They called him ‘Il Grande John’ and adopted him as one of their own. Italians have a soft spot for John Surtees, as he does for them. Hardly surprising, given how it was on Italian motorcycles and in Italian cars that Surtees posted his greatest racing feats, and that unique achievement never likely to be matched: the only man to win World Championships on two wheels and four.
In the August issue of Motor Sport editor-in-chief Nigel Roebuck talks to the 1964 Formula 1 World Champion about his love affair with Italy, specifically his special relationships with the men he rode for and drove for: Count Domenico Agusta and Enzo Ferrari.
Surtees speaks candidly about how he was accepted into the MV Agusta family and why he decided to try car racing in 1960. He then turned Enzo Ferrari down – twice – before deciding to “go foreign” for the second time in his racing life. It’s a fascinating insight into an era where the great Italian autocrats ran their empires in their own idiosyncratic fashions – sometimes in the face of logic or good reason.
Which brings me neatly on to the latest political twists in the crazy world of modern F1! In our own way, we have been a minor casualty in the past week. Let me explain…
We finished the last of the pages of the issue on the Tuesday after the British GP. The FIA president had made it clear he was preparing to stand again for re-election come the Autumn, to fight against the growing influence of the Formula One Teams Association. Our words duly reflected that.
The following day news broke of the surprising deal that appeared to quash threats of a breakaway series and spell the end of Max Mosley’s reign at the governing body. We sprang into action and called back pages for re-writes, setting to work on my Matters of Moment leader column, the Grand Prix Scene pages and Nigel’s Reflections column. After a busy afternoon, the magazine closed for press and went to print.
Then on Thursday… Mosley changed his mind yet again. Apparently FOTA had “misled the media” over details of the deal and the furious president was now demanding an apology – and was re-considering his decision to not stand for re-election. Peace in our time? Perhaps not, after all.
So I offer my apologies for our pages being a little out of date this month. Sadly, a pair of erratic u-turns in the space of just two days scuppered us! We were hardly well disposed towards the president before our deadline – as you can read. You can imagine how we feel about him now!
Aside from the madness of modern F1, the August issue features some great stories. We reunite Sir Jackie Stewart and ‘Gentleman’ Jack Sears at Brands Hatch to relive their great GT duel in the 1964 Grand Prix support race. We also talk to Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel about their current duel within the Red Bull Racing team, as they fight to close to the points gap to championship leader Jenson Button.
All this, plus a track test of Aston Martin’s 1950s F1 challenger, Simon Taylor’s Lunch with Tim Schenken and a colourful visit to the Nurburgring 24 Hours. If you want variety, Motor Sport’s your mag!