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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 November 2006, 14:50 GMT
Zanardi makes happy return to F1
Alex Zanardi in a BMW Sauber at Valencia
Zanardi got back into an F1 car five years after losing his legs
Alex Zanardi has tested a Formula One car five years after losing both his legs in a near-fatal accident.

The Italian former F1 driver completed four laps in a modified version of BMW-Sauber's 2006 car in Valencia.

"I'm really, really happy," he said afterwards. "I feel like somebody cast away on an island for many years and suddenly he gets joined by a top model.

"It's a fantastic feeling to see all the faces smiling when I brought it in - that was the highlight of the day."

Zanardi, 40, had his legs amputated after a 320kph (199mph) crash at Germany's Lausitzring while racing in the US-based Champ Car series in 2001.

After completing a second session on Saturday, he admitted to being deeply moved by the experience of driving an F1 car again.

"It's fantastic," he said. "When I dropped my visor, the emotions were very heavy. It was pure pleasure being back in a fantastic race car.

"I do understand this is about much more than just driving a race car. To put a guy with no legs in an F1 car is something very special."

The former Jordan, Minardi, Lotus and Williams driver nearly lost his life but has since made an impressive comeback, winning two rounds of the FIA world touring car championship with BMW.

In 41 F1 races, Zanardi's best finish was a sixth place for Lotus at the Brazilian GP in 1993.

"I think I could have done much better in F1, not because teams never gave me a reliable, fast car but because I didn't push myself as hard as I could have," he admitted.

"But you can't change the past, only learn from it, and without it I would not have had the success I did in the United States of which I am very proud."

Zanardi won 15 races on his way to two Champ Car titles.



SEE ALSO
Zanardi seals fairytale victory
28 Aug 05 |  Motorsport
Zanardi makes low-key start
28 Mar 04 |  Motorsport
Zanardi quits racing
11 May 03 |  Motorsport
Zanardi looks to new horizons
10 Jul 02 |  Motorsport
Motorsport shaken by Zanardi crash
17 Sep 01 |  Motorsport


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