Nigel Mansell stepped back into a Formula One car for the first time yesterday since testing a Jordan in Barcelona in December 1996. The 51-year-old Briton, who won the world drivers' championship in 1992 and made history by winning the IndyCar Championship a year later, undertook a secret seat fitting and test in the latest Jordan-Ford EJ14 here to warm up for the "F1 Comes to Regent Street" event, which takes place next Tuesday.
Mansell familiarised himself quickly, and said: "It's great to be back in an F1 car, reunited with the love of my life. When I got the phone call asking me if I would do this, it seemed the right thing to do. I really enjoyed having a little play. I practised launches, did a few laps and went round some corners a bit quicker than I should have."
The team's owner, Eddie Jordan, who organised the drive in the run-up to Mansell representing the team in London, added: "This unique event is all about Formula One giving something back to the fans. Nigel was undoubtedly the fans' favourite all over the world."
The event will run from 6pm to 8pm and is being organised by the Regent Street Association, the Crown Estates and Harvey Goldsmith Productions. Its route will start and end at Waterloo Place, at the bottom of Lower Regent Street.
Formula One's governing body has told teams they have two months to find a way to reduce speeds, or changes will be imposed for safety's sake.
Max Mosley, the president of the International Automobile Federation, said yesterday in London that he would start procedures this week to force teams' hands.
Recent accidents involving the Brazilian Felipe Massa and Germany's Ralf Schumacher showed engine power needed to be reduced because cars have now become dangerously fast.