Lewis Hamilton and Tony Stewart swap seats at Watkins Glen - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 06-14-2011, 05:09 PM Thread Starter
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Lewis Hamilton and Tony Stewart swap seats at Watkins Glen

FORMULA ONE - CUP: Seat Swap Thrills Drivers, Fans

Lewis Hamilton and Tony Stewart had plenty of fun — and mutual respect...

CUP: Seat Swap Thrills Drivers, Fans
Written by: Tom Jensen
Date: 06/14/2011 - 04:26 PM
Location: Watkins Glen, NY

At the end of the day, Tuesday’s Lewis Hamilton-Tony Stewart “Seat Swap” did exactly what it was supposed to do: Give the drivers a fun diversion and entertain the fans at Watkins Glen International.

Yes, the weather was gloomy and the ultimate speeds of the McLaren-Mercedes and Chevrolet Impala were limited by the use of rain tires, but no matter: It was a win-win event for everyone involved — drivers, fans and sponsor Mobil 1, which obviously went to considerable expense and effort to orchestrate the event.

Certainly, the participants enjoyed themselves.

“It’s just amazing what the capabilities of the car are,” Stewart said after cranking off four hot laps in Hamliton’s 2008 Formula One car. “I told the guys on pit road out there that it’s probably going to make my crew chief a little more stressed during the weekends because I’m going to want it to handle like that all the time. I don’t think we’re ever going to get it there.”

The stint behind the wheel of the high-tech McLaren was enough to put a huge smile on the face of the former IndyCar, USAC and two-time Sprint Cup champion.

“It was fun,” Stewart said. “That is truly an experience of a lifetime. I just can’t thank the people at Mobil 1 enough for helping facilitate this, everybody at Watkins Glen. I’m glad I didn’t know what these cars were like 20 years ago, because I may not have put a fender on a race car after that. I’m glad I had the experience and am thankful to Lewis and his entire team for letting us do it.”

Even though Stewart drove an IndyCar for several years, he said the limits of the Formula One car were considerably higher.

“It’s just amazing how far you can charge the corner,” said Stewart. “It’s easy to see why it’s hard for these guys to overtake because it’s not a long distance from the time you get off the throttle on the brakes to where you’re changing directions. It gives you a much greater appreciation for how hard it is for these guys to overtake each other, what that car’s actually capable of. It’s just incredible the technology behind it.”

As for Hamilton, he was pleasantly surprised that Stewart’s stock car, which weighs two-and-a-half times what his McLaren does, was reasonably agile.

“It actually doesn’t feel that heavy,” said Hamilton of Stewart’s Chevrolet Impala. “I think the brakes were surprisingly very good. Tony was telling me usually where they brake. I don’t think I was braking too far away from it. With the damp conditions, I was braking early, thinking this car is not going to stop. In actual fact, I could brake quite a lot later. Whilst on the TV it looks like I’m drifting all the time; I didn’t feel like I was drifting in the car. Felt like I had quite a stable rear end. I was able to pick up the power. The grip was quite good through all the corners.”

And he was happy to get a play day away from the hyper-competitive world of Formula One racing.

“I’m one of the very fortunate few that get to do such great events,” said Hamilton. “These are the perks of the job when you get to come. I’m very grateful to Mobil 1 for bringing us down here. I never thought in a million years I’d get to have a chance of driving one of the NASCARs. Pretty cool. Probably the coolest thing I’ve done outside of racing Formula One.”

And the newfound friendship between the two led Stewart to extend an offer to Hamilton to come race in next year’s “Prelude to the Dream,” Stewart’s all-star dirt late-model race.

“If he (Hamilton) wants to come run The Prelude next year, I will personally pay for a brand-new car to come there,” Stewart said. “If he wants it, he’s got it. We’ll have him a brand-new one sitting there ready to go.”

Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100.
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 06-15-2011, 11:34 AM Thread Starter
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I flipped through tv channels last night, and caught this seat swap episode on speed from the beginning (was not on the dish net program guide).
Even though they went out on wet weather tires, both drivers apparently got a buzz from the experience and had a twinkle in their eyes.
At the end of the program Hamilton told Stewart; "How about we throw on some slicks on and go back out?'
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