The winner was expected to be declared as we went to press – see the formularenault.com website.
Interestingly, heading into the semi-finals it was between Didier Pironi, Robert Kubica, Alain Prost and Sebastian Vettel.
The late Pironi had caused a shock by knocking out reigning F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton in the quarter finals with 59.2% of the votes in their quarter final tie – he had previously also eliminated current Renault F1 team driver Daniel Ricciardo with 54.7% of the votes!
Frenchman Pironi won back-to-back Formula Renault Eurocup titles in 1975 and 1976 before going on to win races in F1 for Ligier and Ferrari. He also won the Le Mans 24 Hours for Renault in its A442B in 1978…
Pironi was set to face Robert Kubica in semi-final one. In his previous rounds, Kubica seen off current Alfa Romeo and Mercedes F1 drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas (Formula Renault UK and FRenault Eurocup and Northern Europe champions in 2000 and 2008 respectively).
Kubica himself had won the very first Formula Renault 3.5 title in 2005 and later raced for Renault’s F1 team in 2010.
Semi-final two of the Formula Renault greatest driver competition, meanwhile, was between Prost and Vettel.
Prost will forever be one of Renault’s most famous motor sporting names. He won the 1976 French and 1977 European FRenault titles and would later win nine F1 grands prix for the Renault team between 1981 and 1983 when he finished a close second in the drivers’ championship.
A decade later, using Renault engines as a Williams driver, he won a fourth drivers’ title and has since become a special advisor to Renault Sport Racing. Having jointly owned its title-winning Renault e.DAMS Formula E team, he is now an influential figure in its F1 team.
Prost’s quarter final win over Arnoux was the biggest seen in the contest at that stage, with a staggering 92.2% of the vote.
His semi-final rival Vettel’s quarter-final win, over Jacques Laffite, however, was one of the closest at 57.4%.
Currently a Ferrari F1 driver, Vettel of course is famous for his four world titles with the Renault-powered Red Bull team. Prior to his F1 career, his stint in Formula Renault had been short but nonetheless impressive – he raced in its more powerful 3.5 championship for part of both 2006 and 2007, winning races and leading the championship until being called up for a full-time seat in F1.
Meanwhile Laffite, something of a French national racing treasure, won the 1972 French FRenault titles before going on to star in F1 for over a decade from 1975 to 1986, his career being cut short by a heavy accident in the British GP at Brands Hatch in his Renault-powered Ligier.
Others to have figured in the formulerenault.com contest include Olivier Panis, Felipe Massa, Heikki Kovalainen and Vettel’s current Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc. All made it to and became winners in F1 – proof again of Renault Sport Racing’s ability to attract and nurture the very best young talent.
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