checo a chance.

McLaren are a race winning team, and had it not been for too many reliability issues this year, they would have been up there fighting for both championships at the end of the season. Their last championship came in 2008, when Hamilton secured the Drivers’ title at a thrilling season finale in Brazil, with their last Constructors’ championship in 1998. They want to win again, and believe that by signing Perez to partner Jenson Button they can do that. Perez will have to hit the ground running, and being with a race winning team such as McLaren, it is not out of the question that he could be winning races and championships next year. He has taken three podiums this year and has impressed with his speed and ability to fight through the field, as demonstrated by his run from 12th to second in Italy. As he points out, however, “when you are doing well you are the hero and when you are doing bad you are the worst one”. In Formula One you can go from hero to zero just like that. Pastor Maldonado took his maiden victory at the Spanish GP, but has also been involved in a number of incidents leading to his driving being criticised, and for people to make comments such as “oh no, my favourite driver is starting beside/alongside/behind Maldonado”. Romain Grosjean has also been the subject of comments like this after his number of first lap accidents have gained him somewhat of a reputation, despite his obvious speed.

Look back to 2000 – Peter Sauber signed a relatively inexperienced driver, who had just 23 car races under his belt. Sauber was criticised, with leading figures such as Max Moseley opposing such an inexperienced racer being granted a superlicence, but the driver in question went on to finish sixth and pick up points on his Formula One debut. His name? Kimi Räikkönen. He too was linked to Ferrari but caught the eye of Ron Dennis, and despite being on a multi-year contract with Sauber, the Finn was poached and lined up as Mika Hakkinen’s replacement at McLaren. He failed to score in his final six races for Sauber, much like has happened to Perez, but went on to finish third in his debut race for McLaren and has had an impressive career since then. Sauber took a risk in signing Räikkönen, and if it had gone wrong, there would have been a lot of red faces. As it happened it turned out to be the right choice.

Formula One is about taking risks, and you could say McLaren have taken one in signing Perez. He may not have the raw speed or ability that Hamilton has, but that is not to say he will not do well at McLaren. He scored in his debut race (before Sauber were disqualified for a technical infringement) and has taken three podiums this season. Many say they would have preferred Paul di Resta or Nico Hulkenberg to get the seat, but who is to say they would have done any better? I don’t think it is fair to instantly write him off, and to criticise him for saying only what will be expected of him at McLaren. I think he is an exciting prospect for McLaren and am looking forward to what 2013 will bring. They have a solid foundation to build on from 2012, and if they can iron out the reliability problems and pit-stop issues which have plagued them throughout the season, well who knows what will happen. Bring on 2013!

The Vodafone Fanzone: a McLaren fan’s dream

So, as you may or may not remember a couple of weeks ago I attended the Bavaria City Racing event in Dublin, which featured the likes of Jenson Button and Giedo van der Garde and a host of other motorsport. If you’ve forgotten you can re-cap by reading my blog post about it! On the Saturday night before the main event I was at the pre-party and standing in a ridiculously long queue for the toilet when I overheard someone talking about something McLaren related. Obviously, being a huge McLaren fan my ears pricked up and I listened in earnest as they discussed something they had been at during the day to do with the team that involved sitting in one of their cars. This all sounded great to me, but I feared it would be some restricted area that only VIPs could attend. That, or it would be too expensive. And so, you can imagine my delight as they uttered three magical words: “it was free”. I got straight on the case of discovering what it was and was relieved to find out it would also be running on the Sunday. And so, bright and early on the Sunday morning, I set off (with my Lotus fan companion in tow) to find the McLaren zone.

On arrival we were told we had to register in order to be able to partake in any of the activities. This offered the opportunity of signing in with Facebook so that our friends could see what we’d been doing. We were given wristbands with a little chip in them so that we could “check in” at every stand and our scores/times (if applicable) and photographs would be uploaded straight to Facebook – a prime example of social media at use! We were told that the simulator was the most popular attraction so we chose to queue for it first. It was fun and a lot more difficult than I’d imagined. Plus, it was the new layout Silverstone and as I was so accustomed to the previous layout I was over cautious on my warm up lap as I tried to learn all the new corners. When my flying lap came I started off fast – my years of PS2 practice were paying off – and was going well until I got caught out at the new section and had an off – my flying lap was ruined. The steering wheel vibrated as you drove, fighting to get away from you as you turned a corner, or got onto a straight. Plus, being quite short I could only just reach the pedals which made it slightly more difficult. When I got out my legs ached – and did for the rest of the day!

After that we queued to sit in the MP4-21 to get our picture taken. Confusingly, they kept calling it Jenson Button’s 2005 MP4-21 – those were Jenson’s BAR days and the 2005 car was the MP4-20, but we’ll let that go. So, here I am in my McLaren:

We also completed a wheel change which was timed. Our time was a 6.47s – I was quick with bringing the wheel in but my companion got caught out by the tricky wheel gun. I think it is safe to say we won’t be getting calls any time soon from pit crews who require our services. Here we are, ready for action:

One of the other activities was a helmet simulator. Basically, you put either Jenson or Lewis’ helmet on and there was a little screen in the visor. It felt like you were the driver and it took you on a virtual lap of a circuit – it was quite cool. I was determined as we queued that I would get Lewis’ helmet so we strategically ordered ourselves so it happened:

Also on display were Lewis and Jenson’s race overalls. We then left to go and watch the actual displays and during the time we missed Jenson visiting the fanzone, which was a shame! However, much to our delight we discovered at the end of the day that my Lotus fan companion (also my boyfriend – we have a great rivalry) had set the fastest time of the day in the simulator and so would be winning a 2012 McLaren shirt. As you can imagine, he was thrilled… He offered me the shirt and said that the pride was enough. Back in 2011 he gave me a McLaren hoodie for my birthday, and the next race Lewis won. When he gave me the shirt, Lewis won at Canada. Coincidence? I think not. I’m already working on the next one…

All in all we both thoroughly enjoyed it!