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Hartley gets behind wheel of Formula One car

PETER LAMPP
Last updated 12:00 26/06/2012

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Palmerston North driver Brendon Hartley will race a Formula One Car in England next weekend, even if it was one of last year's cars.

Hartley will be behind the wheel of the car at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

The Festival of Speed is called the largest motoring garden party in the world, attracting more than 100,000 spectators over three days. It is held in the grounds of Goodwood House, West Sussex, near the south coast of England.

The official Goodwood website reports that Hartley will be in action on the hill there in a Lotus 92 and a Mercedes W02 2011 Formula One car. This year's Mercedes is the WO3.

The Lotus is the former Nigel Mansell-John Player Special 1983 Formula One car Hartley drove at Brands Hatch earlier this month.

The annual hill-climb event has entries only by personal invitation from the property owner, Lord March (Charles Gordon-Lennox).

The Festival of Speed attracts most of the Formula 1 teams and drivers, with at least six of this year's teams confirmed for Goodwood.

These include Red Bull Racing, Scuderia Ferrari, Vodafone McLaren Racing, Lotus, Mercedes GP and Caterham.

Current F1 drivers and leading characters in action at the Festival will include current double world champion Sebastian Vettel, plus the two previous world champions, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.

Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg, Heikki Kovalainen, Christian Horner and Adrian Newey will also be in action up the famed 1.86km Goodwood hill climb.

Hartley is one of two simulator test drivers with the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One team.

The other is Anthony Davidson, the Englishman who broke two vertebrae in his back during a high-speed crash in the Le Mans 24-hour race in France less than two weeks ago. He will not be racing at Goodwood.

At the weekend, Hartley is expected to have one day's racing in the Mercedes car and Formula One driver Nico Rosberg, will drive the other day.

"It will be a fantastic experience to not only drive up the hill at Goodwood for the first time, but also to have my first taste of the Mercedes F1 car," Hartley said this morning. "I have worked with the team closely developing their car, but driving the real thing will be a treat. I cannot wait."

It will put Hartley back in the Formula One limelight. Until a few months ago, his simulator work with Mercedes had been kept secret.

He is also being tipped to get another drive with Murphy Prototypes Racing, the Irish team in which he shared the driving at Le Mans two weeks ago.

It would be no surprise if he was named in the team for the 6-hour endurance event at Silverstone, the fourth round of the world endurance championship on August 26.

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