I wouldn’t be surprised if your postbag was full of omissions from your cult hero list [Cover story, November issue], so here’s mine: why Kimi and not Keke? This Flying Finn could have been conceived in Hollywood – debonair, outspoken, a maverick who rejected the fitness obsession, stubbing out his cigarette and climbing aboard to record the fastest-ever pole lap. He shone when the odds were against him. People write reverently about Senna’s first lap at Donington in 1993, but Keke’s first lap at a damp Monaco 10 years earlier was equally impressive. Starting fifth, a lone Cosworth among turbos and the only guy on slicks, he was second by St Devote and leading by the end of the lap, waltzing away to victory and finishing with a raw palm, having lost the gear knob on this circuit of a thousand gear changes. As you say of Chris Amon, “Wins and titles… rarely tell the full story.” Keke’s tally of five wins does not do him justice in my view. His character and flair will always mark him as my cult hero.
Tim Hain, Lower Kingswood, Surrey
With reference to the article in the November issue [Metal guru, November issue], Cyril Malem states his first complete car build was the Clubmans car you illustrated. Cyril may have put a wide nose on it, but it was built by Barry Flegg and his father, with some very innovative ideas to make a Lotus 7 competitive in the Clubmans series. It won the 1-litre class with 10 wins. I attach a photo of Barry at Brands Hatch in the car.
Myself and a few other helpers enjoyed a year with this car, and the general camaraderie of the Clubmans paddock.
Alan Collins, by email
John Watson has drawn my attention to an article in your August edition [Duel of the Fates] giving an account of when Jochen Rindt won the 1970 British Grand Prix after Jack Brabham ran out of fuel. Although Wattie and I worked together both at Brabham and Penske he was unaware of my transgression!
The truth was as follows. Ron Dennis and I worked together in the Brabham F1 team during 1968-70. Ron looked after Jack’s car whereas my responsibility was building the cars and I sometimes travelled to a race to assist. On this particular occasion, Ron and I worked on Jack’s car as his mechanics. It was usual in such situations for Ron to warm the engine before the car was run, which on the Cosworth DFV required the fuel metering unit to be altered from lean to rich. In the ’60s and ’70s, the Brands Hatch paddock was on the outside of the track and access to the pits was via a single, often congested tunnel. Teams did most of the work on the cars prior to them being driven to the pits.
For a reason I cannot recall we had a panic on Jack’s car shortly before going to the pits. While Ron dealt with this, I warmed the engine but we were running very late so as soon as the problem was fixed Ron drove the car to the pits. On arrival on the grid Jack told us we needed to add more fuel, so another panic ensued. During all this mayhem I forgot to change the metering unit back to full lean for the race, but Jack during his lap to the grid failed to detect that the engine was running rich, something drivers of his calibre were well capable of feeling. The rest is history.
Despite his deep disappointment at losing the race virtually at the last corner – a repeat of Monaco earlier that season when it was his fault! –nothing was said to either Ron or I. In fact the error was not discovered until the engine was started back at the factory prior to leaving for the next race. Neither Jack nor Ron Tauranac said anything to me in the way of admonishment. Many years later after Ron Dennis had become a major player in Formula 1 the story seeped out – more, I suspect, in an attempt to prove that Ron too was fallible. Jack liked to recount the tale about how Ron lost him the British Grand Prix! It was during dinner one evening at my home years later when Jack raised the matter that I was able to tell him the truth, and thankfully Doug Nye recorded the true story in his excellent book about Jack’s life and career.
Nick Goozee, Dorset
The reason, Lewis, that you keep being sanctioned is because no-one else pitted illegally at Monza and no-one else did illegal practice starts at Sochi. Brilliant driver you may be but you need to learn to lose magnanimously as Michael Schumacher did.
Timothy Hadleigh, Cobham, Surrey
Andrew Frankel has hit a chord with his thought that we have reached ‘peak car’ [Diary, November issue] — a thought that I concur with fully, and have done since reading an article in Autosport by John Bolster back in the ’60s. His comparison of driving a Fiat 500 alongside a Dino Ferrari led him to a similar conclusion to Andrew Frankel.
The then technical editor of Autosport opined that we could get more motoring enjoyment from ten-tenths driving in the 500 than five-tenths in the Dino. Food for thought as we race towards 2000bhp with the new breed of electric hypercars. I am quite happy with my 50-year-old Lotus 7!