The last time Niki Lauda raced a Formula 1 car, Jennifer Rush was wailing away at number one with the Power of Love. A pint of beer was a very reasonable 72p and Jenson Button was just five years old.
But last Sunday the 52-year-old boss of Jaguar Racing donned his famous orange and white crash helmet one more time and set off on a lap of the Valencia circuit.
Some observers cynically suggested that it was nothing more than a publicity stunt, after all the whole idea had come about following a dare from Gerhard Berger that was picked up by an Austrian journalist. Yet Lauda maintains that it was an invaluable experience that will allow him to better understand the problems his drivers, Eddie Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa, have to deal with.
"All the time I hear them talking about traction or launch control, and although I understand what these do, I have no experience of it. So the idea of this test was to help me understand better the way these cars work," he says.
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