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Button samples V8 Supercar in Melbourne 23 Mar 2010

McLaren's Jenson Button (GBR) and V8 Supercar champion Jamie Whincup (AUS), Melbourne, Australia, 23 March 2010. McLaren's MP4-23 and the Holden Commodore V8 Supercar of Jamie Whincup (AUS), Melbourne, Australia, 23 March 2010.

Reigning Formula One world champion Jenson Button tried out some rather different high-speed machinery on Tuesday at Melbourne’s Albert Park when he traded cars with Australian V8 Supercar champion Jamie Whincup, during a special event ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.

The switch put McLaren driver Button behind the wheel of Whincup’s Team Vodafone Holden Commodore, while Whincup was let loose on the circuit in the British Formula One team’s MP4-23.

“That was great!” said Button, after his turn on the Australian track. “It was difficult to get used to: I was surprised by how much grip it had. I was carrying a lot of speed, but turned into a right-hander, got a lot of understeer and ran off onto the painted run-off. But it was all good. In a Formula One car I’d have been closing my eyes at that point!”

Whincup, meanwhile, said of his run in the MP4-23: “Jumping into a Formula One car is almost like going into space, or flying a fighter jet. It’s right up there with the best thing I could ever do. The car just does everything you’d want it to. The strain on my neck was amazing. The g-forces you feel are so much greater than I’d feel aboard my own race car. The F1 car is just a rocket ship. It’s another league.”