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Charles Leclerc has thrashed a Ferrari SF90 through Monaco

Ferrari’s F1 hotshoe uses the 986bhp hybrid to film new C'était un rendez-vous

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Ferrari has deployed its youngest, fastest driver and youngest, fastest supercar to pay homage to one of the most legendary – and controversial – pieces of motoring cinema ever. Charles Leclerc has driven the new SF90 Stradale hybrid around the streets of Monte Carlo for a remake of the 1976 film C’était un rendez-vous, in partnership with the original’s director, Claude Lelouch.

Today should’ve been the 2020 Monaco Grand Prix, but with the F1 world championship still on hold due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, Ferrari has used the principalities’ closed roads for a different piece of high-speed entertainment, featuring a 986bhp bi-turbo V8 hybrid supercar. We’ll see the film next month. Stay tuned.

Still here? Good – here’s the history. If you’ve never seen  C’était un rendez-vous, make a date with your search engine after you’ve finished here. It’s one of cinema’s greatest driving sequences, and possibly its most illegal.

At 5.30am on a quiet Sunday in August 1976, French filmmaker Claude Lelouch fitted a camera to the nose of his Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9-litre, and set off on an infamous eight-minute dash through the streets of Paris. He’s told only two people of his intentions – his girlfriend, who was to meet his at the Sacré-Cœur at the film’s climax, and an assistant armed with a walkie-talkie, watching a blind junction for pedestrians.

The film depicts an unseen car diving and sliding through semi-deserted Parisian streets, running red lights, ignoring signs and even mounting the pavement. Nothing of the car itself can be seen, but an engine can be heard – the sonorous V12 of a Lelouch’s own Ferrari 275GTB, which he dubbed in afterwards over the sound of the more low-revving three-speed Mercedes.

The car reported reached 120mph during the ‘rendezvous’, and though it caused outrage when released, it’s endured in petrolhead folklore as a stunning – if dramatically irresponsible – piece of car-celebrating filmmaking. And though it wasn’t a Ferrari that actually carried the camera, it’s Ferrari that’s became synonymous with the eight-minute movie.

Now, ‘car films’ are tricky to get right. For every Le Mans ’66, there’s the remake of The Italian Job. For every Tokyo Drift, there’s a 2 Fast 2 Furious. Will Lelouch be able to pull of the same sense of high-jeopardy thrills now he’s got an actual Ferrari at his disposal – and the approval of the police? We’ll find out next month.

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