Lewis Hamilton made his first cameo appearance on Top Gear in 2007, during the British driver’s inaugural Formula One season. His Top Gear test track lap of 1:44.7 wouldn’t have been particularly impressive, except for the fact that the track was wet and the final corner, Gambon, was covered in oil from a grenaded gearbox.
Compared to other F1 stars, Hamilton wasn’t too far off the mark. Nigel Mansell managed a 1:44.6 on a dry track, while Hamilton’s former teammate, Jenson Button, produced a matching time of 1:44.7 on an exceptionally hot day. In the wet, with the track nearly underwater, Kimi Raikkonen turned a lap in 1:46.1.
The fastest lap time among Formula One drivers was set by multiple world champion Sebastian Vettel, who cranked out a lap in 1:44.0. That time stood for two seasons, until Lewis Hamilton had a chance to reprise his role on the show. As Planet F1 tells us, Hamilton completed a lap in the Suzuki Liana (used by all F1 drivers) in a blistering 1:42.9, cutting an impressive 1.1 seconds off of Vettel’s previous record.
In fairness to Vettel, Hamilton was driving under clear and cool conditions, ideal for setting a high-speed lap (once the tires have heat in the, of course). Will Vettel have the opportunity to reprise his lap as well? How about Kimi Raikkonen lapping in the dry?
We’ll see the lap on BBC America next Monday, February 25, but the “behind the scenes” video below (from Top Gear’s Transmission blog) sets it up nicely.