As part of my birthday celebration in London, we visited Silverstone and booked their Head-to-Head Experience where the plan was to drive the latest Vantage V8 and F430. The price was very good but it was a bit of a pain to get to Silverstone, a lot of it due to a bank holiday.
When we got there though, they said the Ferraris will be replaced with McLarens 620R. No complaints from me.
The day started with the briefing, followed by a lap with an instructor in an M2 and then the Vantage and 620R.
The first drive was in the Vantage. I explained I’ve done track days before but don’t know the track. The instructor was great – he kept the instructions clear and precise but also did not try to slow me down. I left the car very happy.
Unfortunately, the whole day left a bad taste in my mouth due to the drive with the 620R. Something that should’ve been the highlight, became a frustration. The instructor did not allow manual gearshift (even though it’s a DCT he said that I could miss-shift and destroy the transmission – which is of course total nonsense), left the transmission in normal mode (which means it shifted in the middle of the corner), and then, even though the car is much, much faster than the Vantage, did not provide any instructions at all (like braking zones which are completely different in a car like 620R).
This was such a shame. I might have been tempted to repeat the experience but now that I know it’s a toss on who you get instructing you, I’m not willing to risk it. It’s also a shame because everyone else was incredibly welcoming and pleasant.
And the cars? Well, the Vantage was unsurprisingly very heavy but surprisingly squirmy under braking – not sure if that was due to the state of the brakes or normal, but it was definitely not confidence-inspiring.
The 620R was a total rocket. It’s on a completely different level and obviously intended for the track. Just a shame I couldn’t feel more comfortable pushing it with my instructor. The brake zone is way later than you expect and the speeds at the end of the straight are clearly high, even though I never checked how high. 🙂
I also bought their 3D camera recording and the quality is so bad, it’s hilarious.
The whole experience was a great bang for the buck, you just need to cross your fingers to get a good instructor. And don’t allow people to try to bullshit you that you can miss-shift on modern DCT transmissions. You can’t, the software doesn’t allow it.