My adventure driving an F1 car!

Discussion in 'F1' started by Birdman, Sep 2, 2008.

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  1. Birdman

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    #1 Birdman, Sep 2, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Hi Everyone,
    I don't post here in this forum often, but I have a story I thought you might enjoy.

    A few years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to Formula 1 racing by taking me to the Grand Prix of Canada in Montreal. From the first moment I heard the scream of a modern F1 car racing up the straight, I was hooked. I had never seen or heard anything like it. Like any fan, I began watching all the races (which required upgrading our cable TV plan to include the Speed Channel). I had never followed any motorsports in my life, but I found myself keeping a close eye on the schedule so I wouldn't miss a race.

    As my 40th birthday approached, my wife became inspired to get me something completely different for this important birthday milestone. I wanted a new Ferrari, but it wasn't in the budget. So, after the surprise party, she said "Here's your gift!" and handed me a large envelope. I was pretty certain there wasn't a new Ferrari in the envelope, and it definitely wasn't a Rolex. I apprehensively opened the envelope and out came a certificate from AGS Formule 1. She had bought me a course in driving a real F1 car at a track in France! Only days before I had lamented to a friend how cool it would be to try driving in F1 car, but that it would never happen in my lifetime. Let's face it, these are incredibly expensive, astonishingly fast cars that require immense skills to drive. Nobody was ever going to let me drive one, and with good reason.

    My entire experience in racing consisted of a few karting sessions. I must admit that I absolutely love karting, but I have never been to a track event with a full size car, even though many of my car buddies race regularly.

    I had to wait six months for my F1 track day, but at last, the time came. We dropped the kids with relatives and headed to the airport. We flew to Nice in the south of France, rented a car and headed to our hotel. The next morning, Christine and I arrived early at the AGS Formule 1 Racing School at Circuit du Var in Gonfaron, France. I was a bit jetlagged and hadn't slept well the night before. I was also nervous about what to expect! We were greeted with coffee and croissants. The guests were asked to hang around in the lobby for a few minutes while the drivers headed to the locker room to get dressed.

    I headed back and found a beautiful upscale locker room, with lockers that looked more like fine cabinetry. There was a locker with my name on it. Inside was a driving suit, a pair of driving shoes, driving gloves and a balaclava. Above my locker on a shelf was a helmet. Since Christine had already given them my sizes when she reserved the event for me, everything fit perfectly. I changed into my race suit and emerged back into the lobby feeling every bit like Michael Schumacher—except without all the driving skills.

    (continued)
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  2. Birdman

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    #2 Birdman, Sep 2, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Next, we headed to a classroom for our first lesson of the day. Since the group of 19 people (quite a few I thought…many more than I was expecting) spoke many languages, the group was divided into several classrooms with instructors for each language. Just in this one day, the people were from France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Russia, and us, the only ones from the USA.

    So we headed to a classroom for the English speakers, of which technically I was the only one, however, since the Russian guy couldn't speak anything but Russian and had a guest with him who spoke English, they came with me. Needless to say, although they had instructors that spoke Italian, German, and French, they had nobody that spoke Russian or Czech.

    Our instructor, Stefan, with a thick French accent, asked if anyone in the room had any racing experience. When I mentioned karting, Stefan laughed. I thought that was odd since most of the F1 drivers get their start in karting, and many of them including Felipe Massa and others say that shifter karts are the best way to keep their reflexes sharp in the off season.

    Once we settled into the lecture, it became clear that Stefan was most concerned about teaching us about braking and weight transfer, particularly when the car was not going very fast and the aerodynamics weren't going to help with grip via downforce. The course was designed to help people who have never driven a race car of any kind manage to get a 650 HP Formula 1 car around a track without stuffing it into a guardrail or killing oneself. They didn't spend much time talking about cornering lines, but instead focused mostly on braking and shifting up to the corners, and getting through them smoothly. They were not teaching us how to lower our lap times, but how to lengthen our life span.

    Students can elect to drive a manual gearbox, or a paddle-shifted sequential gearbox. I was a bit surprised to learn that of the 19 people in the class, I was one of only two who had elected to drive a manual gearbox. Everyone else went for the F1 gearbox. So the manual gearbox guys were pulled aside later and given a bit of additional talk about shifting on the track. Essentially, they much prefer to put newbies like me in cars with a paddle shifter because it is much easier for the driver to just concentrate on the brakes and the steering, and just pull a paddle to change gears, rather than fuss with a clutch and having to work a shift lever.

    We learned that the gear pattern is the same as the one on my Ferrari 308, and now I know why. The pattern has Reverse and first gear on the far left top and bottom respectively so that 2,3,4 & 5 are in an H pattern. Since you never normally need first gear (except for starting off) or reverse on the track, that means that 2-5 (the gears you use) are in a nice neat bundle. If you ever wondered why Ferrari road cars have a weird shift pattern, that's why—it is adopted from racing.

    So after we completed our classroom work, we headed over to the track. We got a ride around the track in a van, where Stefan went over the cornering lines, braking points, and turn apexes. This helped familiarize us with the track. They placed cones in various spots on each corner to illustrate where we should brake, the apex point where we should switch from brake to gradual power, and the exit of the turn where we should be straightened out and hitting the gas.

    Finally, we pulled up in the pits. Sitting in front of us were all these nice little F3 Formula Opel cars! We would start out in F3 cars to learn the track and practice braking, as they are easier to drive and not as powerful. They have a Lotus chassis and a 2 liter Opel 4 cylinder engine. There are F1 and manual transmission versions of the car. They weigh 450 kg and make 180 HP. All have 5 speed transmissions.

    (Images below are shots of the different cars, the paddle-shifted ones are blue, the manual gearbox is red.)

    Continued....
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  3. Birdman

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    #3 Birdman, Sep 2, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    I was in the first group, so I was shown to my car, the only one with a manual gearbox, and climbed in with some assistance from one of the instructors. The cockpit was tiny. I could barely squeeze in, and once in there, they installed the steering wheel and I had just enough room for my hands on the wheel, plus some space to get to the gear shift lever! Then I was terrified to discover that I would be the first person on the track. Everyone would follow me. Total stress….I didn't want to be the guy to hold everyone up, and I was concerned that my manual gearbox skills would make me slow.

    The instructor stressed again that it is not a race. They do not collect or share any telemetry from the car including lap times, because they do not want to encourage racing, or trying to "one up" the next guy. They want everyone to go at a pace they are comfortable with, and no faster. Which was fine with me.

    I was at first a bit intimidated by the car. They put me in a race car and now I had to drive it! Anyway, as I sat there, baking in the sun, someone came over with an umbrella to keep me cool while another instructor and I discussed the controls (there aren't many! A steering wheel, a shift lever that is only about 4" long and the shape of the business end of a pool cue, a tach, an oil pressure light and guage, a starter button and an ignition switch). I played with the gear shifter for a while to get a feel for it. To get it into first, you have to push very hard to the left, up against your right leg, to overcome the spring tension that "locks out" first except in cases where you really know you want first. The lever only moves about 2" at the top when you shift from one gear to the next.

    Well, the moment of truth came. I was nervous, but excited! "OK, switch on the ignition." I was told. I switched it on. "Now don't forget the clutch." Check. "Neutral." Got it. "Start!" I pushed the starter button and the engine sprang to life. It had a deep throaty growl--a very nice sounding little 4 cylinder! I blipped the throttle a couple times just to get a feel for the throttle response. "Go!!!" my instructor yelled through the noise, making a gesture that looked like "There's the track, get out of here!" I wrestled it into first and gently feathered the clutch. All eyes were on me…I didn't want to screw it up. I'm the first guy starting an engine, the first guy getting on the track. I have 4 instructors, a ton of corner workers, two photographers, 18 other drivers and their wives/girlfriends and my own wife watching. Don't screw it up!

    I won't say it was exactly smooth, but I didn't stall the car, and I accelerated out onto the track. This car felt just like a big kart. More powerful by a long shot, but the direct and communicative steering with a quick steering ratio and amazing adhesion was kart-like. I immediately felt that my kart training was more than a little applicable to this car. I went down the straight from the pits and into the first turn, which is a hairpin. I was taking it easy, so of course was going way slower than I should have been hitting this turn. I continued to explore the feel of the car the rest of the way around the track, until I reached the straight again.

    (continued)
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  4. Birdman

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    For the first 5 laps, they had set up a braking "obstacle course" on the straight. We would each come out of the last corner before the straight, blast as fast as we could up to 5th gear, and then we would pass a set of double cones, about halfway down the straight. At this point, we would brake hard but smoothly, gently reducing pedal effort to keep the car from losing grip but maintaining a fierce deceleration until we hit the second set of cones, where we would down shift from 5-4-3-2 in sequence (no skipping gears). We should be in second just as we hit the third set of cones, and then accelerate back to as fast as possible before the hairpin at the end of the straight where we would again brake.

    The point of this exercise is to practice aggressive braking in a place where we will not crash if we blow it and lock a wheel (such as a corner). I found this exercise difficult not because of the braking, but because I didn't have the balls to take the car to 5th gear, pedal to the medal and then stand on the brakes. I needed a few laps to get a little more faith in the car, the brakes, the tires and mostly myself. By the fourth and fifth lap I was doing it pretty well, and pretty happy with myself. In fact, I thought I kicked butt. Then it was time to come in to the pits for the instructors to tell us how we faired.

    On the plus side, Stefan said my lines through the corners were excellent and my control of the car was very good. However, he said I was braking way too early, and also downshifting way too early, so that the brakes were not doing enough of the braking. "Stop wiz zee brakes, go with zee gas." He told me. My right foot should only be in one of two places: on the gas or on the brake. No coasting! I needed to be much more aware of where I was shifting the weight of the car in the turns to prevent understeer or oversteer. Basically, I had to get over my fear of driving full speed up to the braking point, and then do some serious braking and downshifting ASAP. I was braking too soon, downshifting too soon, then coasting into the corner too much with the engine braking, which is bad for several reasons, but the most important one being that it's not shifting enough weight to the front wheels to prevent understeer. In a higher-speed corner you can count on some traction in the front from downforce provided by the front spoiler. At low speed, forget it. This is one of the reasons that crashes & spins in these cars often happen in the slow corners.

    The guys in the paddle shifters had a much easier time. Just a few pulls on the paddles and the transmission was right where it should be. No fancy footwork required. But I had to wrestle with a shifter that didn't always want to go into gear, (or that I was not pushing in the exact right direction) plus use the clutch. Heel and Toe? Forget it, I didn't have the skills for it yet. Still, I wouldn't have had it any other way. This is real driving, not a video game! Paddles are for girlie men.

    Anyway, we went back out for the second track session. This time it was open track practice, 10 laps, let 'er rip and get the feel of the car and the track. I personally felt that this was not enough time. They only had one area on the track set aside for passing. It was restricted to pass anywhere except when instructed to do so with the blue flag. If they saw a whole line of cars bunched up behind one guy, they blue-flagged him, then the cars would pass. Well, if you happened to be fast enough to lap the field and ended up at the back of 3 slow cars, it took an entire lap to pass each car as they blue flagged them one at a time on each lap. So I got stuck going incredibly slow for a while (I actually had to put it in FIRST gear to keep from stalling the engine at one point). Then when I was finally out from behind all these guys on a Sunday drive, someone spun. Red flag, stop everything. We got going again, someone crashed. Stop everything. We got going again, and someone's paddle shifter conked out and he was dead in the water in the middle of the track. Red flag, stop everything again. By the time my session was over, I had spent more time sitting still than driving and I had only completed 2 laps out of a total of 15 without an obstruction or red flag. Needless to say, I did not feel that I got enough F3 experience, certainly not enough to prepare me to drive an F1 on this track.

    As I got out of the car back in the pits, a second group was preparing to go out. Since there were 19 drivers, they put us in 4 groups. At the rate we were going, this was going to take a while. My session was over at 10 AM. Christine and I stood around watching and taking pictures for several hours until lunch. We all went and had lunch together at a nice restaurant at the track (included in the price of the experience), but after lunch we realized that there was one more group that needed to do their F3 training….so more sitting around, drinking water and waiting. Meanwhile we were re all wearing Nomex suits in the blazing south France sunshine (85 degrees) sweating our butts off. We can't easily change out of them because the locker room is way back at the AGS building on the other side of the track. I wish the staff had been more communicative about what was going on, because we spent most of the day wondering what was next and how long was it going to take. I guess when you have 7 languages being spoken, you can't expect precision communication, but if I had known at 10 AM when I got out of the F3 car that I wasn't going to see the cockpit of an F1 car until 5 PM, I would have changed into shorts for a few hours.

    (continued)
     
  5. Birdman

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    #5 Birdman, Sep 2, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Around 2:30 PM they at last started putting drivers in the F1 cars. They rolled them out—2 paddle shiftered SH2002s for the majority of the people, and a manual gearbox JH24 for me and the other brave soul. The AGS JH24s were raced in the points in the 1991 F1 season, powered by a Ford Cosworth 3.5L V-8 making 650 HP at 11,000 RPM. The chassis was made by AGS which was a manufacturer in F1 back then. They eventually closed up shop and started a school rather than continue to race in F1. The paddle-shifted SH2002 has a chassis also made by AGS and the same Cosworth engine, but with a paddle-shifted gearbox. These cars were built in 2002 strictly for instruction and were never campaigned in actual racing. Just to compare to the F3…these F1 cars weigh 600 Kg and have 650 HP. "More horsepower than weight." Stefan pointed out. The F3 was already staggeringly fast at 450 Kg and only 180 HP. Scary.

    I was told that the paddle shifter guys were going to head out on the track first, and the two guys driving manual gearboxes were slotted for #18 and #19. Ugh. It was going to be a while. On the plus side, I didn't have to go first! Unlike the F3 session, each F1 driver would have the entire track to himself for his laps. You could have as many laps as you paid in advance for. You got 3 laps with the course. But at about $150 for each additional lap, you could have as many as you wanted. One guy bought 15. Most of the rest of us, with more limited bank accounts, settled for 4-8 laps. The course was already nearly $3,000 plus airfare to France, so this isn't exactly cheap!

    We sat down with Stefan to discuss driving. He said I had improved my braking but it could still be better. I was a bit bummed but once I heard all the criticism he was doling out upon my cohorts, I no longer felt bad at all. I sucked--but not as much as them. Still, with no lap times being recorded, everyone seems fast and there is no clock to tell us otherwise, so you'll have to trust me.

    We were told that there would be no excuse for a spin. If we spin, we are done. Period. Do not crash the car. Stefan explained that we are not racing, nobody wins, there are no lap times or bragging rights. Bragging rights come from not crashing the car.

    "You came here to live a dream to drive an F1 car. If you crash, you failed. If you don't crash, you have succeeded. Try not to fail. And please don't destroy our cars—they are expensive." OK, a little pressure just to help me not stress out. That's why I bought the most comprehensive insurance plan they offered!

    We discussed that the first lap had to be an organized attempt at heating the brakes. The F1 cars all have carbon ceramic brakes and they just don't work well until they are hot. My first lap had to be fast enough to heat the brakes, but not too fast because they were not up to temperature and would require enormous pedal effort to get them to do anything.

    We also discussed the steps we would take to get the F1 cars off the line. Even the paddle shift gearbox drivers need to use a clutch for launch, so everyone has to get the car moving from a start by slipping the clutch a LOT and there is a good trick to learning.

    We would get in the car with the engine off and our helmet off so we can hear the instructor. Next, we would put the car in gear and push the clutch pedal down. Now the instructor would rock the car gently back and forth while we would slowly disengage the clutch. He would feel how the car responded and tell us if we were releasing too fast. Because the F1 car has a small diameter, lightweight multi-disk clutch unit which has a bit of a "hair trigger" it grabs quickly, and releases quickly. During shifting on the track "eet ees no problem" as Stefan put it, but getting off the line can be tricky. This method of learning the feel of the clutch with a non-running engine was very helpful. Out of 19 people, only 3 or 4 stalled the car on launch, which surprised me greatly.

    Stefan gave us an analogy on what it is like to slip the clutch on an F1 car for launch. He said to imagine you are starting off in your street car pointed up a hill--except your car is in third gear. In the snow. Pulling a trailer. You need good technique.
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  6. Birdman

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    When it was my turn to drive, they came an got me. "Jonathan, you ready? You're up!" My heart started to pound. I'm a fairly confident guy who is not one to turn away from a challenge, but I was really nervous. I didn't want to stall it or crash or spin and look stupid. I wanted to have fun of course, but mostly I wanted to impress my instructor that I had learned something. The instructors had spent the whole day warning us about the power of these cars, how easy they are to spin, especially at low speed, and training us to deal with the car in the low speed turns where they are most vulnerable. ("Anyone can go fast." Stefan told us. "My mother can go 200 km/h on the autobahn with a coffee in one hand. The challenge is in braking and turning.") It was time for me to take this knowledge and drive the car. My heart was pounding in my chest.

    I climbed into the car and waited while they adjusted the seat for me and helped me put my 5 point belt on. Next, I pushed the clutch and put it in second gear to learn the clutch take up and release. We worked it for a few minutes until my leg was getting tired. It was the stiffest clutch pedal of my life. I thought my carb 308 had a stiff clutch, holy cow, this thing was amazing. I could do a whole workout regimen on this pedal.

    I practiced with the gear lever. It was much easier and more positive-engaging than the F3 transmission. I felt that it would be no problem for me to handle. The car in front of me passed the checkered flag, and had just one lap left. So they were ready to launch me. By the time I was on the track, the other car would be done and the track would be all mine. The pit mechanic gave me the clutch hand signal. I pushed the clutch. He gave me the ignition sign, and I flipped the toggle switch on the dash for the ignition. I heard the whine of the fuel pump. Another guy hooked the air starter to the back of the car. They have a starter that is like a big air wrench run off a scuba tank that spins the engine since there is no on-board starter motor. The car sprang to life with a roar that made the F3 car sound like a lawnmower. Since these Cosworth engines redline at 11,000 RPM, they do not have the almost 2-stroke sound of the 19,000 RPM F1 machines of today, but they do make a lovely roar!

    Next, I was instructed to place the car in gear. (I was still holding the clutch pedal down from before the engine start). He gave me the sign to add throttle. We were instructed "no blipping the throttle! Use a steady even pedal pressure to put the engine at about 5,000-6,000 RPM. He motioned for more throttle and when I had it about right, he made another hand movement telling me to release the clutch. Ever so slowly, millimeters at a time, I allowed the tightly-sprung pedal to push my leg up. The car started rolling. We were told to keep the RPMs up, keep slipping the clutch for a hundred yards….don't pop it once it starts to move. I kept adding a little throttle to hold 6K, kept letting up on it and soon I was off and out of the pit lane. No stall! No problem! I had about 1/3 of the straight to get some speed to start warming the brakes so I gently punched it!

    Holy crap.

    It was like I had a couple of solid rocket boosters from the space shuttle strapped onto the side of this thing. I've been in some fast cars, but nothing has ever approached this. This car could scare the living **** out of Satan himself.

    I upshifted to second (no problem!) then third. Now the world was going by at a speed which made it unintelligible to anything human. So this is what it's like to go supersonic! I'm going to die.

    Before I knew it, there was my rapidly-approaching braking point at the hair pin. Wow, this car actually goes faster than my brain. What exactly does one do here? I know I have trained for it all day, but at the moment my brain is having a coffee break. Brakes! Right!! Brakes! Use the brakes or you are going to break something for sure. The pedal in the middle. Hit it…not too hard, don't upset the car. I pressed the brakes as instructed. Hmm….car is still going fast. Press harder. Now imagine a shop vac hooked up to your eye sockets. Apparently the brakes are just fine when they are cold, at least for my level of driving.

    After I smoothly steered that bad boy through the hairpin (OK, I actually went through a little slower than my daughter would do it on a bicycle) I hit the gas again and shifted through the gears. The car had incredible power. I realized that I could put my foot in it at anytime and spin the car. Stefan stressed again and again smoothly rolling on the gas, don't hit it hard until you are at the exit point and the front wheels are straight or the car will spin. I was terrified of this beast, which is exactly how he (and my wife) wanted it.

    The reality is that if you have a measure of self-control and a basic understanding of the car's dynamics, it was not a hard car to drive at a reasonably fast pace. Those last few tenths though—watch out. For me, the most difficult part was shifting gears in the right place. I can see why the paddle shifter is a lot easier for most people because it takes less effort and concentration to shift. But there is a down side. I noticed that most people just loved pulling on those paddles and they shifted way too early most of the time. They never got the car into the powerband, but I'll talk about that in a minute.

    I took it easy around the whole track but on the other hairpin, right before the straight, I knew my instructor would be watching for bad braking behavior. I came over the rise in fourth (a gear lower than I should, but hey, give me a break it was my first lap) and there he was, watching like a hawk. I kept my foot in it right up until the last minute. Don't brake….not yet……hold….hold…

    You know that battlefield scene in Braveheart where the William Wallace's men are taunting the English by mooning them? Then the English dudes come running down the field of battle and the Scots are just standing there with Wallace going "hold…hold…." And you are thinking "For God's sake man, put up the spears before those guys get there!!!!" Yeah, well that was me approaching the turn. I was determined not to take my foot off the gas until I hit that magic braking point as designated by the cone placed there by my instructor. And I was damned if I was going to shift too early. And you won't believe it. I nailed it. I got a thumbs up from Stefan. So, now I was all happy with myself, and figured I was the second coming of Schumacher. So I came out of the turn, straightened it out at the exit and hammered it. I had the whole straight to rip through the gears with nobody in my way. I stomped it in second, shifted a little early because it hits the rev limiter quickly in second. Then I really wound it out in third and I discovered something else.

    Do you know that scene in Star Wars where they go into hyperspace for the first time in the Millenium Falcon? You know, R2D2 lets out a yelp and goes flying across the room, all the stars turn into blurs and the ship vanishes. Yeah, that was me. When the car hit its powerband around 9 K, it jumped out from under me like someone just pushed the nitrous button. The trees blurred. I squinted. And I might have let out a scream. I upshifted. Upshifted again. OHMYFREAKINGODIMGOINGTODIE!!!!!!

    Actually, I didn't have near enough time to say that. I wet my pants instead. Well, not really because I didn't have time for that either. I was rapidly approaching that other hairpin, but this time I wasn't in third coming from the pits, I was in 5th at 150 MPH. I pressed the brakes. This time they were hot. I can now verify something that Stefan told me.

    "Zee car can go from 0 to 200 KM/h in 7 seconds, and zees ees very eempreseeve, but it can go from 200 KM/H to 0 in 4 seconds, and zees ees much more eempresseeve."

    Yes, I can agree with that. I was impressed. Impressed not only that I survived it, but that I made the corner in the right gear. I'm still not sure how that happened since I have no memory of it whatsoever.

    So I did my 4 laps, getting better and better on each lap, yet got off the track before I got just good enough to be dangerous. I pulled into the pit lane, cruised slowly down to the pits, shut the car down as we were instructed and coasted to a stop out of the way of other cars being prepped. Christine came over to ask how it was and as I removed my helmet I was not surprised to realize that I had tears in my eyes because I had not just lived a dream but driven faster than I ever have and probably ever will again. It was quite simply religious.

    I chose my words carefully, because few words can describe an awesome, mind-altering, life changing experience like that.

    "That was absolutely f*cking awesome!" was all I could manage. I might also have said something about Kimi is going to be out of a job next season or something, but that was just the adrenalin talking.

    Another driver asked me what I thought of the course and asked if I would recommend it to a friend, given how expensive it is. Of course, anyone that loves F1 who can scrape up the money would not for a moment think that this wasn't an incredible experience and worth every cent. I'm currently trying to figure out how I can go back and do it again. With more laps.

    I understand that the goals of the staff are to get you around the track in an F1 without killing yourself or breaking their car, and they are very good at it. But as a driving course, it left a bit to be desired. I would have preferred twice as many laps in the F3 cars to be more prepared, and two sessions in the F1, even if they are only a few laps each, to get some coaching in between. I also think they crammed WAY too many people into the course. I expected maybe 6-8 people maximum. Imagine my surprise when there were 19. It made for a slow day with a lot of waiting. It's not like there were 19 people on the track at once, but we did a lot more watching than driving.

    Nitpicks aside, it was simply amazing. Yeah, I bought the $100 photo package where they sell the dumb tourist a CD full of images of you driving. How cool is that though?? I have pictures of myself ripping up the tarmac in a Formula 1 car.

    And lets face it, it's all about the bragging rights. Imagine the stories I can tell at parties now. Have you driven an F1 car? Well I have, and let me tell you….!!
     

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  8. Birdman

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    #7 Birdman, Sep 2, 2008
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  9. junglistluder

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    that was the coolest story i've read in a long time! i'm soooo jealous!! :)
     
  10. Aaya

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    Jul 12, 2007
    8,088
    Nice writeup. I wonder if they have a return course for people like who have gone once. One with less orientation and more in depth instruction/driving time.
     
  11. darth550

    darth550 Five Time F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa

    Jul 14, 2003
    56,578
    With Stu
    Full Name:
    St Mark
    Great story! Thanks for sharing! :):)
     
  12. Sieze Giorno

    Sieze Giorno Formula Junior

    Jun 5, 2005
    546
    Florida
    Awsome! Great story telling as well. I almost felt I was there except for the 'hyperspace' :)
    Thanks for sharing!
     
  13. Nicke

    Nicke Formula Junior

    Jan 8, 2005
    524
    Hellsinki
    Full Name:
    Nicke Forsell
    +1
     
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  15. kraftwerk

    kraftwerk Two Time F1 World Champ

    May 12, 2007
    26,030
    England North West
    Full Name:
    Steve
    Great read, great post and funny.. ta !!
     
  16. Far Out

    Far Out F1 Veteran
    Silver Subscribed

    Feb 18, 2007
    9,717
    Stuttgart, Germany
    Full Name:
    Florian
    Fantastic story! But what happens if you really crash a car? Is there a "you crash it, you pay it" policy?
     
  17. davebdave

    davebdave Formula 3
    Silver Subscribed Owner

    Mar 18, 2007
    2,325
    Northern VA
    Full Name:
    Dave W
    WoW! You have to submit that to Road and Track or something! And your wife! You luckey SOB!
    Thanks for posting, Dave
     
  18. speedy_sam

    speedy_sam F1 Veteran

    Jul 13, 2004
    5,542
    TX
    Full Name:
    Sameer
    Fantastic story!! I drove the F1 car vicariously through you!
     
  19. Remy Zero

    Remy Zero Two Time F1 World Champ

    Apr 26, 2005
    21,240
    KL, Malaysia
    Full Name:
    MC Cool Breeze
    wow..thats a really nice story. i do hope i'll get a wife like yours someday :)
     
  20. jimangle

    jimangle Formula 3

    Nov 5, 2003
    2,425
    Haverford
    Full Name:
    Jim
    That's really great Birdman! I was looking into doing something like that. This really helps me out.

    Jim
     
  21. Birdman

    Birdman F1 Veteran
    Rossa Subscribed

    Jun 20, 2003
    6,682
    North shore, MA
    Full Name:
    THE Birdman
    Thanks everyone for the comments. It was fun to do and almost as fun to write about!

    As for crashing, they have a couple levels of insurance. You MUST buy insurance from them. The most comprehensive policy (which I bought) has a 500 Euro deductible. You crash the car, you pay 500 Euros and walk away. They have less expensive policies with higher deductibles. I forget what we paid for the insurance...I think about 300 Euros. Worth it for the peace of mind.

    Birdman
     
  22. Bas Jaski

    Bas Jaski Two Time F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed

    Mar 24, 2008
    23,523
    UK
    Full Name:
    Bas
    awesome, awesome, awesome!

    excellent writing skills also!

    question: do they have a height limit? cant find anything on the website...Very interested to do this some time, south of france is pretty much round the corner from me!
     
  23. Ferrarista3

    Ferrarista3 F1 Rookie

    Oct 30, 2007
    4,530
    MC/UK
    Full Name:
    Carlo
    Awesome story!! Thanks for sharing :)
     
  24. 308 GTB

    308 GTB F1 Veteran
    Rossa Subscribed

    Feb 7, 2002
    8,659
    New Jersey
    Full Name:
    Barry Wolinsky
    C'est magnifique!
     
  25. Ferranki

    Ferranki Formula Junior
    Rossa Subscribed

    Mar 9, 2007
    762
    Buffalo NY
    Full Name:
    Ken
    Great read!
     
  26. JTR

    JTR Formula 3
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Apr 26, 2005
    1,501
    in a house
    Full Name:
    John
    Excellent story, and a great write-up!
    What a wonderful experience that must have been! You’re one Lucky guy!

    A friend did a similar F1 drive in Las Vegas, for those that don’t want to travel to France.

    Thanks for sharing your adventure!
    John
     
  27. dwhite

    dwhite F1 Rookie

    Jon, Great story. Sounds like you will be the guy to beat in the rematch at Montreal next year. ;-)
     

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