Anthony Davidson: a lap of Le Mans

The atmosphere is great as you blast down the straight, especially at night. You've got the pits on the right and the grandstands on your left. The right-hand kink before the Dunlop esses is flat, but you've got to start braking with the car all loaded up on the left-hand side. You can use the kerbs as you go through but it's tricky enough to downshift without the back stepping out as it is, so you've got to be smooth. The car can be nervous on the throttle on exit as well, remember, we are talking Ferrari V12 with 600 bhp!

Anthony Davidson: a lap of Le Mans

Then it winds down the hill, which is pretty straightforward, then another left and right (Tertre Rouge) before the kink onto the back straight. This is all third gear stuff so it's quite easy, but it's important to be slow in and fast out of that kink onto the straight, to carry as much speed out there as you can.

Then time to chill out on the straight and concentrate on changing up at the right spot for maximum torque from the engine. There's none of that lazy Formula 1 stuff, where it's all done for you, it's a proper car (laughs)! It's not that I mind having it done for me, it's just that I feel I should be doing something and so there's the temptation to fiddle. In an F1 car I often end up thinking 'perhaps I should change a diff map, or something...'

The cruise down the straight doesn't feel that quick, surprisingly, not after 220mph in an F1 car round Monza. You've got to keep your eyes open for the 200 metre board, though - wouldn't want to miss that in the night - then brake and go down through the box to first, or second, depending on your driving style.

This chicane is a pretty demanding corner because you have to carry the speed through the first part, before you end up almost stopping in the second part of it. That's because it's important to get on the gas early and get the drive on out of the right-hander for the next straight, which also goes uphill, so you can't afford to mess about through there - despite the fact that they've bizarrely called it the Chicane Playstation this year.

The next chicane is a bit more straightforward, you can afford to still be slowing the car mid corner in the first part, there's more grip than the other one and it's more open on the exit. It's a good chicane that one, I like it.

Then you wind round to Mulsanne which is a bloody excellent corner. Again there's a kink right before the actual corner, so the weight of the car is all loaded up on the left-hand side as brake for the 90-degree right. It's quick, though, so you've got the downforce working for you and you can stab the brake pedal as you drop down into first. Get as close to the kerb as you can and sometimes, if you get it right, you can short shift out of there to get maximum traction for the next uphill straight.

This is where that CLK took off into the woods back in '99. It's quick and it narrows as you keep it nailed, kinking right. It's quite difficult to see the left-hand side of the track in the woods there at night, and I've already dropped a wheel of the track there which was quite 'exciting'. The car also tends to be a bit squirmy under braking for Indianapolis, but it's excellent, one of my favourite parts of the track.

By now you can tell if you've got a good lap coming, because there's a lot of time to be found over the first half of the lap. Big straights, tight chicanes, plenty to play with. If you're not on it at this point, there's really not much you can do from here.

Indianapolis is the fastest actual corner, for me, on the track. You can carry ridiculous speed in there as you've got all the aero working for you, it's almost like a single seater, and you've got camber! A great corner, lovely! Two down changes, nail it as soon as possible, then trail brake on the approach to the left-hander of Indianapolis, and loads of traction on exit.

This is the slowest part of the lap coming up, and the least important for gaining any time. It's also the closest you get to the fans, which is great, but you half wish you could show them a bit more speed. You've got to be careful through Arnage - or Indianapolis Part Two as I call it - take the apex if you can (there's very little grip) but don't touch that big old kerb! There's bundles of understeer on entry, barrel-loads of oversteer on exit, and another big kerb, it's a bit of a nightmare. We'll see some spinners there over the weekend.

Then you head for the Porsche Curves. This is the last part of the lap and quite demanding. Good fun though. You get the car all loaded up but you can flatten it in fourth, this uphill right-hander is probably the second quickest corner on the track and you can find quite a lot of time here. Ease the car to the left, the weight transfer starts to unbalance the car, so keep it smooth and watch the back end. You pick up a bit of understeer over the crest of the hill, which can be a bit scary, especially when you can't see the exit at night.

The last bit before the pits is low-speed, so there's no aero. It's stop/start, stop/start first and second gear stuff, and after the flowing Porsche Curves you can really feel the weight of the car. But it's important to hit the kerbs and take some speed through there, even though you tend to feel you've lost your flow.

It's a demanding exercise for sure, but if you've got the car under you, you can do it wet, dry, sunny or at night. Confidence in the car is very important. I pity the guys who have to drive 'around' their cars for 24 hours, and I really hope that's not going to be us.

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