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Irish veteran rally driver, Rosemary Smith, has become the oldest person to drive a Formula One car, at the age of 79.

To help celebrate 40 years of Renault Sport, the team put Smith into a 2013 Lotus-Renault E21, with some word of advice from racing driver, Jolyon Palmer.

With full race gear, painted finger nails and makeup, Smith handled the 596kW race car with care around the Circuit Paul Ricard in Southern France.

“I didn’t think I would ever get the opportunity to do it. I was nervous and terrified – I had to go ahead with it,” Smith said.

Smith had owned a Dublin dress shop before she had the chance to be a rally navigator in the ’60s. But she soon realised she’d rather be behind-the-wheel.

“My passion in life is driving fast, very fast. If I’m competitive, I’m going out to win”, Smith reminisced.

Before too long, she won events like the Canadian Shell 4000, and racked up many more podium finishes and class wins throughout her racing career.

Nowadays, she’s involved with Renault, running a driving school using the Clio hatch, while raising awareness for road safety.

Still, Smith is under no illusions when it comes to the idea of a return to racing: “At my age, I should be sitting at home doing my knitting,” she said.

Let’s hope not, because we very much want to see Rosemary on the track again.

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