I’m already through the tight first hairpin, the Third gear sphincter-tightening blind left that can take Fourth, but gets Third, and down the hill. There’s no speedo, just the rev counter and shift lights, I just know it’s hellish fast.
I am still swearing, laughing, wincing and almost crying, all at the same time, the jumble of emotions, the sheer overload of power. And then, as I head into the final sequence of bends on the 4.3km course comes the tragic dawning realization: I’ve got just one lap left.
The sad fact is you only get two laps of the 4.3km Hungaroring in the F1 car. That’s four minutes of the wildest fun you’ll have in your life. Renault admits it’s partially to safeguard the car. Given 10 laps, some would find false confidence and plant the car in the wall. And while even two laps takes a physical toll, 10 would apparently rip our puny necks to shreds.
So I have two minutes left and as I round the final corner, a mental flick switches. So I try to take the car by the balls, plant the throttle, attack the main straight and drink in the noise as that buzzsaw of an engine climbs to 12,000 rpm and threatens to burst an eardrum.
Then I stamp on the brakes, blip down three gears and go for it, the car even moves at the rear on the slowest bends and I feel like a hero, for a fleeting second at least.
It’s the brakes that truly blow my mind, as I slam on the anchors at the end of the Hungaroring’s straight and 170 mph becomes 50 as my eyeballs make a leap for my visor, my internal organs try to meet the six-point harness and the g-force tries to snap my neck before I hit the apex and the 700hp V10 seemingly strapped to my back fires me towards the next bend.
Before I know it I’m being shepherded into the pit lane and the game is over. There is just one further ego crushing moment as we head out for a passenger ride in the three seater and find out just how feeble our best efforts were. I’m humbled, knowing that I used 60 percent of the car’s skills, possibly less. But I don’t care. It was the greatest drive that money can buy and the chance to be an F1 driver, if just for a few minutes.
And that is a truly priceless thing.
The power, steering, everything are completely overwhelming and I forget about racing lines, braking points, even breathing.
Formula One Renault
Power: 700 hp @ 12,000 rpm
Torque: 400 lb-ft @ 9000 rpm
0-60 mph: 3 sec.
Top Speed: 183 mph