I have never turned up to a launch in a worse state to drive a car.

Okay, maybe just once, when I drove the Ford Mondeo so hungover I had to stop to throw up at the side of the road. But that was 30 years ago and I was young and quite colossally stupid.

This time, the fault was not mine but British Airways, who got me up at 3.30am on consecutive days to catch one flight it cancelled and another it merely delayed by many hours.

Which is why I turned up a day and a half late to the two-day Aston Martin DB12 launch in the south of France. I was exhausted, had a blinding headache and was quite heroically hacked off.

By which point all the kind folk of Aston Martin could do was fill me up with Diet Coke and paracetamol and point me at the hotel, a mere five hours’ fast drive away. “See you there…”

Aston Martin DB12 driving on mountain road – roof

Quite unintentionally, BA and I had devised the toughest test a car like this could face.

It had to be exciting enough to keep me awake, yet sufficiently comfortable for me not to want to drive it off the edge of the Col de Vence. And its all-new operating system had to be not even slightly annoying.

Eventually, I arrived at the hotel, where a familiar face asked how I was feeling.

“Fine,” I told her, and only then remembered this was the same kind lady who’d been ladling out the painkillers five hours earlier.

Aston Martin DB12 driving on mountain road – rear quarter