Lucky fan gets the drive of a lifetime
Johnnie Walker today provided Djordje Simic from Serbia with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, when he took the wheel of the 2008 Championship-winning Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 car at Silverstone, after winning the Johnnie Walker ‘Drive of a Lifetime’ competition.
Djordje finished top of an intensive final selection event in the UK with Johnnie Walker and the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team, to earn the reward of driving Lewis Hamilton’s 2008 MP4-23 F1 car around Silverstone National circuit, at the home of the annual British Grand Prix.
Thousands of entrants from 10 different countries worldwide were lucky enough to win a place among the final 17, who participated in an amazing three-day experience in the UK. The final culminated with one person getting the opportunity to drive the 2008 Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 car around the famous Silverstone circuit, home of the British Grand Prix.
The Johnnie Walker Step Inside the Circuit campaign is Johnnie Walker’s way of giving fans an insight into the world of F1 through the partnership with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. The drive of a Lifetime is the ultimate Step Inside experience, whereby one fan got the chance to drive the 2008 F1 car around Silverstone.
Over the course of the three days, the participants were subjected to a variety of fitness, mental and driving tests whilst being instructed and evaluated by McLaren Racing personnel.
On the first day at the team’s ground-breaking facility, the McLaren Technology Centre, the entrants were put through fitness tests and interviews with McLaren followed by an initial set up and acclimatization session in the F1 cockpit and an exclusive tour around the facility. PalmerSport hosted the second day of the competition where driving ability was assessed over a wide range of race-prepared cars. On the final day of the competition, the entrants travelled to Silverstone for further instruction and assessment in single-seater race cars, before former F1 World Champion and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and Mika Häkkinen, Johnnie Walker Responsible Drinking Ambassador and double F1 World Champion, announced the lucky winner.
Djordje Simic from Serbia, winner of the Johnnie Walker Drive of a Lifetime competition, stated: “This really has been the drive of a lifetime! It is a tremendous honour for me to have had the opportunity to drive a Formula 1 car. Driving a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 car has always been a dream of mine and I am glad that throughout this competition I was able to demonstrate to the judges that I had the necessary control and ability to drive the car. On behalf of all the finalists I would like to thank Johnnie Walker for organising such an incredible experience for us all and allowing us to learn and progress under such expert tutelage.”
Ewan Topping, Johnnie Walker Global Marketing Manager, said: “I have been really impressed with the commitment and enthusiasm of everyone who took part in these amazing three days. Their continual progress throughout the competition from their arrival at the MTC on Tuesday morning to the final selection for the F1 car drive this afternoon has been inspiring for all of us involved in the competition. Step Inside the Circuit is about giving fans the chance to experience life inside F1 and there is no greater way of doing that than the Drive of a Lifetime. For me, this perfectly epitomises the spirit of Keep Walking and Johnnie Walker’s aim to inspire people to personally progress.”
Having closely watched the participants on the final day, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton added: “This is one of the best competitions I have seen in F1. Johnnie Walker has given everyday drivers the chance to develop their skills and take the wheel of an F1 car and that’s no easy task. I was really impressed with how Djordje coped with the power of the F1 car and his control behind the wheel was a testament not only to himself but the instruction he has received over the past three days. I was a bit nervous handing over my ‘baby’ but he started slowly and built up every lap and by the end his performance was really consistent and confident.”
Mika Häkkinen, the Johnnie Walker Responsible Drinking Ambassador and double F1 World Champion with McLaren, was also in attendance and noted: “Djordje was really impressive, particularly in his ability to control a car and respond to direction from instructors. Driving an F1 car is extremely difficult and he did fantastically well. This concept of always staying in control is very important and also links back to the work that my colleagues at McLaren and I do promoting responsible drinking for Johnnie Walker, making sure that people stay in control and never drink and drive.”