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This 79-year-old is now the oldest person to drive an F1 car

14 July 2017 - Autoblog

This 79-year-old is now the oldest person to drive an F1 car

Formula One has a reputation as a young man's sport.

There have been plenty of otherwise well-liked drivers making antiquated and sexist comments about what they believe it takes to handle an 800-horsepower track missile. In the sport's nearly 70-year history, only a small handful of women have ever been behind the wheel, much less raced in a grand prix. 79-year-old Rosemary Smith shows that all it takes is talent and not a certain pair of base chromosomes.

Renault UK and the Renault Sport Formula One team gave Smith the chance to prove these skeptics wrong. Smith is a former rally driver from Ireland. Even during the height of her racing career Smith dealt with plenty of sexism, all the while racking up podiums and wins. The story was much the same for her co-driver Pauline Gullick. After she stopped competing, Smith started a racing school using Renault Clios.

Smith was contacted by Renault UK about the test drive. She'd never driven anything close to as fast or as powerful as a modern F1 car. Current Renault Sport driver Jolyon Palmer showed her the basics of the car - mostly how to work the complicated steering wheel - before Smith went out for laps at France's Circuit Paul Ricard. According to Renault, Smith now holds the record for the oldest person to ever get behind the wheel of a modern Formula One car.

Watch this great video celebrating Renault's 40th anniversary in F1 and showcasing a driver who's likely more determined and more talented than any of us will ever be, regardless of age or gender.

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