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New Renault F1 driving school aims to make returning French GP “more than just a one-off event”

France has had to wait a long time to get its Grand Prix and now it has the race from 2018 onwards, it plans to make the most of it.

New Renault F1 driving school aims to make returning French GP “more than just a one-off event”

France has had to wait a long time to get its Grand Prix and now it has the race from 2018 onwards, it plans to make the most of it.

Renault has today launched a partnership with the Winfield Racing School to offer motorsport fans and professional drivers the chance to drive Formula 1 machinery.

The new scheme will be based at the Paul Ricard circuit, which will host the French Grand Prix when the race returns to the F1 calendar in 2018, and has a stated aim of making motorsport more accessible to amateur enthusiasts as well help professional drivers to hone their skills.

The French Grand Prix for 2018 was officially rolled out on Monday at a ceremony at the circuit featuring the various local stakeholders. A bank guarantee underpins the event and the target is to welcome 65,000 spectators.

Participants in the one-day driving course will get to drive a V8 F1 car, a Formula Renault 2.0, an R.S.01, a Clio RS and a Megane RS Trophy car. A crew of 14 F1 mechanics and engineers will oversee the technical side of the programme and maintain the racing machines. A Renault spokesperson said it hoped to publish information on the cost of the driving programme “in the near future” when contacted by JA on F1.

Renault Paul Ricard

Renault Sport Racing’s managing director, Cyril Abiteboul, described the new partnership with Winfield as part of the French manufacturer’s desire to make the return of the French Grand Prix “more than just a one-off event”.

He said: “The launch of this partnership with Winfield marks an important step in Renault’s determination to share its passion for its racing activities. Enthusiasts will discover Renault racing cars up to the ultimate level of motorsport, Formula 1 at one of the most beautiful circuits in the world.

“This ties in with our ambition to make the return of the Formula 1 French Grand Prix in 2018 more than just a one-off event.

“Professional drivers will have the opportunity to drive modern racing cars with tailor-made programmes developed and run by our F1 engineers. The state-of-the-art installation will also give us the opportunity to run events for our team partners.”

Cyril Abiteboul

Frédéric Garcia, President of the Winfield Group that has run F1 drivers including Alain Prost, Damon Hill, Jean Alesi and Olivier Panis in its racing school at the start of their careers, explained that the new driving programme would provide a unique experience for F1 fans.

He said: “Winfield’s promise is experience, emotion, engagement and exclusivity. The driving programme developed with Renault clearly adheres to these promises.

“Spectating at a Formula 1 Grand Prix is a very nice experience, however to be behind the wheel of a modern F1 car enhances greatly these emotions and offers the most exclusive of experiences.

“Participants will get a unique taste of the complexity of this fabulous sport as they experience the extreme physical and mental demands of the high tech environment of Formula 1. Thanks to Renault and Winfield, anyone participating in this programme will never again watch a Grand Prix in the same way as before.”

Paul Ricard

The Winfield Racing School is based at the 5.861-km Paul Ricard track near Le Castellet in Southern France. It was announced in late 2016 that the circuit would host the return of the French Grand Prix when a five-year deal to bring the event back onto the F1 calendar was confirmed, with the first race taking place in the summer of 2018.

The last French Grand Prix took place at the Magny-Cours track in 2008 and was won by Ferrari’s Felipe Massa. The most recent F1 race to take place at Paul Ricard was in 1990, when Prost triumphed for the Scuderia.

What do you make of Renault’s new partnership with the Winfield Racing School? Will the new programme help bring F1 closer to its fans? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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