Watch Lewis Hamilton's 2008 Formula 1 Car Destroy Sonoma Raceway

pato o'ward 2008 mclaren f1 mp4 23 sonoma raceway
A 2008 Formula 1 Car Is Mind-Bending At SonomaThe RACER Channel / YouTube

McLaren brought Formula 1 cars driven by James Hunt, Ayrton Senna, and Bruce McLaren himself to this year's Velocity Invitational at Sonoma Raceway, but none was more spectacular than the MP4/23 driven by Lewis Hamilton in his first championship season. With a V-8 and all the downforce a dozen winglets could produce, the chrome McLaren is still just about as fast as race cars come. Once you add in a helmet camera and IndyCar ace Pato O'Ward, you get an on-board to remember.

In the video filmed for RACER, the track's massive elevation changes and sweeping corners look more extreme than you have ever seen. The uphill approach into turn 1 and quick cut back right into turn 2 come at you quickly, the braking zone for the track's infield carousel starts at the very top of a blind crest, and the entire run of esses down the track's backstretch is taken while accelerating. O'Ward handles it all with ease, all while sticking to the same driving style of aggressive inputs and quick corrections he uses in IndyCar and much more primitive F1 machinery.

While O'Ward was not going after any sort of track record, he told RACER after the lap that he thought he could set one in an official attempt. O'Ward notes that the car could easily smash the track record if it had a day of setup changes--watch as his back gets absolutely pounded by the car bottoming out through the video. He had to settle for just a parade run, but was still glowing in his praise of the car, which he called "so capable" and "just awesome."

O'Ward will drive a modern McLaren F1 car in a practice session at Abu Dhabi later this month. Unfortunately, it will not have a screaming V-8.

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