Can-Am: the sequel
No orange McLarens, no Denny Hulme... Gary Watkins looks back at Can-Am's second coming Alan…
– Some light relief at the Singapore Grand Prix
– Strange tactics employed by F1’s stewards
– A good time to remember the inspiring Jenks
It is a fact that the race was brought to life by the intervention of the safety car, that the resultant drama served to mask the fact that here was yet another circuit where overtaking was nigh impossible, but still, by common consent, the Singapore Grand Prix – Formula 1’s first ‘night race’ – was a thorough success. The organisation was superb, the grandstands packed, and the whole thing positively reeked of money. No surprise, then, that Bernie Ecclestone glowed all weekend.
Not long afterwards, however, there was heard a lone voice of dissent, and it came – quelle surprise – from the direction of Maranello. Luca di Montezemolo offered his thoughts on the Singapore race, and clearly he was in a right paddy when he did so.
“Unfortunately,” he said, “when we race on tracks where staging a circus or something would be better, anything can happen, because the spectacle is supplied by the safety car. This is humiliating for F1.
Even before the race, Ferrari’s colourful president had made clear his aversion to a Grand Prix in the streets of Singapore – indeed to street circuits in general. “I have the impression,” he said, “that it will be another one of those letdowns where you cannot overtake, like Valencia. Going forward with these circuits heralds a bad future for F1.”
Ah, so that was the problem – the adoption of street circuits, where ‘you cannot overtake’. My first thought, upon learning of Luca’s remarks, was to wonder why he had omitted mention of Monaco, where overtaking has been a near impossibility since 1929; my second was to conclude that if circuits where ‘you cannot overtake’ were to be sidestepped, we would be looking at something like a two-race World Championship. Face it, the overtaking car has become an endangered species, in part because the design of so many tracks militates against passing, and in part because of the extent to which ‘aero’ has been progressively allowed to make impossible the close following of another car through a corner.
We must hope that the new F1 regulations, to be introduced next year, will – at least temporarily – lessen the latter problem. Artists’ impressions of the 2009 Grand Prix car, complete with huge front wing and tiny rear, suggest a remarkably unsightly vehicle, but, let’s face it, a long time has passed since F1 cars were things of beauty, and the outlandish soon becomes the norm. When the ‘pinched in’, narrow-track, regulations were introduced, we thought the resultant cars hideous, but look at footage of pre-98 F1 now and the cars seem unnaturally wide.
If the question of overtaking has – at last – been addressed by the FIA, in terms of the cars’ specification, there is no sign of any similar thinking when it comes to circuits, and of course the problem is exacerbated by the inclusion in the World Championship of tracks like Barcelona, where the teams test constantly, and where thus no surprises await. Long experience of the Spanish Grand Prix has taught one the worth of four or five double espressos immediately before the start.
That being so, any circuit at which pre-race testing is impossible, either because it is through streets or too far away, has a head start, as far as I’m concerned, although this is not always realised in the race itself. If the venue was pleasing – hell, in this day and age we should welcome any new Grand Prix in Europe – Valencia was a stone drag of a race with the cars evenly spaced, 50 or so yards apart, from the very beginning. The hope is that the layout might be tweaked before next summer.
Di Montezemolo might think it ‘humiliating’ that at Singapore ‘the spectacle was supplied by the safety car’, but I’m afraid my response to that is that I’m only sorry there wasn’t a similar scenario in Valencia. The only aspect of contemporary F1 I would call ‘humiliating’ is that something purporting to call itself ‘motor racing’ is so frequently nothing more than a high-speed parade. As I may have related before, some years ago a lady in Indianapolis asked me if I would answer a question for her. She was courteous, almost embarrassed: “Excuse me, sir, but in Formula 1 are they… allowed to pass?”
Was she being ironic? Hardly. Facetious, then? No. Doubtless the FIA line would be that she wasn’t very… sophisticated, and simply didn’t comprehend that there was more to this than the missionary position with the lights out. Having grown up with the Indy 500, she naïvely believed that a car race necessarily entailed cars racing, and when she detected little evidence of that in F1, she became a touch confused. It was as if the goals had been sewn up.
To no one’s great surprise, Ecclestone responded swiftly to di Montezemolo’s petulant remarks: “After the weekend Ferrari had,” Bernie snapped, “their president should have shut up, and kept his head down. If Massa loses the World Championship, he will know his team was responsible. He would have destroyed everyone in Singapore if he had kept going.”
So, too, he would. During qualifying Felipe had produced one of those laps – like Carlos Reutemann at Monza in 1981, or Jarno Trulli at Monaco in ’04 – that defied improvement, and at the start of the race he confidently led away, showing every sign of staying there for the duration.
Massa is like that. When he has confidence in himself and his car, when the stars are in the right place, he drives sublimely, and, in the manner of Alain Prost, makes the winning of a Grand Prix seem like something you or I could do. On days like that, you can take him to the bank.
Felipe has a shortcoming, however, and it is a significant one. When something – anything – in the system glitches, he is not the man to cope. On occasions like that, as Ferrari people can tell you, the freehand artistry of Kimi Räikkönen is what you need; problem is, Kimi’s baffling inability to make his Bridgestone fronts work in qualifying means that invariably he starts too far back for it to matter very much.
Had not the overhyped Nelson Piquet looped his Renault into a wall, appropriately on lap 13, I have little doubt that Massa would have gone on to another of his immaculate Grand Prix victories, but as soon as the safety car came out all bets were off.
For one thing, Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica fell victim to the absurd ‘pot luck’ rule, which immediately closes the pitlane, and penalises – with a stop/go penalty – those who are about to run out of fuel, and have no alternative but to come in and take their punishment.
For another, when the pitlane was formally open once more, Ferrari’s pit work was such as to bring sentimental tears to the eyes of Mauro Forghieri.
We all romanticise, we who were fervent Ferrari fans in some misty era past, about the pre-Barnard days when the team may have been a little chaotic, but when it operated on passion and song and Lambrusco; and in a little way we were rewarded now with a snapshot from another time.
In came Massa and, right behind him, Räikkönen. On went the fresh tyres, and in went the fuel. What happened next, though, made me think of Peter Ustinov.
For those of you unfamiliar with Ustinov’s Grand Prix of Gibraltar, a pastiche of motor racing recorded more than 50 years ago, yet with a resonance that never dies, the German team – Schnorcedes – had stolen a march on its rivals by achieving a perfect weight balance in its cars. The down side was that this necessitated the driver’s sitting, as team manager Altbauer explained, ‘with one leg forward, and the other backward. Naturally, this takes a little training…’
All was going well for Schnorcedes in the race, with von Grips leading, and Fling second, until the – late – arrival of the Duke of Edinburgh, in the event of which the drivers had been advised that they should stop immediately, and ‘stand reverently to attention’ until the Royal Car had completed a lap of honour, at which point they were free to continue with the race. The German drivers, of course, found themselves unable to stand.
“They’re a funny people, aren’t they?” muses Girling Foss. “They do everything so perfectly that they miss some of the elementary things…”
Massa and Ferrari had Singapore in the bag until that pitstop, when a little too much cleverness worked against them.
Rather than stick with the crude old ‘lollipop’ to indicate when it was time for the driver to get on his way, Ferrari a while ago came up with a system which automatically – by means of a green light in the cockpit – notifies Massa or Räikkönen that now is the time to proceed. In Singapore, though, mindful of the likely chaos in the pitlane during a mass stop during a ‘safety car’ period, the team decided to operate it manually.
Which would have been fine, had it been done at the right moment. But do it a mite too soon, and you send your driver off into the pitlane with 30-odd feet of fuel hose flailing around behind his car – and you time it, what’s more, so that he also slices into the path of another car.
This, you may remember, also happened in Valencia, and by chance the driver almost collected by Massa was Adrian Sutil, who has suffered much at the hand of Ferrari this season; he was on schedule to finish fourth at Monaco until Räikkönen forgot to brake at the chicane and tanked into the back of him, thereby robbing Sutil of five points, and his team, Force India, of who knows how many million dollars.
We were indeed surprised that Räikkönen suffered no penalty, for FIA stewards tend to take a dim view of driving mistakes these days, and when Massa almost hit Sutil in the Valencia pitlane it wasn’t long before we were notified that the incident was being investigated. As it had occurred with 20 laps to go, we wondered if perhaps Felipe might get a drive-through penalty, but by the end of the race the stewards had reached no decision.
It would still, long after the chequered flag, have been possible to punish Massa in this fashion, by the simple expedient of adding 25 seconds to his race time, the punishment meted out to Lewis Hamilton at Spa, which cost him victory, and handed it to Massa. Had Felipe been penalised this way at Valencia, it would have handed victory to… Lewis.
He wasn’t, though. After much deliberation, the stewards concluded – correctly – that Ferrari, rather than Massa, had been at fault, and handed the team a fine of 10,000 Euros, precisely the sum required of Fernando Alonso for driving over a white line in practice.
Fast-forward now to Singapore, five weeks later: once again Massa almost hit Sutil in the pitlane, and once again – indisputably – it was down to the team, and not the driver. Another fine? Well, no, actually. On this occasion Massa was given a drive-through, the normal penalty for this misdemeanour.
Where lay the difference between the two offences which dictated punishments so widely different in severity? There is no information on that, but if you were one of the wicked cynics, convinced that there is one law for Ferrari and one for everyone else, you concluded that, whereas a drive-through in Valencia would have cost Massa victory, in Singapore it made no difference at all, for he had lost so much time that he had no chance of scoring even a single point.
Perhaps di Montezemolo, in describing the safety car scenario as ‘humiliating’, was referring to the fact that in the end the race was won by the Renault of Alonso, which had qualified only 14th. It is a fact that, had the race run through without interruption, Alonso would have been nowhere, but also worth remembering that, without a problem in qualifying, he would have started from the first couple of rows, and been in the thick of it.
Personally, I found the outcome of Singapore highly satisfactory, particularly with regard to Nico Rosberg, who delighted Frank Williams with a fine second place, and also to Fernando, still the most complete driver in F1. This, lest we forget, is the man who won World Championships in the last two seasons of Michael Schumacher’s career. At Fuji he made it two victories in a fortnight, after another superbly judged drive.
No surprise that Ferrari so much wish they could put him in with Massa in 2009.
The FIA is understood to be contemplating a change in the way in which its stewards operate, and most would agree that it cannot come a moment too soon. For a great many years now these people, most of whom are members of the World Council, have been prone to making judgements which are frequently absurd, and sometimes farcical.
A new ‘steward system’, therefore, is not to be discouraged, since any surely has to be an improvement on the one which has been in service since Job was a lad. Max Mosley is said to be in favour of having four stewards, rather than three, at each race, but surely of more immediate importance is eliminating ‘No experience necessary’ from the job description. There have, believe it or not, been examples of stewards officiating at the very first Grand Prix they have ever attended.
Inevitably, too, there is a measure of unease that Alan Donnelly, Mosley’s right-hand man and official representative, serves also in the capacity of ‘advisor’ to the stewards. Surely, if these people were of a requisite standard, they would be in no need of ‘advice’ from anywhere.
The fundamental problems lie with a preposterous lack of consistency – I have dealt elsewhere with the very different penalties, for the same offence, handed out to Felipe Massa in Valencia and Singapore – and also a disturbing lack of what, in the modern world, we are pleased to call ‘transparency’.
There is no question that, of late, the ‘nanny state’ has taken complete hold in F1. For countless years Ayrton Senna, and then Michael Schumacher in the years after, periodically behaved like homicidal lunatics on the track, routinely employing intimidatory tactics, either to keep a challenging driver back, or to unnerve him into letting them through. ‘Give way – or we crash’ was the sum of it.
Disagree with me if you wish, but it is for that reason that, for all their sublime skills, I refuse – and will always refuse – to think of Senna and Schumacher in the same light as Fangio, Moss, Clark, Stewart, Lauda and Prost, all of whom resolutely ‘fought fair’. Once you tacitly sanction the ‘professional foul’, all bets are thenceforth off.
Year after year, though, Senna and Schumacher got away with it, and perhaps the most blatant – and most lamentable – example came at Suzuka in 1990, when, at the first corner of the opening lap, Ayrton simply took aim at Prost’s Ferrari and speared it off the road at 150mph.
Was Senna punished in any way? Disgracefully, he was not. And nor was Schumacher when he drove at Häkkinen at Spa, or edged Alonso on to the grass down the Hangar Straight, or… or… how long do we have? When Michael blatantly took out Damon Hill at Adelaide in 1994 (thereby guaranteeing himself the World Championship) he suffered no punishment, and when he tried to do the same to Jacques Villeneuve, at Jerez in ’97, the FIA came down on him like a ton of feathers, taking away what they quaintly called his ‘Vice-World Championship’, and making him do some PR work on road safety. Boo-hoo.
Now the pendulum has swung fully in the other direction, and, after years of the stewards’ looking the other way, we are at a point where virtually any overtaking move is instantly subject to ‘investigation’, and invariably punished.
After the Hamilton affair at Spa, Renault’s clear-thinking Pat Symonds offered the opinion, widely shared, that over-zealousness on the part of the FIA stewards was putting ‘motor racing’ in serious jeopardy, that drivers – for whom overtaking is already quite difficult enough, thank you – would become ever more reluctant to try a passing move, for fear of almost inevitable penalty if contact ensued.
I wouldn’t argue that, at Fuji, they were right to penalise Massa – a Ferrari driver, no less – for the clumsy way in which he turfed Hamilton into a spin, but the decision later to punish Sébastien Bourdais for the touch with Massa at the first corner simply defied belief, and stands as the most scandalous miscarriage of justice we have yet seen.
Bourdais was just out of the pits when the incident occurred. Correctly he kept within the white lines at the exit, then gunned his Toro Rosso down to the first corner, where – correctly again – he kept to his line, and did not deviate from it. Certainly he wasn’t about to give Massa the corner – this was a matter of positions, after all – but he all but drove off the road to avoid being clipped by the Ferrari.
The result? Bourdais had 25 seconds added to his race time, which removed him from the points – he finished sixth – and also, of course, had the not insignificant side-effect of promoting Massa from eighth to seventh, thereby reducing Felipe’s deficit to Hamilton from six to five points.
Following the penalty to Hamilton at Spa, the McLaren team, while entertaining no real hope of success, felt bound to appeal against a decision upon which, after all, the destiny of the 2008 World Championship could rest. After two days of expensive lawyer talk in Paris, the FIA International Court of Appeal eventually declared the appeal ‘inadmissible’, which made one wonder why, then, it had not been refused in the first place. The cost to McLaren, a team insider tells me, was around £100,000.
In Singapore, perhaps not surprisingly, Hamilton chose to put his naturally combative instincts to one side, and, knowing that Massa was not going to score, to concentrate on banking points. At Fuji he and his team suggested there would be more of the same. Lewis had learned lessons from the costly closing races of 2007, he said, but quite obviously they slipped his mind during the first few seconds of the Japanese Grand Prix, when he blew his pole position start, and then made an atrocious mess of the first corner, killing any hopes of a strong finish right there.
Increasingly this year Hamilton’s rivals have murmured that Lewis thinks he can walk on water, and sometimes he can – think of Silverstone – but often there have been signs of over-confidence verging on the foolish. This was one such occasion, and starkly differed from his first-ever Grand Prix start, in Melbourne last year, when the way he flicked and weaved between cars ahead looked like sleight of hand. At the first corner at Fuji, by contrast, he looked simply cack-handed. We all love to see a true racer, and Hamilton is emphatically that, but until he is more selective in when to go for it and when not, he will never be as good as he thinks he is.
A week later, in Shanghai, there was more of the same rhetoric from Hamilton and McLaren: the emphasis was firmly on the championship. And this time, in a car perhaps more superior to its opposition than at any time this season, Lewis drove one of his perfect races, and simply left the rest behind. If there was motor racing to spare in Japan, there was none at all in China – why, the stewards didn’t penalise anyone all afternoon.
Every year racing becomes more and more ‘milk and water’, and real he-man motor racing is practically extinct, so that in the end one can foresee everyone wrapped in cotton wool, and then I hope they all choke to death in their own safety.”
The words are from Denis Jenkinson – and they were written in July 1957. Immediately ahead on the World Championship schedule were Grands Prix at the Nürburgring (by which I mean the Nordschleife), at Pescara, a 15-mile circuit composed of public roads, and at the pre-chicane Monza, where the lap record stood at over 135mph. For all that, though, in Jenks’s mind ‘real he-man racing’ had become ‘practically extinct’, and that often brings a smile to my face, 50 years on, not least when I learn of a great debate about the safety implications of banning tyre-warmers or something.
This being the 1000th issue of Motor Sport, it is no more than inevitable that I should remember a man who became one of my closest friends, and who long before that was responsible for instilling in me the desire to spend my life around motor racing, and to write about it. If I consider the people I have known in this business, three stand clear of the rest in their unshakably pure love of the sport: Stirling Moss, Mario Andretti and Denis Jenkinson.
I took to reading Motor Sport when I was about six, I suppose, because my father bought the magazine every month, and it was always around the house. There were no bylines in those days, but sometimes the initials ‘DSJ’ would appear at the foot of an article, and soon it dawned on me that ‘DSJ’ and ‘Our Continental Correspondent’ were one and the same.
While I savoured the race reports, my favourite piece was always ‘Continental Notes’, in which this mysterious man wrote of anything that took his fancy, be it an epic battle in a Grand Prix or sports car race, a dinner with Jean Behra or Luigi Musso at the Albergo Reale in Modena, an affectionate memoire of a driver recently killed, or simply a memorable drive through the Dolomites in his Porsche 356.
What Continental Notes added up to, it seemed to this Mancunian boy, was an irresistibly romantic way of life, following the racing circus wherever it led, and doing it on uncluttered roads in a wonderful car. It was because of Jenks that I fell in love with all things Porsche, and resolved that one day I would own one. How to make a living from writing about motor racing, though, was another matter.
Motor Sport was always a quirky magazine, and, while that was part of the appeal, it required of the reader a certain amount of patience and dedication. In October 1959, for example, Continental Notes began on page 750, and was continued on page… 747. ‘Writing to length’ was a concept in which Jenks had no interest: he wrote as much as he felt necessary, and often – simply to accommodate the volume of words – the last part of a story would be in two-point or something, and buried away. Still you read every word.
Certainly no one was better suited to a quirky magazine than Jenks. The word ‘eccentric’ is tossed around lightly these days, but DSJ was the genuine article, not least because – like all true eccentrics – he thought his way of life entirely normal, the rest of the world curiously out of step. One day I mentioned in passing my loathing of Christmas, and he surprised me by disagreeing. “Oh, I love Christmas Day,” he said. Why? I asked, having never considered him one for kids and presents and home and hearth. “The roads are so empty!” he said, rubbing his hands. “Perfect time for a thrash around…”
It was the same with his house, hidden away in Hampshire woods. Jenks’s domestic arrangements were unusual, let’s say, and for most visitors required a degree of acclimatisation. There was, for example, the lack of electricity: power, such as it was, came from a small Honda generator, and was unable to provide illumination for two rooms at once, so that if someone needed to use the loo, other guests sat
in darkness until their return.
This, to Jenks, was all quite normal, as was his habit – rather than keeping a note book for the purpose – of writing telephone numbers on the wall by the phone. When once I questioned the siting of a Daimler V8 engine at the foot of his bed, he looked surprised. “Nowhere else to put it,” he said. “No space in the sitting room.” And in itself his logic was unimpeachable, for it was occupied by a selection of motorbikes, in various stages of repair.
Given the lack of electricity, it follows that Jenks never owned a television set, nor wished to. As he worked on his bikes – ‘fettle’ was a favourite word – he would listen endlessly to his beloved Sidney Bechet on a cassette player wired up to the inevitable Honda generator.
The Japanese manufacturer also played a significant role in the extension to his house which was of course self-built. One hot day, when we were drinking a beer or two outside, I noted the legend ‘Honda Motor Company, Tokyo’ all over the walls, and Jenks patiently explained that at one time the bikes had been shipped over from Japan in wooden packing cases, which some obliging soul from the company then put his way. I couldn’t resist asking if he had received planning permission for extending his home. “Who from?” he said.
Jenks always took a special delight in saying – or writing – something that he knew would provoke shock, even outrage, in his audience. When you put this to him, he would deny it, but after a cognac or two would concede that maybe you had a point. I remember his reaction when Mika Häkkinen, in his first race for McLaren, out-qualified team-mate Ayrton Senna at Estoril. “Likely lad…” he murmured.
In the late ’70s, at Silverstone, several of us were one day given a ride in a factory Porsche 935. Jenks – of course – was the first to go, and afterwards, as he stepped elatedly from the car, we asked how it had been. “Fantastic!” he said, then, “Just think what it would have been like with a proper driver…”
We pointed out that his chauffeur was a Grand Prix winner, and that brought a typical Jenks response: “I’ve never been interested in who won a race, until I know who was behind him. There’s winning, and there’s finishing first…”
Like any racing journalist, Jenks was well aware that to admire the driver was not necessarily to like the man. He had his villains, as well as his heroes, and once you were into either file, there you stayed for ever. Although there remained a fundamental esteem for anyone who raced, be it in cars or on motorcycles, he could on occasion be brutally direct, in ways that could make you wince. I remember a leading driver, albeit not a top one, one Saturday afternoon pondering why he was so far down the grid. “Because you’re not very good,” said Jenks, munching on an apple. I prayed for the ground to open up…
During the years of our friendship, Gilles Villeneuve and Ayrton Senna were his greatest heroes, their sublime skills occasionally moving him to tears, but gaining entrance to his personal hall of fame was not easily achieved. “In my teens,” he said, “my hero was Bernd Rosemeyer, and everybody’s hero was Nuvolari.” And since the war? “It’s a waste of time comparing different eras; you can only go for drivers supreme in their own time. There are just five in my top bracket: Ascari, Moss, Clark, Villeneuve and Senna.”
Arguing with Jenks – on this or any other subject – was a thankless endeavour, and he loved to play devil’s advocate. “How,” you would say, blood pressure rising, “can you criticise Prost for doing no more than necessary to win a race, and then praise Fangio for always trying to win at the slowest possible speed?”
“Different,” he would reply.
“Well, how is it different?”
A minute or two later, once he had got your blood pressure off the clock, there would come a sly grin, and you would realise once again that you’d been had.
I enjoyed Jenks’s company all over the world, but he was invariably at his best, given his particular love for Italian motor racing, at Imola and Monza. Even 30 years and more after his celebrated Mille Miglia victory with Moss, he was widely recognised in this country he adored, where folk in the street would call out his name.
For Imola we invariably stayed at a small pensione in Fontanelice, and sometimes, at the end of a day at the track, Alan Henry and I would drive with him up into the hills, where the signs read ‘Futa’ and ‘Raticosa’, and every turn of the road produced some memory – “Stirling and I stopped for lunch here when we were doing the ‘recce’…” or, “This is where Herrmann went off…”
In these circumstances, with the evening sun beating down, and a glass of rosso in his hand, Jenks was completely in his element, and loved sharing his reminiscences with us. How privileged we were.
Whenever I’m asked to tell ‘a Jenks story’, it’s difficult to know where to start, but more than once I have related the saga of Hockenheim in 1983, where, during practice, he got into an altercation with Elio de Angelis, who was extremely angry about something he had written about him.
Jenks was never one to worry too much about what racing drivers said, and his lack of interest in de Angelis’s ranting merely served to increase the driver’s ire. Finally Elio lost his rag completely, and shoved Jenks, who ended up on the floor of the pit, unhurt – but also deeply unimpressed.
So there we were on race day, watching out on the circuit, in the ‘stadium’ section near the paddock. Round came the cars on the formation lap, and as a black and gold Lotus went by, Jenks made a gesture at it, the index and little fingers of his hand straight, the two in between folded over. At the same time he appeared to be hissing something.
“Jenks,” I said, “what are you doing?”
“Hex,” he replied, menacingly. “I’m putting a hex on de Angelis. An Italian spell – to bring him bad luck…”
“Well, fine,” I said, “but that was Mansell…”
“What? Bugger! Got the wrong bloke!”
I didn’t quite know where this was leading.
“Well,” I ventured, “why not take the hex off Mansell?”
“Can’t,” he said darkly. “Too late now…”
The race duly started, and when they came into our sight for the first time, Jenks was on the lookout for de Angelis: as the number 11 Lotus went by, there were the fingers again.
“Got him that time!”
Next time the cars came past, I began to get a little uneasy.
“No Mansell,” I said.
“Told you it was too late…”
Fortunately, it transpired that Mansell had merely pulled off with a blown engine. And half a dozen laps later de Angelis’s car, too, tooled slowly past us, en route to the pits, out for the day.
Jenks smiled broadly. “Took a bit longer than I expected,” he said, then, as an afterthought, “Glad Mansell’s all right.” For the rest of the afternoon, he was as happy as Larry.
Twelve years ago we said our farewells to him, and in a manner of which he would thoroughly have approved. At his own request – nay, instruction! – the funeral service contained ‘no religious content whatever’, and in conducting it, Canon Lionel Webber, while acceding to Jenks’s wishes, yet achieved a balance of affection and serenity which moved many of us to tears.
“I’m sure he’s up there now,’ the Canon said, ‘with all his old pals – Ayrton and Gilles and Jimmy – having an argument with God about whether He exists or not…”
At the end, after Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks had each given an appreciation of the little man, the Canon read some of DSJ’s writings, concluding with the final paragraphs of his book, A Story Of Formula 1, which dealt with the 2.5-litre era of 1954-1960.
About to begin was a new age, and Jenks finished the book like this: “If the new formula goes on for seven years as the one about which I have written has done, then I feel sure I shall have seven years of enjoyment, and sadness, in front of me. I hope I shall be able to absorb them to the fullest extent, for as one of the Grand Prix drivers said, when everyone was complaining about the new rules, ‘For me, the main thing is to race’, and while there are people about with that sentiment then I want to be there to watch them.”
Jenks departed to the strains of Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye, by Ella Fitzgerald, whom he adored. It reminds me of him to this day, just as it was years before the ring of the phone in the evening ceased automatically to make me assume it was Jenks. So many times that happened when I was on the point of sitting down to eat: “I’ve been thinking about that lap of Senna’s on Saturday…” Then, an hour and a half later: “Anyway, I’ve got a meat pie in the oven – can’t stay on the phone all night…”
No one like him.
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