World Rally Championship driver Sebastieb Loeb had his first taste of Formula One yesterday at a Total-Elf promotional event when he took the Heikki Kovalainen s Renault around the Paul Ricard circuit.
Last weekend the Frenchman won his fourth consecutive WRC championship. He is also no stranger to other racing formats having competed in Le Mans 24 Hours.
“Today has been a fantastic experience,â€ Loeb began. “If I’m honest, it’s a little bit like Christmas come early! I have just become a father for the first time, I won my fourth world title last weekend, and now a dream has come true: driving a Formula 1 car for the first time.”
“I was very impressed with the grip generated by the aerodynamics, which is radically different from what we are used to in rallying. I already knew Paul Ricard well from my testing before Le Mans last year, so it meant I could really make the most of today’s opportunity. It was a truly exceptional day.”
Loeb s WRC team-mate Dani Sordo also had the chance to test out the Renault F1 whilst Kovalainen was not left car-less and got to swap his F1 wheels for the WRC Citroen C4 with Loeb as his co-driver.
“This was a wonderful day, and I had a great time driving Sebastien’s car,” Kovalainen said. “I had previously been in this type of car as a co-driver, but this was miles better! I felt quite comfortable, even though the sensations are extremely different to what you feel in an F1 car.
“I talked a lot with Sebastien and Dani, and it was interesting to see how they controlled the car in the slow and high-speed corners, and learn from it. In return, I was able to give them some advice about the R26, and I hope they both enjoyed the experience.”