Lewis Hamilton may not have consented to representing his homeland in the annual Race of Champions Nations' Cup competition, but he - and his world championship-winning McLaren - will be at Wembley during the event.
Although RoC organisers had hoped to pair Hamilton with fellow F1 pilot David Coulthard in a British line-up to take on some of the world's best motorsport exponents - and then possibly receive the BBC
's Sports Personality of the Year trophy live at Wembley - the new F1 champion will instead content himself with demonstrating the potential of the MP4-23 - and challenging world and Olympic cycling champion Chris Hoy to a match race around the specially-designed Wembley track.
“Ever since we created the Race of Champions 20 years ago, we've been putting the greatest racers in the world against each other,” RoC president Fredrik Johnsson commented, “With Britain's fantastic performance in Beijing, especially in cycling, we thought about how we could include that in the event and, when Lewis won the F1 world championship, it was just perfect.”
It won't be a direct head-to-head on two wheels, however, as the 23-year old will be at the wheel of a Mercedes road car while Hoy will be pedalling a around the parallel RoC circuit on a conventional race bike. Starting side-by-side on a tight and twisty course which is alien to both machines, the two stars will race around the circuit in the ultimate test of man versus machine and while the muscular Hoy - despite having won gold medals in the power events of sprint, keirin and team sprint at the recent Beijing Olympic Games - doubted he would be able to match the Mercedes for acceleration, but hoped the tight and twisty track would help him as Hamilton takes longer to negotiate the various corners.
"I can kick out about two-and-a-half brake horsepower so that's not going to quite match his car, but I think they'll make the race as close as possible and I'll be giving it absolutely everything," he said, “I'm a big motor racing fan anyway, and I've seen the Race of Champions on TV, so, while to be there in the flesh is going to be great, to be actually able to compete and take part in it is fantastic."
Hamilton will switch seats and take the McLaren F1 car around the stadium before he and Hoy leave for the BBC
ceremony in Liverpool, and admitted that, while not being able to contest the RoC, he was still looking forward to his latest challenge.
"This is going to be something very special," he said, "I've done F1 demonstration runs away from race tracks before, but Wembley Stadium's completely different, the atmosphere is going to be crazy. It's going to be a great way to end a fantastic year, and I'm really looking forward to putting on a show to thank the fans from all over the world and my fantastic British fans for all their support.
"I get so much from the fans and this is a great opportunity for me to give something back. I will be leaving Wembley prior to the actual Race of Champions final in order to make it to the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, but putting on the demonstration is a great opportunity for me to give something back.”