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McLaren test for young British talent 03 Dec 2004

Jamie Green (GBR) ASM. 51st Macau Grand Prix, Guia Circuit, Macau, China, 17-21 November 2004.

Three promising young British drivers got a chance to sample a Formula One car this week when McLaren gave them tests in the Mercedes-powered MP4-19 at Silverstone.

Jamie Green and Alex Lloyd, who earned their test as winners of the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award in 2002 and 2003 respectively, were joined by long-time McLaren protege Lewis Hamilton for a one-off test day at the British Grand Prix circuit.

“My runs in the West McLaren Mercedes MP4-19 were the quickest I have ever been, and in the Formula One car you get a real understanding of the sheer speed,” commented Green, winner of this year’s Formula 3 Euroseries.

“In terms of braking and power, the MP4-19 is of course a massive step up from anything I have raced during my career so far and it was a great experience. My heart was beating fast before I left the garage as I have never used a hand clutch before, however everything went very well.”

Lloyd, among the front runners in this year’s Superfund Euro 3000 series, was equally enthused after his drive: “There are no words to describe the feeling as I came out of the pitlane at Silverstone in the MP4-19. I have not driven carbon fibre brakes before so I had to get used to them, however, towards the end of my laps I started to feel much more confident with them and was getting on very well.

"I have really enjoyed the session, and it was also very interesting to work with members of the West McLaren Mercedes team who usually work with their race and test drivers. It is such a unique experience for a driver to be rewarded with a session such as Wednesday’s; it has been a fantastic end to the year and would like to thank the organisations behind the Award.”

The team also took the opportunity to provide Hamilton with his first run in a Formula One car. Having dominated the 2003 Formula Renault UK Championship he graduated to the Formula 3 Euroseries for 2004. A competitive season saw him take his first victory in the series at the Norisring with other highlights including an impressive performance to win the qualifying race at Macau.

“It was a great opportunity for me to be able to experience the power and grip of the West McLaren Mercedes MP4-19,” said Hamilton after his run. “Having been involved with McLaren and Mercedes-Benz for over six years, it was fantastic to finally get behind the wheel of the car I have been so close to all that time.

“It has been my dream for as long as I can remember and it was phenomenal, meeting all my expectations. It was a good learning experience, to start to have a genuine understanding how a Formula One car handles and the skills you need to drive it, I just wish I could have stayed on track for longer! I’d obviously like to give my appreciation to West McLaren Mercedes for providing me with this chance.”

All three men got 21 laps of Silverstone National circuit at the wheel of the MP4-19, which was operating at full power, formed of one installation lap and two runs of ten laps. Their runs left McLaren’s Formula One CEO Martin Whitmarsh impressed.

“Having spoken to the engineers who were at the track, they all adapted to the MP4-19 well and put in good performances,” he said. “We are all particularly delighted for Lewis that he has had this one-off opportunity, it has been a competitive season and this is a fitting reward for all the hard work he has put in to maintain the steep learning curve.

“Having worked closely with Lewis over recent years, I know how keen he has been to get behind the wheel of one of our Formula One cars, and of course it has always been a scheduled element of our programme with him. From feedback we have received from all three drivers, it was a positive and enjoyable experience for them and we hope they will have benefited from the session.”

The winner of the 2004 McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award will be announced on Sunday.