Do you remember the ’95 British GP?
Since was launched back in March 1996, we’ve published more than 3,000 features. I’ve read most of these, though by no means all, and I’ve written a few as well.
Of that 3,000 or so – always commissioned with the intention of providing our loyal readership with the best F1 reading material we can conjure – some have been truly memorable. I’m thinking, now, of former editor Matt Bishop’s foray into zero-gravity flight with David Coulthard on a Russian transport plane. Or the ambitious, brilliantly executed pairing of Concorde (yes, that Concorde) with a Renault R23 F1 car, pulled together by former associate editor Stéphane Samson. Meanwhile, Peter Windsor’s column on the late François Cevert, published in October 2013, may be the most perfectly crafted piece of writing ever to have graced these pages, and Maurice Hamilton’s ‘lunches’ are a monthly delight – as I’m sure you will agree.
But for sheer, unadulterated reading pleasure, a piece in this month’s F1R may just have raised the bar. When you turn to page 44, you’ll see the beaming, greyaround-the-temples faces of five hugely popular British F1 veterans, namely: Damon Hill, Johnny Herbert, David Coulthard, Mark Blundell and Martin Brundle.
Twenty years ago these likely lads lined up on the grid for the 1995 British GP in (following the above-named order) first, fifth, third, tenth and 11th. One went on to
F1 win, another finished on the podium, and another in fifth, so all in all it wasn’t a bad weekend for the Britpack.
Their candid recollections of their time in the sun make for hugely entertaining reading, whether it’s Brundle describing his cars of that era as “old sheds” or Blundell recalling the mechanical failures that would bedevil top-level race cars being run on budgets and with manpower levels that seem almost laughable by today’s standards. “There were 12 people in the team for my first grand prix,” says Brundle, “including both drivers”.
But better than any of this is the sharp banter between five middle-aged men who obviously still very much enjoy other’s company – and who, racing drivers being racing drivers, remain as competitive today, in conversation, as they were two decades ago, on track.
“Last again,” quips a sheepish Johnny Herbert, arriving late to the interview to a ripple of sarcastic applause. Hill then shows Johnny some pictures of the grand prix weekend “to help his memory”.
The story’s a joy, whichever way you slice it, and hats off to our own James Roberts and the esteemed David Tremayne, together with ace photographer Steven Tee, for carrying off a tricky multi-handed round-table chat with such élan. Now go feast on the real thing!
Going back another 30 years, our Monaco pictorial essay on page 80 is fascinating viewing - for a track that’s hardly changed, well, ever, the Circuit de Monaco of 1965 is a vastly different looking place from the grand prix circuit we know today.