F1’S GR AND MASTER
Having finessed the skills of many of the world’s top racing drivers, Rob Wilson demonstrates the art of speed… in an Astra
Want to win a world championship? You’ll be needing Rob Wilson, his Vauxhall Astra and a disused airfield
THERE MUST HAVE BEEN A DEFINABLE MOMENT when everything changed, but no matter how many times I repeat those brief seconds in my head, I just can’t detect any discernible shift in body language or concentration, or any variation in driving style. It was completely, utterly, quite wonderfully seamless.
Picture the scene: Rob Wilson driving, me in the passenger seat, driving sedately around Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground in an unsuspecting and humble 1.4-litre Astra, deftly navigating Rob’s own time-served ‘circuit’. He’s talking lines, technique, all in a constant but measured stream of consciousness. And then BAM!
Rob is still talking in his quiet, 50-a- day voice, still finessing the controls as though he’s trying to cajole a petrified mare back into a stable. But the Astra, oh the poor Astra – it now appears to have been booted up the backside by a runaway elephant. We’re entering the long right at the end of the runway at a velocity – a level of raw determination – I don’t think I’ve ever seen or felt before, and my right foot instinctively starts to compress the carpet. Nails dig pathetically into plastic.
But the Astra’s will is ruthlessly under Rob’s command, and continues to be so for the next couple of laps, at a ferocity matched only by the lack of effort shown by its driver. This is truly the art of speed, and I’m here, like over half the current F1 grid have been, or currently do, to try to learn how on earth the man does it.