Back in November 2010, Vladimir Putin drove an F1 car. Never one to shy away from a muscular PR opportunity, Putin gave that year’s Renault a substantial portion of beans on a secret military airstrip while his aides and various team personnel nibbled their nails to the quick on the sidelines.
“He did very well,” remembers Gerard Lopez, who was one of the people charged with offering the big man driving advice. He must have done OK, because a dinner invite followed at Putin’s dacha. There may have been vodka involved. “We got on,” is all Lopez will say.
Words: Jason Barlow
Pics: Justin Leighton
This feature first appeared in the May 2012 edition of Top Gear magazine