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F1 Opinion 19

October’s podcast with Tiff Needell

This month we sit down with Tiff Needell – the star of Fifth Gear and Top Gear. He made it, briefly, to Formula 1, but his success came afterwards in sports cars and tin-tops.

What you’ll all be pleased to hear is that he’s a proper old school racer who laments the loss of cross-ply tyres and the old circuits. You won’t be surprised to hear that he got on rather well with the rest of the podcast team.

opinion  Octobers podcast with Tiff Needell

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opinion  Octobers podcast with Tiff Needell

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19 comments on October’s podcast with Tiff Needell

  1. hamfan, 2 October 2012 12:35

    I like Tiff, he’s got one of those ‘impossible to dislike’ common man auras around him. Fifth Gear is pants though. Somebody gave me his autobiography as a birthday prezzie earlier this year and it’s all good stuff, recommended if you have a wet weekend over the winter sometime, but I remember thinking ‘how can someone whose career highlights were a third at LM in a Japanese privateer 962 and a couple of back-of-the-grid F1 starts get so well-known’? I guess it all comes back to that likeable aura.

    I’m looking forward to listening to the podcast when I have time later, and I hope he fleshes out a bit more on that time in Japan with Geoff Lees. In the book it’s kind of skimmed over, but it clearly saved his career. There’s an illustration in the book of the page from a J magazine (J Autosport, I think) showing both drivers jogging and Tiff says something to the effect ‘we were big news, but I wish I could understand what the writing says’ – having read the whole article, I can tell him it’s all about him getting a second (last?) chance, along the lines of ‘once considered the next James Hunt, he fell from single seaters to sportscars, and now from Europe to Japan, but maybe he’ll blossom here’. Perhaps, confidence-wise, it’s best he couldn’t read it at the time. But anyway, gladly, he did blossom there. Would love MS to do a proper article on the Japan WEC and sports prototype series in the 80s, featuring Tiff, of course.

    PS. Burning Rubber is good too.

  2. Nigel (not that one), 2 October 2012 13:04

    Another good podcast, completely agree about the spectacle of older cars. I’ve just re-watched the Jackie Stewart documentary again last week and there were some lovely shots of the Tyrrell 006 sliding around, you could really see the forces acting on it. Tyres flexing, suspension loading and rolling, nose diving under braking, all the things that, sadly, make a car slow…..

  3. colin, 2 October 2012 13:56

    Re mirrors,has nobody looked at webcam tec instead of those great bit barn doors stuck out in the airflow?

  4. Reddo, 3 October 2012 12:19

    Met with Tif at one of the events atWest London Audi; he was with Johnny Herbert and they were bouncng off each other as wetood by with our wives etc. I asked his wife if he was always like thi, and rolling her eyes wearily said ‘Yes -I’ afraid so…” I would rather someone like this than some of the types you meet.

    I would also rather watch 5th Gear and day of the week to that other show of idiots on the BBC.

  5. Andrew Scoley, 3 October 2012 17:05

    Another great listen, thoroughly enjoyable.

    The discussion about cross-plies versus radials was very enlightening, not something we have come across before. It set me thinking straight away because I remember a Gilles quote about the T4 not sliding. So 2 minutes research and there it is, Autocar, Italian Grand Prix 1979:
    “…I get the feeling the Goodyear drivers have much more to play with (he is referring to the kerbs at the second Lesmo corner), that they can make mistakes and get away with them. Our car does not want to slide its four wheels-it never has done actually.”
    I always assumed this was a reference to the car, but in light of what Tiff is saying, this sounds very much like a difference in characteristics of the Goodyear Cross-plies v the Michelin radials.

    (I was going to suggest Reddo reads what he types before sending but there is something amiss with this comments box, it keeps leaving letters out, you need to check very carefully!)

    Anyway, it sounds like we need a cross-ply tyre campaign.
    On the driver changes, I think Perez will do better than expected, and Rosberg will be closer to Lewis than is being suggested. And I bet that now Perez hasn’t got the Ferrari drive he wishes he’d beaten Fernando in Malaysia anyway!!

  6. patrick, 3 October 2012 19:32

    Another entertaining podcast. Crossplys on a modern F1 car anyone?

    Now if Ferrari are looking for a driver to do one season before Vettel steps up, surprised nobody’s mentioned that a certain other German appears to be suddenly without a drive, and perhaps more interested than most in a single season with the Scuderia?

    Oh, and anyone else wondering if Kimi Raikkonen could become the first person ever to win the driver’s title without winning a single race? A long shot, I know, but not impossible…

  7. John, 4 October 2012 14:58

    Thanks for having Tiff on the panel. He is quite a character and I also agree with his views on drivers, especially Hamilton. Mr. hamilton may be quick he may be but not universally loved!

  8. Bill, 4 October 2012 21:22

    I need to remind myself to not listen to these podcasts anymore. Maybe you can rename them also into: the big Lewis Hamilton love inn.

    What shameless adoration for a one time world champion, and that he ‘blows Button away’. Uptill now theres about 4 points difference in the total points tally since theyre teammates. I also think that untill Lewis is in the same team with Vettel, the tag ‘fastest driver in the world’ is questionable, to say the least. Just look what Vettel does vs qualifying specialist Webber.

    Sloppy and not right, gents. Take a moment for some introspection, before putting words like ‘authority’ on your website.

  9. Tony Geran, 5 October 2012 00:46

    Enjoyable podcast as always guys. Why is Ecclestone against Vettel winning 3 straight titles when another seemingly night vision impaired German won 5 of them on the trot? Why would Ferrari put Vettel in the same team as Alonso, a surefire way of upsetting the Spaniard surely? Liked the comment about the absence of oversteering. My favourite piece of oversteering, watching Peterson and Stuck in the Marches in wet practice at the Osterreichring in 1976

  10. Ed Foster, 5 October 2012 13:30

    Hi Bill,

    Sorry to hear that you think we’re all huge Lewis Hamilton fans and that we’re really just using the podcasts as a way to vent our adoration. While we do admire him as a driver – alongside many, many others – we’re by no means as hardened fans as you make out. Sorry it came out like that.

    Our new policy is that if anyone is unhappy with these podcasts we’ll refund you every penny…


  11. Bill, 5 October 2012 18:10

    You used the words ‘the fastest driver in the world’, Ed, thats not adoration? Not just of F1, but the fastest driver in the world! I expect those words to read in the tabloids, or from groupie Andrew Benson, not from you seasoned journo’s on a one time world champion racing against a guy with a whole lot better stats – Vettel.

    Then Button got ‘blown away’ by him, wich is perhaps true in qualification – but certainly not so in the races. Then it went on with comparisments with true F1 greats like Senna, Hamilton being a flawed character but very quick, etc, etc. It all sounded exactly the same hyperbole weve been reading all week in the British press. The guy probably made teh biggest mistake in his life and its just a great ole love festival.

    I didnt like it, so much that ill skip the podcasts for now.

  12. David-Joe Klotz, 6 October 2012 12:19

    I always enjoy the podcasts – but I agree that the love affair with Hamilton should stop. I won’t repeat what others have said here but I do agree with them.

    I do think that signing Perez has mostly to do with money rather than Hulkenburg or di Resta. And that Ferrari said diplomatically suggested he was not ready, said it all.

    Hamilton leaving is the greatest mistake of his career – and McLaren will suffer because Lewis is one of the three drivers in f1 that can be expected to win pole. With McLaren he will win, with Mercedes he may win. Nobody can run away from themelves and going to Mercedes will solve nothing.

    Anyway thanks so much for interviewing Tiff. Most enjoyable.

    How about interviewing one of the female drivers such as Divina Galica? Desire Wilson is another but she lives in the US.

  13. hamfan, 6 October 2012 14:20

    It’s obvious some of you guys don’t read the magazine. If you did, you’d know that its chief editor, the guy most of you lot treat as if he’s a wizened old sage dispensing wisdom like a Yoda dedicated to F1, is decidedly anti-Hamilton, seldom missing an opportunity to have a dig. So the fact that other members of the team might have different views just adds a bit of balance.

  14. Bill, 6 October 2012 19:25

    @ hamfan:

    And you mustv missed this podcast or youd know that your evil chief editor also exclaimed that ‘Hamilton is the fastest driver, full stop’.

    Meanwhile, today reigning double world champion Vettel took his 34th pole position out of 96 career GP’s, in a car that is not the best in the field, to truly get comparison with Senna, as he is now the 3rd best qualifier ever in F1 history, overtaking the likes of Clark, Mansell, Prost and Fangio.

    As the man who’s supposed to lead Mercedes out of the doldrums, Lewis Hamilton, the ‘fastest man in the world’, driving the best car in the field, could do no better than qualifying 9th, a full second behind Jenson Button, citing he couldnt make up his mind about set up…

    You guys want some mustard with that foot for the next podcast? ;)

  15. hamfan, 9 October 2012 08:25


    If you read the mag, and I can tell you don’t, you’d know Nigel R consistently puts LH down (not without some justification) whilst seemingly thinking the sun shines out of Fernando’s rear end (to the extent I’ve developed a pet theory that his own wife must have long black hair, a thick Spanish accent, and a dark monobrow – anybody seen her?) He also pretty consistently states (correctly) that LH is fast, if not the fastest, but also (again correctly) that being the fastest isn’t everything and can in fact, in modern clown tyre F1, be trumped by other attributes. Taking one line of his from the podcast and extrapolating that out to ‘the whole MS team loves LH, which drives me nuts ‘cos I’m a ranting hater and I want it stopped’ is absurd. Even if you were right (and you’re not – go buy the mag for once, contribute to their efforts) their opinions would be what they are and nothing to do with you, right?

    As for the rest of your post, I’ll have a word with nurse and see if she can up your dosage…

  16. Adam Stubbs, 10 October 2012 20:28

    Very entertaining podcast as ever, but one point I can’t let slide. I think it was Tiff who mentioned Maldonado being banned for a year in one of the lower formulas for “thumping” a marshal at Monaco. It was actually in 2005 while he was competing in Formula Renault 3.5, and the thumping was done with his car, under a yellow flag. Maldonado crashed and injured the marshal, and as a member of the orange brigade myself ,I would hope that the subsequent 9 race ban would have shown him the error of his ways. Still, he’s got a better record this year than Grosjean, Pastor usually makes it much further than the first corner before wiping out……

  17. Armando Galindo, 21 October 2012 15:36


    Don’t pay attention to your envious hosts, KEEP RACING.


    Puebla, Mexico

  18. Eddie Hill, 1 November 2012 19:51

    I entered that contest for the FF car that he won, and I still believe I could have been a contender!!! Love the comment that if F1 drivers drove equal cars against each other in other formulae, we could better assess them; e.g. RoC for example shows it to some extent.

  19. steve hatch, 12 November 2012 21:09

    Absorbing – Tiff must be the most versatile of guests – give him another outing soon on cold tryes with Nigel & the team – time well spent thanks Motor Sport ! :)

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