The drum roll continues as we nominate P10 and P9 in our 2014 Top Ten F1 rankings. I’m sure you won’t agree with the list through to P1 but – hey – isn’t that what we still love about motor racing? There’s always something about which we can disagree…
Fifty years ago – on Saturday, January 11, 1964 – Bruce McLaren not only won his home Grand Prix at Pukekohe, near Auckland, New Zealand, but also opened the single-seater account for his brand new team – Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd. Driving his creatively-engineered lightweight Cooper-Climax, Bruce recovered tenaciously from a slowish start, passed Jack Brabham to take the lead and then parlayed a late-race shower into the victory margin he needed. To commemorate this historic win, I’ve voiced-over a hithertoo silent piece of footage from the race:
Emerson Fittipaldi stepped onto the F1 throne near the end of the reign of Jackie Stewart. And, for a while out there, he was every bit the JYS. Polished and classy at the wheel of Lotus 72s and McLaren M23s, Emerson also emerged as a major crusader for circuit and car safety. Many drivers spoke the right words in Barcelona,1975, when the guardrails provided only casual protection…but it was Emerson (plus his brother, Wilson, and Arturo Merzario) who took the first flights home in protest. It was only when Emerson arrived at Geneva airport on Sunday afternoon that he heard that five bystanders had lost their lives in Rolf Stommelen’s horrendous accident. Emerson’s legacy therefore says it all: Carlos Pace, Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna, Rubens Barrichello, Felipe Massa…plus 24 others. The Brazilian Grand Prix has been a firm fixture on the F1 calendar since the day Emerson almost-won that non-championship race at Interlagos, 1972. David Phipps’ race report in Autosport the following Thursday said it all: “It was as if Pele had missed an open goal,” wrote David of the last-lap drama that robbed Emerson in front of his home crowd. He would make up for that disappointment by going on to win three Grands Prix in his native country – two at Interlagos and one (non-championship) in Brazilia. On a frantic Thursday in Sao Paulo prior to this year’s edition, I spoke to Emerson in his downtown office. As is always the way with Emerson, his eyes did most of the talking. Call it infectious enthusiasm for a sport he has always loved.
That was the verdict of Valtteri Bottas as he looked back at Suzuka, venue of last Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix. Williams didn’t have a great weekend (again) but that did nothing to dim Valtteri’s enthusiasm for the circuit and for the F1 disciplines in general. We tasted a flavour of that at another great circuit last week when Valtteri chauffeured friends and Williams team partners around the Brands Hatch Indy circuit in a hot little Renault Clio. Mundane the car may be (by F1 standards); perfunctory his lap was not – and I hope we captured a little of its flavour in a short clip within this week’s edition of The Racer’s Edge. In the Teddington TRE studio I was very pleased to welcome back our friend and regular technical expert, Craig Scarborough. There have been plenty of rumours recently about Red Bull possibly running some form of KERS-related traction control; Scarbs tackles this theory head-on as well as providing his own, inimitable, detailed analyses all of the teams’ latest developments. And I’ve always wanted to chat to Alex Lynn, the very fast young Englishman who won prolifically in Formula Renault before graduating to F3. Alex has now won three rounds of the ultra-competitive 2013 Euro F3 Championship and I think you’ll find him refreshing in his approach: he chose to drive for the front-running Italian team, Prema Powersport, (a) because it would leave him with no excuses and (b) because it would take him out of his British comfort zone. He’s risen to the challenge. On top of all that, Alex also finds time to race his father’s ex-Bob Jane 1965 Lotus-Cortina, so there’s no doubt that his heart’s in the right place. It’s been a sad week but I hope you enjoy Episode 33. It’s about people who love our sport and the passion that they engender.