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F1 stars out in force at Goodwood

15 July 2013

The 20th anniversary Goodwood Festival of Speed continued to showcase the best of F1 on both the human and mechanical sides, with top stars combining with cars from past and present to entertain another capacity crowd over the weekend.

While McLaren stole the show by using the event – which had Porsche's 911 as its featured centrepiece – to commemorate 50 years of its own racing history, the majority of the current F1 grid was present in one way or another.

McLaren ran its iconic MP4/4, the winner of 15 out of 16 races in 1988, alongside the MP4-13 which helped Mika Hakkinen claim the 1998 drivers' and constructors' championships, the MP4-23 which Lewis Hamilton steered to world championship glory in 2008 and the M23 in which Emerson Fittipaldi secured McLaren's first ever world championship, back in 1974.

The Woking marque also had the Can-Am championship-winning M8D, driven by Denny Hulme and Peter Revson, and McLaren F1 GTR, which claimed victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1995, on show, while both Jenson Button and Sergio Perez took turns in the cockpit alongside test driver Oliver Turvey and McLaren Young Driver Development Programme members Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne.

Button, amongst others, also got to sample the company's new P1 supercar in anger for the first time, admitting that, in sport mode, it felt a little hair-raising between the confining straw bales. The latest model was on show alongside special McLaren50 editions of both the 12C and 12C Spider models.

While not rivalling its engine partner in terms of sheer quantity, Mercedes did its best to continue the 'new and old' theme, with Nico Rosberg blasting up the hill on day three in both 2011's W02 F1 car and a 1954 W196.

“The fans here have been really enthusiastic and it was fun on the Hill, and going between two cars more than 50 years apart was an amazing experience,” the German commented, “Last year at Goodwood, I put my hood up and had a sneaky look around the Festival without anyone noticing – it's a special place and there's nothing like it anywhere in the world.”

F1 fans also had the chance to get up close to one of the Mercedes cars on the marque's stand, where it sat alongside the new S-Class, which took a bow ahead of its arrival in UK showrooms in October. The most powerful electric road car yet created, the SLS AMG Electric Drive Coupé, also made its UK debut at Goodwood.

An estimated 180,000 people, contributing to one of the most successful editions yet, were also treated to the sight of a Ferrari on the hill as Marc Gene piloted an F10 as part of a diverse array of classic and modern road and race cars from the Prancing Horse.

Two historically significant cars from its 250 series, a 2010-spec F1 car and its newest V12 flagship model, the F12berlinetta, as well as a very special one-off car from the company's Special Projects division. Gené was driving F10 chassis #285, as driven to four race wins by Fernando Alonso, as well as Eric Clapton's one-off SP12 EC, which made its Goodwood debut as a private entry at the invitation of host Lord March.

The SP12 EC's unique styling was inspired by the iconic flat-engined V12 512BB. Clapton's fondness for the Berlinetta Boxer - of which he owned three examples - can be clearly seen in his bespoke SP12 EC from Ferrari's Special Projects division which commits to only ever produce one example of the client's design.

The F12berlinetta also made its first UK appearance at the Festival of Speed this weekend. Spectators crammed into the Michelin Supercar paddock to catch a glimpse of the most powerful road-going Ferrari ever but, flanking the 740hp F12berlinetta were a 'Tailor-Made' Ice White Pearl 458 Spider and an FF showcasing the model's new glass panoramic roof option.

Alongside Gene, other former F1 drivers made cameo appearances at the wheel of historic machinery, with Gabriele Tarquini getting his first taste of the famous 1964 Honda RA272 on the start line at the start of the weekend.

"I didn't even get to drive it from the paddock," the experienced Italian smiled after climbing from the 1.5-litre twelve-cylinder machine, "I got into the car and the mechanics started the engine and what a magic sound. It is just such a wonderful engine note, its sweet to hear and so crisp. I really wanted to take my ear-plugs out to hear the sound pure and clear!

“The six-speed gearbox gives a nice feel, but you have to be slow on the changes for it to be happy. You can't rush the changes and also need to get the revs correct to make the change sweet. Of course, it has an H-pattern change and it's a long time since I drove with one of those. It's a dry clutch so you have to be gentle with that too, but it all works superbly. The engine has so much power – if you think that each tiny cylinder is just 125cc each with four valves per cylinder, it is so wonderfully small. It's like racing a fine Swiss watch!

“This is a 1964 car, so I'm feeling the real racing of that time. It's strange to feel the floating sensation of that period. The seat is not made to fit the driver so well as now and the belts are not as big so as the car gets steering loads you actually move around in the cockpit also on braking. It's a remarkable experience and I am so happy to be driving this very famous Honda for the first time.”

Tarquini, who now races in the WTCC, had been invited to appear by the Honda Collection Hall, the company's heritage collection in Japan, and revelled in the event's atmosphere.

"There are so many beautiful cars, so many different cars of all types - racing, rally, roadcars, special cars and also many, many car fans, so the whole show is a joy for me,” he noted, “I was on holiday in Italy but, for this invitation, I just had to be here."

Elsewhere on the hill, Nelson Piquet was reunited with his title-winning Brabham BT52. The car, powered by a turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder BMW engine, was the actual one that took Piquet to his second F1 crown in 1983.

The length and breadth of the current F1 grid was also represented with cars from Red Bull, Renault, Caterham, Marussia and Williams all present, while drivers from all ears continued to enjoy the hot sunshine, including Sir Stirling Moss, Emerson Fittpaldi, Jochen Mass, Jacky Ickx, Damon Hill, Rene Arnoux and Jackie Stewart from days past, Lewis Hamilton, Romain Grosjean, Max Chilton and Sebastien Buemi of the current crop, and future aspirants Alexander Rossi and Brendon Hartley. Nick Heidfeld, however, was thwarted in his bid to break his previous record time for the run up the hill. Festival favourite, and historic sportscar racer, Justin Law topped the Sunday Shootout after posting a blistering 45.95secs run in his Jaguar XJR8/9.


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