Author Archives: Pete Barden

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Goodwood Festival of Speed 2015

Enjoy our gallery from the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed as the motor industry descends on Sussex once again…

  • Global debut of the Aston Martin Vulcan at Goodwood
  • Global debut of the Aston Martin Vulcan at Goodwood
  • Global debut of the Aston Martin Vulcan at Goodwood
  • 1957 Citroen DS 19 Berline
  • 1957 Citroen DS 19 Berline
  • 1957 Citroen DS 19 Berline
  • 1968 Citroen DS 21 Cabriolet Usine
  • 1973 Citroen DS 23 Familiale
  • Alfa Romeo Tipo B
  • Aston Martin DB9
  • Aston Martin Ulster
  • Audi Sport Quattro S1 E2
  • Bentley 4.5 Litre Supercharged
  • Citroen DS 19 1958
  • Citroen DS 19 1957 Berline
  • Ferrari 250 MM
  • Ferrari California
  • Ferrari California
  • Fiat S76
  • McLaren 650s GT3
  • Napier-Railton Special
  • Plymouth Superbird
  • Peugeot 404 Diesel
  • Rover SD1 Vitesse TWR
  • Volkswagen-Chevrolet Beetle
  • Rolls Royce course car
  • Rolls Royce
  • Former F1 racer Derek Bell drives Surtees TS7 at FOS
  • Jenson Button drives McLaren MP4-6
  • Mercedes Petronas F1 car prepares to take the 'hill'
  • F1 ace Nico Rosberg takes a selfie with crowd at the FOS
  • Question time with Nico Rosberg
  • It wouldn't be Goodwood without Sir Stirling Moss
  • F1 ace Kimi Kimi Raikkonen in his 2010 Ferrari GP ride
     

The 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed has been and gone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a deep breath and inhale the high-octane action once more… Join CDG-Cars as we look back at the photos from this year’s event.

This year marked the 60th anniversary of the iconic – and it has to be said, Marmite-like – Citroen DS. This was reflected with some extremely rare examples of the French classic congregating at Goodwood. We happen to love it – so there’s a good few snaps to enjoy in our gallery above.

With the world of motor sport also firmly ensconced in the Sussex Downs, we witnessed the likes of Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes F1 pilot Nico Rosberg taking to the track – along with the ever-present Sir Stirling Moss, of course.

Alongside demonstrations from the motor sport contingency, we also enjoyed a first glimpse of the futuristic-looking Aston Martin Vulcan, an 800bhp track-only version of the One-77 with a price tag of around £1.8 million. Sit back and enjoy the ride…

 

 

 

We all like a Whopper

Food on the move… where to eat on the road

Food on the road

Heading out on the road this summer? It’s not just your car that needs to be brimmed with fuel. Here we look at all things food as the British road-trip season cranks into gear.

Fast food… the good, bad and the greasy

Embarking on an 8-hour jaunt to your Cornish campsite without a feeding plan could result in an violent backseat backlash before you’ve breached the M25. Here’s our instant guide to the best and the rest of fast food outlets available…

McDonalds

McDonalds

McDonalds: image credit

About: With more than 1,200 ‘restaurants’ in the UK, there’s always a McDonalds restaurant ready to pounce on hungry travellers. Unless you’re travelling through Rutland… it’s the only county in England that doesn’t have a Maccy Ds. Elsewhere, though, more than 550 if the restaurants offer 24-hour opening.
Meal to avoid: Big Tasty with Bacon. This bad boy contains 869 calories and 20g of fat – that’s 102% of an adult’s daily recommended intake.
Go for this instead: If you’re craving a burger, the Cheese Quarterpounder returns less horrific calorific value at 518 cals and 13g of saturated fat.
Kids menu: The mighty Happy Meal is cheap, comes with a gift and is unlikely to destroy the rear seat.
Menu: A varied menu covering everything from hamburgers to salads and plenty besides. Click below to see the full offering along with nutritional figures.
Click here for the McDonalds menu
Added extras: All restaurants have free Wi-Fi. Get more details here
Road trip car damage rating: Most Maccy D foods are relatively ‘dry’ and not overly greasy, so damage to upholstery will be limited. Brown takeaway bags are great for collecting the debris after an epic in-car picnic.
3/5 CAUTION
McDonalds on your sat-nav:
Did you know you can download a McDonalds finder to your sat-nav? Simply hit a button and head straight to your nearest outlet. Download it here
Restaurant finder: Click here to find your closest McDonalds

KFC

We can see you, Colonel

We know you’re there, Colonel

About: Having dropped the Kentucky Fried Chicken moniker – deciding it was a ‘bit of a mouthful’ – KFC has become the outlet’s official name. We’re not sure what the Colonel would have said, but he died in in 1980. The chain has around 900 stores in the UK, meaning you’ll never be too far from deep-fried chicken wrapped in its secret coating of 11 herbs and spices.
Meal to avoid: Mighty Bucket for One. This tub of chub is packing 1270 calories and 55% of your RDI of saturated fats.
Go for this instead: The Fillet Tower Burger will put a big dent in your hunger with waistline abuse limited to just 620 calories and 5g (37%) of saturated fat.
Kids menu: Yep! KFC offers a special range of burgers and nuggets etc that are perfect for kids. Most come with corn on the cob for that hint of healthy eating… if you ignore the gallon of butter it’s covered in.
Menu: In a world full of surprises, the fact that KFC’s menu comes packed with chicken-based products probably isn’t among them. However, the fast food outlet is extremely creative at pulling multiple foods from just about every part of the bird, so variety isn’t an issue… from burgers to wraps and plain old chicken on the bone, there’s something for all. Check it out here
Added extras: Download the Colonel’s Club app and bag yourself free food. Find out more here.
Road trip car damage rating: It might be tasty and succulent, but it’s also dripping in grease and will result in plenty of collateral damage as the plethora of side dishes mysteriously slip from child’s hand to pile of slop on in-car upholstery. The neat little hand wipes are cute but – let’s be honest – too little too late.
4/5 DANGER

Restaurant finder: Find your closest KFC house of chicken here

Burger King

We all like a Whopper

Who doesn’t love a Whopper?

About: With more than 11million global customers chomping its burgers on a daily basis, Burger King has been filling the gastral void since 1954. Although not as prolific as McDonalds, BK outlets can be found in cities, locally and motorway service stations across the UK.
Meal to avoid: If your heart could speak, we expect it might be making a loud and impassioned plea for you to do it a rather large favour by stepping away from the Bacon Double Cheeseburger XL as you peruse the BK menu. Not surprising, when you consider its 889 calories and 24.4g of saturated fat that’s considerably more than 100% of your recommended daily intake.
Go for this instead: The Sweet Chilli Chicken Royale offers 510 calories and just 3.5g of saturated fat.
Kids menu: Yes – with similar offerings to the McDonalds Happy Meal – burgers and nuggets – but without the toy.
Menu: Burgers, chicken, wraps; BK’s menu is wide and varied. Find the full range of what’s on offer right here
Added extras: Did you know that Burger King offers a home delivery service in some areas? Feeling lazy and can’t be bothered to get in your car? See if the burger giant can saddle up its moped and bring you some scran by clicking here
Road trip car damage rating: Burger King products tend to come with a wet salad and plenty of dressing, so there’s an uprated chance of in-car mess. However, the packing is useful for rubbish collection.
3.5/5 AMBER ALERT
Restaurant finder:
Click here to find your closest Burger King online

Subway

This sub is about to go down

This sub is about to go down

About: Looking for an alternative to chips and burgers? With more than 2,000 stores scattered around the UK, Subway makes the perfect solution for hungry motorists.
Meal to avoid: If you want to swerve a big hit of calories, it’s time ignore the Subway Mega Melt breakfast flatbread – in six-inch form, this packs 517 calories and 8.1g of saturated fat.
Go for this instead: Subway offers a whole selection of low-fat subs, with most well below 400 cals… Go for the six-inch ham offering and you’ll be consuming just 269 calories and 1.3g of saturated fat. Mine’s a 12-incher then….
Kids menu: Subway offers kids a range of four-inch subs that come with a fruity drink and snack.
Menu: If you want an alternative to greasy fast food, Subway will have the answer. Find the full menu here
Added extras: Subway is very proud of its eco-friendly credentials. See what it’s been getting up to here…
Road trip car damage rating:
Throw a Subway meal to the hungry wolves inhabiting the backseat and expect plenty of expertly removed salad secreted down the side of seats. Luckily, most of this is easily cleaned and won’t cause long-lasting lard stains.
3/5 CAUTION
Restaurant finder:
Click here to find your nearest Subway store

Don’t eat and drive

More distracting than your phone

More distracting than your phone: image credit

Thinking about pulling over, grabbing a burger then saving time by eating it while driving? Don’t… it’s more dangerous than using your phone or being over the alcohol limit, according to researchers at the University of Leeds.

Measuring reaction times, it was found snacking motorists had reaction times increased by up to 44% – compared with 37.4% for drivers who used their phones to send text messages.

If cops think eating means you’re not in control of your vehicle, it’s possible for them to slap you with a charge of careless driving – or worse if the impromptu chow down causes an accident.

The research, for car insurer esure, revealed two million drivers have had an accident or near miss after driving with one hand on the wheel.

Motorway service station or local garage?

We all know the argument about higher rents and costs, but that’s not our problem. Here’s how much you can save by swerving the service station, taking the exit and heading for an A-Road garage… and we’ve not even mentioned the cost of petrol.

price infographic

Now take that exit…

Can’t face another over-priced, taste-free meal in a motorway service station? Here’s a collection of great alternative restaurants just a few miles from motorway junctions. Escape the UK’s clogged arteries and do yours a favour at the same time…

Coffee break… where do you get yours?

Where do you get yours?

Where do you get yours?

We all need an occasional boost when behind the wheel and there’s nothing better to deliver a shot of get-up-and-go than a cup of steaming coffee. Tell us which outlet gets your vote…

Tarmac to table… Squirrel with red wine and juniper

Make the most of what nature has to offer

Make the most of what nature has to offer

No one likes to see animals injured or killed on the roads, but for some it’s a natural way to eat by collecting roadkill and cooking it up into a filling meal. Click below, if you’re not too squeamish, to see how to prepare squirrel in red wine and juniper.


Roadkill squirrel recipe: Contains scenes of squirrel being prepared for cooking

Drive-thru for a whole lot more

Drive in for everything from cash machines to funerals

Drive in for everything from cash machines to funerals

It’s not just clogged arteries you can get from using a drive-thru… these are a few more exercise-free services you can get from your driving seat.

Alcohol: Providing you don’t try before you buy, this service makes sense for anyone who’s dropped a crate of bottled beer while struggling across the supermarket car park. Common in Australia and the US, Enniskillen in Northern Ireland can also boast ownership of such an off-license.

Voting: Perhaps this is the future of how to tease an apathetic electorate into the polling booths without having to get off its butt! Several states in the US have already tried it.

Funeral viewing: Taking laziness to extremes, a funeral home in California is offering a drive-thru body viewing service. It’s dead popular, too, with other firms taking up the idea across the country.

Medical treatment: Stanford Hospital in California created a drive-thru service for patients who it considered to be contagious. Sounds like a sensible plan that has plenty of mileage.

Marriage and divorce: Finding yourself getting on extremely well with that hitchhiker? Simply head to Vegas and its drive-thru wedding chapels… when it all goes wrong by the end of the block, simply set the sat-nav for Connecticut where one law firm operates a drive-thru service for its punters.

ATMS: Walking the few feet from car to cash machine can be such a chore, which is why several drive-thru cash machines have popped up in the UK. Spend while you can, this sort of lifestyle is heading somewhere that money really can’t help.

dartford

Dartford Crossing changes you need to know about

Big changes you need to know about at the Dartford Crossing

Big changes you need to know about at the Dartford Crossing

If you’re travelling around the South East, it’s likely you’ll need to use the Dartford Crossing at some point in the near future. You’ll also need to know about the new cash-less payment system and how to avoid being hit by big fines. Here’s our guide to all you need to know…

On-the-spot payments can no longer be made and have been replaced by a new scheme called Dart Charge. Here’s our handy at-a-glance guide to what it means to you.

New Dartford Crossing payment system explained

How the crossing will look when all works are finished in Spring 2015

How the crossing will look when all works are finished in Spring 2015

Your questions are answered right here. Read on to find out how the system works, how much it costs, how to pay – and how to avoid being fined…

So, what are the changes: The big change is that you can no longer pay for using the Dartford Crossing at the barriers. This applies to the tunnels and the bridge. You’ll need to pay in advance or by midnight the following day.

How do I pay: Several methods are available, with a pre-pay account the cheapest option. Here are the details of all payment mechanisms:


1) Set up a pre-pay account:

Pre-pay account: This will need to be done in advance and requires you to pay in a minimum of £10.00 when you register. You can manually top up the account or set it to add cash automatically. This is the cheapest way to pay, with registered cars charged £1.67 per crossing compared with the new tariff of £2.50 for those who pay in other ways.
Set up a new pre-pay account here
Change an existing Dart Tag account


2) Pay online:

Pay online: Pay for individual crossings using the online service before midnight the following day.
Pay here.


3) Pay in advance for a one-off crossing:

Pay in advance for a one-off crossing: If you only use the crossing occasionally, then paying a minimum of £10.00 into an account is not economical. This option lets you pay for pay for individual crossings up to 12 months in advance.
Pay in advance here


4) Over the phone:

Over the phone: Those without internet access can settle the charge by phone, using an automated payment service. You must to do this by midnight the following day.

Don’t leave this until the last moment, because we phoned the number only to be informed it was too busy to take our payment – however this was on the first day of the service being launched.
Pay by phone: 0300 300 0120


5) Payzone retail outlet:

Payzone retail outlet: This lets you can pop into a local store and pay for the charge by cash or other means. Use the store locator below to find the outlet closest to you. Use the top drop-down option to select ‘Transport and ticketing’ then ‘Dart Charge’ in the next options list. Then input your postcode to find the nearest payment centre.
Find your nearest Payzone retailer here


6) Pay by post:

Pay by post: If you really don’t like using new technology, this pay-by-post option will be for you. You can only pay in advance, so you’ll need to be super-organised. Send payment to:

Dart Charge Customer Services
PO Box 842
Leeds LS1 9QF


Are some vehicles exempt from paying the charge: Yes. If you are currently exempt from paying the charge, that will still be the case. Please contact the DVLA to confirm if your vehicle is exempt.

Is it still free to use the crossing at night: The crossing remains free between 10pm and 6am every day of the week.

Why is this being done: The Government claims the work is intended to remove a bottleneck on the M25 and help ease congestion. Some slightly more cynical drivers have noted the new system is also expected to raise a considerable amount in fines when people forget to pay on time.

What it I ‘forget’ to pay: Anyone evading (or forgetting) to pay the charge will be hunted down using automatic number plate recognition systems and debt recovery firms. This will apply to vehicles from Europe, too.

How much will I be fined if I forget to pay: The penalty charges are as follows:
Non-payment after one day: £70.00
Reduced to £35.00 if paid within 14 days
Increased to £105.00 if not paid within 28 days
Penalty charge is payable for each use of the crossing, meaning a return trip could cost up to £210.00.

New service: Confirm your crossing payment was accepted

It’s the service that drivers have been demanding… read on to find out how you can dodge fines by confirming whether or not you’ve paid for your crossing.

New service could help prevent fines

New service could help prevent fines

A big complaint from drivers using the Dartford Crossing is that they’ve made payments only to receive a penalty charge weeks later. This new service promises to help motorists beat these unfair penalties.

How it works: After making a one-off payment, make sure you keep hold of your payment reference number then head to the link below. This will then tell you if the payment was recognised and for what crossing it was charged against. The service is currently in Beta so let us know how you get on.

Confirm your crossing payment here

How would you improve the payment system?

Please take a few seconds to take this poll and tell us how you’d improve the new charging system..

Price increases from November 30, 2014

Along with the new payment system, the price of using the crossing has increased from November 30, 2014. These are the new prices and the discount received for those who create a pre-pay account.

Vehicle classVehicle typeNon-accountDart Charge account
AMotorbikeFreeN/A
BCars£2.50£1.67
CTwo-Axle Goods£3.00£2.63
DMulti-Axle Goods£6.00£5.19

Crossing is free to use 10.00pm – 6.00am

TOP TIP: DON’T EVER GET FINED

Beat the fines

Beat the fines

Get email reminders each time you cross – and seven days to pay: Dartsave is a great idea that will save you from huge fines for not paying the Dartford Crossing charge. It will also extend the time you have to pay from midnight the following day to seven days after using the crossing.

Register for free and Dartsave will pay the toll for you, then send an email reminding you to pay them within seven days. If you don’t, the firm will send another email with a £5.00 admin charge attached – still far lower than the £70 fine that the Government levy after just one day.

Remember – like Transport for London’s Congestion Charge, you will not be reminded to pay your toll by the operating authority, which could make this an invaluable service.
Join up here: www.dartsave.co.uk

Latest traffic news and impact:

The Dartford Crossing

The Dartford Crossing: image credit

The new Dartford Crossing scheme requires a complete upgrade to the current road layout. So, until this is finished in Spring 2015, there will be a temporary road layout in place. This is the latest traffic news from the Highways Agency covering how the work will impact motorists using the crossing:

When: From Monday 1 December – late December
Time: 24 hours (from 5.30am on Monday 1 December)
Details: A282 northbound east and west tunnels open. Temporary road layout will be in place and traffic will continue to travel through the existing barriers, operating in ‘nodding mode’ to retain tunnel safety control. A282 southbound (QEII Bridge) running through a temporary road alignment; no ‘nodding’ barriers required to manage traffic flow

What the AA says…

Is it a good or bad idea? Here’s what the AA says about the change (and don’t forget to add your comments at the bottom of the page.

AA comment

‘The M25 at Dartford is a strategic national road serving all parts of the UK and is also part of the trans-European road network – as such it has to be expected that many drivers will be unaware of the arrangements, penalties for non-payment, operational hours or have the luxury of timing their journeys to coincide with the non-charging hours. The AA has expressed concerns about this to the Highways Agency.

There was a 33% hike in charges in 2012 and drivers will face a further 25% increase when free flow charging is introduced.

In October 2012, responding to the increase in charges, the AA said that long distance travellers from UK and Europe, freight, business and regional users have all been sold down the river through the unnecessary perpetuation of charges and a lack of investment in future capacity at Dartford.

By 2003, toll charges had effectively paid for the Dartford bridge and should have come to an end but a regime of road user charging to ‘manage high demand’ was introduced and has become a nice little earner, raising around £70m a year.

Elsewhere in Europe there is a facility at some ‘free flow’ toll plazas for foreign drivers to pay by credit card and this might have been very helpful at Dartford had there been the space and capacity.

It would also have been useful for Dartford’s charging system to be ‘interoperable’ so that EU drivers with an account would find it easier to pay.

Free-flow charging may eliminate toll-booth queues and reduce congestion in the short term but most users have no choice about the time and place they cross the Thames. This is one of the most important motorways in Europe and it needs more capacity, not easier ways to pay.’

Dartford Crossing time-lapse

See the beauty of new payment infrastructure being constructed at the Dartord Crossing with this highly-acclaimed time-lapse movie…

Revive your working life with a job as an ambulance driver

Get a licence to earn

Love driving? Then why not let you passion bring in the cash, too… here’s our guide to getting on the road to a new driving career

Become a bus driver

Get on the buses

Get on the buses: image credit

If you’re fed up with being stuck on jammed streets then it’s time to jump to the front of the queue and become a bus driver. Here’s all the information you need.

What licence: To drive a bus or coach you’ll need a PCV Category D Licence. This will entitle you to drive vehicles of any size including single or double decker buses for hire of reward.

Who can apply for a licence: You’ll need to have a Category B car licence, be over 18 and meet medical and eyesight requirements. You can then apply for a provisional D entitlement to start your training. You’ll need to get a D4-DVLA medical certificate from your doc which could cost around £100.
Get the D4 medical form here
Get the D2 licence application form here

How to pass the test: Here’s what you’ll need to get your full bus driver’s licence.
Theory test: Once you’ve passed your medical and got your provisional licence, you’ll need to start by taking a Cat D theory test. The test is a two-parter with a multiple choice and hazard perception test.
How much: £40 total
Book your Cat D Theory test here

Practical test: This will last around 90 minutes and involves safety questions, road driving and off-road exercises such as reversing into a bay. The examiner will give you your pass or fail notice immediately after completing the test.
How much: Up to £228 depending on time of week
Bok your practical test: https://www.gov.uk/book-driving-test

Verdict: Getting your PSV licence will require professional training, so expect to pay around £1200+ for around 24 hours of training. Bus drivers will earn in the region of £18k-£25k depending on where they’re located.

Alternatively…

See if life on the buses is for you by taking a bus driving experience. Take the wheel of double decker for just £59
Where: Book here

Become a lorry driver

The ultimate truckers' job:

The ultimate truckers’ job: image credit

If a life on the highway is for you, grabbing a Yorkie and Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) licence could be the answer.

What licence: There are several categories available, the Cat C1, which covers rigid vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes, and the Cat C allowing you to drive rigid vehicles over 7.5 tonnes. Finally, there’s the C+E category that will pop you in the cab of articulated trucks.

Who can apply for a licence: You’ll need to have a Category B car licence and be over 18 while also meeting medical and eyesight requirements. You can then apply for a provisional C1 or C entitlement to start your training. You need to pass the Cat C test before being able to apply for the C+E licence for articulated trucks. You’ll need to get a D4-DVLA medical certificate from your doc which could cost around £100.
Get the D4 medical form here
Get the D2 licence application form here

How to pass the test: Here’s what you’ll need to get your full truck driver’s licence.
Theory test: Once you’ve passed your medical and got your provisional licence, lorry drivers-to-be will need to take a Cat C and C1 theory test. This test is a two-parter with a multiple choice and hazard perception test.
How much: £40 total
Book your Cat C and C1 Theory test here

Practical test: As with the bus and coach test, this will last around 90 minutes and involves safety questions, road driving and off-road exercises such as reversing into a bay. You will get an instant result after taking you test.
How much: Up to £228 depending on time of week
Book your practical test

Get the C+E: This will allow you to drive articulated trucks and significantly increase your earning potential. You can only take this once you’ve passed your Cat C test as described above.

Verdict: You’ll need to get professional training for your truck licence and this will cost you around £1,100+ for a week’s training and test. Those going on to get C+E category to drive artics will need to pay a further £1,200+ for training. Salaries range from around £18k up to £28k+ depending on experience and licence type. Specialist drivers – such as tanker drivers – can earn £35k+. There are 45,000 lorry diver jobs waiting to be filled due to shortages – so it shouldn’t be too much trouble bagging a role.

Alternatively…

Can you handle a snarling articulated lorry? Find out with one of these truck driving experiences starting from £49.
Where: No Yorkie required, just head here

Become a taxi driver

Pick up a new career

Pick up a new career

Want to utilise your licence to earn some cash? Then putting yourself up for hire might be the answer for you. Here’s how you can get on the road as a taxi driver.

What licence: Becoming a cab driver might require you to pass the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) taxi assessment. Use this link to contact your local council to find out if you need to so. Here.

About the test:
There are three types of assessment you can take. These are a standard driving assessment, enhanced assessment and upgrade assessment. The test can last around 40 minutes and may include practical driving and wheelchair exercises.

How much:
Here’s how much you’ll pay for the various tests
Hackney saloon vehicles and private hire saloon vehicles: £79.66 weekdays – £96 weekends
Hackney wheelchair accessible vehicles: £92.94 – £112.34
Taxi wheelchair exercise: £26.56 – £32.68
Book your DVSA taxi assessment here if required

Verdict: Drivers in rural areas and small towns can typically earn £12k – £20k per annum, but Black Cab drivers in cities will be able to make in excess of £30k.

Alternatively…

Find out what it’s like to have an old London Black cab as your daily ride. Here’s our buying guide to old taxis and much more.
Find it here

Become a paramedic

Revive your working life with a job as an ambulance driver

Revive your working life with a job as an ambulance driver

Thinking about becoming a paramedic? You’ll need to have the right licence… Here’s what you’ll need.

What licence: If you passed your driving test after January 1997, then you’ll need to get yourself a category C1 licence due to a change in legislation.

Who can apply for a licence: You’ll need to have a Category B car licence and be over 18 while also meeting medical and eyesight requirements. You can then apply for a provisional C1 entitlement. In addition, you will need to obtain a D4-DVLA medical certificate from your doctor (or independent health company) which could cost around anything from £35 – £100.
Get the D4 medical form here
Get the D2 licence application form here

How to pass the test: Here’s what you’ll need to get your full ambulance driver’s licence.
Theory test: Once you’ve passed your medical and got your provisional licence, drivers will need to take a Cat C theory test. This takes the form of a multiple choice and hazard perception test.
How much: £40 total
Book your Cat C Theory test here

Practical test: This lasts around 90 minutes and involves safety questions, road driving and off-road exercises. You’ll get an instant result after taking your test.
How much: Up to £228 depending on time of week
Book your practical test

Verdict: Booking yourself a five-day training course will cost from £1,200. A qualified ambulance driver – who’s also completed a university degree in paramedic science – can expect to enter the profession with a salary of £21k rising to £35k for senior staff.

Alternatively…

Find out how to stay out of the back of an ambulance by following our guide to avoiding having a car smash.
Find it here

Become a tracked vehicle driver

Help your agricultural career grow

Help your agricultural career grow

Driving tracked agricultural vehicles and bulldozers on public roads requires you to have an enhanced licence. Here’s what you need.

What licence: Driving a tracked vehicle on public roads will mean you need to gain a Category H entitlement on your licence. Here’s how.
Who can apply: All drivers with a full licence can apply for a Cat H if the vehicle is less than 3.5t, but you’ll need to be 18 if it’s up to 7.5t and 21 if it’s more than 7.5t.
What the test involves: The examiner will meet you on a farm or suitable location and watch you from the side of the road. You will need to drive round a circuit using forward and reverse gears. An eyesight and Highway Code test will also be taken.
How much: The H test costs £62, takes around 40 minutes and the qualification will last a lifetime.
Book your practical test

Verdict: In an industry that’s relatively low-paid for manual workers, gaining an additional qualification such as this is a worthwhile way to increase earning potential.

Alternatively…

Get off the farm and get into a tank. Try your hand at driving the ultimate in ‘tracked’ vehicles from £199.
Find the tanks here

Become a Formula One driver

F1 licence details here:

F1 licence details here: image credit

So, you’ve just won the Euromillions £95million rollover and you fancy outbidding Brit driver Will Stevens and kicking his pay-driver butt out of the back-of-field Marussia? Sadly, cash is not enough – you’ll need to get a new licence, too.

What licence: You will need to grab yourself a FIA Super Licence.

Who can apply: This will require slightly more than a theory test and spot of reverse parking. To get your licence you’ll need to have be either the reigning champion in a lower category of motor sport, for example Formula 3, Formula 2, or GP2 Series (formerly known as Formula 3000), or have consistently finished well in these categories. For example, a driver finishing fourth and fifth (twice) positions in the GP2 championship within the last three years will be eligible for a super licence.

How much: The FIA Super Licence is said to be have a basic fee of around £7,000 plus £700 for each F1 championship point the driver scores. In his 2009 championship-winning season, Jenson Button paid around £700,000 for his licence.

Verdict: Bag yourself a deal with a top team and you could be on terms with Lewis Hamilton’s £20million+, but drop down the rankings to Felipe Nasr (Sauber) and you’re on around £120k. However, slip below this and you’re paying to drive.

Alternatively…

Save yourself a few million pounds by swapping the need for an FIA Super Licence by heading to Let’s Race for a blast in their F1 simulator.
Find details here.

Swap Tarmac for the skies… Become an airline pilot

Swap your old Vauxhall for this?

Swap your old Vauxhall for this?

Getting your commercial pilot’s licence might sound like a ticket to big money, but it seems this isn’t the case. Research reveals many pilots are left £100,000 in debt once they qualify to get behind the joystick of their first jet. This leaves many with just £500 to live on each month.

Data from the British Airline Pilot’s Association shows new pilots can expect to earn about £27-£29k per year, climbing to around £60k as a captain. However, getting an airborne gig with a big name such as British Airways could see a pilot flying short-haul routes from Gatwick starting on £52k rising to £100k after 20 years’ experience.

Can I drive it?

Use this tool to see a list of vehicles you’re old enough or qualified to drive.
Check here.

Would a £million hypercar work for you?

Top 10 most expensive cars

Could you really live with a £million supercar? Find out here…

Would a £million hypercar work for you?

Would a £million hypercar work for you?

So, you’ve just won the Lottery, received your large comedy cheque from Christopher Biggins, but what next for your impressive wad of cash? Once the Champagne hangover has receded, most newly flush millionaires will head straight to the nearest supercar dealer… but do they know what they’re getting into? Here’s our guide to shifting your life from a Ford Focus to the driver’s seat of a rubber-cremating flame-spitting supercar…

Here’s our top 10 countdown of the world’s most expensive cars…

10. Pagani Huayra

Pagani Huarya

Pagani Huarya: image credit

What is it: It might look like a work of art, but don’t expect any lingering in-depth appreciation of this automotive masterpiece as the 720bhp twin-turbo powerplant unleashes its wrath on the Tarmac through a bullet-fast seven-speed sequential gearbox. Drop a right-foot bomb on this beast and our lottery winner will soon understand why it’s named after the Inca ‘God of Winds’ – as the Huarya blasts from 0-60mph in 3.2 seconds and onto a top speed of around 230mph. It’s also the fastest car to have completed the Top Gear circuit. Should you place the order?
Any good for the weekly supermarket shop: With 738 lb/ft of torque delivered through the rear wheels, low-speed manoeuvres in busy supermarket car parks could easily end in dented shopping trollies. Once parked though, its gullwing doors – which open upwards and not outwards – will make getting in and out a breeze in the tightest of spaces. However, with average economy at 21.73mpg, you’d need to put aside around £4,300 to fuel the Huarya for a year*. Space-wise, the two-seat, mid-engined configuration leaves space for just two small luggage compartments aft the rear wheels and right next to the 730bhp engine – useless for your favourite frozen ready meals but perfect for a couple of warm steak slices from Greggs.
How much: How much: £1.02m
Where can I buy one: The original car has sold out – just 100 examples were scheduled for production – but Pagani has promised a Roadster version will be revealed in 2016. Lodge your interest here

9. Aston Martin One-77

Aston Martin One-77

Aston Martin One-77

What is it: Surprisingly, Aston Martin built ‘77’ examples of this 7.3-litre, 220mph supercar – all of which have been bought. However, around eight of them are still devouring the streets of Blighty, so keep your eyes on the local classifieds. Vital stats you’ll be wanting to know include a 0-60mph time of 3.5 seconds, while a service every 5,000 miles and a new set of tyres will cost you £14,000 a year. Its C02 emissions of 572g/km won’t make for cheap road tax either – budget around £1,100 a year.
Any good for the weekly supermarket shop: This is where Aston Martin has delivered a masterstroke. No need to fire-up the One-77 for the weekly shop – buyers also got the chance to purchase an accompanying Aston Martin Cygnet city car. Based on the supermarket-friendly Toyota iQ, the Cygnet matches the One-77 in colour and trim, but is also small, nippy and offers space to stow a couple of Champagne and caviar-packed carrier bags. However, the Cygnet’s £30k asking price is enough to make anyone choke on their Beluga. At least the annual fuel bill of around £760 will help preserve your fortune a little longer. Stats show 150 Cygnets still registered in the UK, so get scouring the classifieds.
How much: £1.2m for the One-77 – and £24k for a used Aston Martin Cygnet
Where can I buy one: Keep your eye on Aston’s used car site here

8. Koenigsegg One:1

Koenigsegg One:1

Koenigsegg One:1

What is it: The name might suggest just one would be built, but that’d be daft when there’s a raft of speed-hungry millionaires desperate to part with the £1.27m asking price. In fact, the car maker will build six – in addition to the prototype – and all cars are said to have been sold. It’s not that surprising considering the One:1 is claimed to be the fastest car in the world, with its 1,341bhp and weight of 1,360kg delivering a weight/power ratio of 1:1 (guess where the name comes from). The 273mph beast will rocket from 0-250mph in just 20 seconds and if that’s not enough to bring on premature incontinence, the annual servicing costs of around £14,000 will certainly complete the job.
Any good for the weekly supermarket shop: The scissor doors will prove useful for getting in and out in tight supermarket parking spaces, but you’ve got to get there first… Setting out to shop on a damp Saturday morning, you’ll do well to remember its serious aerodynamic downforce doesn’t kick in until you hit speeds of around 125mph – so take it easy on the mini roundabout at the end of your close. Here’s the big news, though, Swedish company Thule has come up with an aerodynamically designed carbonfibre roofbox crafted to be safe at speeds up to 186 mph. It’s made for the Koenigsegg Agera R, but we’re sure if you ask nicely – and flash your credit card – it could be adapted for the One:1. No need to scrimp on the lobster and Marmite, then… there’ll be bags of room for the shopping.

Roofbox for solves supercar shopping issues

Roofbox solves supercar shopping issues

How much: £1.27m
Where can I buy one: You’ll be looking for a secondhand version of the One:1, but unlike your three-year-old Vauxhall, the Koenigsegg won’t have haemorrhaged 60% of its worth, but more than likely doubled in value. Find out more about buying one here

7. Ferrari F60 America

Ferrari F60 America

Ferrari F60 America

What is it: No one wants to turn up at a party wearing the same dress as a fellow guest – regardless of gender – so imagine rocking up at your new pad in millionaires’ row to find the cash-heavy banker next door has exactly the same Ferrari F12? Avoid social rejection by finding yourself a used version of the marque’s F60 America. With just 10 examples built – and instantly sold – there’s little chance the 6.3-litre V12 supercar is going to meet its twin anytime soon – especially because it was intended for the US market.
Any good for the weekly supermarket shop: Unlike most modern Ferraris, this model swaps the mid-engine configuration for a front-mounted ball of fire – freeing up a huge swathe of boot space for your shopping. The result is up to 500 litres of carrier bag-packed luggage space, which is around the same that’s offered by a BMW 7 Series. However, the huge doors will make getting in and out difficult in the car park. Despite the brand’s reputation, this is not an intimidating car to drive and onboard electronic safety systems will prevent you falling off even the dampest of roads.
How much: £1.56m
Where can I buy one: This car was sold to ‘special’ customers before most knew it was even a twinkle in the designer’s eye. You might need to be a Euromillions rollover winner to tempt a current owner to sell you the keys… let alone the rest of the car, too.

6. Bugatti Veyron Super Sport

Bugatti Veyron Super Sport

Bugatti Veyron Super Sport

What is it: If the ‘standard’ Bugatti Veyron isn’t enough to bother your bank account, why not get behind the wheel of the Super Sport version? With 1,200bhp trying to seduce your right foot, the top speed had to be restricted to a piffling 258mph amid fears the car’s tyres would start to melt. Combining the Super Sport and Super Sport World Record Edition makes just 35 cars to hunt down – and none of them are currently registered in the UK.
Any good for the weekly supermarket shop: Lottery winners with remote castles in the Highlands might want to consider carrying a spare can of fuel… fill the Super Sport with petrol, floor it and the tank will be empty in just eight minutes. However, last-minute dashes to the supermarket at 10 to 4 on a Sunday afternoon will be made easier with its 0-60mph time of 2.5 seconds. The mid-engine Veyron has a tiny ‘boot’ at the front of the car, so while you’ll be able to carry your frozen fish fingers in safety, it’ll only take a single carrier bag. If that hasn’t put you off, just make sure you have around £95,000 a year to keep the service book happy. This includes £14,500 for each service, while the tyres will cost you £25,000 per set. Bugatti also demands you renew the wheels every fourth tyre change. The magnesium alloy rims cost £45,000
How much: £1.7m
Where can I buy one: Check out your local forecourt or head to this website for help tracking one down.

5. Ferrari FXX K

Ferrari FXX K

Ferrari FXX K

What is it: It’s ridiculously fast; with the naturally aspirated powerplant mixing 848bhp with a further 187 ponies delivered from its Formula One-inspired HY-KERS system – which harnesses power during braking. Sticking with the F1 theme, the steering wheel would look equally at home in the hands Seb Vettell, with its multi-function buttons controlling everything from throttle response to chassis set-up. Stats for the FXX K aren’t available as yet, but suffice to say owners should devise a back-up transport plan for when they lose their licence.
Any good for the weekly supermarket shop: Possibly not! You’ll need an invitation from Ferrari to buy one and you don’t even get to keep it on your drive – making trips to pick up chicken legs and charcoal for a spontaneous BBQ a little difficult. Oh and it’s a track-only car, anyway. Ferrari stores it for you and transports it to exclusive driving events around the world… which – at a guess – won’t include a Tour de Tesco in your local town.
How much: £1.97m
Where can I buy one: Simply sit tight and wait for your personal invite to arrive…

4. Ferrari Sergio

Ferrari Sergio

Ferrari Sergio

What is it: The Ferrari Sergio is a limited edition roadster that’s based on the marque’s 458 Spider. It’s a tribute to Ferrari’s 60 years of working with Pininfarina, the Italian design house. It also commemorates the 2012 death of Sergio Pininfarina – the company’s figurehead and former boss. Originally making its debut at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, the well-heeled public’s positive reaction – and overflowing bank accounts – was enough to twist the car maker’s arm to build six examples – one for each decade the companies have worked together. Oh – and if you’re interested in the business end, it delivers 605bhp to the rear wheels and blasts from 0-60mph in 3.0 seconds.
Any good for the weekly supermarket shop: With no examples showing as registered for use on British streets, it would suggest it’s not the most practical daily runaround. However, the engine configuration will leave room for a couple of carrier bags. Details on running costs aren’t available, but we’d suggest Euromillions rather than National Lottery winners should apply.
How much: £1.97m
Where can I buy one: All six models have been sold, but why not track down the owners and make them an offer they can’t refuse. One car is in the United Arab Emirates, three in the US and a further one in each Japan and Switzerland…

3. McLaren P1 GTR

McLaren P1 GTR

McLaren P1 GTR

What is it: Listen-up speed freak lottery winners, here’s one for you. Getting behind the wheel in one of these is about as close as you’ll ever get to jumping in one of the company’s F1 cars (a good one, not the current incarnation) and going all Jenson Button as you head to Morrisons. With a twin-turbo 3.8-litre powerplant and electrically powered motor conspiring to produce 986bhp of insane  hi-octane tomfoolery, this makes a serious automotive weapon as it fires from 0-60mph in 2.4seconds and tops out around 225mph.
Any good for the weekly supermarket shop: Sadly not! Firstly, to be in with a chance of getting behind the wheel you’ll need to already own a standard £866,000 P1 – and secondly, you can’t actually drive the car on public roads. Like the Ferrari FXX K, it’s a track-only motor that McLaren will store for you. No deal.
How much: £1.98m
Where can I buy one: Wait for your invitation.

2. Lykan HyperSport

Lykan HyperSport

Lykan HyperSport

What is it: It’s a newcomer to the market that you might not have heard about, but with just seven of the HyperSports planned for production, owners are sure to bag a great return on their investment. The price tag might seem steep for a newbie, but the diamonds in the headlight cluster and genuine gold thread used to stitch the seats set the tone of what to expect. Each owner will also receive a Cyrus Klepcys watch – and these retail at around £99k each. It’s not just about the bling, either; the Lykan HyperSport is powered by a 740bhp twin-turbo flat-six 3.7-litre powerplant blatting it from 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds and on to 239mph.
Any good for the weekly supermarket shop: You might find the local scamps prising diamonds from your headlamps as you return to the your parking space, but the scissor-type doors will make for easy access in restricted spaces. The mid-engined configuration should leave some room for a luggage compartment in the front.  The rear-view camera will help when reverse-parking, too.
How much: £2.17m
Where can I buy one: Move quick and you can buy one of these extremely rare cars from a dealer in Dubai… click here (on sale at time of publication)

1. MOST EXPENSIVE: Lamborghini Veneno and Veneno roadster

Lamborghini Veneno

Lamborghini Veneno – it’s a bit pricey

What is it: Just three Venenos were made and they cost around £2.5m before taxes are added. The cars were sold out in just minutes. Not one to miss a trick, Lamborghini decided to triple the production run and hired an Italian aircraft carrier to reveal the news. Strangely, said ship was conveniently moored in Abu Dhabi – where locals have a penchant ( and bank account) for Lambos. All nine sold out immediately. So, what does the £2.5m+ price tag bring? Lashings of carbonfibre and a 6.5-litre V12 destroying the ozone layer with an output of 740bhp and top speed of 221mph – that’s what.
Any good for the weekly supermarket shop: The four-wheel-drive transmission will help for those trips to the supermarket when you’re snowed in during winter… however the 740bhp might not be so handy in the slush as you attempt to reverse-park in an awkward space. Lamborghini don’t make any mention of bootspace, but we’d suggest a meal-by-meal approach might be required when grabbing your shopping. On a positive note, the gullwing doors will make getting in and out a breeze in tight spaces.
How much: £2.5m and £2.68m
Where can I buy one: A used Veneno roadster was advertised for £4.83million in 2014, so that’s a hefty increase on the original £2.68m purchase price. Contact owners and offer them in excess of £5million. Start your search in Abu Dhabi as none of the Lambos are registered in the UK.

Pay for your new hypercar

So, you’ve picked your new runaround, now you just need to win the lottery. Here’s our guide…

Your ticket to drive?

Your ticket to drive? Image credit

Numbers: Statistically, the most likely winning numbers – which are drawn most often – are 38, 23, 31, 25, 43, 33 and 44

Move to France: Want to win the Euromillions jackpot? It’s been scooped  76 times over the Channel, followed by Spain and Portugal with 72 and 55 winners. The UK is a respectable 4th with 49 success stories.

Where to live in Britain: Stats show that Romford is the luckiest place to win the lottery for Brits.

Alternatively… give this a go

Fancy a blast in a supercar but not sure that buying a National Lottery ticket is going to be your passport to the hi-octane anarchy? Simply give one of these a go instead…

Double supercar blast

Double supercar blast

Supercar Thrill at Donington Park
Drive one of the world’s best supercars at the legendary Donington Park. Choose one from an incredible list of cars – the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, Ferrari 360, Porsche 911 Turbo, Audi R8 or Ariel Atom. Begin with a safety briefing and two demonstration laps coutresy of an ARDS qualified instructor to learn track driving skills and racing lines. Then it is time to take the wheel of your supercar of choice for six thrilling miles and find out first-hand just what makes Donington Park Circuit so special. Just remember you have to give the keys back at the end!
Available with e-voucher: Yes
How much: £89.00
Where: Get your supercar experience here

Supercar hire will go down well

Supercar hire will go down well

Supercar hire
If you’ve always dreamt of driving an Aston Martin DB9 Volante or a Ferrari F430, then why not bag yourself a Signature Gift Voucher to hire the car of your dreams?
How much: From £295.00
Where: Get your supercar hire voucher here

Top 10 ways to avoid that crash

Don't become another insurance claim number

Don’t become another insurance claim number

Want to keep your car insurance premium at levels not requiring a second mortgage? Here are the top 10 ways to dodge getting on first name terms with your insurance broker’s claims department staff…

1) Choose your in-car music carefully

This US cop was partial to a little Taylor Swift

This US cop was partial to a little Taylor Swift: You Tube

Switching on the radio and rocking out to music such as hip–hop and heavy metal has serious implications for your driving. Research from Confused.com showed drivers with a penchant for these genres were more aggressive and faster. It was also revealed that classical music was far from calming and induced an erratic driving style. Boffins found that drivers match the tempo of music to their driving – so fast tracks mean smoking rubber and more chance of a crunch.

Top 10 dangerous driving songs

1. Hey Mama – The Black Eyed Peas
2. Dead on Arrival – Fall Out Boy
3. Paper Planes – M.I.A
4. Walkie Talkie Man – Steriogram
5. Paradise City – Guns N’ Roses
6. How You Remind Me – Nickelback
7. Hit the Road, Jack – Ray Charles
8. Get Rhythm – Johnny Cash
9. Heartless – Kanye West
10. Young, Wild and Free – Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa

Don’t watch this and drive… Black Eyed Peas – Hey Mama

How to beat the danger: The Boffins also found out that songs with a tempo matching the beat of a human heart make up the safest automotive playlist. This equates to around 60–80bpm; suggesting songs such as The Scientist by Coldplay or Come Away With Me by Norah Jones will help keep you sensible. Create your drive–safe playlist at the BPM database here

2) Don’t sneeze and drive

Sneezing... driving with your eyes shut rarely keeps the insurance man away

Sneezing… driving with your eyes shut rarely keeps the insurance man away

Suffering from a common cold? Grab your hanky and take the bus instead. Research carried out at the University of Leeds Institute for Transport Studies found drivers with snot–packed nostrils were less able to detect the possibility of a collision and respond quickly to unexpected events. The danger doesn’t stop, there, with the brain–heavy bods at Cardiff University’s Common Cold Centre dicsovering that a heavy cold can slash concentration levels by up to 50% – the equivalent of downing four large whiskies. We’d advise leaving your car in the garage, sitting back, drinking those four large whiskies, then not bothering to wake up until the snot’s gone.

Sneeze facts… Most will have heard the one about travelling 300ft blind while sneezing on a motorway, but while this figure is pure myth you will cover around 50ft with eyes shut as you give it the big atishooooo at 70mph. This is certainly enough to cause a hefty dent in reaction times and has resulted in advice that afflicted drivers should leave an extra four car lengths space to the vehicle in front on motorways.

Cold medications… Sorry, but the common cold hasn’t finished its mission to destroy your no–claims discount. Taking over–the–counter cold remedies can leave you drowsy due to active ingredients such as anti–histamines – used to ease runny noses and sneezing – and pain–killing codeine, which can slow reaction times and make eyesight blurry. If affected, it’s not just dangerous to drive, but cops may decide you’re ‘driving whilst unfit through drugs or alcohol’ – leading to a hefty disqualification.

How to beat the danger: Get plenty of sleep and take medication designed to be non–drowsy. Some research suggests caffeine is a useful way to fight the effects of a cold while behind the wheel, so necking a double espresso might help. Otherwise, take a long look at your job and if there’s not just the slightest possibility that western civilisation will crumble to dust if you take a duvet day – then why not do just that?

3) Don’t skip the ‘comfort break’

Don't let the need to pee lose your licence

Don’t let the need to pee lose your licence

Feeling the need to wee? Don’t put it off or you might just end up with a speeding ticket or dented fender – not to mention soggy smalls. Anyone who suffers from ‘urge incontinence’ – a common condition where sufferers experience the sudden urge to pass urine – could end up speeding to get to the nearest toilet. It’s not just your bumper or dignity that’s at risk, either; speeding at 35mph in a 30mph zone makes you 4.5 times more likely to fatally injure a pedestrian.

How to beat the danger: If you think you’re suffering from urge incontinence, contact your doc and get some medication and tips on exercises to control it. Additionally, for anyone who wants to avoid the risk of racing to the nearest WC in the case of an emergency for them or their kids, it’s time to follow our two–part guide to never letting your bowels or bladder put your licence at risk…

The D Free device

The D Free device: Image credit

Part 1 – Get the ten minute warning: Grab yourself the D Free; a wearable device that attaches to your belly button and monitors intestinal activity. It’ll give the wearer a 10–minute warning of what’s to come via a smartphone app. It will also offer handy daily stats of how many times you’ve ‘gone’.
Where: The kickstarter company is already more than half way to its target, so expect this to hit production late in 2015. Pre–book yours here
How much: Expect to pay around £35.00 for the device.

Part 2 – Meet Toilet Finder: So, you’ve got a 10–minute heads–up from your bowel monitor, now it’s time to crank up the Toilet Finder app to locate a public toilet close enough to ensure you’ve pee’d before the need to speed kicks in. It’s based on a database of more than 100,000 public toilets worldwide and uses your phone’s GPS location to hunt down the nearest ‘watering hole’. It’ll reveal if they’re free, open and have disabled access. Additionally, users can add their own fave conveniences if they’ve not already made it to the database.
Find it here for: iPhone or Android

Alternatively… anyone who’s not convinced by the benefits of the digital world could avoid getting a toilet–related speeding ticket by scouring the back pages of Sunday supplement magazines and grabbing themselves the notorious travel urinal with feminine adaptor thrown in.

Speeding peer caught short
Conservative peer Lord Trefgarne told cops he was in a hurry because he ‘urgently needed the toilet’ after being nabbed speeding on his way to the House of Lords, a court heard…
Read the full story here

4) Vary your route

Stimulate your eyes and brain by varying routes

Stimulate your eyes and brain by varying routes

Taking the same drive on a daily basis isn’t a top tip when it comes to swerving a trip to the ‘bodyshop’… for you or your motor! Research reveals taking a familiar journey makes us far more likely to be involved in an accident than when tackling a less known drive. The same research reveals our brain stays more engaged on a new route – helping slash reaction times and making it more likely we’ll be able to dodge an accident. A study using special glasses to analyse the awareness of experienced drivers found their field of vision (and awareness of what’s going on around them) was hugely less active and much narrower on familiar routes compared with newer journeys. This made them less able to detect developing problems, other road users and pedestrians.

How to beat the danger:
With most accidents occurring between one and five miles from home, it’s clear that familiarity does breed contempt. Try adding a little spice to your route home and cut the risk to both bodywork and soul by heading to Google maps, plotting your route in the direction section – but then dragging the blue dot to create new, interesting and safer routes home. It’s a great way to make your commute more interesting and keep your mind engaged. Give it a go – it can even become a little addictive. Make your new route here

5) Take the bus on Weds, Thurs and Fri

Don't spoil your weekend by crashing on a Thurs or Fri... find out more here

Don’t spoil your weekend by crashing on a Thurs or Fri… find out more here

Don’t just save your bus pass for Friday the 13th, research reveals driving on any Friday leaves you most likely to be involved in an accident. Studies from insurers show claims rocket as the week progresses with Wednesday and Thursday not far behind. It’s suggested that drivers’ concentration drops as the week wears on. On the plus side, Tuesday is the safest day, with Monday following on behind.

How to beat the danger: Why not occasionally swap your car–bound slog to the office or school run for an alternative mode of transport? From bus and train to walking and cycling, there are plenty of options available. Walkers and cyclists can also download apps that’ll pick the safest routes – utilising footpaths and old railway lines etc. Kids will also love the bus or train for a Friday school–run ‘treat’. Get on your bike instead

6) Look away from the billboard

...and automotive carnage did follow

…and automotive carnage did follow

Back in 1994 billboards featuring the iconic ‘Hello Boys’ Wonderbra advert had to be removed from the roadside after being blamed for a run of automotive boobs in their shadows. A study has shown roadside billboards touting themes of sex, money or fame are likely to make a driver speed up… and it’s not just men who can succumb to the distraction of a 30ft pin–up in pants giving them extremely large ‘come on’ eyes. Don’t think it’s only the racy side of life that can cause drivers to fall off the road; negative subjects caused motorists to slow down, but also become more likely to wander out of their lane.

The Euston underpass

The Euston underpass: Image credit You Tube

How to beat the danger: Obviously, being a responsible driver and ignoring Amazonian–type models in their undies is the obvious answer, but also somewhat at odds with human nature. Try to avoid routes with billboards – the UK sites that attract most drivers’ eyes in the UK are at London’s Euston Underpass (100k views a day) and Chiswick Towers by the M4 motorway (2.3m a month). Avoid these locations or prepared to be rear–ended by a flustered looking driver.

7) Blame it on your mum and dad

Virgo... stop stargazing and keep your eyes on the road

Virgos… stop stargazing and keep your eyes on the road

Insurance companies usually leave star signs to the likes of Mystic Meg and Frank Pilkington, but research by one revealed there could be an argument for taking a driver’s Zodiac sign into account when quoting. Luckily, insurance companies won’t be using this information to punish you when creating your quote… but it’s certainly worth knowing. Some may consider this a bad case of mumbo jumbo, but the facts are plain to see and provide a genuine baraometer. Here’s how the stars read for your chances of making a claim…

Star signs and personality traits of drivers involved in accidents and how many claims made…

Scorpio Nov.1-Nov. 28 Passionate, resourceful 26,833
Cancer July 21-Aug. 9 Compassion, sensitivity 101,539
Aquarius Feb.16-March 11 Progressive, independent 106,878
Libra Oct.31-Nov. 22 Cooperative, gracious 110,592
Aries April 17-May 13 Impatience, determination 112,402
Capricorn Jan.18-Feb. 15 Responsible, disciplined 128,005
Gemini June 20-July 20 Short attention span, nervous 136,904
Sagittarius Dec.18-Jan.17 Impatient, idealistic 154,477
Pisces March 12-April 16 Fearful, overly trusting 172,030
Taurus May 14-June 19 Uncompromising, possessive 177,503
Leo Aug.10-Sept. 15 Arrogance, inflexibility 179,657
Virgo Sept.16-Oct. 30 Worry, shyness 211,650

Source from All State insurance claims in 2010

How to beat the danger: Bit of a tough ask to reassign your birth date, so you might be better off taking the scientific approach of not loking at the stars and keeping your eyes on the road.

8) Don’t move to Smethwick

The mean streets of Smethwick

The mean streets of Smethwick: Image credit

Banned drivers are usually dangerous drivers, so dodging towns that breed the most licence–losers is the basis of a sound plan for avoiding automotive tears. Smethwick in the West Midlands should top your no–go list, with its dubious honour of being the UK’s top town for most banned drivers. In fact, taking a diversion round the West Midlands might save your bumper some grief, with the number two spot for automotive rule dodgers going to West Bromwich. However, it’s just as bad in London, with the East London borough of Barking sharing that second place.

Top 10 towns with most banned drivers…
Here are the towns you might want to set your sat–nav to avoid…

1) Smethwick, West Midlands (160 of 20,194 drivers disqualified – 0.77 per cent)
2=) West Bromwich, West Midlands (191 of 26,101 drivers disqualified – 0.73 per cent)
2=) Barking, London (164 of 22,591 drivers disqualified – 0.73 per cent)
4 Nelson, Lancashire (162 of 23,942 drivers disqualified – 0.68 per cent)
5 Bradford, West Yorkshire (1084 of 166,171 drivers disqualified – 0.65 per cent)
6 Tipton, West Midlands (131 of 20,736 drivers disqualified – 0.63 per cent)
7 Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan (163 of 26,153 drivers disqualified – 0.62 per cent)
8=) Peterhead, Aberdeenshire (131 of 21,872 drivers disqualified – 0.60 per cent)
8=) Wishaw, Lanarkshire (130 of 21,769 drivers disqualified – 0.60 per cent)
8=) Dagenham, London (308 of 51,576 drivers disqualified – 0.60 per cent)

Battle of the nations… Within the UK, Welsh drivers are the worst in terms of disqualification with 0.39%, ahead of Scotland on 0.33% followed by England at 0.29%.

How to beat the danger: If you live in one of these areas you could considering moving to Harpenden in Herts, where you’ll be rubbing shoulders – but not bumpers – with the UK’s most law–abiding drivers. This was followed by Rayleigh in Essex. Search for your new safe home in Harpenden here

9) Don’t plan a career as a health professional

No thanks mate, I'll take the bus

No thanks mate, I’ll take the bus

The doctor won’t see you now… he’s more likely to be busy swapping insurance details at the roadside. Research shows GPs made the highest proportion of insurance claims in 2014 – holding on to their number one spot from 2013. With a claim rate of 28% that’s double the national average – suggesting the professional body-pokers should take a little more care of their own bodywork. In fact, the medical profession needs to shape up when it comes to driving, with dentists, surgeons and hospital consultants all taking up space in the table of shame. Your local car dealer obviously treasures his shiny bits, with that profession coming out as least likely to make a claim.

Top 10 professions most likely to be involved in a crash

1 General Practitioner (27.8%)
2 Hospital Consultant (26.9%)
3 Drug Addiction Counsellor (25.6%)
4 Health Visitor (24.9%)
5 Probation Officer (24.4%)
6 Environmental Health Officer (23.6%)
7 Community Nurse (23.3%)
8 Speech Therapist (23.2%)
9 Dental Surgeon (22.9%)
10 Clinical Psychologist (22.6%)

How to beat the danger: The obvious solution would be to avoid becoming a highly paid GP, consultant or surgeon… However, if you would prefer to be obscenely wealthy and spend time blasting around your local High Street in an obscenely priced supercar – while not suffering a costly ding in the process – being a professional footballer is rated as one of the best professions for providing safe drivers.

10) Mind that road

I wouldn't stand there - that's the A285... Britain's most dangerous road

I wouldn’t stand there – that’s the A285… Britain’s most dangerous road: Image credit Chris Gunns

The UK’s most dangerous roads have been revealed. If you value your no–claims bonus – not to mention your life – it might be prudent to take a diversion around the 12–mile stretch of the A285 between Chichester and Petworth in West Sussex – where there’s been a 16% rise in serious and fatal accidents from 2007–2012.

Here’s the top five dangerous roads in Britain…
1.
The A285 from Chichester to Petworth (West Sussex)
2. The A809 from the A811 into Glasgow (Scotland)
3. The A18 Laceby to Ludborough (Lincolnshire)
4. The A61 between Wakefield and the M1 (Yorkshire)
5. The A937 towards Montrose, Angus (Scotland)

How to beat the danger: Simple, take a look at the list above and plan your journey using an alternative route. You only have to take a look the following video showing a speeded up drive along Britain’s most dangerous road if you need convincing.

Drive the UK’s most dangerous road in seconds… Watch this video to see just why the A285 between Chichester and Petworth is the UK’s most dangerous.


Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSDCEGebRG8

Danger in the medicine cabinet

Don’t think that popping a headache pill or taking a pill to soothe your cold are exempt from danger. Many over-the-counter medications are capable of leaving your driving impaired – and you open to prosecution under existing law. Here’s the information you need on everyday remedies you can buy at your local pharmacy…

How your medicine cabinet could claim your licence

How your medicine cabinet could claim your licence

Older drivers It’s essential that older drivers should pay special attention to warnings on over-the-counter medicines, because as people age, we become more susceptible to sedation and performance impairment due to renal dysfunction in old age.

* Source: The British Allergy Foundation

2015 car from defending F1 Constructor's Champions, Mercedes-Benz image credit

2015 Formula One… Race 6: Monaco GP – your essential guide

The Formula One circus moves on to the streets of Monte Carlo for the legendary Monaco Grand Prix. Here’s all you need to know with our at-a-glance guide to the upcoming race weekend…

Monaco Grand Prix at-a-glance guide

The iconic Harbour section of the track takes shape in 2013

The iconic Harbour section of the track takes shape: image credit

Here are the essential facts and figures provided by McLaren F1 ahead of the 2015 Spanish Grand Prix.

The big fight: Lewis Hamilton V Nico Rosberg

Expect fireworks between <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Hamilton#/media/File:Lewis_Hamilton_October_2014.jpg" target="_blank">Lewis</a> and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nico_Rosberg#/media/File:Segundo_Lugar.jpg" target="_blank">Nico</a>

Expect sparks to fly between the Merc boysLewis credit Nico credit

There’ll be white-knuckle action all around the circuit, but the big fight is likely to be a high-octane ding-dong at the pointy end of proceedings between rival Mercedes pilots, Hamilton and Rosberg.

Brit Lewis is currently leading the championship, but German driver – and local resident – Rosberg is desperate to ensure his title hopes aren’t left in a critical condition as the chequered flag is waved.

Saturday’s qualifying is going to be more important than ever. With the Monaco circuit virtually impossible for on-track overtakes it’s a huge boost for the driver who grabs pole.

There’s also the needle from 2014’s GP here, when Rosberg parked his car on the track and forced Lewis to miss out on his final flying lap – and any chance of grabbing pole from the German. Their relationship still hasn’t recovered.

So, don’t skip the qualifying for this one, or you’ll be missing half the race.

Qualifying: 1PM Saturday

Race: 1PM Sunday

Watch the race live on Sky or highlights on BBC 1

How to drive a lap: Nico Rosberg’s 2014 pole lap

Take a ride round the Monaco GP circuit with Nico Rosberg as he races to a controversial pole position at the 2014 event.

Track map: Know your corners

 

Get acquaited with some of F1's legendary corners and track sections

Get acquainted with some of F1’s legendary corners and track sections image credit


Monaco GP 2015: Essential info

The 2015 Monaco GP at-a-glance guide…

Track:  Street circuit.

Race start time: Sunday, 1pm UK time

Laps: 78.

Track length: 3.337 km

Tyre allocation: Soft (yellow) and Supersoft (red)

DRS Zones: One (pit straight).

Lap record: Michael Schumacher: 1:14.439 (Ferrari, 2004)

2014 pole: Nico Rosberg: 1:15.989 (Mercedes)

Circuit lowdown: McLaren Honda's track guide

Monaco is unlike any other venue in Formula One. It’s the shortest and slowest circuit on the calendar, but it’s also one of the most challenging, owing to the narrowness of the Principality’s streets and the proximity of the barriers.

The 3.340km/2.075-mile layout has remained largely unchanged since it first hosted a world championship grand prix in 1950. There have been minor alterations over the years in the name of safety, such as the easing of Rascasse and the introduction of TecPro barriers, but the original challenge and character of the circuit remain intact.

Technically, the circuit is very demanding. There are many short bursts of acceleration from low speed, all of which put an emphasis on traction, and the bumps in the road force teams to run their cars with much softer suspension than at a conventional racetrack. The steering angle of the front wheels has to be increased as well, in order to make it round the Loews Hairpin.

Much of the track has been re-surfaced since last year, but the asphalt is expected to remain slippery. Grip levels will improve as more rubber gets laid down over the course of the weekend, but the teams will be chasing the mechanical grip provided by Pirelli’s two softest compounds, the Soft (Prime) and Supersoft (Option). Engine driveability will also have a large bearing on performance.

McLaren is the most successful constructor in the history of the Monaco Grand Prix, having won the race 15 times. Five of those victories came with the late, great Ayrton Senna; of the team’s current line-up, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button have both previously won the race.

Chances of a safety car: Barrier action expected

Chances of a safety car: High. According to the McLaren Honda team, there’s an 80 per cent chance of a Safety Car – largely due to the lack of run-off. There was one Safety Car period last year, following an accident involving Adrian Sutil


Key corner: Where the it's all happening

Key corner: Casino Square. The entry and the exit are both blind, requiring bravery and precision from the driver to get right, according to MacLaren’s race briefing.


Gear changes: How many shifts for a McLaren

Gear changes: 48 per lap/3744 per race


Fuel consumption: How thirsty is the McLaren Honda

Fuel consumption: 1.5kg per lap, the lowest fuel consumption rate of the year

Don't put the kettle on: You could miss the best bits

Don’t put the kettle on: McLaren says: Between laps 25-27. With it being so difficult to overtake around Monaco, track position is king. Last year’s race was won using a one-stop strategy, the top four cars starting on the Supersoft tyre and then switching to the Soft

Jenson’s view

Jenson Button: image credit

Jenson Button: image credit

Brit racer and McLaren Honda driver Jenson Button gives his thoughts on the upcoming race:

“It’s true what they say – Monaco is the jewel in the crown of the Formula 1 calendar in every sense. It’s a real test of man and machine working in harmony to hook up the best lap, and maintain that consistency lap after lap. It’s very easy to make mistakes there, and you need complete confidence in the car and incredible control and accuracy to get the most out of a lap. Qualifying is so important because overtaking is famously tricky; we’ve been steadily improving our starting positions since the beginning of the season, so I’m hopeful we’ll see further progress on Saturday.

“Monaco is a low-speed circuit that doesn’t rely that much on aerodynamic performance, but you do need good balance and driveability. I’m hopeful we can sort out the balance issues we had on my car in the last race, so Monaco should see an improvement. After a disappointing race in Barcelona, naturally it’s easy to be frustrated when you step out of the car, especially when you feel you deserved more. I firmly believe that we’re making solid progress, which is why having a difficult race is hard to take. However, we’ve put that race behind us and I think we’ve a decent chance of continuing our upward trend in Monaco.

“I love Monaco; I won there in 2009 and the feeling you get driving there is absolutely mega. While nothing beats the feeling of racing at your home grand prix, Monaco has become an adopted home race for me, so driving around these famous streets so close to where I live makes it even more special. Racing at Monaco is an incredible challenge – being precise on turn-in, hitting the apex and balancing the throttle, while being as patient as possible to get the best exit, is a real art. The flow of corners in the middle sector – from Mirabeau, into the Hairpin and on to Portier – is particularly tricky, as it’s so easy to go a foot off the racing line and end up in the wall. Monaco always produces great drama, which just adds to its legendary status as one of the best grands prix on the calendar.”

 

Inside track: Matt Morris, McLaren

Get the low-down on round six of the 2015 Formula 1 season from Matt Morris, McLaren’s Director of Engineering.

 

2015 F1 race schedule

2015 car from defending F1 Constructor's Champions, Mercedes-Benz <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Formula_One_season#mediaviewer/File:Lewis_Hamilton-Mercedes_2015.JPG" target="_blank">image credit</a>

2015 car from defending F1 Constructor’s Champions, Mercedes-Benz image credit

Here’s a heads-up for petrol heads around the UK… plan your life around the following dates of F1 race weekends for the 2015 season.


Click here for race dates, locations and times...

Date Race RACE START Time (*)
1
Mar 15
Australian Grand Prix
05:00
2
Mar 29
Malaysia Grand Prix
08:00
3
Apr 12
Chinese Grand Prix
07:00
4
Apr 19
Bahrain Grand Prix
16:00
5
May 10
Spanish Grand Prix
13:00
*All times are in UK Time


2015 Driver line-up

Defending F1 Champ Lewis Hamilton <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Formula_One_season#mediaviewer/File:Lewis_Hamilton_October_2014.jpg" target="_blank">image credit</a>

Defending F1 Champ Lewis Hamilton image credit

Here’s who’ll be piloting the F1 cars for the 2015 season – and who’ll be helping to bring in upgrades.

Mercedes

Mercedes
Drivers: Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg
Reserve driver: Pascal Wehrlein
Engine provider: Mercedes


Red Bull

Red Bull
Drivers: Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat
Reserve driver: Sebastien Buemi
Engine provider: Renault


Williams

Williams
Drivers: Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa
Reserve driver: Susie Wolff
Development driver: Alex Lynn
Engine provider: Mercedes


McLaren

McLaren
Drivers: Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button
Reserve driver: Kevin Magnussen
Engine provider: Honda


Ferrari

Ferrari
Drivers: Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen
Reserve driver: Esteban Gutierrez
Test driver: Jean-Eric Vergne
Engine provider: Ferrari

Force India

Force India
Drivers: Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez
Engine provider: Mercedes


Toro Rosso

Toro Rosso
Drivers: Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz
Engine provider: Renault


Lotus

Lotus
Drivers: Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado
Reserve driver: Jolyon Palmer
Engine provider: Mercedes


Sauber

Sauber
Drivers: Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr
Reserve driver: Raffaele Marciello
Engine provider: Ferrari

[/toggle]

Manor

Manor
Drivers: Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi
Reserve driver: Jordan King
Engine provider:  Ferrari

Where to watch Formula One on TV

Where you can watch live GPs for free

Where you can watch live GPs for free: image credit

You can watch all 20 Formula One races live by subscribing on Sky Sports, but for those who choose not to subscribe, the BBC will show 10 live races and highlights of the remaining 10.

Here’s the full schedule of free F1 coverage from the BBC:


2015 Grand Prix schedule: Live races on the BBC

2015 Grand Prix schedule:

Australia: 15 March – Highlights
Malaysia: 29 March – Live
China: 12 April – Highlights
Bahrain: 19 April – Live
Spain: 10 May – Highlights
Monaco: 24 May – Highlights
Canada: 7 June – Live
Austria: 21 June – Highlights
Great Britain: 5 July – Live
Germany: 19 July – Highlights
Hungary: 26 July – Live
Belgium: 23 August – Live
Italy: 6 September – Highlights
Singapore: 20 September – Highlights
Japan: 27 September – Live
Russia: 11 October – Live
United States: 25 October – Highlights
Mexico: 1 November – Highlights
Brazil: 15 November – Live
Abu Dhabi: 29 November – Live


Or subscribe to Sky to see all races live…

Want to subscribe to Sky for live coverage of all race weekends, simply click here.

Pick a winner: Your prediction for 2015 F1 season

Lewis Hamilton with Vladmir Putin after winning 2014 Russian GP:<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Hamilton#/media/File:Hamilton_and_Putin.jpg" target="_blank">image credit</a>

Lewis Hamilton with Vladimir Putin after winning 2014 Russian GP: image credit

Click below and enter your vote for the driver you think will take the chequered flag to win the 2015 Drivers’ Championship.


Place your vote here


In the pits

With top F1 cars so evenly matched for pace and power, overtaking on some circuits is extremely difficult. This is why places and races can be lost and won in the pitlane. Here we look at a Sauber infographic explaining just what everyone’s getting up to when an F1 pilot hits the pits for a new set of boots.

Meet the Sauber pit crew here

F1 crash repairs revealed

We don’t get many Formula One cars in the Crawley Down Group’s bodyshop, but here’s how much in parts alone it costs to put the cars back together when they slip off the black stuff.

Rough costs of parts to rebuild a crashed F1 car

Rough costs of parts to rebuild a crashed F1 car

Got the F1 bug… then take to the cockpit

Just because your daddy doesn’t run an international banking conglomerate, it doesn’t mean you can’t get behind the wheel of a single-seater race car – or even a ex-Formula One racer. Here’s out guide to getting into the cockpit and heading out on to the track for an adrenaline-fueled shot of high-octane auto anarchy. We’ve broken it down into various budgets so everyone can take the wheel…

From £15.00: Full-motion F1 Car Racing Simulator

Lets Race are the only F1 simulator venue in the UK!

An ideal entertainment venue for groups and events of all types! Lets Race is the only F1 racing simulator venue in the UK and allows digital speed freaks discover if they might just be the next Lewis Hamilton. All the Grand Prix tracks can be found with our friends at Lets Race in Horley, where you can tackle the same track that F1 racers will be battling on this Sunday!
Important info: Drivers must be min 1.5m tall.
How much: From £15.00
Where: Get your Lets Race tickets here.

From £199.00: Single-seaters at Silverstone

Single-seaters at Silverstone

Single-seaters at Silverstone

With Lewis bringing the F1 title back to Britain, what better way to celebrate than by heading to Silverstone for a hi-octane session of white-knuckle driving in a 150bhp Formula Silverstone single-seat race car. Riding just millimetres from the ground, you’ll be blasted from 0-60mph in just 4.3 seconds and be glued to the black stuff as you corner at speeds that’d leave road cars spinning hopelessly out of control. Become one with your machine as the stupendous traction flings you from corner to straight with heart-stopping power as you take on the challenge of Silverstone’s Stowe Circuit. The package offers a 30-minute safety and technique briefing – where participants learn about braking, cornering, clipping kerbs and safety flags – followed by 20 minutes driving behind a pace car, before being let loose to pilot their bucking, snorting, steed for 20 solo mins of driving ecstasy. Once driven – forever smitten.
Important info: All drivers must have held a full licence for at least one year, stand between 5’2”-6’6” and weigh no more than 18 stone.
How much: From £199.00
Where: Get your Silverstone Single Seater Thrill here

Drive a genuine Formula One car

Pay for your ride - like most F1 pilots

Pay for your ride – like a real F1 pilot

We’ve saved the ultimate experience for last… but driving a genuine Formula One car will literally be the experience of a lifetime for any petrol head. Apart from turning up at the British GP and carjacking Lewis Hamilton, there’s just nowhere to go beyond this. With a 0-60mph time of just 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 200mph, the chance to drive a 600bhp ex-Formula One GP car around a genuine race circuit is truly unbeatable. The full-day experience starts with a safety briefing, after which the track action commences with five familiarisation laps of in a sports saloon driven by a race instructor. You’ll then drive the saloon car for 10 laps before climbing behind the wheel of an Aston Martin and Ferrari 360 for two six-mile sessions – honing skills for the move up to 10 paced laps in a single-seater. After this, you’ll drive seven un-paced laps in the single-seater followed by 10 laps in the stunning Formula 3 race car, before 10 mind-blowing laps in the awesome 1996 Italian Forte Corse or 1994 Arrows GP cars – previously raced by F1 stars Luca Badoer and Aguri Suzuki. Lunch and an F1 certificate are also included. You’ll be just like a real modern-day racing driver – paying for your seat in an F1 car.
Car spec: Car: Ex-Formula One, Power: 600bhp, Transmission: Six-speed manual sequential, Engine: 3.0-litre Nicholson McLaren Cosworth V8 or Judd KV 3.0-litre
Important info: Drivers must be at least 21, stand between 5’-6’4” and weigh no more than 18 stone. Their chest and upper arm girth must not exceed 54″. A full driving licence must have been held for a minimum of 36 months and needs to be produced. Voucher valid for 24 months.
Location: Three Sisters, Lancashire
How much: Brace yourself… £1,599
Where: Book an F1 experience here

How to become a racing driver for less: Lawnmower racing

Get racing for less

Get racing for less: image credit

So, you want to be an F1 racer, but your dad’s not CEO of a multi-national conglomerate? Don’t despair, get on the road to racing glory with our guide to alternative and affordable racing formulas. First up it’s the grass-roots sport of Lawn Mower racing…

What is it: As the name suggest, it’s a racing formula where drivers compete on converted lawn mowers.

Isn’t it a bit slow: Compared to F1 it might be a little pedestrian, but sitting inches from the ground on a lawnmower doing up to 50mph will certainly get the adrenaline pumping in most wannabe racers.

How much does it cost: Whereas you’ll need well in excess of £5million to buy your drive for a back-of-the-grid F1 outfit, getting a top seat in lawnmower racing will cost you anything from £500-£1000. Membership will be another £40 for a season, with £10 race fees. Still considerably shy of the millions you’ll need to finish last in F1.

Great! Where can I find out more: Simple. Head to the British Lawnmower Racing Association’s website here

Lawnmower racing in action: Watch this video and get a taste of the action.

Pharrell_Williams

Top 10: Dads’ in-car playlist…

Ever wondered what your dad/hubby is rocking-out to while behind the wheel? New research by Skoda reveals the tracks getting men singing as they drive – showing that the kids better keep an eye on their iPod…

Pharrell's number 1 with driving dads..

Pharrell’s number 1 with driving dads… image credit

The survey also reveals that around one in six dads (16per cent) would back themselves in a sing-off against their kids for recent pop hits that also include One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful and Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass.

Here’s the full top 10 rundown of dads’ disturbing driving faves…

1. Pharrell Williams – Happy Now

2. Lady Gaga – Poker Face

3. Idina Menzel – Let It Go

4. Meghan Trainor – All About That Bass

5.Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe

6. Jessie J, Ariana Grande, Nicky Minaj – Bang Bang

7. Bruno Mars – Grenade

8. One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful

9. Justin Bieber – Baby

10. Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne – Rather Be

What’s your favourite in-car track? Tell us below…

1

Fiat 500X… On the road

We take the Fiat 500X on a journey through town, country and motorway…

 

Can a car really be practical, fun and chic? Jumping into the Fiat 500X 1.6 Cross I’d been loaned by CDG Cars, I was hoping this seemingly impossible motoring Utopia could somehow become reality. With a brief to collect three children from various childminders, deposit them home, battle my way through torrential rain and rush-hour traffic into central London before returning home to Sussex in the early hours – I was ‘really’ hoping it could

Taking my seat in Fiat’s SUV treatment of its highly popular city car – the regular 500 – it was immediately striking how spacious the X is. Despite looking trim and true to the 500 design concept from the outside, the fact it’s 70cm longer, 17cm wider and 12cm taller immediately put my mind at rest as I set about fitting child seats and booster cushions. As it turned out, the kids immediately gave the car their seal of approval and the spacious rear-seat kept the warring factions suitably segregated to ensure the first stage of my trip was a battle-free success.

The Fiat 500X is ready to battle rain and rush-hour traffic

The Fiat 500X is ready to battle rain and rush-hour traffic

With the children delivered and ensconced in front of CBEEBIES, it was time to head out into far more treacherous territory – the evening rush-hour. The prospect of rain-sodden, jam-clogged roads would normally have been enough to force a homeward-bound u-turn before I’d made it past the end of my street, yet the stylish interior and soft-touch dash sections soon calmed my anxieties. The gridlocked roads soon became a mere distraction as I got to grips with the 500X’s touch-screen Uconnect infotainment system that includes Bluetooth, music streaming and connectivity to apps such as Facebook. With my iPhone swiftly paired and ready to stream, it seemed no time at all before I’d negotiated the South London suburbs and turned the corner in Peckham to see the imposing Shard rising before me and spearing the angry dusk skies

Despite the grim conditions, the 500X added spark to the trip into London

Despite the grim conditions, the 500X added spark to the trip into London

With an endless river of red lights stretching before me, the frustration was eased by the X’s highly refined diesel engine. In fact, it was so quiet and smooth, only the large ‘Diesel’ sign pasted over the inside of the fuel filler flap saved me from having to make a highly embarrassing phone call telling CDG I’d broken their car. The seamless engine stop-start system was also a welcome experience compared with some of the clunky versions I’ve contended with in the past. At least it helped me do my small bit for the environment as I covered the last two miles of exhaust-choked roads in just under an hour.

Casting my eye around the interior as I sat on my congested road to nowhere, it was only then the stylish interior really came to life. The retro flourishes such as metal-look door handles and soft-touch sections high on the dash combine perfectly with the elegant switchgear and dials. The cabin really succeeds in harnessing the charm, chic and ambience of the fun-loving 500 city car.

Reaching my destination, I was already yearning for my return to pick up the 500X from its space in the drab Central London car park and setting it free on the capital’s empty streets and beyond to twisty country roads before stretching its legs on the motorway. As the clock struck 3am, I was heading across Tower Bridge on virtually empty streets and feeling strangely invigorated despite the hour.

The decibel meter shows the quiet ride is equivalent to a quiet street - despite being measured in Central London

The decibel meter shows how refined the Fiat’s ride is; equivalent to a quiet street – despite being measured in Central London

Just because you’ve got a growing family, the 500X proves you don’t have to have a completely grown-up car to go with it. Heading East out of London, the nimble handling prompted me to turn up the volume and realise there is life after buying an SUV. I’m sure the retro-styled 500X even got a few sideward glances of appreciation from late-night ‘hipsters’ wandering home to their East London bachelor pads… or maybe I just imagined that.

Another nice touch I particularly appreciated at this point, was the ability to drop the driver’s seat to provide a sportier, lower driving position when you want to forget you’re piloting an SUV. The responsive steering and firm-but-fair ride was a joy around city streets and a positive barrel of japery as I hit the twisty country roads traversing the North Downs. It’s controlled through bends and avoids understeer and roll to provide a ride that’s fun and sporty when you want it to be. The X clearly benefits from the new platform it shares with its Jeep Renegade cousin.

Leaving the back-road tomfoolery behind, it was time to hit the motorway for the final leg of my homeward journey. Accelerating smoothly to the national limit, the Fiat remained composed and quiet with only the minimum of wind noise. From its go-kart-like exploits on the country roads, its seamless conversion to motorway cruiser eating up the miles was nothing short of amazing.

Shutting down the engine and stepping from the driver’s seat, I felt as fresh as I’d been all day – despite the clock’s 4.15am reading suggesting otherwise. Maybe it was the double espresso I’d necked before heading home, but I’m pretty sure it was more to do with the 500X’s ability to inject a large dose of fun into world of faceless SUVs that are seemingly designed to bring on a premature mid-life crisis. Thanks for the ride CDG – X really did mark the spot for me!

Take a closer look with our dashboard zoom

Have a look around the Fiat 500X’s dashboard with our zoom feature. Simply follow the instructions below for to get up close and personal with the interior.

How much

Fiat 500X prices

See above for a full price list, but the entry-level Pop version comes in at £14,595, while the range tops out at £25,885 with the 2.0-litre Cross Plus.

The limited-edition ‘Opening Edition’ costs the same as the models it’s built on, but come with far more equipment – so get in early for big savings.

Geek section

Want to check out the tech spec? Then you’ve come to the right place. Click below and we’ve got something very special just for you…


Click here for full Fiat 500X tech spec

Fiat 500X tech spec

Fiat 500X tech spec