DRIVING Formula One would have to be one of life’s biggest adrenalin rushes. Just ask Alan Jones, who has been searching for an equal thrill ever since he retired from the sport in 1987.
Jones won a remarkable 12 Grand Prix races from 116 starts. In 1980 he became the first Australian since Sir Jack Brabham to win the Formula One World Championship.
Over the years, Jones has jumped into everything from a Holden Commodore to a Porsche 935 to a Mazda RX-7 for another shot at car racing glory.
Now the 66-year-old is stepping behind the microphone to be an expert commentator for Channel 10’s coverage of the 2013 Australian Grand Prix.
If you were to jump behind the wheel of one of today’s cars, would you notice a lot of difference?
They’ve still got wishbones and pedals and brakes and steering wheels and you’ve still got to take a 170mph corner at 170mph. If you go into it at 171 you won’t come out the other end. The main difference is the electronics.
Howdo you rate the current crop of drivers, particularly Australia’s Mark Webber?
Obviously they’re not as good as they were in my day (laughs). Mark has proven to be a very reliable driver. If that consistency stays with him this year I think it is going to be an unbelievably close year. He has as good a chance as anybody (of being world champion).
Whois your favourite to win this year’s Australian Grand Prix?
It has been a very strange off-season testing period. There have been a lot of people sandbagging — not showing their real colours. I expect Fernando Alonso to come out of the pack pretty strong.
There has been a lot of debate recently about whether Melbourne should keep the Grand Prix. What do you think?
Bernie Ecclestone knocked the nail on the head when he said, ‘If you don’t really want it, there are plenty of other countries queuing up’. That should tell somebody something. Australian Formula One Grand Prix, Channel 10, Sunday