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Patrese's F1 dream comes true

Riccardo Patrese, Honda test, Jerez 2008Former grand prix driver Riccardo Patrese described his first experience of modern Formula One machinery as 'unbelievable' after testing Honda's RA107 at Jerez on Wednesday.

The 54-year-old, who drove for Arrows, Brabham, Alfa Romeo, Williams and Benetton in a career spanning 16 years from 1977-1993, was invited to drive Honda's 2007 car after Rubens Barrichello broke his record of 256 GP appearances.

The six-time grand prix winner completed five runs and set a fastest lap time of 1:30.210 on the Bridgestone demonstration tyres used for his guest drive.

"It was a dream come true and unbelievable to rediscover the speed of a Formula One car again today," said Patrese. "I was able to get accustomed pretty quickly 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.

"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!"

Honda Racing's CEO Nick Fry said that he had been impressed with the Sky Sport Italia commentator's ability to adapt to the complexities of a modern F1 car.

"Riccardo adapted very well to the car today and there was plenty for him to get to grips with as F1 has advanced so rapidly since his final race in 1993 and continues to do so with the introduction of new environmental technologies," he said.

"Left-foot braking, grooved tyres and a steering-wheel mounted clutch paddle were all new for Riccardo today, 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 today and we are delighted to have made his dream of returning to Formula One for a day come true!"

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