Riccardo Patrese returned to Formula One yesterday for the first time in 15years as he joined the Honda Racing F1 Team in Jerez to drive the team'sRA107 race car.
Riccardo, who won six races during his 17 year Formula One career from 1977 to 1993, had joined the team at the Spanish circuit on Monday afternoonf or a seat fit and engineering briefing. He also conducted reconnaissance laps of the 4.428km Jerez circuit in a Honda Civic Type-R with one of the team's engineers to familiarise himself with the track . On Tuesday, on a bright and sunny morning, Riccardo pulled out of the garage to take to the track in the Honda RA107. He completed five runs and set a fastest lap time of 1:30.210 on the Bridgestone demonstration tyres used for his guest drive.
Talking about the experience, Riccardo Patrese said, "After 15 years out ofFormula One, it was a dream come true and unbelievable to rediscover the speed of a Formula One car again today. I was able to get accustomed prettyquickly and found that my driving style did not need to change too much to adapt to a modern car. The speed was a bit of a surprise on the first couple of laps but at the end I felt very comfortable, although I'm sure my neck will ache a little bit tonight after the G forces.
"The whole experience hasbeen an absolute pleasure and I would like to thank the Honda Racing F1 Team for giving me this feeling back and allowing me the opportunity to drive a really fast car again! It's good to know that at my age, I can still drive quickly and push the limits. I just wish that I could have had more time in the car to improve my lap time. Hopefully they'll give me another chance sometime!"
Nick Fry, Chief Executive Officer of the Honda Racing F1 Team commented,
"We are delighted to have been able to arrange this opportunity for Riccardo to drive the RA107, the first time that he has been back in a Honda Formula One car since the final race of the 1987 season where he raced forWilliams-Honda in Adelaide.
Riccardo adapted very well to the car today and there was plenty for him to get to grips with as Formula One has advanced so rapidly since his final race in 1993 and continues to do so with the introduction of new environmental technologies. Left foot braking, grooved tyres and a steering-wheel mounted clutch paddle were all new for Riccardo, and his fastest lap time was very respectable considering that he was using demonstration tyres and a 2007 car.
"The team thoroughly enjoyed working with Riccardo and we are delighted to have made his dream of returning to Formula One for a day come true!" .