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Harry offers racing tips to British Formula One aces

The Duke of Sussex was opening The Silverstone Experience museum alongside world champion Lewis Hamilton.


The Duke of Sussex with Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton (Peter Nicholls/PA)

The Duke of Sussex with Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton (Peter Nicholls/PA)

The Duke of Sussex with Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton (Peter Nicholls/PA)

The Duke of Sussex had a few words of friendly advice for two young British Formula One racing drivers at a Silverstone museum opening.

Harry was driven to the doors of the new building in an electric Mercedes by six-time Formula One world champion driver Lewis Hamilton.

He then toured The Silverstone Experience, in Northamptonshire, a museum charting British motor racing through the years, alongside race ace Hamilton, on Friday.

As he left he shook hands with Red Bull Racing’s Thai-British driver, Alex Albon, and George Russell, who drives for the Williams team.

Both men will be starting the new F1 race season next weekend, kicking off with the Australia Grand Prix.

Harry told them: “Good luck. Enjoy it when you get there. Look after yourselves.

“Remember – it’s all up there,” he said, pointing to his head, before jokingly adding “none of that”, gesturing as though turning a steering wheel.

The experience is the new home of the British Racing Drivers’ Club’s (BRDC) archive and also boasts hands-on exhibits for visitors.

It also includes interactive exhibits on the workings of race cars, as well as a pit gun challenge.

Harry managed to beat Lewis on the timed challenge, causing both men to laugh, with the duke saying: “They’ve stitched you up.”

Duke of Sussex at Silverstone
Harry beat Lewis Hamilton in the pit gun speed challenge (Peter Nicholls/PA)

The world champion, perhaps showing he was better off behind the steering wheel, said: “Bloody hell, 10.7 seconds? Race lost!”

Pointing at Harry he then asked museum staff: “How much did he pay you for that?”

The duke met former stars of the track, including former world champion F1 driver Damon Hill, who took the crown in 1996.

He also met ex-F1 driver Martin Brundle and two speed talents from the 1960s, motorcycle racer Stuart Graham and Lady Christabel Watson, previously Christabel Carlisle.

Now in her 80s, Lady Watson raced Minis and once beat the actor Steve McQueen at Brands Hatch.

Duke of Sussex at Silverstone
Harry and Lewis Hamilton toured the museum (Peter Nicholls/PA)

She was talking Harry through what had gone into making her overalls, now donated to the museum, which she had hand-stitched from fire retardant material by her own Polish dressmaker.

Explaining why she raced, she said: “I did it for the thrill of the speed, because I got so bored watching them go round and round.”

The duke then saw Mr Graham’s small-looking set of riding leathers, in a nearby display cabinet, exclaiming: “You got into that?”

Officially opening the building, Harry said: “I’ll keep this brief – there’s nothing better than officially opening a building that is very much open.

“Tomorrow marks two years since we were last here and I can’t believe that you’ve manged to turn a World War Two hangar that was pretty cold, pretty dusty, two years ago, into this remarkable experience.

Duke of Sussex at Silverstone
The duke takes a closer look inside an ERA race car (Peter Nicholls/PA)

“Thank you for being able to do that under a huge amount of pressure as well, thank you for providing so many of these opportunities for so many young people.

“And thank you for really putting a marker down for what British motor racing means to the world, touching on what Lewis said.”

He added: “It’s a long time coming, having walked through it now I am probably going to have to come back to actually really soak up the experience for myself.”

Earlier, they had met students from Bradwell Village School, in Milton Keynes, and Silverstone University Technical College.

Among the Bradwell pupils was 10-year-old Elisha Pestell, who took them through one of the museum’s interactive displays about different tyre racing types.

Duke of Sussex at Silverstone
Both men were keen to hear more from 10-year-old Elisha Pestell (Peter Nicholls/PA)

Bending down to listen, Harry told the youngster her talk was “really interesting”, she said.

Lewis was even more impressed, Elisha added. “He didn’t know one of the ones I was explaining about,” she said.

“He said he had to get in touch, so I can join his engineers.”

Later, as he presented to the “fantastic” museum his own Abu Dhabi GP race helmet, Lewis mentioned bumping into her.

He said: “We got to see a couple of youngsters, who were going through the understanding about the engine, the suspension, the tyres.

“One of the young girls, she must have been six or seven, and she knew more than I did about tyres.”

The visit marks a final run of royal duties for the Duke of Sussex, since he and his wife announced they would be stepping down as senior royals.

Harry and Meghan are making their last official appearance alongside the rest of the royal family at the Commonwealth Day service in Westminster Abbey on March 9.

Hamilton, who drives for Mercedes, begins his bid to take a record-equalling seventh world title when the new Formula One season kicks off with the Australian Grand Prix, next weekend.