The name, in gold lettering, on the black bodywork of the JPS Lotus-Renault 98T was Johnny Dumfries. Well, John Colum Crichton-Stuart, Earl of Dumfries, would have taken up a lot more space and the descendant of Robert the Bruce was more focused on his arrival in Formula 1 than family history. This was 1986; his team-mate was Ayrton Senna, a rival in their Formula 3 days. He’d won the British F3 championship and come within three points of beating Ivan Capelli to the European title. We haven’t done an interview since 1985 so it’s time to catch up with the man who was the next big thing – and then walked away from the sport in 1991.
Motor Sport: Racing was in the family – your cousin Charlie Crichton-Stuart won the Temporada F3 series in 1966 and was Williams’ sponsorship finder in the early days. How did you get on the ladder?
John Bute: I was always very independent, left school after my ‘O’ levels and got various jobs… painter, decorator, building sites, and later, in 1977, at Williams where I drove their Morris Marina van. My dad was fantastic, a lovely man, and he taught me to drive in the fields at home on the Isle of Bute. He just let me make my way in the world. I loved the sport. As a kid my hero was Ronnie Peterson, and my mates were all racing karts so I started there, just having a bit of fun. I broke both my ankles karting, so at least I got that out of the way, and wanted to go further.