Sil­ver­stone class of ‘95

Bri­tain’s likely lads re­united: Hill, Herbert, DC, Blun­dell, Brun­dle


“You never stop want­ing to race, so it’s very dif­fi­cult to look at any car go­ing round a cor­ner now with­out think­ing: ‘I’d like to have a go at that!’ But look­ing at what the con­di­tions are like now for the driv­ers, I do think that we had a lot more free­dom to en­joy what we were do­ing” Damon Hill

David Coulthard re­sponded first to the group email. F1 Rac­ing had got in touch with all ve driv­ers who had raced with a Bri­tish li­cence at the 1995 Bri­tish GP to in­vite them to meet up and share their mem­o­ries of that week­end – 20 years on.

“I will t in with the oth­ers who work for a liv­ing, as my sched­ule is al­most cer­tainly more open,” wrote Coulthard, a race win­ner for Wil­liams that year. His for­mer team-mate Damon Hill then waded in, happy to can­cel a round of golf to t in with DC’s non-sched­ule.

Once it be­came clear that Mark Blun­dell was to be one of the ‘FIA mag­is­trates’ at this year’s Chi­nese GP, both Martin Brun­dle and Johnny Herbert an­nounced they were also happy to meet for break­fast at the Pirelli mo­torhome in the Shang­hai pad­dock.

As ever, these things never run to plan. A last-minute Sky TV pro­duc­tion meet­ing de­layed pro­ceed­ings, and then Herbert was fur­ther de­layed be­cause he hadn’t been able to work the in­ter­ac­tive Sky Pad dur­ing the chan­nel’s live broad­cast of qual­i­fy­ing the day be­fore, and had to go for ex­tra tu­ition.

But the show must go on. So along with ex­pe­ri­enced F1 writer David Tre­mayne, we sat down with Blun­dell and Coulthard to ask them about their rst vis­its to Sil­ver­stone. But not be­fore DC – now with the BBC, of course – vents his spleen about the miss­ing Sky mem­bers. “It’s very un­pro­fes­sional! And no one watches it any­way…”

David Coulthard: The rst time I ever went to Sil­ver­stone was when I was kart­ing as a kid. I drove a car around the in­ner perime­ter roads of the cir­cuit. My mum had an au­to­matic BMW – some­thing like that – and I was prob­a­bly ten. I went to Sil­ver­stone, Don­ing­ton Park, Brands, Cad­well – long be­fore I started rac­ing. Then, as a car racer, I used to sleep in the truck. But I’ve al­ways been sen­si­tive about my hair, so I used to go and wash my hair at the Sil­ver­stone toi­let block, in the sink with cold wa­ter and then go and get break­fast while David Les­lie’s fa­ther took the kart out of the back of the truck and young David would re it up. A few years later, I would be too scared to stand next to Mark [Blun­dell] in the toi­lets.

Mark Blun­dell: Sil­ver­stone was my rst ever race in a For­mula Ford. It was a For­mula Li­bre race. DC: Re­ally? On the Na­tional Cir­cuit, or…?

Blun­dell: On the Na­tional Cir­cuit in 1984. I was 17 and the very rst time I turned a wheel was in that Li­bre race. It was wet and I was up against For­mula 5000 cars and a mil­lion other things that were quick in a straight line, and I was a men­ace around the corners as it was quite nim­ble. We had zero motorsport history in our fam­ily; did any­one have links in yours David?

DC: Yes, my fa­ther had won the Scot­tish kart­ing cham­pi­onship when he was a teenager, so he al­ways had a pas­sion for it. His old man died when he was 14, so that’s why he had to stop. He spon­sored other karters, be­cause he couldn’t do it him­self as he was run­ning a busi­ness.

Blun­dell: On my side there was zero. The only as­so­ci­a­tion was the fact that my dad was a car dealer, so I was al­ways used to driv­ing cars as a kid. I had a brain­wave where if I could drive around a fore­court at 10mph and get quicker at it, I must be able to drive around a cir­cuit. I think the idea was driven more by me than my dad.

DC: You were a real man! [Coulthard is ad­dress­ing Car­los Sainz Sr, the rally leg­end who has just stepped into the Pirelli mo­torhome]. You prob­a­bly came back from par­ty­ing all night, washed your balls in the sink and then jumped in the car!

Blun­dell: No, no. Not the sink, the bath! DC: [laughs]

F1 Rac­ing’s James Roberts: Did both of you dream of be­ing in F1?

DC: I’m not a dreamer. Dream­ing, my grand­mother told me, is what you do when you sleep. Achiev­ing is what you do when you work.

Blun­dell: I used to dream be­cause I came from noth­ing. To be hon­est with you, when you start in the early lev­els of the sport, you don’t of­ten think about For­mula 1 be­cause you are so con­sumed with what you are do­ing. You some­times look up there – but it is such a dis­tance away. I look back now and I started in 1984 and by 1989 I was test­ing a Wil­liams F1 car. DC: That’s in­cred­i­ble.

David Tre­mayne: Do you re­mem­ber the point where you thought: ‘Ac­tu­ally, I could get into F1?’

Blun­dell: Mine was the re­al­ity of sit­ting in the car to do straight­line test­ing, be­cause I was the rst gen­er­a­tion of test driver. And then it dawned on me that, ac­tu­ally, there is an open­ing here.

Tre­mayne: So it wasn’t un­til you were sit­ting in a For­mula 1 car?

Blun­dell: Yes, be­cause we’re talk­ing about a very ex­clu­sive club. Maybe to­day there is more of a chan­nel of get­ting there be­cause you can open a cheque­book and know where you’re go­ing. When you go by merit, it’s dif­fer­ent. I re­mem­ber sit­ting with DC and Martin at din­ner and DC was the up-and-com­ing guy ready to take over from me and do a much bet­ter job. But his rst en­try into the club was that he had to pay for din­ner.

Tre­mayne: You ac­tu­ally got him to pay? DC: That was at Imola… Ah! Glad you could make it boys [Martin and Damon ap­pear].

Martin Brun­dle: Johnny’s still at the Sky Pad try­ing to learn how to work it.

DC: That’s ironic. The guy who wins the race [the 1995 Bri­tish GP] can’t f**king make it!

Damon Hill: [point­ing to Tre­mayne’s drink] Is that a pint of Guin­ness or a cap­puc­cino?

Tre­mayne: It’s a pint of cap­puc­cino. We’re dis­cussing the rst time we went to Sil­ver­stone, Damon, and I’m sure you can trump ev­ery­one? Hill: I must have gone there in 1961 I sup­pose. DC: What?! What f**king year were you born? Hill: 1960. I was born Septem­ber 1960, so I prob­a­bly went the fol­low­ing year.

Tre­mayne: I’m sure you told me once you were born in 1962?

Hill: I did and I lied! You will not be­lieve the ag­gra­va­tion I had try­ing to get my driv­ing li­cence re-jigged to the right date.

Brun­dle: Have you just ad­mit­ted to some cre­ative ac­count­ing on your age?

Hill: Yes, I lost two years some­where but Stir­ling Moss came to my chris­ten­ing – so it’s not re­ally difcult to work out, is it?

Tre­mayne: When did you go to Sil­ver­stone for the rst time, Martin?

Brun­dle: Late 1960s. I saw Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart. I went with my un­cle and we used to take card­board boxes and stand at Copse when there used to be tem­po­rary struc­tures.

Tre­mayne: You all raced in a pretty good era, but would you rather have raced then or now?

Hill: I think the trou­ble is that you never stop want­ing to race, so it’s very difcult to look at any car go­ing round a cor­ner now with­out think­ing: ‘I’d like to have a go at that!’ But look­ing at what the con­di­tions are like now for the driv­ers, I do think that we had a lot more free­dom to en­joy what we were do­ing.

DC: I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on all that test­ing. That was the thing I en­joyed the most. I thought that Fri­day prac­tice was a waste of time af­ter we had got rid of qual­i­fy­ing on a Fri­day. There had to be an end point for me. I read Mau­rice Hamil­ton’s lunch with Allan McNish [ F1 Rac­ing, April] where he said he didn’t en­joy the driv­ing, he en­joyed the com­pe­ti­tion and I think I come from that cat­e­gory of driver. The com­pe­ti­tion of de­vel­op­ing the car as a test driver… I re­mem­ber think­ing that life didn’t get much bet­ter and I was per­fectly happy just to be a test driver.

Brun­dle: Pick­ing up on what David said, but com­ing at it from a dif­fer­ent an­gle, when I’ve been lucky enough to drive the cars now, they are so good. We spent a huge pro­por­tion of our lives try­ing to make a car go 0.1, 0.2 sec­onds faster. I jump into some­thing from to­day and re­alise what an old shed I was driv­ing then. We were al­ways look­ing to try to get as close to per­fec­tion as we could with the cars we had. When you turn a car’s wheel to­day, it goes into a cor­ner and that’s not some­thing I re­mem­ber from my ca­reer.

Tre­mayne: You don’t tend to get gear-link­age fail­ures any more…

Brun­dle: At Brab­ham in 1989, I non-pre-qualied be­cause a bleed nip­ple broke and all the brake uid was leak­ing out. I’d gone all the way to Aus­tralia to do a grand prix and I didn’t even pre-qual­ify. That was rub­bish. Hill: Sticky throt­tle ca­bles… DC: Now that got your at­ten­tion!

Blun­dell: I re­mem­ber go­ing down the pit­lane at Sil­ver­stone and there was a Snap-on screw­driver in the footwell of the car. Martin, you didn’t have a test driver role be­fore you raced did you? Brun­dle: I tested for Wil­liams. Blun­dell: Not in a test-driver ca­pac­ity, be­cause DC, Damon and I went in via the test-driver route. Brun­dle: What are you try­ing to say? Blun­dell: No, I’m just say­ing that it’s the way things turned out.

Hill: [Point­ing at Martin] He went in as a proper driver, we were just ap­pren­tices.

“Sil­ver­stone was my first ever race in a For­mula Ford on the Na­tional Cir­cuit in 1984. I was 17 and it was the very first time I turned a wheel in that Li­bre race. It was wet and I was a men­ace around the corners as it was quite nim­ble”

Mark Blun­dell

Tre­mayne: An old gen­tle­man looked upon him be­nignly.

Brun­dle: Yeah, I was just a char­ity case, wasn’t I? Let’s be hon­est.

Roberts: You all raced for big teams then, but they would be small by to­day’s stan­dards…

Hill: At Wil­liams there were 150 peo­ple – and they were a big team. You could just about re­mem­ber ev­ery­one’s name if you re­ally tried.

Brun­dle: The rst time I raced for Tyrrell, in my rst grand prix – there were 12 peo­ple and that in­cluded Ken [Tyrrell] and Nora [Ken’s wife] and me and Ste­fan Bellof. So there were eight peo­ple in the team at a race. My wife Liz and Nora made the food for the team for the week­end. It’s moved on a bit, hasn’t it?

Tre­mayne: Has science taken away a lot of the ro­mance of rac­ing?

Hill: The thing I won­der about is what a driver does and his con­tri­bu­tion to per­for­mance. I don’t know if it’s as much as it used to be, be­cause with­out so much teleme­try and en­gi­neer­ing, you used to rely a lot on what the driver said to make the car work.

Brun­dle: It was much more re­ward­ing. Hill: You’d put Prost into a car be­cause he’d be able to sense some­thing another driver couldn’t. Back then, a driver would be a data-ac­qui­si­tion de­vice. Now, it seems to me, even watch­ing my son, Josh, come up through the ranks, it was the engi­neer that told him how to drive the car. I have to say I found that re­ally difcult to take.

Brun­dle: You three – and Johnny when he ar­rives, if he ever will – I bet you guys could com­pare gear ra­tios on a For­mula Ford on the Sil­ver­stone grand prix cir­cuit – could you re­mem­ber your ra­tios?

DC: I wouldn’t be able to re­mem­ber ra­tios, but I al­ways took the view that’s what the engi­neer was there to do. I was there to re­mem­ber the gear and the line and all that sort of thing. So I be­lieve in del­e­ga­tion. The engi­neer is not driv­ing the car, he never told me how to drive the car and I never told him how to engi­neer.

Blun­dell: Don’t you think there are dif­fer­ent sorts of driv­ers? DC: I think there are.

Blun­dell: There are guys who call the shots and there are those who ab­sorb the in­for­ma­tion and re­lay it back.

Hill: Jim Clark denitely got in the car and drove it, and Colin Chap­man en­gi­neered it. Whereas I think my dad wanted to be an engi­neer as well and he liked play­ing with the car.

Blun­dell: But to get back to your point, Damon, I’m sit­ting in the FIA Race Con­trol and lis­ten­ing to all the au­dio in­for­ma­tion be­tween the engi­neers and the driv­ers… Hill: In­for­ma­tion over­load?

Blun­dell: It’s all com­ing one way. There is a lim­ited amount of in­for­ma­tion from the driver that goes back.

Hill: That’s my point. You have a sit­u­a­tion where a guy gets up­set be­cause he was sent out of the garage at the wrong time. The ques­tion is: why didn’t he make that de­ci­sion? That was down to us in our day. We’d call the shots.

Blun­dell: Now they go out in re­la­tion to where ev­ery­one else is on the track, thanks to the screen in front of them.

Roberts: Is that why a 17-year-old can jump into an F1 car now, but couldn’t have done so easily 20 years ago?

Hill: I don’t know. I’m sure a 17-year-old prob­a­bly could have done. DC: I don’t think they would have had the strength for the steer­ing. In the early Wil­liams, I couldn’t steer it on full tanks.

Brun­dle: Mike Thack­well was a teenager and he han­dled them. You can say they are not strong enough, but to be fair to them, they as driv­ers haven’t de­vel­oped that way be­cause they need to be light­weight so the car can carry more move­able bal­last. You can’t crit­i­cise them, but I look at Daniil Kvyat and Seb [Vet­tel] when he rst came in, and I think to my­self: there’s no way you can drive an F1 car. My speed around Barcelona in a 1992 Benet­ton was lim­ited by the strength in my shoul­ders.

Blun­dell: When I was do­ing the ac­tive sus­pen­sion de­vel­op­ment work, at the last cor­ner at Es­to­ril my right foot was a lim­it­ing fac­tor be­cause I couldn’t press down hard enough with the G-forces I was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing at such high speed. If I could get more gas on I could go quicker, but phys­i­cally it wasn’t pos­si­ble.

DC: Es­to­ril was a great test track. In the morn­ing with a new set of tyres, it was fan­tas­tic. One mis­take and you knew it was go­ing to be a bar­rier mo­ment. Hill: I loved Es­to­ril.

Brun­dle: That sharp right up the hill with the bar­rier right on the out­side. That was quick.

DC: I think [Alex] Caf crashed there in a Dal­lara or Mi­nardi or some­thing like that…

Blun­dell: You journos would have seen the shape of driv­ers change. Tre­mayne: Well, we’ve seen your shape change. Brun­dle: Now I know why they call you a **** [rau­cous laugh­ter].

Tre­mayne: Has For­mula 1 be­come too com­plex now for the driver?

Hill: For me, the driver has be­come – and Mark’s just conrmed this – a re­cip­i­ent for in­for­ma­tion and a re­ac­tor to what the teams are say­ing. What peo­ple want, from a sport­ing point of view, is to know that the driver is con­duct­ing af­fairs

“I wouldn’t re­mem­ber gear ra­tios, but I al­ways took the view that’s what the engi­neer was there to do. The engi­neer never told me how to drive the car and I never told him how to engi­neer” David Coulthard

ac­cord­ing to their pref­er­ences and that’s what de­ter­mines their per­for­mance. So it seems to me you can’t com­plain if you’re con­stantly be­ing spoon fed stuff.

Blun­dell: If you look at the cur­rent line-up, I don’t think any of them have got the data­base that those of us sit­ting here have built up. Think about all the test­ing we used to do. We’d have a car each side of the garage and do fuel test­ing and jump from one to the other. We’d do un­deroor test­ing and run four dif­fer­ent congu­ra­tions in a day. You’d pick one out and that would be the one sent to the grand prix at the week­end. These guys don’t get to do that any more. They sit in the sim­u­la­tor. DC: It’s all cor­re­la­tion.

Brun­dle: Look, we’ve driven Fan­gio’s car and Moss’s car, and DC and I have driven Lewis’s 2008 ti­tle-win­ning McLaren and they are just dif­fer­ent chal­lenges. And the great driv­ers rose to the chal­lenges that were re­quired in their day. I’m about to drive the Force In­dia [see page 56] and I’ve got a crib sheet on my desk at home to learn all the but­tons on the steer­ing wheel. There are so many things to do and that’s a cere­bral chal­lenge we just didn’t have.

Blun­dell: But what we were talk­ing about is the way the cars are de­vel­oped. In our day, they were de­vel­oped with hu­man in­put in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the en­gi­neer­ing and de­sign, whereas cars to­day are de­signed by hu­man in­put at a key­board. The driver plugs in and off he goes.

DC: I agree with Marty in that what­ever era it was, the best driv­ers are still the best driv­ers – but we live for our time. The de­mands on your ca­reer and the job you have has changed from ten years ago and my ex­pe­ri­ence with all those knobs and but­tons is that if a driver had to sing the na­tional an­them back­wards while jug­gling and steer­ing, if it made you go quicker you would learn how to do it. Any­thing that in­volves per­for­mance, driv­ers will nd a way of ex­ploit­ing: If some­one gives you a Sam­sung, you’ll say: “How does that work, I’m only used to Ap­ple?” but if that’s what you needed to do your job, you’d be able to man­age it in­stinc­tively.

Tre­mayne: You’ve also seen from your era a mas­sive change in safety fol­low­ing Ayr­ton Senna’s ac­ci­dent in 1994. Is that the big­gest change in the last 20 years?

Brun­dle: I think F1 is too sani­tised now. The tracks, the cars. There needs to be an el­e­ment of risk. The fans need to see the driv­ers are do­ing some­thing that is barely be­liev­able and isn’t some­thing they could do them­selves. I’m not say­ing we should… I’m so sad about Jules Bianchi, I love that kid, but the tracks we all love – Suzuka, Monza – are places where there is peril and a chal­lenge.

DC: Monaco is largely un­changed. They’ve opened up the Swimming Pool, but it re­mains as it has done for years. Is it any more dan­ger­ous than any other cir­cuit we go to? I think it might be the lack of con­se­quence now. If we made a mis­take then we were stuck in the gravel, so that was fac­tored into any ma­noeu­vre we tried, whereas now, with the Tar­mac run-off, you get the place back. It’s a dif­fer­ent way of rac­ing.

Hill: Mark, you’ve done IndyCar. Hats off to any­one who’s gone round In­di­anapo­lis. DC: Yeah, I would never do that… Hill: One of the most thrilling things I’ve ever done in a race car is Le Mans. Go­ing down Mul­sanne, you don’t do any­thing as you’re on a straight, there’s a cor­ner at the end, but it’s an ad­ven­ture. For­mula 1 used to have that and there is a cer­tain sat­is­fac­tion in over­com­ing your fears as you go around Suzuka. I’m not de­tract­ing from what David was say­ing and I’m not de­tract­ing from the driv­ers of to­day, they have just been de­liv­ered a set of cri­te­ria that the sport has cho­sen to im­pose on it­self. I don’t think the driv­ers have been given an op­por­tu­nity to put their case for­ward. Driv­ers, ul­ti­mately, with the ex­cep­tion of the risk to spec­ta­tors, are the peo­ple at risk and they should choose how much risk they want to take.

Brun­dle: Good point. Hill: No one wants to see any­one get hurt, but the point is that part of the chal­lenge is the fear and the dan­ger. You used to see that. Look at the Isle of Man TT races – it’s ab­so­lutely in­sane but they still do it and you have to ad­mire that.

Tre­mayne: If you’re jaded you only have to stand at the Swimming Pool sec­tion of Monaco and watch the change of di­rec­tion and the close­ness of the bar­ri­ers.

DC: They’ve taken away the wall there, so now it’s just a bar­rier, which is a shame.

Fer­rari means and what it might have been to ex­pe­ri­ence be­ing a Fer­rari driver. But when you’re driv­ing it’s about win­ning and be­ing with the best team to achieve that. Most of the time then, Fer­rari were a com­plete night­mare.

Brun­dle: I would love to have driven for Fer­rari. When I got the chance to drive a Fer­rari at Fio­rano for TV I nearly cried, to be hon­est. Ut­terly bril­liant.

DC: I think I’m from a dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tion be­cause I was groomed from kart­ing to cars, and I didn’t have the emo­tion at­tached to Fer­rari. I did ac­tu­ally visit Jean Todt in Paris to dis­cuss driv­ing for Fer­rari and he of­fered me a con­tract, but I don’t think I would have got on well with a for­eign team for some rea­son.

Blun­dell: I think from the early days there was a de­sire to sit in­side a red car, but that was more of a child­hood dream than any­thing else. I think the re­al­ity is dif­fer­ent. If I’m hon­est, I was more in­clined to be sit­ting in a McLaren. Tre­mayne: And that dream came true. Blun­dell: It did when I tested for them in ’92 along­side Senna and Berger. That was a great car and it showed what a bad de­ci­sion it was to go to Brab­ham the year be­fore. When I went there in ’95 it was at a time when they had their worst car ever… but that’s the way the cookie crum­bles. Hill: Could be worse – could be now.

Brun­dle: I had the ’94 car and that was no bet­ter.

Herbert: The week be­fore I crashed in For­mula 3000 in 1988 I was at Monza and I was in­vited to meet Enzo Fer­rari. Af­ter the ac­ci­dent I never got the chance. Just to have met him would have been an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Brun­dle: Yeah, I agree. Herbert: Fol­low­ing up on what DC said, it wasn’t about Fer­rari and

hav­ing a de­sire to go there, it was about try­ing to get into the best team.

Brun­dle: I wrote a let­ter to Fer­rari when I was in F3 and I asked them if they would con­sider me. I got a very nice let­ter back, which was a long way of say­ing no. Hill: The rest of us can’t write…

Roberts: Look­ing back, was Michael Schu­macher truly the best of your era?

Herbert: Both Martin and I will know what he was like bet­ter than the oth­ers [Both were team­mates to Schu­macher: Brun­dle in 1992; Herbert in 1994-5], and his drive was amaz­ing. His abil­ity to gather peo­ple around him was sec­ond to none and once he got peo­ple to think in his way, he was very good at pro­duc­ing the goods on track. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, Flavio Bri­a­tore [Benet­ton team boss] was not help­ful in any way on my side, but would al­ways agree to what­ever Michael asked him for. Flavio said to me the con­struc­tors’ cham­pi­onship was very im­por­tant and we had to work to­gether, but when I did okay in prac­tice in Ar­gentina, that changed. Michael asked Flavio to stop me from look­ing at his teleme­try and he agreed. Look­ing back, I didn’t han­dle it well.

Blun­dell: Did you feel the team was built around Michael and that was it? Herbert: Yes, ex­actly. Blun­dell: Be­cause that’s how I felt with Mika Häkki­nen at McLaren. When I out­qualied him at Es­to­ril, I got zero recog­ni­tion.

Brun­dle: The team was built around them – and I know, be­cause I was team-mate to both Häkki­nen and Schu­macher – and that’s be­cause they were both ****ers.

Herbert: Ab­so­lutely. Hill: DC would prob­a­bly agree with me, but at Wil­liams we both got the fair crack. There was no num­ber one.

DC: Frank’s at­ti­tude was that he wanted you to race. Per­haps he wouldn’t mind if you shunted while you were hav­ing a go, I’m sure he liked the fact you crashed into Michael at Sil­ver­stone…

“The one thing about Michael is that he would do any­thing to win” Johnny Herbert

Hill: As much as you think that it’s tac­ti­cally bet­ter to have a one-driver team, if you were bat­tling against another team, they didn’t do it. And I think that’s fair – it would be great if ev­ery­one did that.

DC: I agree with Martin’s point. At the time those guys were tough and I re­mem­ber writ­ing lengthy emails to Martin ex­plain­ing about the psy­cho­log­i­cal dam­age I felt I was suf­fer­ing at McLaren from Ron, but at the end of the day Mika was just quicker. And if you were run­ning the team, why would you not do that? You need to win, so you’d sup­port the guy who was more likely to suc­ceed.

Herbert: The one thing about Michael is that he would do any­thing to win.

DC: Can I say one nal thing: that’s some­thing I don’t re­spect. I be­lieve very much in sport­ing

ethics. There are rules and reg­u­la­tions and if you’re not pre­pared to fol­low those rules you’re not a sports­man. I re­mem­ber Jac­ques Vil­leneuve ar­gu­ing about his driver weight and God had made him smaller, or what­ever he be­lieved, and so he thought he should have an ad­van­tage, and I thought wouldn’t you rather beat him be­cause you were a bet­ter driver rather than be­ing beaten be­cause you’re so short. Hill: No of­fence Johnny!

Tre­mayne: Who was the best driver then, from your era? DC: I think Mika. Hill: I’m sorry but it was Michael Schu­macher. I was team-mate to Prost and he’s up there with Ayr­ton ob­vi­ously. But for a pure, com­plete rac­ing driver Michael was amaz­ing.

DC: I’d agree with that. As an all-rounder, I’m not sure he was the fastest… Herbert: His pole record is not great…

Tre­mayne: But you’ve just said Mika. DC: Yes, I think there were guys who were quicker. Mika didn’t have the work ethic of Michael but he had an in­cred­i­ble nat­u­ral tal­ent to go out and turn the lap times in, maybe with­out re­al­is­ing how he did it.

Blun­dell: Best rac­ing driver come Sun­day af­ter­noon that I’ve ever com­peted against in F1? It has to be Senna.

Brun­dle: Er… En­rique Ber­noldi. Was that the guy who held DC up at Monaco? DC: En­rique Ber­noldi, yeah.

Brun­dle: For me the great­est driver of all time who I raced against was Ayr­ton Senna – for his God-given gift.

Herbert: For God-given gift, I agree. And he was a racer who wanted to race against the best.

Brun­dle: He’d have taken you off the road in a heart­beat as well.

Herbert: You say that, but there was a dif­fer­ence; he wouldn’t put you in the wall as such. I can say I only re­mem­ber the Prost in­ci­dent, am I wrong?

Tre­mayne: He was al­ways tak­ing peo­ple off. Brun­dle: Ayr­ton could cross the line a bit. Hill: But I think that all Ayr­ton wanted was equal equip­ment to prove to ev­ery­one he was the best.

DC: A bit like the Jac­ques thing. Michael, I sense, would be quite happy to have an ad­van­tage by hav­ing more horse­power or what­ever and just tak­ing the win, whereas I was em­bar­rassed if I won races by de­fault be­cause it wasn’t a proper win. If I won be­cause I did a good job in that small mo­ment of history, I felt good about it.

Brun­dle: But let’s not for­get a lot of great peo­ple wanted to fol­low Michael out of Benet­ton and into Fer­rari, like Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne. Also, he apol­o­gised to me in later years for some of things he did when we were team-mates. Herbert: When are you go­ing to apol­o­gise to me? Brun­dle: I was much quicker than you! Roberts: Who is the quick­est among you all? Hill: I’m easily the quick­est… with the an­swer. There we are, I beat them all. All: [laugh­ter] DC: Can’t ar­gue with that.

Roberts: And 20 years later, here you are all still in For­mula 1.

DC: And we’re all earn­ing more than I did in my rst year in F1.

Hill: It’s like Ho­tel Cal­i­for­nia: you can check out, but you can never leave… With that sen­ti­ment, the ve of them get up and pose to­gether for a group pho­to­graph at the back of the Pirelli mo­torhome. De­spite the ad­di­tional grey hair, the quin­tet are still laugh­ing and en­joy­ing life as much as they did when they were rac­ing on the limit to­gether. And it’s great to see that 20 years on they’re still ev­ery bit as com­pet­i­tive as they once were…

F1 jour­nal­ist David Tre­mayne kicks off pro­ceed­ings, while the group await the ar­rival of a late-run­ning Johnny Herbert

Top: Herbert’s mem­ory is jogged by a se­lec­tion of photos from Sil­ver­stone ’95. Bot­tom: A fresh-faced Herbert clutches the tro­phy af­ter win­ning the race

Above: Schu­macher con­grat­u­lates Herbert on his maiden win. He would go on to claim his sec­ond vic­tory that year, at Monza, on the way to fin­ish­ing fourth in the cham­pi­onship - Herbert’s most suc­ces­ful cam­paign in F1.

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