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‘He had nothing to prove’: Tony Stewart reflects on Lewis Hamilton’s greatness despite outperforming him in his own strength

‘He had nothing to prove’: Tony Stewart reflects on Lewis Hamilton’s greatness despite outperforming him in his own strength
‘He had nothing to prove’: Tony Stewart reflects on Lewis Hamilton’s greatness despite outperforming him in his own strength

In 2011, Tony Stewart and F1 driver Lewis Hamilton swapped cars at Watkins Glen International. This was due to both SHR and McLaren (Hamilton’s former team) having a partnership with Mobil1, and as a promotional event, the two drivers were called upon to swap cars. The interaction between the two was effortlessly hilarious, as both drivers took the sarcastic-witty route to entertain fans. Although it’s been over 13 years since they worked together, the media never forgets it.

During the event, Lewis Hamilton drove Stewart’s No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet Impala, while Stewart sat behind the wheel of Hamilton’s McLaren MP4-23. Despite the rainy and challenging track conditions, both drivers enjoyed the experience. This made headlines in 2011, when such crossovers were much rarer at the time. Since then, both drivers have gone on to achieve tremendous success in their respective sports.

In a recent interview with Motor Sport magazine, Tony Stewart was called and asked about his journey as a racing driver. When the interviewer started talking about the car swap with Hamilton, Stewart revealed something unexpected.

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Tony Stewart’s view of the day at the track with Lewis Hamilton

Do you think Tony Stewart’s admiration for Lewis Hamilton is justified?

Fans will miss Tony Stewart immensely in the Cup Series starting in 2025. What a personality! From controversies to on-track battles and even having the most promising drivers, he definitely led an era. During the interview, the questions started about recent events in his life, the Cup Series switch to drivers like Briscoe and Berry that got him some good spots, and it slowly went back to the past that made him the driver he is today.

One of the most important milestones in his life must have been driving an F1 car during the swap with the former McLaren driver. When Motor Sport magazine asked Tony Stewart about the time he swapped the car, the owner of the SHR team replied: “They asked me if I was interested. I said: Am I interested? Send me over there, I’m waiting for this call.”

via Getty

While the event was held with cameras on both drivers, the most important conversations took place away from the lens. Stewart explained his time with 2024 Silverstone Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton, saying: “Doing this with Lewis Hamilton was amazing. He’s an absolutely amazing person. His racing record speaks for itself, but talking to him without the media, without the cameras, was such an amazing opportunity.” This could also be Tony Stewart’s way of celebrating his recent GOT win after 900+ days and letting the world know he has a connection to the F1 legend. What a race for Lewis Hamilton!

After explaining how McLaren had fine-tuned the single-seater to its exact specifications, he spoke about the rain that posed a challenge in the new vehicle and how both cars performed in the swapped cars. He said: “Lewis was five seconds faster than me in my car, and I was eight seconds faster than him in his car… on rain tyres.”

Tony Stewart concluded his answer with a comment about the 7-time Formula 1 world champion: “But hey, he had nothing to prove, and we laughed about it later. The conditions played a part of course. It was such a cool day, some of the coolest laps I’ve ever done in my life.”

The event was a once-in-a-lifetime experience where drivers got to drive a racing machine from another sport. However, this wasn’t the only time that F1 and NASCAR drivers worked together. Let’s take a look at the other instance where the two worlds collided.

Jeff Gordon and Juan Pablo Montoya also swapped cars once

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In 2003, an exciting event took place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon and Formula One driver Juan Pablo Montoya swapped racing machines. To show the merging of two different worlds, Gordon drove a Williams FW24 Formula One car and Montoya drove a NASCAR stock car.

The NASCAR stock car weighed 3,400 pounds, had an 8-cylinder engine with a naturally aspirated carburetor, and was rated at around 850 horsepower at over 9,000 RPM. In contrast, the Williams FW24, equipped with a 3.0-liter V10 engine, produced 900 horsepower at 19,000 RPM, which demonstrated its advanced engineering and lighter carbon fiber suspension.

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During the change, both drivers had to adapt quickly to the new and challenging environments. Montoya had to get used to the braking zones of the NASCAR stock car, which required him to brake much earlier than he was used to in an F1 car. Despite his enthusiasm, he found the car difficult to control and even overshot the first corner.

Both drivers completed three warm-up laps and three hot laps, experiencing the differences in handling and performance first-hand. While these incidents sound crazy, would you like to see more collaborations between the two sports? Let us know what you think in the comments below.