Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

The hot seat // Sitting in a Williams F1 car is harder than it looks

Published by Christine

Christine in Ralf's seat

As a guest of the Williams F1 Grand Prix Collection tour, there's a chance to sit in an actual Formula 1 car towards the end. Tucked away in the corner of the trophy room is Ralf Schumacher's car from 2000, I believe - feel free to correct me on that one.

I wasn't at all sure about having a sit in the car, partly because being anywhere Ralf has been isn't particularly enticing, and partly because it was the centre of attention. Nevertheless, I couldn't pass up the opportunity.

Getting into the car is easy. The very nice Williams man tells you to hold yourself on your arms, tuck your feet in, and slide all the way down. Simple. Once inside, I was amazed. I'd expected it to be really claustrophobic, but it was actually quite nice, although definitely a snug fit. I wouldn't go so far as to say comfortable though. Granted, I never had a fitting, but the seat is all knobbly and there's a tendency to elbow oneself in the ribs when holding on to a steering wheel. I can't believe this is conducive to concentration when whizzing about at high speeds.

The other thing that surprised me was the visibility. I wasn't as low as I thought I would be. Again, no seat fitting will make this experiment quite unscientific, but I could touch the pedals so I can't have been too far out. I thought it was going to be just a glimpse of the horizon, but I could actually see quite a long way. I imagine the added restrictions of a helmet have a huge impact on visibility, but it certainly wasn't as bad as I was expecting.

The only problematic moment was trying to climb out of the car. The natural instinct upon standing up is to lift your knees and then haul upwards. Not in here. You have to slip out of the seat far enough for your knees to be able to bend. It had me quite confused for a while, and I was worried I'd be stuck in an F1 car forever. Thankfully, the very nice Williams man was on hand to explain how I was doing it all wrong and just had to get my limbs under control.

All in all, it was great to have a glimpse into Ralf's drivers office. I know it was nothing like what he would go through on an average race weekend, but I reckon being jostled about for two hours in one of those things is worth a trophy or two. Have you ever sat in an F1 car? How did you find it?