Total, the Renault F1 team and the HandiCapZéro association joined forces to organize the Feel It-HandiCapZéro program for the visually impaired, the first of its kind in Formula 1 history. After five months of planning, the program culminated in a unique one-day experience at the renowned Hungaroring F1 circuit near Budapest.
At 8:00 a.m. on June 8, the 21 visually impaired participants arrived at the circuit to kick off an excitement-packed marathon of a day.
Their first stop was the locker room, where they slipped into the standard professional gear, just like real Formula 1 drivers. Then they were given a mandatory briefing, before embarking on a series of classroom workshops tailored to their special needs. To start with, the participants were invited to touch and trace a model of the circuit to familiarize themselves with it as much as possible and learn where to anticipate corners.
Then they joined a team of engineers and physiotherapists for an introductory course on telemetry and the physical stresses that F1 drivers have to reckon with on the racetrack.
The would-be drivers were then gradually allowed to get a more practical feel for the realities of racing. Sitting in the bucket seat of an actual Formula 1 car, they put their feet to the pedals and hands on the steering wheel and generally got to know the single-seater.
For a truly comprehensive racetrack experience, they even participated in a pit-stop workshop that had them slip into the role of a race mechanic. Their challenge was to change a wheel under Grand Prix conditions — in other words, in record time.
After a few laps to get used to the track in a Clio Sport and a Megan Trophy, it was finally time for the most highly anticipated part of the Feel It experience. Thrilled but nervous, the participants climbed into the cockpit of a Formula 1 racecar to go for a ride and, with that, their dreams became reality.
In the end, the participants came away from the experience with unforgettable memories of the intense sensations and emotions they experienced on this special day.
“We knew it was going to be an amazing day, and it was,” said Denis Brunel, Executive Director of HandiCapZéro, “but it far exceeded any of our expectations, for two reasons. One, we got to enjoy an incredible moment in the cars and, two, we also got to benefit from the hospitality, generosity, kindness, professionalism and commitment of the people who are here and who made us feel welcome with their big-hearted enthusiasm, which was just about the best part of the whole day.”