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This 79-Year-Old Lady Is The Oldest Person To Drive An 800bhp Formula 1 Car

Former rally driver Rosemary Smith became the oldest person to drive an F1 car by getting behind the wheel of an 800bhp Renault machine at Paul Ricard circuit

Remind me later

Rosemary Smith has led quite a life. A supremely quick rally driver back in the 1960s, she fought for years to be taken seriously by her male competitors, whom she often beat.

Her achievements include outright wins of the 1965 Tulip Rally and 1969 Cork 20 Rally, and the ladies’ prize at a huge number of events. Her rallying days are now behind her, but when Renault approached her to see if she wanted to drive a V8, 800bhp Formula One car to help celebrate the firm’s 40 year involvement in the sport, she didn’t hesitate to say yes.

“At my age, I should be sitting at home doing my knitting,” Smith jokes. Instead, she found herself at Paul Ricard circuit in France, becoming the oldest person to ever drive an F1 car, guided by 2014 GP2 champion and current Renault Sport driver Jolyon Palmer.

“You’ve got to go out there with this fire in your belly. You have to have passion,” Smith concludes. Hard to argue with that.

Disclosure: this post is sponsored by Renault Sport.