A very British success story


How strange that the last two Formula 1 World Champions, both from Britain, should muddle through to their first title in the closing laps of a dramatic and occasionally chaotic Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.


Merely to question the quality of either Lewis Hamilton or Jenson Button, or to ruminate about the manner in which they achieved their success, may be enough to be sent to the Tower of London! I would be accused of treason, conspiracy and at best a failure to fly the flag.


But none of this matters. What matters is that for two years on the trot Britain has produced a World Champion driving for a British team. This is not beating the breast on the white cliffs of Dover, this is simply a fact. After the race at Interlagos Niki Lauda – who knows a thing or two about putting a championship together – was asked if he thought that Button deserved to win?

“World Champion is World Champion. He did it. That’s all there is to it,” said Lauda. I laughed out loud, as did the reporter. But it was a useful summary. Sure, it would’ have been better had JB won the race, won it in style and lifted the trophy on the podium in a blaze of glory. But even F1 couldn’t stage a Hollywood finale

I watched the race in Brazil on German television in Portugal. On RTL to be precise, and very good it was, despite my phrase book knowledge of the German language. Yes, there was endless chatter about Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg, but the pithy, insightful and sometimes cutting contributions from Herr Lauda helped the show go with a swing. And, as Ron Dennis pointed out the other day, if you know a bit about this kind of motor racing, then you can follow the action with or without the commentary. This is especially true when it’s a race at a real circuit, a place where overtaking is possible, and a place where the stars really look as though they are earning their enormous salaries.

After the race RTL was unable to make much headway through the throng in the Brawn garage, where the Brits had cast off their customary quiet and focus and were celebrating loudly and heartily. The BBC, however, had moved in closer to the heart of the party, and so RTL generously allowed us to eavesdrop on the Beeb’s coverage of the increasingly joyous goings on at chez Brawn. Its constructors’ title is, after all, the greatest achievement of the year.


As you can read in the December issue of Motor Sport, I was in Portugal for the inaugural Algarve Historic Festival at the magnificent new Autodromo Internacional Algarve, designed by former bike racer Paulo Pinheiro and built in just eight months from a virgin piece of land near Portimao. Thanks to the generosity of expatriate entrepreneur Phil Egginton, whose Puxar Lustro company has the franchise for Zymol polish in the Algarve, and who had done a deal with Sir Stirling Moss to fettle his OSCA, I was able to enjoy this event from a most privileged vantage point.

I heartily recommend (and this nothing to do with my hosts) a visit to an event at this new circuit. It’s a real drivers’ track with hills and dips and swoops worthy of some of the great racing theatres. And the sun shines nearly all the time. Should you enjoy a round of golf and the pleasures that Portugal has to offer, then the October festival should be pencilled into your diary.


Another dates for your diary is November 3, when we will be ‘podcasting’ from the Motor Sport HQ.

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