Jenson Button thrilled the fans in Manchester yesterday, just weeks after riots put the city in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Button, who drove a sensational race at Spa on Sunday, was in town with the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team as part of the Vodafone VIP programme.
Crowds lined Deansgate in the afternoon for the highlight of the three-day Bank Holiday event, as Button drove his McLaren through one of Manchester's busiest streets. He also treated two Vodafone customers to drive through Manchester city centre in a McLaren MP4-12C sports car, before ending the day with an on-stage, public Q&A appearance.
The 2009 world champion clearly enjoyed himself. "I think Vodafone VIP has done a brilliant job to make this happen," he said. "It can't have been easy, but to see the looks on people's faces when I opened up the throttle, was a fantastic moment. It is all about giving something back to the fans and just unleashing the awesome power of a Formula 1 car. It was a lot of fun."
Button's appearance was just one part of the three-day event. From Saturday to Monday, Vodafone customers and friends enjoyed the Vodafone VIP Fanzone in Albert Square. The Fanzone contained a bespoke Go Kart Track, and a number of interactive F1 experiences, including a pit stop challenge, a sit in Vodafone McLaren Mercedes car, an F1 simulator and an exhibition of race suits and helmets. Throughout the weekend there was also a pit garage on the forecourt of the Hilton Deansgate in which Vodafone customers had the opportunity to go behind the scenes in the team's garage.
The celebration was part of Vodafone's drive to reward as many of its customers as possible. Previous Vodafone VIP events have been based in London and the South East so by bringing F1 to the North West, Vodafone VIP are aiming to reach a wider audience and thank even more of their customers.
"Vodafone VIP Live is a great example of the sort of unmissable events which Manchester stages and a great way show what our city has to offer," said Councillor Pat Karney, of Manchester City Council. "We are extremely grateful to Vodafone who provided the opportunity to have the I Love MCR logo printed on the side of the car. Word of the campaign has spread fast, so it's entirely fitting that an F1 car bearing the campaign logo should be seen racing down Deansgate."
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