The Grand Tour‘s Driver Auditions Open With F1’s Mark Webber

Calling any and all interested drivers…

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<em>The Grand Tour</em>‘s Driver Auditions Open With F1’s Mark Webber © The Grand Tour‘s Driver Auditions Open With F1’s Mark Webber

Those up to date on Amazon Studios' The Grand Tour already know that the show's test driver from the first season, "The American," portrayed by NASCAR Trucks ace Mike Skinner, will not be reprising his role in the second season. The show's YouTube channel posted a promo on Friday, announcing that a replacement was being sought prior to the season's launch December 8. It encourages fans to take to social media with the hashtag #NewDriverWanted, demanding that applicants not be "fat, clumsy, or slow," though whether these adjectives are meant to refer to the three hosts or to Mike Skinner is not made clear.

The Drive contacted Amazon Studios about the program, seeking to distinguish whether it was meant to source applicants from the general public, broadcast a high-profile call for help from professional racing drivers, or just serve as a promotional campaign, and whether or not drivers would rotate out between episodes. A spokesperson responded, but declined to answer, stating, "stay tuned for more videos that will answer questions leading up to season two!"

The first person to get a chance with the program was revealed on Monday, when the show's YouTube channel uploaded a hot lap session with its first applicant, former Formula 1 driver for Red Bull Racing, 2015 World Endurance Championship winner, and Australian, Mark Webber. 

Webber provides a solid lap of the show's "Eboladrome" test track behind the wheel of the 700 horsepower Porsche 911 GT2 RS, but when it comes time to perform in the Mercedes AMG GT, he instead dawdles, taking a leisurely lap instead of a competitive one, stating, "[this] is all she's got."

Mark, however, has not driven for Porsche's WEC team since the end of 2016, despite Jeremy Clarkson's comment in the video. Between this and the deliberately tampered lap, we can glean two things: The #NewDriverWanted program is likely preordained and not taking applications from the general public, and that the new season will feature a continuation of the first's heavy use of scripted segments.

While the improvements to the show's second season are already numerous, such as the scrapping of the predictable Celebrity Brain Crash segment, and the firing of Mike Skinner, other areas are suffering. The novelty that was the traveling tent is no more, and the old staple of the cheap car challenge is not seeing a revival, either. What's more, its obviously scripted moments have never been its best, and with this latest trailer, it seems it is either losing its knack for hiding scripted moments, or it's simply using more of them.

Someone ought to remind Clarkson, Hammond, and May that everyone's favorite moments were the ones in which Murphy's Law takes its toll. The shows have always been best when organic interactions shine through, as no script can ever hope to match the finest entertainment that chaos has to offer. They say truth is stranger than fiction, after all.

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