From 2000-2009, Tatuus, an Italian chassis maker, was contracted to work with Renault to design and build the single-seater cars. Formula Renault championships have been held in countries all over the world, often times with drivers using them as a stepping stone to Formula Three and beyond. Kimi Räikkönen actually made the leap directly into F1 from the British Formula Renault championship.
The first generation cars were equipped with a 16-valve, 4-cylinder Renault Clio engine that provided 192 BHP at 6,500 RPM. These engines were sealed from the Renault Sport factory and equipped with a Magneti-Marelli ignition system that also was sealed. With a suggested 0-100 MPH (160 km/h) speed of 4.85 seconds they are fairly quick cars, although the 159 LB/FT of torque means they don’t feel as fast as they actually are.
I was required to use the clutch for downshifts (although I did not need to rev-match). Upshifts were lift-free and clutch-free affairs. This definitely made for an interesting first session, as I had to figure out how to maneuver my hand in the tight cockpit for both pulling and pushing the shifter comfortably. By the end of the day I had a bit of a bruise from the shifter on the outside of my thigh, and I developed a blister on my shifter hand almost immediately, likely from my 10+ year old worn out gloves (old habits die hard). First world problems, I assure you.
Getting into the car requires a little bit of human tetris, as there is a hump in the tunnel where your legs go that you must figure out how to get your feet up and over. Once inside, there’s not a lot of room. You basically sit on the bottom of the tub. There’s not really a “seat”. LRS does provide sufficient rubber inserts to get even my tiny wife into an appropriate and safe driving position.