Button does first lap of Bathurst in an F1 car

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Jenson Button became the first driver to lap the famous Mount Panorama circuit, home of the Bathurst 1000, in an F1 car.

Speaking at the event ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix Button said: “These guys are crazy – they really are. This place is fantastic. Television just doesn’t do it justice.”

Button did five laps in a 2008 McLaren MP4-23.

V8 Supercar driver Craig Lowndes also did five laps at the wheel of the car. He said: “When I first went out it was the acceleration but when you go through turn two you really realise how much acceleration you have. In comparison the V8 seems to labour up the mountain.”

Button also got to drive a Holden Commodore V8 as raced by Lowndes. Button said: “As a driver you have your favourite tracks. Like Macau and Silverstone for instance.

“But this is the one I haven’t had the possibility of driving and I’m going to fulfil a childhood dream in not only a V8 but also in a Formula 1 car – which I think is pretty special myself.

“This is an iconic race track and it’s great to celebrate the unofficial fastest lap in a F1 car. That was phenomenal. It was such a rush.

“Once you get over the straights being quite hard to control the car over it is such a pleasure. It’s just a pity I don’t have more laps to test it out.”

Button said he was surprised by how much he could attack the circuit driving the Commodore: “I didn’t expect so much grip. It took me a while to get used to it.

“I haven’t hammered a car over kerbs like that for 12 years so it was a new experience for me and something I’ve missed.

“I was holding on tight all the way. It takes everything out of you. It was the experience I’ve wanted to have for many years and I’ve finally done it. In a way it’s probably not a good thing because it’s made me more hungry to come back.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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81 comments on “Button does first lap of Bathurst in an F1 car”

  1. Can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to take the Dipper in a modern F1 car. Here’s hoping for some onboard video!

    1. Seconded! That was one of my first thoughts: I wanna see an entire lap onboard!

    2. They had to take a wide line thru the dipper to level it out.

    3. Fairly not so related to this, have you guys seen the twitter happened a couple of days ago. a twit between button and Paffett regarding buttons gf.


      I thought it was just awesome.

      1. Sounds all in good nature to me…

  2. Is Bathurst FIA Certified? I’d love to see an F1 race there if/when Melbourne back out of F1. Could be tight at the top of the hill though!

    1. This and this again. I didn’t think the cars would be able to handle the steep dips on the top of the mountain, but now that I know they can, Bathurst gets my vote should Melbourne get dropped!

      1. But there simply isn’t enough run off for a race to be held. Part of the appeal of Bathurst is the closeness of the walls. For an F1 race to take place the whole top of the Mountain would have to be virtually leveled for sufficient run off to be built and I think this would make Bathurst lose much of its appeal.

        Would this really be as special if the wall was 20m away?


        1. Does Monaco need runoff? ;)

          1. Well no, but Monaco is relatively slow :P. Bathurst is the polar opposite.

            There’s a big difference between doing a demonstration run to running a full fledge race on the circuit.

          2. Monaco almost certainly wouldn’t be allowed onto the calendar if it was created today.

          3. No but they have said on many occasions that Monaco wouldn’t be allowed on to the calendar if they proposed it now.

          4. Bathurst is my favorite track on the planet. But even for the V8 supercars it is too dangerous. Look up; 8 October 2006 Mark Porter, Holden Commodore VZ, V8 Supercar Series

          5. Not to mention they need kangaroo control. Several have found their way on the track during race conditions over the years.

      2. the track doesn’t look wide enough to me :\

    2. Bathurst, as far as I know, is not FIA Grade 1… and it’s highly unlikely that it would ever be. Hence, there is no chance of an F1 race being held there unless the safety regulations are massively relaxed.

      It’s quite a shame, really… it’d be quite fitting and special if the Australian GP was held there. I guess we can dream…

    3. The big problem with Bathurst is not the undulations. Or even the proximity of the walls. It’s the accessibility. It’s very difficult to get direct access to the circuit between Griffin’s Bend and McPhillamy Park, and again from the Dipper to the top of Conrod Straight. In the event of an accident, a driver would remain trapped in his car until emergency crews could get around to him. There are also two or three points around the circuit where there is a steep drop-off on the other side of the concrete barriers.

      1. Apart from the runoff areas, this is mainly the problem.
        Which is why the northern loop at the Nurburgring doesn’t even get DTM races anymore. If a car catches fire, immediate action has to be taken, we’ve seen what can happen when a driver is trapped in a burning car in the Lamborghini Cup. If something like that was to happen in F1 infront of several million TV spectators… Goodbye F1.

        Also, as someone mentioned earlier, of Monaco was conceived nowadays, it would not get approved by the FIA, probably. Even though it is a very slow circuit, which probably helps giving an excuse for still having it in the calendar.

        1. The tunnel’s one of the fastest bits in F1, mind.

          1. Not really. It’s coming out of a pretty slow corner and it’s not incredibly long in terms of straightaways in F1. Stretches at China or Spa are probably a lot faster.

          2. ~ 270 kph is not close to the fastest bits of F1. Besides there is an intense amount of safety precautions in and after the tunnel to make sure that bit of track is as safe as possible.

          3. eh? As far as straights go, the tunnel is the slowest on the calendar. I don’t think they break 280kph!

    4. Given that V8 Supercars are sanctioned by the FIA, the circuit would be “FIA Certified”; however the FIA has different circuit gradings. I think F1 can only race of a Level 1 circuit though.

      Also the closest major city is Sydney which is about a 3 hour drive, and Bathurst is really just a big country down, with a population of 30,000. Lovely town, but I don’t think there would be enough accommodation of the standard the F1 teams, and corporate spectators would be expected. Also I think under the current laws Bathurst Regional Council is only allowed to close the road (as it is a public road) for 5 events a year. The Vodafone event took the final slot for this year.

      Even though it’s 99% never going to happen F1 at Bathurst would be awesome. Any race driver that has the balls to go through the skyline at speed deserves maximum respect. Driving through the skyline at the speed limit of 60km/h it is a scary piece of road.

      1. I think that was the closest thing we’ll ever see to an F1 race around Bathurst. But if Codemasters were clever, they’d put Bathurst in as a bonus track or something. At least then we could pretend to have F1 races around Bathurst! :P

  3. What an awesome track. It sure does look weird seeing Button in a 2008 McLaren too.

    1. A small minority of us thinks he should have been there in the first place!

      1. if he had been there, he wouldnt have won the world championship. *shrug*

  4. I didn’t think it would be that easy to drive an F1 around Mount Panorama! I thought it would be to steep coming down the mountain!
    This would be the perfect place for the Australian GP if Melbourne doesn’t want it… There would be no shortage of passing opportunities as well!
    Two problems solved!

    1. I thought this at first two. The V8 Supercars overtake at just about any bend on that circuit.
      But I think the F1 cars would be a whole different story. They can’t swap paint like bumper cars, as the V8s often do.

      1. *too. Darn it.

  5. 3rd picture with helicopter hovering above is damn cool..

    this track should replace albert park I guess

  6. As I posted in the forum earlier, Button said in an interview that he feels that if he was given more laps he would ahve been able to go flat out from The Cutting (Turn 4) right through to the top of the Esses (Turn 11)


    This a large chunk of the lap so if he was able to go flat out through there i can’t imagine how low his lap time would have been. I’m guessing well below 1:40.

    1. That would be absolutely terrifying. It’s blind all the way through.

      1. And it undulates. Repeatedly.

    2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PP5c5rButP8

      The section that he thinks could be flat out is from 0:45 til 1:10.

      1. I can’t even fathom attempting that flat out. That’d be some big cajones…

    3. It really is an amazing track, I bet Jenson was having a lot of fun driving the racing cars around that track.

      Good job Aussies for having the track, and the sponsor for helping it happen.

  7. OzRacingWrap has posted this video. Doesn’t appear to follow one continuous lap, but does have some very nice bumper cam footage.

    1. Sorry, was my first attempt at a link, can someone link this for me?


      1. Brilliant video!

      2. Nice video Jay, thanks for that. :)

        Now having not been live on a racetrack, the unfiltered sound is really awesome ….. Now I know what pple mean when they talk of F1 sound 8)

    2. cheers jay great vid

      1. Pink Pirelli
        24th March 2011, 7:45

        What a teaser, absolutely amazing to see one F1 on the Mountain, such a shame that we’ll never see 24 of them going head to head.

  8. What i dont understand is why dont we rent the Toyota F1 simulator and have a look (i mean formula 1 rather than us here at F1 fanatic). It would be easy to digitally asses the run off areas.

    They may have to replace some barriers, barrier technology has come a long way but the good ones are very very expensive.

  9. I looked at some laps on youtube. I never knew of this track! I’m not australian or an endurance fan, so I guess that’s why. I wonder how many other awesome tracks are out there that F1 takes for granted. Instead they have somebody who can think of the most boring tracks to be made, then pay him millions.

  10. McLaren went there with the MP4-23 because of MP4-26 bad reliability? I don’t think they had any “filming days” yet. Maybe they will wait until the start of the european season when they will “film” with their first major update.

    1. probably because the mp4-26 is currently in pieces with the ‘dramatic update’ taking place :)

    2. They can’t use the current car or current tyres because that would then make it a day of testing. So they use an old car with old tyres. Same as when Jamie Whincup drove a few laps at Albert Park for a similar event last year

      1. old car with new tyres, unless they painted pirrelli p zero onto some old bridgestones :P

    3. It’s not anything to do with testing regulations, filming days or whatever, it’s purely logistics.

      They have the race spec cars in Melbourne, in the hands of the crew, preparing for the weekend. It wouldn’t make sense to disrupt the schedule of preparing for a GP by transporting the car 800km for a couple of laps for promotional purposes. What happens if the car is damaged?

      Much better to use a separate car and crew for the promotional stuff…previous spec versions are used because they are would be sitting around otherwise.

      1. If logistics problems a few days out from the race was the problem then they would’ve held the day last week, and why did the similar Vodafone promo last year at Albert Park (with everyone already) there use an old car as well? Logisitics problems would argue against bringing an old car to do some laps at 80%, and they would argue against having the biggest & fanciest motorhome to trundle around European races just for bragging rights.

        Anyways, would’ve been good if they did a few more laps and went for a proper time, blow the V8 Supercar time out of the water

        1. Except last week the V8 Supercars were in Adelaide. Adelaide is a 1200km (750 miles) from Bathurst, which is like the equivalent driving distance from London to the border of Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic.

      2. If they can manage Barcelona and Monaco in 4 days, i am sure they can manage the logistics for this event.

  11. Forgive my ignorance, but exactly where in Oz is Bathurst?

    1. New South Wales, 100 miles west of Sydney.

      1. Ah, thanks for that.

  12. Fred Schechter
    22nd March 2011, 15:00

    Awesome! Jenson must be simply delighted.
    Good to see that on the mountain.
    Too bad about the concrete walls at the top, running F1 there would indeed be impossible due to safety issues (sadly).
    For that matter, why don’t other circuits run the “Safer” barrier seen in the U.S. NASCAR series to make walls more forgiving and perhaps open up a few more venues for formula 1? Is this a possibility, or, as I’m assuming, it’s in no way safe enough to add that and move walls back (And maybe pave the surface in front for more controlled runoff)?

    I wish we had more testing around the world and we could actually seen F1 in more places. HINT HINT BERNIE!! (I’d even PAY!)

    Cheers to you Jenson for getting to play on the mountain in an F1 car, we’re all jealous!

    1. I wish we had more testing around the world and we could actually seen F1 in more places.

      Given the choice, I’d rather have more races.

      As I’ve said before, I think it’s ridiculous that F1 teams do two-and-a-half times more testing (15,000km) than they do racing (6,000km).

      1. Well only the teams who did the most kms have done such amount of testing, and don’t forget that there are two drivers in each team and that the race weekend doesn’t just consist of the race, and also that this is the most technical sport in the world.

        Compare that with something like athletics – my friend who is a pro sprinter and is currently the country’s champ in his age group in 100m, he will have done literally thousand times more running practicing than he will have done competing to refine his technique and so on, and thats just for something basic as running, in comparison F1 drivers and teams relatively don’t get almost any practice.

  13. It seems like very intersting circuit. especially scenery.

  14. Almost a perfect balance between the two – Button knows an F1 car by heart, the Australian knows Bathurst circuit by heart and they come within a second of each other – top effort by the Aussie!

  15. When I first went out it was the acceleration but when you go through turn two you really realise how much acceleration you have.

    Mr. Racedriver or Mr. Journalist, this sentence makes absolutely no sense, please refrase.

    1. I think he’s referring to the fact that even in corners an F1 car can still accelerate at near full-throttle, unlike a low-downforce tin-top.

    2. and the fact after turn 2 is a steep up hill climb, and he’s comparing how much quicker the f1 car accelerates up the hill, compared to the v8 supercar…

  16. That looks great, and good advertising for Vodafone.
    Wish Ferrari or someone would do a couple of laps at the Isle of Man.

  17. Simply awesome great to see, always wondered what f1 would be like around the mighty mountain !!

  18. Keith – According to the video Button did a best lap of 1:48.500 and Lowndes’ best lap was only “a second slower than Button’s” can you squeeze that in the article somewhere.
    The lap time was the first bit of info I wanted and I am guess others who know anything about the circuit would be interested in the F1 car laptop.

    1. “lap time” not “laptop” bah

  19. Maybe in a few years F1 cars will be so safe that they will be able to run around tracks like Bathurst in race? Or is that me having a stupid thought?

    1. May be???

  20. junarsports (@)
    22nd March 2011, 22:58

    Here you can check the number of victories, podiums, number of gps, pole positions, fastest laps and career points of Jenson Button http://bit.ly/hT8wBi

  21. Without wishing to be boring, if Jenson had crashed and injured himself – a possibility as he was going for quick laps and didn’t want to be shown up by a non-F1 driver, this could have been similar to the Kubica incident.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think that drivers should be able to have fun, do what they want, etc… but I also question what McLaren are doing with Jenson just a week before the season starts.

    1. McLaren are keeping sponsors (ie Vodafone) happy

  22. One of the best circuit in the world,I better watch an F1 race there then in Valencia.It has everything,the fast corners,nature, good straight.If they want to drop Melbourne this is one place they should go given the fact that they make it FIA standard.

  23. and the fact after turn 2 is a steep up hill climb, and he’s comparing how much quicker the f1 car accelerates up the hill, compared to the v8 supercar…

    1. oops forgot to click reply… fail.

  24. adelaide lap record, f1 1:15 Damon Hill 1993, V8 supercar James Courtney 1:21 2010, not bad for a taxi.


    1. Except for the fact that the F1 circuit is about half a kilometre longer..

  25. I’ve never seen this track before and it looks fantastic :D Some great, dramatic elevation changes. Does look a little on the narrow side for F1 though.

  26. Ugh, it still makes me mad that Team Vodafone switched to Holden.

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