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…chance doesn't exist; there's always a cause and a reason for everything – Elahi

Archive for the category “F1”

Jules flies home

Drivers take silence for Jules BianchiJules Bianchi, critically injured in the Japanese GP, has been flown back to the University Hospital in Nice.  His family has released the following statement:

“Almost seven weeks after Jules’ accident at Suzuka Circuit, and following a challenging period of neurological intensive care, we are able to announce that Jules has made an important step.

“Jules is no longer in the artificial coma in which he was placed shortly after the accident; however, he is still unconscious. He is breathing unaided and his vital signs are stable, but his condition is still classified as ‘critical’. His treatment now enters a new phase concerned with the improvement of his brain function.

“Jules’ neurological condition remains stable. Although the situation continues to be serious, and may remain so, it was decided that Jules was sufficiently stable to be repatriated to his native France. We are relieved, therefore, to confirm that Jules was transferred aeromedically last night from the Mie Prefectural General Medical Center in Yokkaichi, Japan, to Le Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nice (CHU), where he arrived just a short time ago. Jules is now in the intensive care unit of Professors Raucoules and Ichai, where his care will also be monitored by Professor Paquis, Head of Neurosurgery Service.

“We are thankful that the next phase of Jules’ treatment can continue close to home, where he can be surrounded and supported by his wider family and friends. We have nothing but praise for the outstanding care provided by the Mie Prefectural General Medical Center since the accident. We owe the medical staff there an enormous debt of gratitude for everything they have done for Jules, and also for our family, during what is a very difficult time for us. In particular, we would like to extend our thanks to Doctors Kamei and Yamamichi, and also to Mr Ogura, all part of the team of personnel caring for Jules in Japan.”

Jules and his family remain in our thoughts and prayers. Forza!

Homage to a Hero

S2830034Fifty years ago today – October 25, 1964, in Mexico City – John Surtees clinched the F1 World Championship in his North American Race Team (NART)-liveried factory Ferrari. The finale had been a three-way fight between John, Jim Clark and Graham Hill. Jim looked to have the title won before he was forced to stop his Lotus 33-Climax with a seized engine on the penultimate lap; Graham Hill was flicked out of contention by Lorenzo Bandini, John’s team-mate; and so, with Lorenzo dutifully slowing on the final lap, John finished second to Dan Gurney to secure the title by one point. Lucky? Of course not. John had won that year at both the Nurburgring and Monza; as in life, there were causes and effects for everything that happened both to him and to his rivals.

And so the flowers, and the champagne, were well-earned. Look closely at some of the photos in books and magazines, and on the net, from the Mexican GP celebrations and there in the background can be seen the Duke of Edinburgh. Amazingly, Prince Philip took time from a trade visit that week to attend the Mexican GP. There, amidst the vast crowds, he saw history in the making, for John became – and will no doubt remain – the only man ever to have won World Championships on both two wheels and four. He would go on to win further races for Ferrari, for Cooper-Maserati and for Honda and – in non-championship F1 guise – with his own, brilliant Surtees cars; nothing, though, would compare with that achievement of October 25, 1964.

I was fortunate enough to see John race in F1, Tasman (2.5 litre Lola-Climax) F5000 and F2. He was always a detailed artist and an engineer in the mould of Black Jack, Dan and Bruce – always immaculate with his car management, always prepared to work the all-nighter if circumstances so required. He’d drive – and then he’d invariably retire to the garage, there to fiddle with the engine or suspension bits, hustle the mechanics, get his hands dirty. Yes, he was demanding. No, he was not an autocrat. He just knew what he wanted and wouldn’t waste time with those who couldn’t deliver.

His departure from Ferrari early in 1966 said it all: he probably would have breezed the championship that year if he hadn’t stuck to his principles. He didn’t like the way the team was being run, however, and so that was that.  He just upped and left, jumping into an uncompetitive, overweight Cooper-Maserati. How quick was John? Remember only this: in the Cooper he immediately matched, and then exceeded, the pace of his team-mate, the very brave and very reflex Jochen Rindt. By season’s end he had transformed the Cooper into a race-winner. Mexico – again.

John survived it all, too. In recent years he has become a tireless campaigner for the charity named after his late son, Henry. He is an icon of our sport and an example to all – particularly in the way he has confronted his personal tragedy with so much dignity and with so much courage. Yet in the big picture he remains largely unheralded. He has been awarded the Office of the Order of the British Empire but we have campaigned endlessly on these pages, and on our YouTube Channel, for John also to be given a knighthood. Many others have done likewise. Yet, to date, nothing has happened. The omission is embarrassing.

I saw John yesterday, at the Memorial Service for Sir Jack Brabham at Silverstone.  He was as bubbly as ever, a passionate car and motor-cycle racer who couldn’t talk enough about the sports he loves. I asked him how he was going to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his win.

“With a nice bottle of champagne,” he said, eyes glistening.  “And I’ll be drinking it – not spraying it!”

The photograph above of John was taken yesterday at the Memorial – and the one below comes from the Henry Ford Archives.  It was taken at Watkins Glen, 1964, three weeks before Mexico, but it gives a true rendition of how the Ferrari looked in those gorgeous NART colours.

So: congratulations John Surtees. You are unique. You are a treasure. And may the sport do its utmost to ensure you are given the recognition you have so diligently earned.JS Glen 64 3

 

Autumn in New York

…and Sochi.  This week I caught up with Sean Kelly, an Englishman who happens to live in San Diego but who also stands as the world’s number one F1 statistician. What does that mean exactly? It means combining an intense passion for the sport with a clear head for stats – and then turning that into an industry. Sean works for several of the world’s leading F1 TV networks (including NBC) – which is why he was in New York prior to Sochi. I hope you enjoy our chat. It’s free-ranging, in the usual way of things, but I think Sean also highlights some fascinating trends and detail.

Thoughts of Japan…and Andrea

Apologies, first of all, for being away from this site for a little bit of time. I’ve been focusing on our fab new studio for The Racer’s Edge (see video below!); and, in addition, there were a couple of systems glitches with WordPress. Anyway, hopefully now all is in order. We’ve got lots of video out there on our YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/peterwindsor) and I’ll be posting some video highlights here, too – plus a little more besides. Subscription to the YouTube channel is free, so please go ahead and sign up with the widget here for your email notifications about all the new posts as they happen.
Here’s our latest video, introduced from our studio within the showroom of Joe Macari Performance Cars, near Wimbledon, London. It’s a breathtaking site full of exquisite machinery, some of which is red, some of which is eclectic. I love it there – and I aim to be sharing much of that passion with you.
In this vid, Rob Wilson gives his expert assessment of the Lewis-Nico battle in Japan; we talk about the amazing Daniel Ricciardo – and we both look back at the fast, irascible but always charming Italian that was Andrea De Cesaris.  This is Andrea playing table-tennis at the Kyalami Ranch in 1984.  Fit guy, too.  Sadly he lost his life in a motor-cycle accident in Rome last weekend.

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Rob Wilson’s world

He used to be a very fast (Nelson Piquet-, Nigel Mansell-fast) racing driver. Today he coaches personalities from all disciplines, including F1, GP2, GP3, F3, IndyCar, the WEC and the WRC. And, in between times, he writes music and plays in a band called Grand Prairie. He’s dedicated; he’s disciplined. And I don’t know anyone more passionate about the sport of motor racing. I recently spent a little time with Rob Wilson at his “second home” – Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, about 40 min drive north of Silverstone. I wanted to talk motor racing realities; I wanted to avoid the gloss. I can’t pretend ever to do justice to Rob Wilson but I hope some of the footage we shot  gives you some idea of why today he has the respect of most of the serious players in the F1 pit-lane. The concert clips, by the way, were filmed at the Grand Prairie CD launch party thrown recently by that pre-eminent performance car/F1 enthusiast, Joe Macari.  If you haven’t yet seen Joe’s new ensemble near Wimbledon, London, please try to do so.  Call it museum art-meets-cars-you’d-love-to-own.

And now for some Sussex air…

Continuing our pre-British GP roadtrip, we visited the Festival of Speed on Goodwood Saturday.  The crowds may be thicker, the memorabilia stalls less evident (such are the monies involved these days on the promotional side of Goodwood) but the magic never dies.  In this first of two videos from the day, we look at a very special John Player Special and a marshalling area that left you dizzy with the noise, the smoke, the scent, the cars…and the wonderful racing people.

Images: LAT Photographic and Peter Windsor

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