In 2007, F1 star Lewis Hamilton drove what can only be described as a “remarkable” lap around the Top Gear test track at Dunsfold Aerodrome. In wet conditions, with oil from a broken gearbox coating Gambon corner, Hamilton cranked out a lap of 1:44.7 behind the wheel of a Suzuki Liana.
To frame exactly how quick Hamilton’s time was, it was just 0.1 seconds from Nigel Mansell’s time on a dry track, and it matched Jenson Button’s hot-weather dry track time. Kimi Raikkonen, on a very wet track, managed just a 1:46.1.
The record holder, among Formula One drivers, had been Sebastian Vettel, who cranked out a seemingly effortless lap of 1:44.0 during season 17. As Planet F1 tells us, during yesterday’s season 19, episode 4, Hamilton utterly laid waste to Vettel’s time, lapping the Liana in 1:42.9.
Granted, Hamilton had nearly ideal cool and dry conditions for his run, but the time was still impressive by anyone’s measure. The fastest lap by a non-professional driver in the Suzuki Liana was a 1:46.7, produced by yacht-racer-turned-charity-founder Dame Ellen MacArthur.
The video below, from Top Gear's Transmission blog, shows some highlights from the lap, but it doesn’t actually show the lap itself. If you watch Top Gear on BBC America, look for the episode featuring Hamilton’s record-setting drive to air on Monday, February 25.