As part of its efforts to help World Series by Renault’s drivers hone the skills they need to reach Formula One, Renault Sport Technologies and Renault Sport F1 make a point of giving a privileged few of them access to the F1 paddock. On the eve of the Italian Grand Prix meeting last week at Monza, six racers from Formula Renault 3.5 Series and Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 travelled to the famous Italian track to meet with some of F1’s leading players.
The posse of young hopefuls were welcomed to Monza on Thursday by Infiniti Red Bull Racing, Lotus F1 Team, Williams F1 Team and Caterham F1 Team and had the opportunity to exchange views with the teams and get a feel for the pinnacle of motorsport.
Their fact-finding mission began with a briefing on the structure of Renault Sport F1, which was followed by a look behind the scenes at three-time world champions Infiniti Red Bull Racing, with David Mart, Mark Webber’s engine engineer, and team manager Jonathan Wheatley chaperoning the drivers. Next it was on to Caterham F1 Team, where they received first-hand advice from Heikki Kovalainen, Giedo van der Garde and Emilien Colombain, who is Charles and Arthur Pic’s fitness coach. They then rounded off the morning in conversation with Caterham’s team principal Cyril Abiteboul.
After taking lunch at the Red Bull Energy Station, the drivers made an enlightening visit to Lotus F1 Team, where they chatted with Kimi Raikkonen’s engine engineer Ricardo Penteado, and the team’s trackside operations director Alan Permane, before picking up some valuable tips from Dave Thompson, who is Romain Grosjean physiotherapist, and team principal Eric Boullier. The next port of call was Williams F1 Team, where drivers Valtteri Bottas and Pastor Maldonado were followed by chief race engineer Xevi Pujolar in fielding their questions.
The hectic schedule continued when they met up with Red Bull’s driver development manager Andy Damerum at Scuderia Toro Rosso, with whom Renault Sport F1 will team up next year. The six pretenders then chatted with Mark Webber and Christian Horner before catching up with Jean-Eric Vergne, Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel, three men who made the move straight from Formula Renault 3.5 Series to Formula One.
Having received a valuable insight into the F1 world at Monza, the six will hoping to put the information gleaned from their visit to good use at the next round of the World Series by Renault season in Hungary in a few days’ time.
Arnaud Boulanger, Renault Sport Technologies’ Director of Motorsport: “We’ve been running this initiative for a good few years now and the enthusiastic response of the drivers shows us that it’s a very worthwhile exercise. In putting aside their immediate sporting rivalries and giving their guests a wonderful welcome, these major players in Formula One have made a significant contribution to the progress of our drivers towards the biggest show in motorsport. The many insights they received will prove extremely valuable to these young men, who are all dreaming of making it to F1. The advice given to them by team principals, engineers, fitness trainers and drivers will help them to succeed, just as it did some of our other drivers before them. Over the course of the day they also saw for themselves how important World Series by Renault is to Formula One. One of the day’s high points was their meeting with Sebastian Vettel, who has become the reigning three-time world triple champion within a few short years of making the switch from Formula Renault 3.5 to Formula One. The progress made by the likes of Jean-Eric Vergne, Daniel Ricciardo, Charles Pic, Valtteri Bottas, Pastor Maldonado and 2007 Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion Giedo van der Garde, to name but the drivers they came across today, shows just what can be achieved.”