Updated: Tuesday, 28th January 2020 @ 6:56pm

Jenson Button wows Manchester crowds with Formula 1 circuit around Deansgate

Jenson Button wows Manchester crowds with Formula 1 circuit around Deansgate

Words and photography Jamie Holt, Stephanie Prayle & Carly Turner

Video work by Joe Dalton & Jamie Holt

Jenson Button gave Mancunian Formula 1 fans a demonstration of the power of his McLaren Mercedes yesterday and suggested Manchester should host its own street Grand Prix.  

The 2009 world champion did laps of a specially designed Manchester circuit from the Hilton Hotel in Deansgate to Albert Square in front of thousands of spectators who braved the rain.  

After his hour-long exhibition Button claimed tongue-in-cheek that Manchester was now his favourite track.  

He said: “Somebody just asked me what my favourite circuit was, and it’s definitely the Manchester City Deansgate circuit, I’m the only one that knows it!  

“Manchester has been kind enough to let us do this today, so maybe they’ll realise by how many fans are here that we need a Grand Prix here.”  

After a safety car sweeped the circuit checking the conditions, Jenson first drove a stunning fully chromed McLaren F1 estate road car, performing doughnuts and drift turns to entertain the hordes of spectators.

Only two laps had been advertised and seemingly the pit crew as well as the organisers were surprised to see him perform an extra lap, also clearly at a speed over the allowed 70mph.

THIRD TIME LUCKY: Jenson sneaks in a third lap of the circuit - to many people's surprise

The event commentator could be heard over the Tannoy: “Naughty Jenson!” 

Button said: “To see the looks on people’s faces when I opened up the throttle, was a fantastic moment.

“It is all about giving something back to the fans and just unleashing the awesome power of a Formula 1 car. It was a lot of fun.”  

The commentator received loud boos at one point from the fans lining the streets when he proclaimed how proud Vodafone and McLaren were to be shown such support ‘here in London’.

But despite the dreary weather and commentary faux-pas, the atmosphere was upbeat and fans were positive.

Luke Moran who works in Spinningfields had taken advantage of an early lunch to see the 2009 F1 World Champion in action. He said: “It’s really exciting to have something like this in Manchester, it’s not the sort of thing you see every day so I’m hoping to see some of the action.”

PITSTOP: The McLaren Mercedes moments before taking to the Deansgate circuit

Rob Stevens, Deansgate resident and long time F1 fan, said: “This has been an amazing experience like nothing else.  For all this to happen in Manchester on my doorstep is like a dream, it’s been the closest thing to going to Silverstone.”

McLaren believe events like these bring a positive light to the sport and promote an inclusive fan experience.

A McLaren spokesman said: “Previous Vodafone events have taken place in central London and at the McLaren Technology Centre in Surrey, so by staging this in the North West, Vodafone are looking to take the sport to a wider audience and reward as many of their customers as possible.”

After the event Button said he had had a great day in Manchester and added: “I still can’t believe how many people came to watch today. Amazing crowd.”

Button, currently fourth in the world standings 110 points behind leader Sebastian Vettel, claimed a magnificent third-place finish at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday, and was looking forward to adding to his sixth podium of the season next week at Monza.  

He said: “We’re looking for a win next week, no doubt. The high speed there is phenomenal, you can’t really feel how quick you’re going until something happens.  

“We should be winning, we’re so quick at the moment, and we will win in Monza, it’s all or nothing.”

 

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