London - Formula One fans will have the chance to be driven around race circuits in supercars this season by the likes of McLaren’s double world champion Fernando Alonso and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
The ‘Pirelli hot laps’ programme, announced on Wednesday, will start at the Bahrain Grand Prix early in April and feature at nine other rounds of the 21 race championship.
McLaren and Red Bull’s new title sponsor Aston Martin have signed up already with other manufacturers to be announced soon. Aston Martin will use it's V8 Vantage with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Verstappen among those at the wheel.
McLaren will provide a 720 S supercar with drivers to include Alonso, his Belgian team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, Finland’s retired double world champion Mika Hakkinen and British reserve Lando Norris.A bespoke garage will be provided for the programme, which will run special competitions and promotions for fans to win rides as well as catering for celebrities and guests.
Leading drivers have given occasional ‘taxi rides’ for visiting celebrities in the past, with four-times champion Lewis Hamilton taking Jamaican Olympic sprint great Usain Bolt around the US Grand Prix circuit in a Mercedes in 2017. There has been no formal programme, however, involving the general public and allowing the sport’s manufacturers to show off their supercars.
Formula One, which already has a two-seater race car ‘experiences’ programme for guest VIPs and those who can afford it, did not say which Grands Prix would feature after Bahrain.
But F1 commercial managing director Sean Bratches did say: “The once in a lifetime experience of being driven at speed by a racing driver at iconic race circuits in dream cars is truly unique. We are seeking to be fan first and this is yet another example of our efforts to that end.”