Renault introduced its new ‘Race Days’ hospitality programme for the Hungarian Grand Prix, allowing fans to watch the race from within its factory.
F1 Fanatic was invited to this debut event and we couldn’t resist the opportunity to see inside Renault.
Renault’s programme is called ‘Race Days’ – for £175 a person, it’s a chance to see a race from within the team’s factory, complete with live links to the track, time in an F1 simulator and a compere.
It isn’t a new concept – Renault has previously hosted days for its sponsors and Williams has run a similar programme for many years – but this is the first time Renault’s opened its doors to the paying public.
Held at its factory in Enstone, Oxfrodshire, the facility can accommodate up to 60 visitors every race weekend and is open to corporate parties as well as families. For the Hungarian Grand Prix event, the crowd was made up of the families of employees, paying punters and a few competition winners.
The day started at 9:30 with breakfast at Renault’s Communication and Heritage centre. There we were surrounded by a selection of Formula One trophies and historic cars, from a replica of one the manufacturer’s earliest vehicles from 1899, to Alain Prost’s 1983 RE40 and Fernando Alonso’s championship winning R25.
Our compere, F1 journalist and author Stuart Codling, took to the stage at 10am to talk us through qualifying from the day before as well as this season’s main talking points.
Sporting Director Steve Nielsen then joined us via live video link to answer a few questions before the games began, and we all took to the F1 simulator and pit stop challenge.
In the afternoon we moved to Renault’s Computational Aerodynamic Research Centre, the team’s underground facility known as ‘the bunker’ and which looks just like the Teletubbies house. There we were presented with a glass of champagne before being ushered into the Auditorium for another live link with the team in Hungary.
Renault’s Chief Race Engineer Alan Permane was first to speak. And though it was only an audio link, excitement was building with Permane saying, “Our target today is to get both cars in front of Rosberg”.
Renault’s Jeremy Scoones was up next, saying of Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov’s drop in performance between Q2 and Q3: “I think they’re putting it down to varying track conditions. The drivers weren’t particularly happy with their laps. There wasn’t the sort of grip that was out there in Q2.”
Scoones ended with one of the most poignant quotes of the day: “All eyes will be on the pit lane and strategies.”
Live to Hungary
And then the screen flicked to Hungary. We were presented with a live webcam stream of the team’s garage, with Kubica to the left and Petrov to the right, the two flanking the BBC coverage.
Things got a little heated – especially as we were watching the pit lane incident unfold and Kubica’s weekend coming to an abrupt end – and it was clear everybody was enjoying the race.
There were screams as Michael Schumacher attempted to squash Rubens Barrichello, and actual clapping as Mark Webber crossed the line and Petrov earned his career best finish in fifth.
With the exception of being at the track, it would be difficult to find anywhere better to watch a race than from within Renault’s factory.
At £175 each it’s not cheap but you do get a lot for your money and the team made everybody feel welcome and included. It may not be something you would do every race weekend but it’s an appealing option.
Have you been to a race day hospitality event? Let us know how your experience compared below.
Finally, a big thank you to Bradley Lord and Gabriela Elizalde-Mills from Renault F1 for inviting me to the inaugural ‘Race Days’ – I really enjoyed the day.
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