Sam Hancock's F1 experiences. Pt.2.

Making his Formula 3000 debut at Hockenheim, Brit Sam Hancock is certainly a driver on the move. Here's part two of Sam's driving exploits in rather famous Lotus F1 cars.

Here in part two Sam tells us about driving Ayrton Senna's first Grand Prix winner around Donington Park.

"That was amazing - one of the best bolts out of the blue that I've had. A lot of people in racing talk about luck but I work on the basis that you make your own luck, I've been working very hard for a very long time just to get to know as many people as I can in the whole sport and build up a bit of a reputation and it's just one of those things - you get to know one person then you get to know another and if you're lucky a good recommendation comes at the right time. I had a call from Clive Chapman saying they needed someone to do the drive at the Ayrton Senna memorial and was I up for it - the most stupid question in the world!

Senna is quite a hero of Hancock's, so what was it like the moment he actually lowered himself into the classic JPS liveried F1 car?

"Incredible, something akin to climbing between the sheets with a supermodel, it was just the most humbling but exciting experience at the same time because, it's slighty corny, almost clich?d to say but Senna always has been a hero of mine since I read his biography at the age of about 12, and to get into that car which I've seen thousands of photos of and in videos and all that kind of thing over the years, to climb in and just recognise everything - nothing seemed very new because I'd seen that much imagery - I've been so into Senna for such a long time that it was awesome.

I was just grinning ear to ear as I climbed in and I was chuffed to bits to find out that I fitted in the car very comfortably and that was the first moment of exhilaration just to be in his car, slightly humbling as I said and slightly concerning to think that that chassis well that whole car literally down to the setup was still running for the day that I drove it was as it was from the day that he won in Portugal, his first Grand Prix win. That definitely gives you a very strong feeling of responsibility and that was the number one priority in my mind.

Q
So how much power was at disposal under your right foot?

Q
"Difficult to say exactly, not quite what it had in its day, then I think they were well over a thousand horsepower if not 1200 or something, but the guys in the team told me there was 800 or so horsepower, it was enough!

"It was amazing, the first day that I drove it was a very brief shakedown at Hethel at their private test track out the back, it's all very bumpy and in close proximity to the trees, and the walls lining the track, it felt incredibly quick, but in the most fabulous way. I expected that I might find it very quick but I might find myself being very careful because of it, but actually I did find it very quick it just encouraged you to give it more you just don't want to lift off, you just want to give it more and more power and I always think of that as such a sign of a good car, because it's so confidence inspiring, even with 800hp under your foot, it was very foregiving, incredibly predictable, just inherently so well balance that it literally took me about no more that two laps of Hethel before I could really lean on the car, really start to push it through the corners, it was wonderful, nice long powerslides, it was just wonderful, I felt at home straight away."

At Donington Hancock was doing what they term as a demonstration run, so what exactly was he trying to demonstrate when he was out in the car?

"Good question... as you can imagine as it was just a demo was impressed on me very strongly by everyone in the team, it goes without saying, such a historic car no-one was there to become a hero or anything like that and my aim really was just to do a respectable job really, to look after the car and give everyone that was watching something to enjoy but really just do a respectable job and with a bit of luck do the car and its history a tiny bit of justice if possible, but like I just said it was such a good car that you just can't help but push it, there was no way that I was just going to go and trundle around, and I found that I could have a lot of fun, really push the car, and have a good time out of it without getting into any area of risk and that all helped because the car was so predictable and so foregiving like I said, just inherently very well designed and very well balanced.

"What I found, when I got out the car after the first run was that all the mechanics and all the guys in the team had been up on the wall with the stop watches, as soon as they saw that I wasn't going around at a walking pace which was completely against their own rules and that was good fun, we had a good laugh about that, but I think the reason was that because there was also a load of current Ferrari F1 cars being demonstrated from the last two or three years, and people had been timing those cars and the mechanics had watched me and thought I was going relatively quick but when they put a watch on me they found out that I was actually quicker than the current F1 cars being driven around so they were obviously chuffed to bits to see that and it just gave me a nice pat on the back, and the chance to have a crack at a couple of nice, safe timed laps over the weekend when I went even faster but again that was running to the level where there was absolutely no risk involved. It was just the most welcoming car, just so much fun and such a rewarding car to drive.

Q
Which aspect of actually driving the car surprised you the most?

SH
What surprised me was just how easy it was to drive and how easy it was to push it and when you think of a Formula One car you think it's going to be snappy or very violent and aggressive, it was all of those things, but in the most brilliant way, if that makes any sense at all it felt very fast but the feeling of power and speed that you get used to very quickly and just want more of, I'd have done anything for them to have turned up the boost for me, but I don't think that was a possibility, because you've got to look after the car and the engine and so on but I would have absolutely killed to have had more power, and I think that was the most surprising thing, I expected to be slightly intimidated by the fact that it was a very special, powerful old turbo formula One car and I just wasn't at all.

Q
So how much of a factor is it the thought that this is a very rare and valuable racing car, if you do bend it it's not just a case of buying bits off the shelf.

SH
"It's right up there. Luckily I've grown up with a huge passion for where my sport has come from and its history and understanding the importance of such special cars so it is very much a priority of mine to make sure that nothing stupid happens, and yeah sure we';re all there to have a bit of fun but these cars are designed to be raced and pushed and driven hard so at the same time nobody wants to see the cars trundling round. So if you can find the balance between driving them as they were designed to be driven whilst at the same time looking after them then that's the best scenario.

And, other than his late in the season F3000 campaign, what will Sam be doing for the rest of the year?

"This year I'm grabbing every opportunity that I can to get into a car to keep my name as much as I can on people's tongues but that is going to incorporate having some fun outings in the formula one car, doing some fun events like the Goodwood Revival meeting later in the year in a Lotus 11 and maybe the Le Mans Classic again."

 

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