The Monaco Grand Prix, which was originally scheduled for Sunday afternoon, was cancelled due to the coronavirus. But that didn't stop Monaco's favourite Formula 1 driver, Charles Leclerc, from racing through the winding streets of the Principality at 240 km/h in a Ferrari. However, Leclerc wasn't at the wheel of his #16 F-1 Ferrari, but rather a brand new, cherry red SF90 Stradale roadster. And he wasn't actually racing anyone...he was starring in a film!
"Le Grand Rendez-Vous" is a new instalment of an old classic that perhaps only car buffs know of. In 1976, Claude Lelouch filmed himself speeding through the streets of Paris, very early on a Sunday morning. "C'était un Rendez-Vous" was a grainy, first-person view from a tiny sports car with the intense sound of the motor, the agitation of racing over cobblestones and the extremely rare sight of Paris devoid of traffic (rare until Corona!). The short film left the viewer with an exciting and memorable experience. At the time, the director took cinema verité quite literally and didn't bother with filming permission. That led to his arrest and spending a bit of time behind bars! This time around, almost 50 years later, everything was done properly, with a professional driver, a film crew, permits and closed streets. Even Prince Albert II was on hand for a cameo appearance.
Starting off in front of the Hotel de Paris, just before 7 am, Charles Leclerc discussed the plan with the grey-haired director before climbing into the iconic red Ferrari. With 1,000 horsepower, it's quite a car to handle, but Ferraris are like second nature to the 22-year-old. Mounted with on-board cameras, the Ferrari sped off to lap around the tiny country, where residents were out on their balconies, ready to catch a glimpse of the special occasion. It wasn't only the residents excited for the shoot - the Chairman of Ferrari, John Elkann, was present as well as Princes Andrea and Pierre Casiraghi and Pierre's wife, Beatrice Borromeo.
Leclerc is seen driving with a mask on, not just because of safety precautions, but also because it will apparently be part of the storyline, where he is also briefly seen together with a masked Prince Albert. Do you think he was nervous racing through the streets with the Sovereign Prince by his side?
According to Lelouch, the preparations for shooting were completed in record time. It was the Principality that requested the film and the call whether he wanted to to do it had reached him only a week earlier. But that's one of the pluses of Monaco - when it wants something done, it does it fast!
Make sure to see our Instagram post and Monte-Carlo SBM's posts for footage of the shoot! The premiere of "Le Grand Rendez-Vous" is scheduled for 13 June.
Photos from Monte-Carlo SBM Facebook page. Photographer: Philippe Lombard