Fragile tyres continue to breed F1 friction, why Kimi Raikkonen might make a perfect future foil for Sebastian Vettel… and fond memories of James Hunt, 20 years on
Quote of the day in Barcelona came from Lewis Hamilton, on the radio to his race engineer: “I can’t drive any slower…” Later, having finished 12th after starting from the front row, he looked inconsolable: “That was an experience I really don’t want to go through again…”
Perhaps the Spanish Grand Prix marked the beginning of the end of this rather silly period in Formula 1. One hopes so, anyway. As Sebastian Vettel put it, “We’re not going at the pace of the car — we’re going at the pace of the tyres…” To some degree that has probably been true throughout the history of F1, but in the race at Barcelona there were 77 tyre stops, and four changes were the norm. To put it another way, for virtually everyone five sets were required for the 190 miles — and this at a circuit where Pirelli played it conservatively, with hard and medium the compounds on offer.
In qualifying the two Mercedes were untouchable, Rosberg taking pole position for the second race running, but although Nico stressed that throughout practice his focus had been on a race set-up, when it came to Sunday afternoon he was hamstrung. Leading the opening stint of the Grand Prix, he was warned as early as lap three to ‘look after the left rear’, and once the first round of stops was done — eight or 10 laps in — the Mercedes, now on hard tyres, was picked off by Alonso, Vettel, Massa and Raikkonen in the space of a single lap.
“It’s frustrating,” said Ross Brawn, the master of considered understatement, “to have a car that’s got core performance, but when we come to race it we’re just tiptoeing around on the tyres all the time. I do believe we have to think about this situation, because the whole weekend is just preoccupied with trying to look after the tyres…”
Some will continue to trot out the line that ‘it’s the same for everyone’, suggesting that if Ferrari and Lotus can make the ultradelicate tyres work for the duration of a Grand Prix, then it’s up to the rest to match them. As an argument in itself, that is difficult to refute: while there was great debate about whether three or four stops would be necessary, Ferrari from the outset firmly decided on four and planned its strategy accordingly.
On single-lap performance, Alonso and Massa could not match Mercedes, Red Bull or Lotus, but they had faith in Ferrari’s race pace: unsure of how many stops the likes of Vettel and Raikkonen would be making, they knew it was essential to make up places at the start, and Alonso’s typically brave and opportunistic move around the outside of Raikkonen and Hamilton was the highlight of the afternoon.
Thereafter Fernando drove just as fast as his tyres allowed and, once he was into the lead, on lap 13, the Spanish Grand Prix looked like his to lose, his only real concern that Kimi’s light-footed Lotus would very probably go the distance on three stops. At half-distance the black car, having made one stop fewer, was in the lead, and briefly Raikkonen considered the possibility of victory: “We were on old tyres, though, and Fernando’s were newer — and it’s too easy to overtake, so there was no point in really fighting because you cannot hold him behind…”
A moment on lap 32 defined the race, I thought. Alonso was leading from Massa, with Vettel third and Raikkonen, after the second of his three stops, fourth. When Kimi caught Seb, he was simply allowed through — and this owed nothing to the fact that they are mates: Vettel’s racing instincts will have been screaming within him, but he didn’t fight because he couldn’t: he was simply driving at a prescribed speed, thinking only of his tyres. Later in the race, with his fourth stop nearing, he got a radio message: “OK, Sebastian, you can use up your tyres…” Go fast, in other words.
This is not Formula 1 as we have known it, and if perhaps there is some rejoicing in the paddock that Red Bull’s wings have been clipped — at least sometimes — by outside influences, I found myself in complete agreement with team owner Dietrich Mateschitz, who is customarily not given to public proclamations.
“Everyone knows what is happening here,” he said. “This has nothing to do with classic racing any more — this is a competition in tyre management. Under the given circumstances, we can neither get the best out of our cars or our drivers. There is no more real qualifying and fighting for the pole, as everyone is just saving tyres for the race. The target was to get more excitement into the races, with more tyre changes — but not this much. This is now a different situation from the original intention.”
Few people have the ear of Bernie Ecclestone like Mateschitz — who owns four of the 22 cars on the grid, let’s remember — and it is understood that, in words of one syllable, he conveyed his displeasure to Mr E in Barcelona. It is likely to have registered, too — although, as one team principal wryly noted, no such outrage was expressed after Bahrain, where Vettel walked it.
There remain those who continue to say, ‘The tyre situation is what it is — deal with it, make it work…’ Indisputably that is true, and in Spain Ferrari and Lotus made a considerably better job of it than their rivals, so within certain parameters it can be done. These people argue further that, whatever the ‘lottery’ aspect of the World Championship at the moment, still the cream rises invariably to the top — Alonso, Raikkonen, Massa, Vettel, Webber, Rosberg was the final order in Spain, after all.
Yes, but.., can it be racing, when the cars are cruising so much of the time? It might come across as terribly hectic, with DRS-induced overtaking all the time, and a pitlane like Fifth Avenue in rush hour, but it’s difficult to find a sense of reality in it all.
“We need to keep di Resta behind us,” Rosberg was advised towards the end of the race. “At the expense of my tyres?” came back the response.
Let’s say it one more time: no fundamental blame attaches to Pirelli in all this. The brief handed to the company, when it acquired the rights to become F1’s sole supplier, was to produce tyres specifically designed and built to spice up ‘The Show’. For the racing purist — whose interests have long been considered of little account — this was heresy, of course, but more to the point is that the abiding mentality in F1 is necessarily to seek excellence in every department: once that was deliberately compromised by the powers-that-be, a degree of chaos was no more than inevitable. Just how ‘artificially inefficient’ were the tyres supposed to be?
Perhaps it took the events in Spain finally to alert many to a problem that is hardly new, and perhaps it was pressure from Mateschitz that prompted action — for a short while, at least. As from Montreal there were to be changes in the specification of the tyres, aimed at avoiding four-stop races (and also preventing more rear tyre failures of the kind recently seen). Ferrari and Lotus, having done a better job of coping with Pirelli’s ‘aggressive’ 2013 tyres than their rivals, were not surprisingly aggrieved at what they felt amounted to a mid-season rule change, but then the FIA stated that changes could not be made for anything other than safety reasons, so in essence the original specifications will remain. The inescapable fact, though, is that latterly Formula 1 has been making itself look foolish, and I find that hard to forgive. Dies the sport, after all, dies the business.
Ever since the unpalatable goings-on in Malaysia, it has been widely assumed that Mark Webber and Red Bull will come to a parting of the ways at the end of 2013. Many believe that it is surely untenable for Webber — from his own point of view — to continue as Sebastian Vettel’s team-mate: one thing not to like the bloke in the other car, after all, quite another to know he is not to be trusted. And quite apart from that, there are those who believe that, even before the Sepang controversy, Mark had made a commitment to spearhead Porsche’s return to sports car racing in 2014. We shall see.
Never say never in Formula 1, of course, but if we are tacitly assuming that Red Bull will need a new driver next year, who will it be? For years folk have muttered darkly that no one with any sense would join Alonso at Ferrari because Fernando has made it so much ‘his’ team that anyone else would necessarily be subjugated to a purely supporting role. There were those, of course, who said the same of Alain Prost at McLaren through the ’80s — and then Ayrton Senna arrived.
It is undeniable that Alonso is in a powerful position at Ferrari, where they think him better even than Michael Schumacher in his prime, but does anyone believe Vettel’s situation at Red Bull to be different? History rather suggests that what Sebastian wants Sebastian gets, and any future team-mate will need to bear that in mind.
There has long been an assumption that Red Bull’s next driver would be recruited from within its own ranks, and the name of Daniel Ricciardo has often been mentioned, but what if, as the word strongly goes, the team were to sign Raikkonen?
Since Kimi came back to F1, after two abortive years in the World Rally Championship, his driving has been a revelation. That might seem an odd word to use, given that, prior to leaving at the end of 2009, he already had nine seasons of F1 behind him (one of which ended with the World Championship), but I believe it to be the right one. From the very beginning, a dozen years ago, Raikkonen was blindingly quick, but — as anyone at McLaren or Ferrari will tell you — there were always good weekends and.., less good ones. Since he came back with Lotus, what has astonished me most about Kimi has been his consistency.
In Barcelona he might not have been able seriously to threaten Alonso, but he did manage to split the Ferraris and continue his astonishing finishing record: not once since Raikkonen returned to F1, at the beginning of last year, had he retired from a Grand Prix. As I write, he sits second in the World Championship, between Vettel and Alonso, which speaks volumes for him — but also for Lotus, which has nothing like the budget of Red Bull or Ferrari.
During his Ferrari years, Kimi was reckoned to have trousered the highest retainer in the sport’s history, and his stipend from Lotus is a small fraction of that, which rather confirms that he came back to F1 not for the money, but because — perhaps against his own expectations — he missed it. Not the razzmatazz or the bling, because we know very well that all that leaves him cold, and played a significant role in his departure in the first place, but the competition.
During his unproductive spell in the WRC, Raikkonen briefly toyed with NAS CAR, but if he concluded it was not for him, what it did was remind him of how it was to go racing, wheel to wheel, rather than against the clock. Before long, there were rumours of an approach from Williams, and then the announcement of a deal with Lotus.
I will happily confess to being one of the many who had doubts about Kimi’s return, not because I ever doubted his pure ability — surely no one can have done that — but because I wondered about his motivation: after winning the World Championship in 2007, after all, his next couple of seasons had fallen well short of expectations, to the point that Ferrari paid off his contract a year early, so as to bring in Alonso. When he took his leave at the end of ’09, it appeared to be without a rearward glance.
Back he came, though, and, as Anthony Davidson put it, “He soon seemed like the Kimi of old — by which I mean in the McLaren days, rather than the last couple of years with Ferrari, where he was already switching off…”
At Lotus they read Raikkonen right. They knew all about his career first time round, about his occasional.., behavioural lapses, his good and bad weekends, and they gave thought to what was likely to bring out the best in him. “I think,” an insider said, “we looked at the way Ron [Dennis] operated with drivers, and tried to do the opposite…”
By that, of course, he meant that there would be a minimum of the PR work Kimi so loathes — indeed a minimum of control. Compared with most teams Lotus is laidback in terms of what its drivers may and may not do, and while this can work against you — there was only need of a new number one driver, after all, because Robert Kubica had badly injured himself in a rally car — so it can also bring out the best in some people, and Raikkonen has responded as Eric Boullier and his colleagues hoped. There may not be the financial rewards of the past — although, while his retainer might be modest, his ‘dollar per point’ rate is eye-watering — but I’ll warrant that, in himself, Kimi is happier as a Grand Prix driver than ever he was in the past.
Not, of course, that you would ever know it from his face. Recently I saw a TV clip of Raikkonen doing some ice racing, and was taken aback — there he was, simply having fun, and it was almost shocking to see the sort of smile that lights up a room, yet is never on view on a Grand Prix podium, even when he is on the top step. Curious? Of course, but that’s Kimi. What he likes about F1 is driving the car, and that’s about it.
Would that mentality carry over well into a Red Bull environment? I think it probably would. The chances are that Dietrich Mateschitz’s team would require more in the way of PR appearances than Lotus, but still far less than a team like McLaren. And Kimi would obviously relish the opportunity of working with Adrian Newey — he’s a Grand Prix driver, so why wouldn’t he?
If any top driver is properly equipped to go to Red Bull as Vettel’s team-mate, it is surely Raikkonen, not because the two are good friends (although, like Alonso and Webber, they are), but because Kimi has the insouciance to cope with the team’s culture. There have been times when the influence of Helmut Marko has justifiably infuriated Webber, but if, as some have suggested, Raikkonen’s major failing is that he doesn’t give a damn, so perhaps his major strength is that he… doesn’t give a damn. Struggling through questions from the press, among his favourite responses is, “It makes no difference to me…” And it doesn’t. That’s him.
If Raikkonen had a famously poor relationship with Ron Dennis during his McLaren years, he always got along well with Martin Whitmarsh — indeed, after the premature termination of his Ferrari contract, and before he committed himself to Citroen and the WRC, Kimi discussed with Martin a possible return to McLaren, and the two remain on good terms.
“When Kimi came back to F1,” says Whitmarsh, “I wasn’t surprised that he went so well. I have to say that he’s quite a misunderstood individual. Yes, he does like to party and drink, but he’s actually much more disciplined about training than most people realise, and he’s also very intelligent — one of the sharpest drivers out there, in fact. Because Kimi doesn’t say very much, and seems generally flippant, people wouldn’t necessarily think that, but in my opinion he’s one of the best drivers when it comes to understanding the car and communicating that. He’s very insightful, he’s got a very dry sense of humour and I really like the bloke: he’s got all the ingredients you want in a racing driver — except the dedication…”
When Raikkonen was on the point of returning to F1 at the beginning of last year, Martin Brundle’s only concern lay with his motivation: “He’s been out of it for a couple of years, but he should have fewer problems than Michael [Schumacher] had, because he’s not been away for so long, and he’s younger. My great concern for Kimi is whether or not Lotus has the wherewithal to give him a car that will enable him to sniff a victory. To keep his interest, in other words — which I think he’d lost, quite honestly.
“It’s amazing, isn’t it? There’s a thousand kids who’d give their right arm to be driving for Ferrari — but somehow Kimi lost motivation. Should he have put more effort in? Of course he should, but you take the whole package, don’t you? If you take Kimi Raikkonen on, it’s not because he’s going to be a stand-up comedian every evening. I think, having dug a few Citroens out of the snow, and hit a few trees, this time around he might approach the things that used to piss him off with a slightly different attitude…”
Well, slightly different, perhaps… but Kimi will ever be Kimi. “People always say that the only thing he lacks is dedication,” says Davidson, “and that’s true, but of course that’s also what people love about him — he’s such a rebel, and that goes very much against the trend in modern
F1, doesn’t it? I think we’re going to miss him in the future, because I don’t think there will be any more like him…”
No more do I, sadly. Were I Raikkonen, I would think very hard before leaving Lotus, where they go out of their way to provide an environment in which his personality can flourish.., but wouldn’t you love to see him go up against Vettel in the same car?
The Canadian Grand Prix, on the horizon as I write, has always been one of my favourite races, not least because Montreal is a city I adore. Naturally there are strong resonances of Gilles Villeneuve, but this race weekend, too, invariably makes me think about James Hunt, one of the sport’s most unforgettable characters, and the man who originally alerted Formula 1 to the potential of the little guy from Berthierville.
Twenty years ago Hunt, as usual, shared the TV commentary of the race with Murray Walker, but they were not actually in Montreal. The BBC — perhaps already saving for the Jonathan Ross era — preferred the cheaper option of having them work from a London studio.
I flew back from Canada on the Monday night ‘red eye’, and within minutes of arriving home had a call from Autos port, giving me the dreadful news that James had died of a heart attack in the early hours.
Having already worked in F1 for more than 20 years, I had grown accustomed — if not inured — to the occasional loss of people in my world, for racing was then considerably more perilous than now. I had written many an obituary in the aftermath of a tragedy on the track, accepting — as one did back in the day — that it was an inevitable, if unwelcome, adjunct to a sport that could probably never be safe.
This was different, though, in the way that Mike Hailwood’s death — in a road accident, caused by someone else — had been different. James, like Mike, was done with racing, had survived it… and now this. There was nothing else for it but to set to the writing of his obituary for Autosport, then another for a magazine in the USA, then a third for Japan. By this time the afternoon was long gone, and I raised the first of several glasses to another lost friend.
Next morning I realised that, thanks to the events of the previous day, I hadn’t even got around to playing back the messages on my answering machine, and after three weeks away — Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Montreal — there were a great many. Most were inconsequential, and I was only half-listening, but then suddenly there was this: “Nigel, J Hunt speaking. Six twenty-five, Monday evening. Just calling for a gossip. If you’re back tonight, give me a shout — failing that, tomorrow perhaps. ‘Bye…”
All the subsequent messages were from folk distressed as I, simply wanting to talk about James. One, I remember, was from Keke Rosberg, another who has always loved ‘a gossip’. The two had got along well and, like me, Keke was shocked that, at 45, James was gone, and ‘from natural causes’. I rang him back and it was the first of many such conversations that week: a lot of people were feeling a lot of grief.
My relationship with Hunt was very much one of two halves. During his time as a Grand Prix driver I admired him, of course, but while I wanted to like him — and somehow always felt that he was someone I should like — I’ll admit that perhaps my perception of him was influenced by a distaste for many in his retinue of hangers-on, most of them seeking celebrity by association: there were times when the McLaren motorhome felt like a school common room of the most unpalatable kind.
Not unexpectedly, when he gave up racing in 1979, these people mercifully evaporated, leaving what I always felt was the real James Hunt: witty, wholly irreverent, lucid, kind. Once he had turned poacher, and become a member of the press community, both as a broadcaster and a newspaper columnist, we got to know each other properly, and became firm friends.
“It was only after I retired from driving,” he once told me, “that I really started to relax — and it was only then, too, that I really began to enjoy motor racing, to love it, in fact. I’d never really liked it when I was actually doing it…”
That still seems perhaps the strangest remark any racing driver ever made to me, yet if you knew James, it wasn’t wholly a surprise. If he had tremendous natural ability and pace, allied to a fierce competitiveness, it seemed to come at a price. Often before a race, Hunt would sneak off to the paddock loo block to be sick, and more than one driver expressed concern that maybe James was in the wrong line of work.
“Yes, it’s true I used to throw up sometimes,” he said when I asked him about it, “but it wasn’t, as people suggested, because I was terrified of the risks I was about to take, or whatever. It was fear, yes — but fear of not delivering, of screwing up in the race…
“On the other hand,” James went on, “when I retired from racing — in the middle of a season — it was because, yes, I was getting scared of hurting myself. I don’t think that would have happened if I’d been in a car that could win, because that’s the way I am: in a competitive situation, everything else goes out of my head. But I didn’t have that for my last couple of years, and I was never the type to get pleasure from simply being a racing driver.
“Driving a racing car, when you’ve got the ability, is like riding a bike. You don’t get worse at it. It’s only your head that moves around, right? In my book, driving at ten-tenths is no more dangerous than at seven-tenths — all it means, after all, is that you’re going 2-3mph slower at any given point on a circuit and, frankly, an accident at 167mph isn’t going to be any better than one at 170…
“For me, driving at the limit didn’t change the risk. Whenever I made mistakes on my own, it was when I wasn’t trying — wasn’t concentrating hard enough — so it was always more likely I’d shunt in an uncompetitive car, which the Wolf was in ’79, just as the McLaren had been the year before. And I wasn’t prepared to go on risking my life to finish seventh or something…”
Hunt was always starkly honest, not least about himself. Once, when I was over at his house in Wimbledon, I mentioned that I’d recently talked to Jackie Stewart about the difficulty of putting together back-to-back World Championships, the Scot reckoning that after winning the title there was inevitably a period of relative, if unconscious, relaxation.
“I think it depends on the individual,” James said. “I’m sure it didn’t affect me that way. I won the championship in 1976, and I suppose that’s the year people will remember, but I certainly drove better in ’77, even if I had a lousy car for half the year.
“Probably I found it easier than most people to deliver the year after winning the championship because, as you know, I was never that much of a worker! I was never heavily involved in my motor racing — except when I actually got in the car. Between races I didn’t spend all my time thinking about it — far from it! I turned on when I was put in a competitive situation — I’ve always been like that in everything.
“Most drivers have a much deeper approach than I had. When you win the title, you have to go to functions, and people tug at your shirt, and all that sort of thing. This can be a distraction, and if you’re the type who thinks himself into a Grand Prix for a week beforehand, these distractions can get to you, but that never bothered me — because I never thought about it, anyway!
“On the other hand, of course, my approach worked against me when times were bad. Where some drivers — Niki Lauda is the obvious example — would get stuck into the root of the problem, regenerate enthusiasm in the team and so on, I was never the man to do that.
“With McLaren in ’78, and then with Wolf the year after, I quite frankly saw no chance of matters improving, and I was buggered if I was going to put in a lot of effort and waste my time…
“I think the main reason why consecutive championships are rarely won is luck. Let’s face it, to have won the title took a certain amount of luck, and these things average out. They’re rationed. Jackie Stewart was unquestionably the best driver of his era, but he couldn’t win two on the trot — although he still did some pretty good winning in less than the best car by hard work and sheer brilliance.
“Frankly, it’s all a matter of being in the right car at the right moment — and that becomes more so with every passing year. We will get drivers winning consecutive World Championships in the future, I’ve no doubt — but only if they get the best car year after year, which very rarely happens.
“At the top level of drivers, the difference between a top-drawer performance and a lacklustre one is maybe a couple of tenths a lap — but there’s often a far bigger difference than that between one car and another, so it’s quite easily possible for a driver in a great car to be personally off the pace, yet still not be beaten by the ace in the rotten car behind him!”
Hunt I thought a gem of a commentator. For one thing, I never came across anyone who could ‘read’ a race better — and for another, he always said exactly what he thought. “I won’t compromise myself by saying things I don’t mean,” he said. “In fact, what tends to happen is that I compromise myself by saying things I do mean…”
Following his retirement, the drivers James most admired were Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, whom he considered the two best by far: as well as their skill and dedication, they also had incredible staying power. “To run at the front in Grand Prix racing — and to stay there — is mentally exhausting. The brain gets tired before the body does — I mean, you’ve only got to look at some of the geriatrics tooling around nowadays to see who’s got tired brains…”
A great drive would receive due tribute, a poor one stinging rebuke, but I must say there were days when I felt great sympathy for M Walker. Many times I was with them in the commentary box, keeping them alert to closing gaps and smoky engines, and always marvelled at the way Murray’s breathless enthusiasm could keep a dreary race alive. This was his great gift, and it was as well he was blessed with it, for on such occasions his languid co-commentator was not to be counted on for support: there would be prolonged periods, indeed, when James, bored, would simply lapse into silence.
Probably it wasn’t ideal that he and Murray were required to share the same microphone and once, I remember, he retreated to the back of the cabin, lit a cigarette that might not have been mainstream, lay down on the floor and whispered to me that I should alert him if anything happened. “Good old Murray!” he said afterwards. “Always carries the day…” Which he did, of course. It was perhaps unsurprising that their relationship was not without its tensions, but over time a strong mutual affection developed.
When Hunt talked about racing, I was always struck by his perceptiveness, and it was never more apparent than one day in the spring of 1981 when we were talking about the season to come, and he got on to the subject of Villeneuve. Five years earlier he had been financially lured to take part in Formula Atlantic’s Blue Riband event in Trois Rivieres, and Gilles, his team-mate for the weekend, blew him away, as James frankly admitted. When he got back to England, he at once implored McLaren’s Teddy Mayer to sign this Canadian kid without delay. Mayer did so and Villeneuve duly made his F1 debut at Silverstone in 1977, but when it came to signing full-time contracts for ’78 it was decided to go instead for Patrick Tambay, which left Hunt almost speechless. Now Villeneuve had three years with Ferrari behind him, and I wondered where James saw him ‘in the scheme of things’ as the 1981 season beckoned.
“Well,” he said, “I’ve said from the beginning that he has a brilliant natural talent — in terms of pure ability to drive a Grand Prix car faster than anyone else, I don’t think there’s anyone near him, frankly. I’ve always thought very highly of everything about his motor racing — his speed, his car control, approach, enthusiasm, everything.
“Gilles lives for motor racing — and, ironically, that might be his biggest problem. He drives with enormous aggression and flair, but sometimes he seems unable to combine that with common sense, and I’ll admit I worry for him because he does things on the track occasionally that are not in keeping with his personality off the track. He has a very intelligent and ordered approach to life, but his performance in the car sometimes belies that. I think he tries to overcompensate for deficiencies in his car.
“Think of Zandvoort in ’79, and the famous balls-out lap on three wheels! He was leading, and he spun off trying to hold off Alan Jones — his tyres were gone, and he should have realised there was no way he could keep ahead. He should have let Jones through, because his rival in that race was Scheckter, his team-mate but also his rival for the World Championship — and he was miles ahead of Jody…”
Yes, I said, but Gilles has always said that his priority is to win races, and if the championship comes along, so be it…
James didn’t get it. “Well, everyone likes to win races,” he responded, “but surely the main reason anyone goes racing is to win the World Championship, isn’t it? That’s what I always thought, anyway, and I think virtually every driver would agree with me — maybe Gilles really is the exception to the rule. If so, I think it’s a shame because he has a massive talent, and there’s no one to touch him on pure speed. He’s a genuine speed freak — and actually I think this works against him. I think he’s perhaps too much in love with motor racing to be completely objective about it…”
Hunt was always so much his own man. There were times when he suffered from acute depression, but he had a horror of self-pity and never let his anxieties show. Thanks to a series of bad investments in the 1980s, through the last years of his life he was far less well off than he had been, as the tabloids gracelessly revealed, but he would speak with cheerful equanimity of his ‘reduced circumstances’, and there is no doubt that, in his personal life, he was happier than he had ever been. Perhaps, as some have said, he was always destined to leave the party early, but, as he put it, “It’s always the bores who stay to the end…”
“James represented something very, very, English, didn’t he?” says Alexander Hesketh, who brought him into Grand Prix racing. “He was the combination of the Corinthian Casual and the anarchist…” So he was, and we miss him still.