Top Five of 2012: Interviews
Thanks to Tony Di Zinno
Ten minutes will always turn into 40 with Rubens Barrichello. It’s tough in this business to not have favourites, but Rubens is one of mine. He, like just a handful of others, has not changed at all since I first met him, and an interview with him always turns into a humorous chat…
David Coulthard had a 15-year Grand Prix career with Williams, McLaren and Red Bull Racing, and is now a commentator for BBC TV’s F1 coverage that is shown worldwide. The Scot won 13 Grands Prix including two at Monaco – where he now lives – and other landmark races at Silverstone and Monza. He returned to racing in the DTM in 2010, continuing his relationship with Mercedes, as well as remaining with Red Bull. Here, he tackled our questions, in the style and humour you would expect….
We recently caught up BBC Radio 5 Live’s Formula 1 commentator James Allen at The Malaysian Grand Prix. James grew up in a racing family and spent his formative years in the paddock with his father Bill, who was a works Lotus sportscar driver in the 1960s. He became ITV Sport’s lead Formula 1 TV commentator in 2001, having deputised for the legendary Murray Walker during the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
Australia’s Alan Jones’, 1980 Formula 1 world champion, joined MotorsportRetro.com in the Melbourne paddock at the opening Grand Prix of the year to share his thoughts. Son of a successful racing father, from an early age Jones wanted to race. He started 116 Grands Prix, scoring 12 wins and 24 podiums. He drove for seven teams in his career, but without doubt his prime time was with Williams where he won his world title in 1980. The following year, he announced his retirement and won what was – then – his final race. He still had the bug though, and returned with Arrows, and the Beatrice-Haas Lola, run by Cal Haas who Jones had previously raced for in the ‘70s in Can-Am. After F1 he raced in Australian Touring Cars, scoring wins and podiums, finishing second overall in 1993. He was also a commentator in Formula 1 for Channel 9. He’s also a bloody good laugh.
We caught up with Jacques Laffite in the Formula 1 paddock, the Frenchman who had a Grand Prix career that spanned 12 years. It ended in 1986 at Brands Hatch in the British Grand Prix that would have – at the time – put him in the lead of the most Grands Prix started ahead of Graham Hill. In a first corner crash in his Ligier he badly broke his feet and legs, and because the race restarted without him, he remained tied with Hill on the most races started at 176, as it didn’t count. His famous response to that is: “If I was not in that race, how did I break my feet?!” His F1 career was its most successful at Ligier, where he won all of his six races before returning to Williams where his F1 career started. He rejoined Ligier in 1985, until his career-ending accident. The Frenchman raced in touring cars after his recovery, and made four further starts at Le Mans. He is now a commentator for French television channel TF1 in Formula 1. He is also a man of few words – but the ones he uses count. He has quite a sense of humility and humour.
Leo Sayer. Grammy winning, multi-million, platinum album-selling singer and recording artist needs little introduction, so let’s take you to the other side of Leo. He is a Formula 1 fan. No, I’ll correct that, he is a fanatic, much more than a friend of F1, and has been for years – since 1962 at least. He is one of the few people that have been granted a lifelong F1 pass by Bernie Ecclestone. The love he has for his music transcends to racing – and he knows his stuff – trust me! I first met Leo 20 years ago at a pub lunch with James Hunt and Ken Tyrrell. That in itself is a story (for later). This chat with him in Australia, his home now, started out as a 20-minute interview. Three hours later (and with a lot of stuff that can never be published!) I had some outstanding and unknown material, from a guy who has a passion for racing more than many involved in it today. Here is just the first part of it. Leo, Stirling Moss, Jim Clark… Read on! He sure has a thunder in his heart.
Special thanks to Quique Mansilla
Enrique Mansilla, “Quique”, is one of those drivers who ‘should have’. The tough thing for him was timing, politics and war. The Argentinian was a Formula Ford teammate with Ayrton Senna at Van Diemen in 1981, drove for West Surrey Racing in Formula 3, and just missed out on the championship title to Tommy Byrne in 1982 at the final race. He earned a Formula 1 test with McLaren. Basically he had the perfect route to F1 success, with all the key teams and people. But, with the Falklands War his funding ran out. His Formula 2 efforts yielded little, and he left Europe for Can-Am, and then Indycars in 1985. However he did have a great helmet design! Meet Quique Mansilla…