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Interview Stéphane De Groodt, the “realis-actor” at the wheel of an F1!

Interview Stéphane De Groodt, the “realis-actor” at the wheel of an F1!

Interview Stéphane De Groodt, the “realis-actor” at the wheel of an F1!

Its preparation

“First, I did the simulator at Enstone, the team’s English base, to familiarize myself with Monza. An experience that I moderately appreciated, I am not from that generation. Subsequently, I also went to Le Castellet to first drive an F4 there (the most basic single-seater used by young drivers after karting, Editor’s note) then a very powerful, very violent and very noisy. Which allowed me to be less lost when I put my butt in this Alpine A521 which allowed Esteban Ocon to win the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix.

On September 14, a few days after the Italian F1 Grand Prix at Monza, Belgian actor Stéphane De Groodt was able to take the wheel of an Alpine F1. He tells us…

But how did you end up driving this bomb?

It started off on a whim. When I made the first contacts with the people of Alpine to take part in events of their promotional cup in the A110 Cup, they said to me: “If you have other ideas, don’t hesitate to submit them to us. “. I took them at their word, saying: “In single-seaters, my career ended in Formula 3000, the stadium just before Formula 1. It would be great if 20 years after turning the page on motorsport, I could achieve this dream. If I can sit behind the wheel of a Grand Prix Alpine, I think I can do something with Canal +. And I also believe that I would not be totally ridiculous. In my opinion, I should lap less than ten seconds behind Fernando Alonso, the starting driver. In the process, I called the boss of the encrypted channel who agreed to make a 52-minute documentary on my double life “pilot-actor”. This magazine will be called “From the track to the stars” and should be released at the end of the year.

Stéphane De Groodt and another Belgian, a certain Jacky Ickx – DR

Is it true that you found driving this F1 easier than the F3000 at the time?

Absolutely ! For a very simple reason: our single-seaters were not equipped with power steering. It took the arms of a Bulgarian weightlifter, the biceps of a blacksmith and the shoulders of a mover to drive them through an entire race. The F1 direction I was lucky enough to slip into was all light thanks to the assist. It is also a car of extreme precision. I must also recall the context of this essay. In total, I completed two series of 3 laps, of which only two revolutions allowed me to use the single-seater. I also had very strict instructions to bring the car back in one piece. There was no question of pushing my limits since Jacques Villeneuve (1997 F1 World Champion, Editor’s note) and Julien Fébreau, the journalist who comments on the GPs on Canal +, were testing the car after me. So I kept some under the pedal. In other words, I didn’t try to lap 10 seconds slower than Alonso. I don’t even have, at this stage, any idea of ​​my performance.

Stéphane De Groodt at the wheel of the F1 Alpine
Stéphane De Groodt at the wheel of the F1 Alpine – DR

Of what, despite everything, do you form a precise opinion?

And how ! The sensations at the wheel of this machine, I will keep them until my last breath. It took me several weeks to come down from my little cloud. I was in another dimension, another world. Acceleration is extraordinarily impressive, but braking is even more so. At the end of the straight, you feel like someone is trying to rip your head off by pushing your helmet forward.

Not too physically demanding?

No, because the trial was short-lived. But if I had filmed 30 minutes on Monza, I would certainly have been teased!

Source: 20minutes

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