Ahead of the 2011 season, Button became the first ever race driver to take on becoming the first-ever race driver to take on Australia’s iconic Mount Panorama circuit in a Formula One car
Thousands were at the event to watch Button drive five laps in his MP4-23 car before five-time Bathurst champion Craig Lowndes took over the helm, earning him the title of being the first ever Australian driver to take an F1 car around the track.
The unique event, organised by Vodafone with the support of Bathurst Council, was inspired by Button himself, who after taking Lowndes’ team mate, TeamVodafone driver Jamie Whincup’s V8 Supercar, for a spin around Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit last year, declared his desire to have a crack at The Mountain
For V8 Supercar legend, Craig Lowndes, the event was a-once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to drive a Formula One car around a track he knows (arguably) better than anyone else.
Both Button and Lowndes thanked the fans for attending the historic day and also thanked them for their donations to the Queensland and Victoria Flood Appeal.
“When I drove around earlier in a Mercedes road car it even felt fast. I think I’m going to have more fun in the V8 car than the F1 because you can actually use all the kerbs and get a good flow. I’m really excited about the challenge. It’s the second time I’ll be driving a V8 and I’ve got so many good memories of watching the V8s on TV and hopefully one day I get to drive one for real and it not just be four laps.
“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.
Button revealed Lowndes had given him some advice before he took to the track.
“He [Lowndes] jokingly said it’s flat everywhere and that if you don’t come back with wing mirrors that’s pretty normal!
“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.
“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.”
“Imagining an F1 car around Bathurst initially seemed a bit crazy,” Lowndes added. “But it’s here and we’re going to enjoy it for what it is. It will be a hell of an experience. I never thought in my lifetime we’d see this.
“Potentially it [the lap] could be a lot quicker but realistically I’ve been told to bring it back in one piece. Today is more about sharing the experience with Jenson show him the track and the car and vice versa.
“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.”