Mass is one of those racing drivers who is comfortable with himself, knows his own abilities and looks you in the eye. There’s no shuffling around the facts, not a hint of rose tint between him and history. “Look,” he says, “you are judged by your performance against your team-mate so he is your team enemy, your opposition, so if he’s quicker in the same car there’s no excuses left. When James came from Hesketh he was used to a one-car team, getting his own way, and I had just come to grips with Emerson Fittipaldi the year before so it was a difficult time for me. I’d started to snuggle up to Emerson’s pace when he left and I was chucked in with James. It was a difficult pill to swallow.
“I realised what was coming but I didn’t get too bothered about it. I just thought time would tell, and we’ll see what happens. Maybe I should have been harder, a bit tougher, but I learnt about that later in my career. Formula 1 has always been the same; you can look at Prost and Senna at McLaren, and now with Alonso and Hamilton – there comes a point when the team has to make a choice about which driver will get the best support.”
In 1976 it quickly became evident that Hunt was benefiting from the best equipment. “He had all the skills, and he was very quick, no doubt,” says Jochen, “and he was younger than me. But it was a confusing time for me because I knew I was quick, I had this natural talent and so I could not understand why he was faster than me over a lap. I followed him in the corners and I saw no reason why he should be any faster. You end up screwing around with the car, making changes and in the end I got uptight and I was irked by this situation.
“In those days the Cosworth guys were always developing the engines and trying new ideas, and there weren’t enough of the best engines to go round. It was the same with all the teams: Andretti and Scheckter had better engines than their team-mates and so it was with McLaren.
“James and Emerson were very different but they both covered their cards, never gave away any secrets, while I was more open, thinking – you know – whoever is quicker is quicker.”