Why we’re done gone with ‘the done thing’
to their elders. James Hunt was a publicschool rufan, a fully paid-up member of the Hellre Club. He would turn up to black-tie events wearing cut-off, buttock-clenching denim shorts, a tie-dyed T-shirt (all the rage back then) and ip-ops. My father almost choked on his prawn cocktail. He (my father), despite having been extremely badly behaved himself on many occasions, knew the rules of decorum. You don’t push it too far. Otherwise you’ll be made an example of. James just didn’t give a toss – and drove like it, too. He wasn’t there to kowtow to anyone.
Jackie Stewart was a little more respectful of my old man. He learned a lot of sartorial tricks from him and went to the same tailor in Savile Row (before switching to Scotch House). That didn’t stop him ‘forgetting’ the team order in Monza ’65 to take his rst F1 race victory from under my daddy’s nose. There were some discussions after that one, apparently. But racing drivers are not supposed to stand on ceremony. I think my father understood that you can’t keep a good man down. It’s all about how fast you are. Whoever thought up that crazy idea?
In the previous era, gentlemen moved over for one another and would hand their car to their teammate, if he needed it. Moss could have been Britain’s rst F1 champion but for the fact that he defended Mike Hawthorn’s disqualication in the 1958 Portugese GP. Imagine that! Not the done thing, old boy, to win by default. But that was then, and this is now. So when David Coulthard was asked to hand his lead of the 1997 European GP to Mika Häkkinen, he would have been within his rights to hold on to it. But the McLaren family is a tight one, and David dutifully relinquished the highly prized victory to his team-mate. Chivalry, or just obeying orders? And what did it do to our impression of DC as merciless slayer of the other guy? I understand that this was Mika’s rst ever grand prix victory and he was a man in recovery from a horric accident and an all-round decent chap to boot. But a grand prix victory? Just given away? What if DC had said ‘okay’, and then gone ahead and won? Might that have put down a marker for 1998? Or would he have got the sack?
In Monaco this year, the guy leading the championship let the guy wanting to deprive him of it past. I mean, he just let him past. ‘After you, Claude.’ Extraordinary behaviour for this day and age. But it made him all the bigger a sportsman for that. He knew he couldn’t challenge The Honey Badger, so why spoil it for the team? Still, it must have been a galling experience. And what if he had just gone into total roadblock mode? Hamilton and his 3.4 million Twitter followers (plus a small percentage of Justin Bieber’s 82.7 million) would have declared an all-out Twitterstorm of abuse against the modest would-be champ. You gotta think of these things nowadays. Imagine if Moss hadn’t given a damn about Hawthorn back in ’58? He would have been castigated for being unsporting, too, only it would have taken three days for the news to lter through. But you’d like to think these guys did it simply because it is the right thing to do, not because of the ‘Tyranny of the Mob’. Meanwhile, new boy Max looked third-hand post-Monaco. It’s a long hard road to the top. Ask Lewis: 44 wins is just base camp.
Vettel was outraged by Ricciardo’s move up the inside at Turn 1 in Spain, saying: “What is this? Racing or Ping-Pong?”