F1 hostesses must be ‘em­braced not sprayed’

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

LON­DON — Stir­ling Moss is a great ad­mirer of Lewis Hamil­ton but he has dis­tinct views about how a win­ner should be­have on the For­mula One podium.

It is not that he dis­ap­proves of the Cham­pagne spray­ing that landed the Mercedes driver in trou­ble in China this month, with the Bri­ton aim­ing a stream of bub­bly at a host­ess, but his was a very dif­fer­ent era.

“Cham­pagne spray­ing didn’t re­ally ex­ist in my day, it was brought in mostly by [Amer­i­can] Dan Gur­ney. I think he was the first per­son who did it,” Moss told Reuters in an in­ter­view on Thurs­day. “With good look­ing girls, I think it would be rather nice to give them an em­brace rather than cover them in Cham­pagne, frankly.”

Moss, now 85 and gen­er­ally recog­nised as the great­est driver never to win a For­mula One ti­tle, can oth­er­wise see some­thing of him­self in Hamil­ton — even if the 30-year-old has al­ready won two cham­pi­onships.

The pair are both two times win­ners of the Bri­tish Grand Prix, with Moss the first Bri­ton to tri­umph on home soil in an epic 1955 race and Hamil­ton the most re­cent last year, and both with Mercedes.

The two men re­cently got to­gether at the ven­er­a­ble Monza cir­cuit near Mi­lan to lap the an­cient bank­ing in the 1955 Mercedes that Moss used to win that year’s Mille Miglia (thou­sand miles) road race from Bres­cia to Rome and back.

“He re­ally was quite ex­cited to drive the car,” said the win­ner of 16 grands prix and four times F1 cham­pi­onship run­ner-up, at a book launch (Stir­ling Moss: My

Rac­ing Life) to co­in­cide with the 60th an­niver­sary of his cel­e­brated victory.

“The bank­ing is ter­ri­bly rough now but … he re­ally en­joyed driv­ing the thing. Whether he’d en­joy it if he had to race it I don’t know.”

Moss sus­pected that the an­swer would be yes, how­ever: “I think frankly Lewis would be one of the guys who would love to have raced back in the days, be­cause he def­i­nitely is a very fast driver,” he de­cided.

“He and [Se­bas­tian] Vet­tel and [Fer­nando] Alonso, you are talk­ing about guys who are re­ally that good that I’m sure they would have been at the top what­ever year.”

Hamil­ton is cur­rently lead­ing the cham­pi­onship from Mercedes team-mate Nico Ros­berg by a hefty 27 points af­ter win­ning three of the first four races and start­ing all of them from pole po­si­tion.

The Bri­ton is also in the mid­dle of ne­go­ti­at­ing a new con­tract with Mercedes that could be worth some $40 mil­lion (R481 mil­lion) a year for a driver who was last week listed as the rich­est ac­tive sports­man in Bri­tain.

For Moss, who can lay claim to be­ing the first truly pro­fes­sional rac­ing driver of the post­war era, such un­told wealth be­longs to an­other world.

“I won the Ger­man Grand Prix in 1961 and that was worth £1 000” he said. “By to­day’s stan­dards, that would be 10 or £12 000 (R182 000 or R219 000). The most I ever won in a year was about £34 000.

“But the time when I was rac­ing was cer­tainly the most fun.”

Moss, still an avid fol­lower of For­mula One even if his pre­ferred mode of trans­port th­ese days is a Re­nault Twizy elec­tric car, ex­pected Hamil­ton to have his third cham­pi­onship all but wrapped up by the time he re­turned to Monza.

“I think he prob­a­bly will. He’s got the right en­gine. You’ve got to have a Mercedes to win. He’s got that, he’s got the skill. He has a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence. He’s been around quite a while now,” he said. — Reuters.

PHOTO: CBC.ZA

Mercedes For­mula One driver Lewis Hamil­ton of Bri­tain sprays Cham­pagne at a host­ess as he cel­e­brates his win in China.

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