At the wheel of the Renault cars were two former World Series by Renault stars in Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz, the 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion, with Max Verstappen and French rally legend Jean Ragnotti joining them to give the journalists and guests present the experience of a lifetime : a no-holds-barred lap of the Monaco circuit.
There was a surprise in store prior to the hot laps, however, as the teams at Renault’s Les Ulis headquarters near Paris joined forces with Michelin to stage a demonstration, with a Formula Renault 3.5 putting in an appearance in 18’’ tyres and a Formula Renault 2.0 doing likewise in 17’’ tyres. The impromptu show was yet another indication of how closely Renault Sport Technologies follows all the latest developments in Formula One, all with the aim of giving its young hopefuls the very best preparation.
One by one, the intrepid co-drivers then slid into the passenger seats in the Renault Sport R.S. 01 and the Clio R.S. 220 EDC Trophy. There was no going back as they put their helmets on, fastened their seatbelts and met their drivers for the day. The formalities over, the men at the wheel then gave their passengers what they came for, wasting no time in putting the pedal to the metal.
Sainte-Dévote, Beaurivage, Casino, Mirabeau, Loews, Portier, the Tunnel, Tabac, the Swimming Pool, La Rascasse… the turns, rises and dips of the legendary Monaco circuit were a blur for the day’s lucky co-drivers, whose only disappointment was not being able to repeat the experience.
With brake pads burning white hot, they beamed as they climbed out of the cars before having one final chat with their partners for the day. Still buzzing and with memories still fresh of how they came this close to the barriers, the co-drivers recalled their laps time and again.
“I was so excited when I got into the car I didn’t even realise I was in Monaco. Then Sainte-Dévote came, Mirabeau, the Tunnel, the Swimming Pool … the places that make you realise where you are. It was amazing.”
“I’m still a bit shaken. I didn’t think it was possible to get to the Casino so quickly in a Clio. I can’t even begin to imagine how fast single-seaters and other race cars are.”
“It was a unique experience. The most disconcerting thing was that Jean Ragnotti was talking to me as if nothing was happening, all while he was taking the car to within just a few centimetres of the barriers. Even though it was only a hot lap, he lived up to his reputation as Jeannot, our national hero, and he allowed himself the luxury of passing someone.”