“I was very very careful on ice”
Iget asked to do a lot of exciting things with Renault each year, but when somebody called and asked if I would like to drive two stages of the Monte Carlo Rally… this was definitely the best thing the Formula 1 team could ask the son of a World Rally champion.
That’s how I ended up at the start of the Col de Turini and Col de Braus stages in a New Megane R.S. on Sunday.
And I loved it. It was dream come true to drive over the Turini with three or four kilometres of ice – as you can imagine, my dad has told me so many stories and there are so many anecdotes about these stages so to be there was so special.
I’ve been really busy with training for the new season recently and only flew in early in the morning, so I couldn’t do a recce of the stages. I talked to my co-driver earlier in the week and I told him just to grade the notes quite simply: we had one to six for the speed, with six being the fastest. Then he gave me the distances between each [corner] and the places where you need to sacrifice one corner for the other. Most especially he told me the areas with the ice and gravel – there was a lot of gravel in the powerstage.
This was a lot to take in at the start, but as I got to know the pacenotes, all of a sudden I started to feel more together and I could push a bit more – but only when it was dry and I was confident of the grip.
Before I came here, my dad asked me about 100 times to be careful. It was not a day to try something special and to do something special without proper preparation.
My dad prepares everything in detail and I would have loved to come here two days in advance to put into practice all his tips about how to prepare a stage. That would had given me even more confidence with the new Renault Megane RS, but today was all about enjoying.
Coming up the hill on the Turini stage, I was looking and waiting, then my co-driver said: “The col is coming,” and we came through the right and left and over the top: there it was. So many memories came to my mind when we came into this place. The atmosphere was incredible, but it was hard to take it all in. I slowed down over the top, but this was because of the ice. I tried a couple of times the brake to feel the car.
The conditions from there down the hill to the finish of that stage were so slippery and really tricky. There were a couple of kink corners, as we call them on circuits, where it was difficult to keep the foot down. I had the winter tyre, but I didn’t have the stud, which is why in the ice I was very steady!
I’d never driven the new Renault Megane R.S. before, but I’m so impressed – it has so much power and drives really nicely.
Being in Monaco without the GP was strange, but it was an amazing atmosphere on probably the best rally in the world.