Lewis Hamilton joins Red Arrows practice session

Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton joined the the Red Arrows for a practice session at RAF Scampton last week.

He spent the day with the Reds together with engineers from his Mercedes AMG Petronas team and BBC commentator and former-F1 star David Coulthard.

Hamilton and Coulthard were each strapped into the back seat of two of the team’s distinctive Hawk T1 jets before being taken on a short “shakedown sortie”, to ensure they could cope with experiencing G-forces of up to 4.5G.

Following a debrief, Hamilton took his own Silver Arrow, a Mercedes F1 demo car, along the runway at RAF Scampton while Squadron Leader Mike Ling – known as Red 10 – piloted the Hawk carrying Coulthard overhead, with the car and jet reaching respective speeds of 300kph (188mph) and 1,000kph (620mph).

Later, Hamilton and Coulthard were flown in a planned Red Arrows practice formation – similar to the performance that British Grand Prix crowds will see when the team display at Silverstone before the race on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton said: “We had an amazing day with the RAF Red Arrows last week and I absolutely loved the experience of flying with their team.

“The loops and rolls in the jet are such an intense experience and I’ve got so much admiration for those guys and their unbelievable flying skills.

“They actually let me fly the jet on the first flight; the pilot brought me up into position and then gave me the controls.

“That was intense and it’s surprising how sensitive the controls are and how tough it is to keep in formation.

“To then jump out of the jet and drive our Silver Arrow down the runway at 300 kph with a jet screaming 100ft overhead, hitting close to1000 kph, was beyond cool.

“We’re used to big lateral G loads in Formula One but experiencing negative vertical G is something else.

“A big thank you to everyone at RAF Scampton for such an incredible experience, for allowing us to go behind the scenes of their practice display, and for making us feel so welcome.”

The session was filmed by the BBC for a feature to be shown during their pre-race coverage of Silverstone.

Squadron Leader Jim Turner said: “Both David and Lewis were exceptionally friendly and down-to-earth and were very keen to mingle with the personnel, friends and families who were there on the day.

A performance by the nine Red Arrows jets at the British Grand Prix is part of their 2013 display season.

After Silverstone, the team will be seen at the RAF Waddington International Air Show on July 6 and 7, where they will complete their 4,500th display since being formed in 1965.