Renault celebrated the much-heralded return of the French Grand Prix, not to mention the end of the ban preventing women from driving in Saudi Arabia, in a special way.
Saudi Arabian Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi Arabian Motorsport Federation, was given the opportunity to drive a Renault E20 on the Le Castellet circuit, as part of the French manufacturer's 'Passion Parade', hours before the start of the French GP. It is the very same car Kimi Raikkonen drove to victory in the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Renault was delighted to enable Aseel to pursue the passion for motorsport she has cultivated over the years on the same day women were finally able to drive on the roads of Saudi Arabia.
Aseel got her first experience of F1 power at a Renault training day on 5 June at Le Castellet. Under the tutoring of Renault Sport Formula One Team engineers and technicians, she got accustomed to the circuit in a Renault road car before switching to a Formula Renault car and the E20 in the latter part of the day.
Aseel represents her country on the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission, chaired by World Rally Championship driver and winner Michèle Mouton.
Amongst Aseel's many responsibilities, she is tasked to put in place strategies and policies to promote the education and training of women in motorsport in Saudi Arabia by collaborating on joint projects and participating in international forums and conferences devoted to the place of women in sport.
"I have loved racing and motorsport from a very young age," she said, "and to drive a Formula 1 car goes even beyond my dreams and what I thought was possible.
"It is a genuine honour to drive the Renault E20 in front of the crowds at its home Grand Prix. I hope doing so on the day when women can drive on the roads in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shows what you can do if you have the passion and spirit to dream."
"Renault has always embraced pioneers and demonstrated a pioneering spirit," added Jérôme Stoll, President of Renault Sport Racing. "Equally Renault has a long-held passion for motorsport and loves to share it through every type of competition with as many people as possible. We're pleased to see Aseel's passion for racing and her enthusiasm for demonstrating the accessibility of motorsport to more people around the world."
"The FIA Women in Motorsport Commission is dedicated to promoting opportunities across all forms of motor sport activities," said Michele Mouton, President of the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission, "but also to promoting equality between male and female counterparts in the wider automotive industry and on the roads. To do so, we work extremely closely with all national sporting federations to improve access to our sport.
"In the time Aseel has been a member of the Commission, Saudi Arabia's vision has been very clear and things have developed at a rapid rate. Now, as one of the driving forces behind the Saudi Arabian Motorsport Federation, Aseel will pave the way for women to embrace sports and careers in motor sport. Thank you to Renault for putting together such an innovative opportunity that showcases so many of our principles."
Check out our Sunday gallery from Paul Ricard, here.