Going Off Track: Simon Rennie

After ‘going off track’ with Max’s Race Engineer last week, next, it’s only right that we catch up with Daniel’s Race Engineer, Simon Rennie as we ask him to pick out his favourite moments and machines in motor sport and on the road.

1. What was the first race you ever attended?

I think the first event was probably Harewood Hill Climb in Yorkshire. I've got some photos but I don't remember it that well. I must have been about five or six. I went with my parents, both of whom are massive Formula One fans. There were some road cars and little racing cars. I can remember the smell of it now; the fuel the Minis were running smelled amazing.

I think the first event was probably Harewood Hill Climb in Yorkshire.

2. What's the most beautiful road car made so far?

I'm not sure about the most beautiful, but a car I really like is the Austin Healey 3000. I know there's more expensive and exotic machinery out there but I think it's just a really nice, proper British sports car.

3. What's the most beautiful race car made so far?

I've got two answers. I used to work at the Renault F1Team and in 2005 the last V10 car (the R25) we had that won the championships was a really nice car. Before that, when I was a kid, I remember making a model of the Jaguar prototype car from the late 1980s (the XJR9 Group C car). That was the one I picked out from the local corner shop that sold models. It was one of my favourite cars at the time.

4. What was the first road car you owned and was it any good?

It was a 1988 Mini 998cc and I thought it was amazing. I had that from the age of 17, for about four years. Did I tweak it? I had a bit of chrome on it and it had white stripes to make it look like a Mini Cooper, even though it wasn't. It had a little bit of engine and exhaust work done to it.

5. What car do you own now and why did you buy it?

I have a BMW M4 and I bought it because I got a good discount on it! Before that, I had an E46 M3, which was just getting up to about 100,000 miles. I'd been really lucky with it, but it was time to get rid of that. The M4 is ridiculously quick. You don't need to have a road car that quick. It's almost a waste.

6. When you were first getting into motorsport who were you a fan of?

It was the mid-'80s I guess and Nigel Mansell was pretty popular in our house, so it was probably him initially. Then, my mother was a bit of a standout in our house, as she was a massive Michael Schumacher fan. I think I'm more like my dad; he enjoyed the whole spectacle more than allegiance to any particular driver or team, though he might be a bit more biased now!

7. What's your favourite circuit, in F1 or outside the sport?

We go to a lot of good places. All the ones that begin with the letter M – Melbourne, Monaco, Montreal, they're all great. Also, Austin is an amazing city. Anywhere that the food is good I'm a big fan of; wherever we can get great local food, churrascarias in Brazil, barbecue restaurants in Austin. Like many things in my life, a lot of it revolves around food!

Race Number? 696, those were the numbers of the plate of my first car.

8. What's the one that got away throughout your career?

It's any time where you miss the target. Satisfaction can come from winning but if your car isn't capable of winning then you get just as much satisfaction out of doing the best you can. I do remember, 2010 in Suzuka, I was race engineer for Robert Kubica and it was when we had qualifying on Sunday morning because it had been such a monsoon on Saturday. We stuck it P3 on the grid, got a good start and we were up to second and then there was a safety car and then on lap two one of the rear wheels came off. It was very frustrating because the car was just coming on really well; Robert was doing well, so it was disappointing. Those things don't happen very often but when they do they hurt. It's just an empty feeling.

9. What would be your race number and why?

If we could go to three digits, it would be 696 because those were the numbers of the plate of my first car.

10. If you had an Aston Martin for a day where would you take it and who would you be with?

It would be nice to have a bit of a tour around the Italian lakes with my wife, just around the winding roads looking for somewhere good to eat. I've never been but it looks beautiful and friends really love it. A nice car to drive around a nice part of the world.