My hero -- by Alain Menu

My hero:

Formula One was something that I aspired to from the age of four or five. There was no interest from my family, but Jo Siffert was Swiss, like me, and was doing well. Better still, he was also from the French speaking part of Switzerland. I had photos of him on my bedroom walls. It was massive news when he died in 1971, and it was only then that I discovered that he’d struggled like hell, as so many drivers do, to find the money to go racing. He was a really nice guy, too. I remember spotting an ad that year saying that he’d be signing autographs for two hours in a shopping centre in Geneva. My mum took me and I got his autograph; I wish I could remember where it is now. The next driver that I looked up to was Niki Lauda after he came back from his crash at the ‘Ring in 1976.

— & favourite road car:

When I was a teenager I really liked the BMW 5-series, especially the Alpina version. After that it was only natural that I’d like the M5 when it arrived. After all, for a family man it’s the best compromise that you can have of space and performance. I had one for a few months several years ago, but I sold it as you really can’t use it fully when living in England. It would be really wonderful if you could, but we have a saying in French — ‘Avec des sis en peut mettre Paris en bouteille’ — that translates as ‘With if’s you could put Paris in a bottle…’