Jenson Button told Nigel Mansell he “had a weapon” at his disposal after Button was allowed to drive the Williams FW14B around the Silverstone circuit.
Shortly before Sunday’s grand prix, Button hopped in the very car that Mansell won the 1992 World Championship in to have a blast around the Silverstone track in front of the British fans and was beaming ear to ear after he stepped out.
Speaking to media including PlanetF1.com, Button said the FW14B was the car that “stands out” from his childhood memories of watching the sport.
“It was unbelievable,” Button said. “I did the seat fitting in it yesterday and already it was pretty emotional just sitting in that car.
“It was the car of probably a lot of our childhoods and that’s the one that stands out because of the way Nigel was driving it. I remember sitting on the sofa with the old man, watching all the races and seeing him clinch the title.”
Formula 1 cars have come a long way since Mansell’s days with Button noting just how much more visibility he had inside the cramped cockpit.
“I got in there, it’s tiny inside, obviously the seat’s fine because I drove it but the pedals, the steering wheel and everything, it’s so small!
“But once you get on track [with] the sound of the engine and you never know what to expect when it’s 31 years old.
“You’re sat so high in the car but visibility is amazing. You can see so much compared to modern cars.”
Button was not alone on the track with plenty of others joining him for the parade but he found it difficult to ignore that racing driver instinct.
He added: “It’s bloody quick. In a straight line it’s impressive but the high speed [cornering] is sensational. It’s far beyond what I expected.
“I only did two laps. So I didn’t really get to the point where I could push it as I would like but on the second lap, I started pushing a bit more but then I caught a 1998 Minardi in Becketts but they told me no overtaking in corners, they said I had to wait until the straight but they were still quicker on the straight.
“Nige, you had a weapon!”
— Thomas Maher (@thomasmaheronf1) July 9, 2023
The good, the bad and the ugly: Nigel Mansell
While the car is visually very different, it is also audibly different with the V12 engine making a lot more noise than the current V6s. Button said that was the noise of his childhood.
“Growing up, I heard those engines and also the start of my career,” the 2009 World Champion said. “It is such a wonderful sound, it really is so crisp and clear, a little bit aggressive, but it’s very special.
“I think even if the car is slower, like when I started F1, cars were much slower than now but it just seems quicker because of the sound.”