A day within the lifetime of an F1 celebrity: Our man takes on Coulthard and Rosberg – from his front room!
Sitting within the seat of my Racing Level automotive on the grid on the US Grand Prix, it was straightforward to neglect that this was not actual life.
My arms, barely clammy from nerves, gripped the steering wheel tight as I appeared up on the lights counting right down to the beginning of the race. The sound of my rivals’ engines reverberated in my ears.
Purple, purple, purple… the lights, one after the other, went out till it was time to push down on the throttle and assault the automobiles in entrance.
Sportsmail’s Ben Nagle took on some F1 legends at dwelling, and there was carnage on the observe
David Coulthard (left) and Nico Rosberg (proper) additionally had simulators at their very own properties
It was solely on the first nook, when my entrance wing clipped the rear finish of David Coulthard’s Purple Bull and I felt no jolt in my seat, that I used to be reminded of the circumstances.
Certainly, this was not actual life. I wasn’t heading spherical the primary bend of the Circuit of the Americas in Houston, Texas, however as a substitute was in my front room in Surrey, England.
I used to be not a well-known System One star, however as a substitute a driver extra attuned to the 2011 Vauxhall Astra sitting on the driveway exterior my home.
However, for one evening solely, I may neglect all that and actually combine it with the large boys. With no F1 races to go to in my position as a journalist, Heineken had despatched the race to me, and a state-of-the-art simulator sat dominating the downstairs of my dwelling.
In entrance of me on the grid have been three F1 legends in Coulthard, Nico Rosberg and Robert Doornbos, in addition to a Brazilian footballing hero within the type of Roberto Carlos. Behind me, seven YouTube stars gunning for glory and determined to cross me as quickly as attainable.
This was the Heineken Legends Race, being stay streamed to hundreds of thousands world wide, and I used to be proper within the thick of it.
Our man places within the observe forward of the race, through which he took on some F1 greats
Heading into the primary nook, Nagle was preventing for the lead with Coulthard and Rosberg
So, again to that first nook. Having began fifth on the grid, I had in some way managed to work my method as much as a combat for the lead in simply seconds.
I say ‘in some way’. A pc malfunction on the start-line from Doornbos had taken Rosberg out with him and cleared my route via. However no questions requested, I used to be taking it.
I clipped Coulthard’s rear wheel however stored my automotive regular and attacked him into the following nook. It took a few turns however all of the sudden I noticed the hole, squeezing previous a person with 246 System One race begins underneath his belt.
This wasn’t actual life, however it was severe stuff. Simulators had been delivered to the entire drivers within the days main as much as the race, and I used to be underneath no illusions that there had been some severe practising occurring amongst my rivals.
This piece of equipment repeatedly assists a number of the prime modern-day F1 drivers, and I used to be advised earlier within the week that Max Verstappen makes use of it to practise the identical observe for as much as eight hours a day whereas making ready for a race weekend.
Rosberg reacts (backside left) as he will get tangled with Coulthard and the pair crash into the wall
Coulthard had his simulator delivered to his condo in Monaco in the course of the lockdown
Clearly, I hadn’t been placing in that stage of dedication, however after a few days of flying via the streets of Monaco and the Senna S bend in Sao Paolo, I felt prepared to present it a go.
Coulthard, then again, had been very eager to downplay his probabilities once I spoke to him in regards to the race on a midweek Zoom name.
‘I am at present getting snug within the seat,’ he mentioned. ‘My 11-year-old son walked away in embarrassment once I had a bit observe earlier, so I’ve now obtained no household assist.
‘For those who’re seeking to me for recommendation, you are in deep s***.’
YouTubers and different influencers made up the remainder of the grid in Heineken’s Legends Race
Rosberg received the F1 drivers’ title again in 2016 however may solely end mid-table on his simulator
Regardless of the self-deprecation, there’s absolutely solely so unhealthy you might be at a racing simulator when your whole profession was spent driving automobiles at breakneck velocity round System One circuits.
However in some way, towards all the chances, I had overtaken Coulthard and – extremely – was now forward of all of the Heineken Legends with 4 laps of the 14 accomplished.
If it had ended there, I’d have reserved myself a spot on the rostrum however, alas, life comes at you quick and earlier than I knew it a rival had clipped my rear wheel and despatched me spinning into the gravel.
Instantly, I may see my telephone lighting up beside me, the inevitable group chat ribbing coming earlier than I may even direct the nostril of my automotive again on the tarmac.
However I obtained again on, now 10th of 12, and ready for a battle again to the midfield. Benefiting from but extra slips and spins from the professionals, I fought previous Coulthard and Rosberg once more to revive some pleasure and climb to seventh.
Nagle catches up with Rosberg forward of the race whereas on his simulator throughout lockdown
Roberto Carlos was a cross grasp on the pitch, however he obtained handed by loads on the race observe
F1 legend Coulthard reacts to the race, which noticed him spin out on a number of events
With 11 laps down, and simply three to go, the nerves have been nonetheless jangling amid the prospect of ending forward of Coulthard, Rosberg and Carlos – the latter dawdling on the rear of the sphere fairly fortunately being lapped by the leaders.
A cross grasp on the pitch throughout a exceptional enjoying profession, he was a grasp at getting handed on the digital F1 observe, it appears.
A fast look in my rearview mirror confirmed the worst attainable information with simply two laps to go. Whereas I sat seventh, Rosberg was in eighth and bearing down on me.
At this level within the race, my sole goal was to carry my place till the chequered flag after which shortly replace my CV to notice: ‘Beat an F1 world champion at his personal recreation’.
Nagle was second heading spherical the primary lap, however later spun off and dropped again to 10th
Carlos is hugged by David Beckham throughout his enjoying heydays at Actual Madrid in 2005
Sadly, that exact same F1 champion was simply seconds behind me. He could not have cared as a lot as I did – ‘beating a Sportsmail journalist’ hardly prone to make his life highlights – however he was a greater driver and I had a job on my arms to carry him off.
However maintain him off I did, with no slips within the remaining two laps. Palms raised aloft as I crossed the end line, it was accomplished. My F1 simulator debut had ended with a seventh-placed end.
Alas, no champagne spraying on the rostrum, however my identify simply above Rosberg, Coulthard and Carlos on the ultimate standings made it a job nicely accomplished in my books.
The F1 Esports #ChallengeHeinekenLegends occurred on Sunday, Might 17. Search #ChallengeHeinekenLegends or go to https://www.heineken.com for more information.