Driving an F1 car

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I couldn’t keep my feet on the ground when I was informed that Renault had chosen me to be their celebrity invitee to test-drive their Formula 1 car. I’ve been a motoring enthusiast for as long as I have been able to drive legally, but to really be given this once in a life time opportunity was something I was not going to miss, come what may.

I finished shooting in London with Vinay Pathak for Parvati Balagopalan’s “Straight” and flew to Paris, and then from there to Marseille. From Marseille the track where the drive was going to happen, Le Castellet, was an hour away. Finally I reached the hotel and after an early dinner went to my room to crash out. But the excitement just didn’t let me sleep. I finally got out of bed, had a shower and was ready 2 hours before the designated departure from the hotel at 7 AM. The weather forecast predicted rain and a temperature of 4 Degrees. Luckily the day dawned fairly clear. Went to the training facility at the track and had some basic medical tests done. And finally on to the safety briefing. Before I knew it, I was being ushered towards the place where the car was parked. It looked beautiful. And so powerful. 580 kgs propelled by a V8 engine giving out 700BHP. Phew. I was beginning to get just a little nervous.

Next thing I knew I was in the car. I started the engine. The sound produced was like music to my ears. So loud. I started rolling out of the pit. And then I stepped on it. The responsiveness of the engine was overwhelming and the pick up knocked the wind out of me. I did a total of 9 laps over the course of that day. The track was very curvy with only a 400 meter straight stretch, but still managed to touch 180km/h. And I can say in all honesty, that nothing in the world could possibly have prepared me for what I was going to experience. Nothing. This day was clearly one of the most memorable days for me and it was definitely the experience of a lifetime.

For more on the Renault Formula 1 experience this do check out my piece in the next issue of Auto India.
Until next time.

29 Comments on “Driving an F1 car”

  1. Sharin

    Triptronic engines fully revved up…………….a drive down the lane Im sure was worth the while………………:-) keep blogging…..

  2. Anderson

    awesome experience i must saw….. was near an F1 car myself (though I didn’t get to sit in it) & must saw it’s am experience worth having….

    nice pics…. waiting to hear more from you… (mayb in your next blog)…


  3. Karthikeyan

    One small mistake. It shud be driving “an” F1 car and not driving “a” F1 car. any word starting with a vowellic sound (try the hindi vowels instead) will go with an and not a.

  4. Thejesh GN

    Driving an still remains my dream. Congrats.
    Keep blogging ( came here through a friends tweet).

  5. wanderlust

    Hi Gul….
    Really loved your work in Dor. Wasn’t aware that you were enthusiastic about writing as well. Good to have some thinking actresses at least !!
    Keep up the great work. F1 must have been a grand experience surely.
    All the best to you.

  6. Navdeep

    Hiya Gul,
    Am mega envious of your F1 experience. Next year, an F 16!!!

  7. Veetrag

    A pleasant surprise to find you in blogosphere, usually Indian celebrities are not much fond of cyberspace.

    Driving a F1 car is greater surprise. Way to go πŸ™‚

  8. Sathya

    Awesome!!! Brilliant experience you must have had…. Me hoping to get a moto gp bike ride sometime…

    But like in one of those songs…”khwab tho bas khwab hotein hai”


  9. Terry


    You are now among the very select few that have ever driven an F1 car; considered to be the ultimate race machine. Not even Danica Patrick has gotten the chance to do so.

    Best wishes

  10. dneo

    Hi Gul, my name is Dinesh (like being called dinu/dneo); i just happened to know about ur site by chance and wow i must say i was enthralled by the website.
    Reading your blogs i must say it was an Awesome experience for me as a reader and also as a fan of urs πŸ™‚ and m sure u must be having a wonderful experience in sharing ur thoughts (being good at speaking ur mind)
    and also CONGRATULATIONS! for being able to get into F1 (d ultimate race car)
    my sincere wishes for the days ahead….and as they say “may the force be with you”

  11. Kedar

    Hi Gul
    That should have been an awesome experience !!
    Gosh An F1 car with Gul Panag in it two most beautiful sights in the world at the same place!!

  12. Dinesh

    Hello Gul,
    i guess my earlier post dint get moderated for some reason; anyways all i would say is thanks for sharing ur expes with us and congratulations for the F1 exp!

  13. Anderson

    hii Gul,

    I m sure it must have been an awesome experience drivin an F1 car… i just read my earlier comments & i realized i made some stupid spellin mistakes….. feel like kickin myself for it….. (mayb da excitement of writin a comment 2 u got da better of me πŸ˜‰ )

    nyways…. gud 2 c u views online…. lookin forwards 2 more… πŸ˜‰


  14. Sajesh

    Wow!!.. driving an F1 car..!! :)..

    found this site on Google.. i am bookmarking it..

    do post regularly..

  15. sunny

    hi gul,
    would love to do a movie with u ! U have to help me in all regards
    like getting a producer(u can do with ur contacts),aspiring director to work for us for less, ur friends in industry to work with us and then i will choose the script from best of directors(bengal directors are cheap n best) , our movie will be a dream movie coz we will do it for our satisfaction . can be movie for a cause (can contact microsoft foundation or indian govt …i know ur dad knows everybody ….lol ) and i guess dating you would be most intresting exp …no? and i would love if u walk into my locality non-chalantly talking to me and me the busy guy trying to concentrate on my mobile , my friends would commit suicide , lol. but i must tell you ..for me u are a actress working hard in competitive industry.he he u must be thinking i am ur great admirer and mad abt u ….u r wrong …i am just checking if u will be replying to your blog or just its a me too idea u stole from bipasha…lol bye take care …..

  16. Gul Panag

    Nice try:-) For starters , I have been writing for a very long time(the blog may be a new addition); I wrote for Hindustan Times for 3 years before moving to bombay. And as for stealing, thank you for enlighteneing me about Bipasha’s site. Very well made I must say.
    And lastly about replying, well since i do reply myself, it some times takes a while as I have to fit it in to my work and travelling, but reply i do.

    As regard to what you wrote ( in light of your “checking”) I am not sure what was heartfelt and what was sarcastic. But I appreciate your taking time to write and thank you if what was meant to be flattering was genuine.

  17. Bhavanjot Singh

    Hahaha nice! You are one lucky chica, i must say!

  18. Very Old Friend

    Hmmm… i guess the right words are … I AM JELOUS !!!!! i’m talking about driving the car of course. I’m more of a ferrari fan myself but hey…. beggers can’t be choosers.

    First time to your site by the way… like the black… well done.

  19. Daljit

    Hi Gul saw the renualt test drive on TV i have driven a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti owned by my friend in Spain . It was an awesome experience i can understand what you would have felt . I had touched 220KMPH the sound is awesome music to hears πŸ™‚

    It was a life time experience.
    Cheers keep writing and one last thing you are awesome.
    Chao Mate

  20. devendras

    great experience that must be, good waiting to see your review in the next auto car perhaps.

  21. Prashant


    you look beautiful in that suite..
    I can feel what it would be to ride on a monster……….

  22. kader

    F1 car & you, Both are sexy,in the bolly wood i never seen a hottest lady like you

  23. rashpal

    Congrats Gul,

    The F1 Car test Drive by you must be the out of the World Experience.
    The joy on your dimpled face is visible in all the scans. You are very adventure savvy. Like everything you do boldly and it shows the Indian Women has arrived on World Scene. I want to see more of you on the silver screen.

    Bye for now


  24. mehul sah

    hi….just felt like giving out some info abt F1….

    Formula One, abbreviated to F1, is the highest class of open wheeled auto racing defined by the FΓ©dΓ©ration Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), motorsport’s world governing body. The “formula” in the name refers to a set of rules to which all participants and cars must conform. The F1 world championship season consists of a series of races, known as Grands Prix, held usually on purpose-built circuits, and in a few cases on closed city streets, the most famous of which is the Monaco Grand Prix in Monte Carlo. The results of each race are combined to determine two annual World Championships, one for drivers and one for constructors.

    Formula One cars race at high speeds, up to 360 km/h (225 mph) with the engine revving up to 19000 RPM. The cars are capable of pulling 5g in some corners. The performance of the cars is highly dependent on electronics, aerodynamics, suspension and tyres. The engine and transmission of a modern Formula One car are some of the most highly stressed pieces of machinery on the planet. The formula has seen many evolutions and changes through the history of the sport.

    Europe is Formula One’s traditional centre; all of the teams are based there and around half the races take place there. In particular the United Kingdom has produced the most Drivers’ Champions (12), and the vast majority of Constructors’ Champions (32). However, the sport’s scope has expanded significantly in recent years and Grands Prix are now held all over the world. Events in Europe and the Americas have been dropped in favour of races in Bahrain, China, Malaysia and Turkey, with Singapore having held the first night race in 2008 and India being added to the schedule starting in 2011. Of the eighteen races in 2008, nine are outside Europe.

    Formula One is a massive television event, with millions of people watching each race worldwide. As the world’s most expensive sport, its economic effect is significant, and its financial and political battles are widely observed. On average about 55 million people all over the world watch Formula One races live. Its high profile and popularity makes it an obvious merchandising environment, which leads to very high investments from sponsors, translating into extremely high budgets for the constructor teams. Several teams have gone bankrupt or been bought out by other companies since 2000. The most recent example of this was the Super Aguri team being denied entry to the Spanish Grand Prix and then folding due to lack of funds after an attempt at gaining sponsorship collapsed.

    The sport is regulated by the FIA. Formula One’s commercial rights are vested in the Formula One Group.

  25. Dev

    I can understand how lucky that F1 car would have felt to have you in it…. πŸ™‚

  26. Cyn1c

    Thanks for sharing your experience up in here. It only brings me closer to asphalt. Nice pics too.

    SR20 Manifold

  27. Mitesh Ashar

    This is AWESOME!
    Thats like just getting admission into the elite group of people who have driven the beast.

  28. Satyaveer

    u drove an F1 car and u still alive!!! cant believe that…

    its my dream to drive one… but I guess i have not been fortuante enough coz the day i have such an experience.. nothing more would be left to be achieved … nothing more…

    lucky u!!!

  29. Ajith

    Wow!! F1 car .. I wish πŸ˜‰

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