Driving Today

Formula 1 vs. NASCAR

Which drivers are better? The band of foreigners who populate the Formula 1 circuit and compete for what they call the World Driving Championship, or the predominantly American group of drivers that compete in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Racing? It is an eternal question similar to “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Now Mobil 1, which is up to its elbows in both series, is bringing former Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton and two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart together in an exhibition at legendary Watkins Glen International. In an added fillip, the two outstanding race drivers will swap cars. Hamilton will take laps in Stewart’s No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet Impala, and Stewart will climb into the cockpit of the team Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-23. Both drivers seem eager for the new experiences.

“I spend a lot of time in race cars, but this will be the first time I’ve been at the wheel of a NASCAR stock car -- the No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet,” says Hamilton. “Tony and I will have some fun with the swap and make sure we put on a good show. American race fans are massively enthusiastic about motorsports, so I hope to see a lot of them down at the Glen to see it firsthand.”

Stewart seems equally enthusiastic about the exhibition run, which might give us a hint about which crop of drivers is more skilled.

“When you’ve been around competitive racing for as long as I have, you really look forward to new experiences, and this car swap with Lewis is definitely one of those opportunities,” says Stewart. “I already have quite a bit of respect for what Lewis and the F1 drivers and teams do, so to experience laps in the cockpit of an F1 car and see what Lewis can do in the Cup car is something I am really excited about.”

Many observers suggest that F1 drivers are considerably more skilled than their NASCAR counterparts, but NASCAR adherents point to the so-so records of former F1 drivers who have moved into Sprint Cup racing. One interesting thing about the exhibition is the venue, a road course similar to an F1 circuit, but also a racecourse that hosts a Sprint Cup event every year. The Mobil 1 car swap will take place on Tuesday, June 14. It would be fun to be there.



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