Drivers on Drivers Extracts, by Philip Porter
The following are brief extracts from Drivers on Drivers which features interviews with Hamilton, Moss, Webber, Andretti, Bell, Hopkirk, Russell, Hill, Stewart, Fittipaldi, Pirro, Scheckter, Norris, Redman, Attwood, Brooks, Coulthard, Bellm, Oliver, Warwick, Hobbs, Jones, McNish, Brundle, Berger, Blundell, Fitzpatrick, Parnell, Hakkinen, Chadwick and Wallace. This is a hardback book of 144 pages, 75,000 words and more than 110 stunning photos. It is supporting the cancer charity Hope for Tomorrow and, if bought direct from Porter Press, £11 goes to HfT.
Sir Jackie Stewart (interviewed by Philip Porter)
For you, was Jim Clark the best?
‘I think probably Fangio was the best of all time, in my opinion. But that, of course, goes back a long way. Whereas, in my window of time, in my opinion, second to none was Jim Clark. I would put him second, in fact, to Fangio. Above everybody else, above Schumacher, above Lewis Hamilton, above anyone else. Jim Clark drove so smoothly. Colin Chapman made very fragile cars, and there were many times components that weren't what I would describe as the very strongest or robust. Jim Clark didn't have many mechanical failures because he drove so smoothly.
‘You know, I learned so much from Jim because…’
Emerson Fittipaldi (interviewed by David Tremayne)
What is it you think that made the great ones really great? Could you ever define that?
‘I think the great drivers were the ones that even when the car was not the best, they would carry it on their back and make an incredible performance with a bad car. I remember in 1973, Jack Stewart driving in Interlagos. His Tyrrell was so difficult to drive, but he was there. I mean, really strong the whole race. I won, but he finished second. And then at the end of the year he won the Championship… That was a good exhibition of talent, of being a great driver.’
Was there anyone out there that you were wary of racing wheel-to-wheel with?
‘Yes – Clay [Regazzoni]! It was always dangerous to be close to Clay. I was afraid. I had a few bad experiences – when I say bad, I mean scary experiences – with Clay. Remember Watkins Glen…’
Gerhard Berger (interviewed by Philip Porter)
What are your memories of Ayrton Senna?
'He was a Brazilian street fighter who was “playing the piano” in all kinds of ways every day. When you went to a team, he had it already deeply under control. When you go out in the car, he had already a better set-up. He had already the better engine. When you go to the press, he had already stated his position. So he was always ahead of the game. That's why he was as successful as he was. The most important thing is you have people with this capability but then he was also super-talented, super-committed. I studied him a lot, of course, because when I drove together with him, I saw that my performance was not enough to beat him. So I had to see where is his weakness, where can I beat him…’
Mario Andretti (interviewed by Peter Windsor)
‘I remember qualifying for the US GP at Watkins Glen in 1978. There was one corner where I had a specific issue – the right-hander after the ‘boot’ section at the end of the back straight. It’s an easy enough corner, slightly downhill, but I had some issues there because you had to set up the car for the next corner.
‘Then I followed Alan Jones through there – he was in the Williams FW06. I watched his line through there – he was running a much later apex, which initially didn’t seem natural to me, but suddenly it all made sense. I did what he did on that corner and I put the car on pole. So there’s always somebody who does something better than you and when you try to learn from that, then that’s when you move forwards.
Derek Warwick (interviewed by Louise Goodman)
Who did you fear most as a competitor?
‘I didn't fear anyone. I respected a lot of the drivers, especially in the early days, the Niki Laudas, the Reutemanns, Pironis, the Arnouxs, the Prosts, because they were great, great drivers. I can even go back to ’82 when we had the drivers' strike. That's when I really got myself established as a fellow driver, because you were with them for 36/48 hours, whatever it was. You were sleeping on a mattress next to Carlos Reutemann or Niki Lauda or Gilles Villeneuve, people like that. But I was never frightened of another driver.
‘I think there's certain drivers that you knew were different. Whether it was a sort of mystery that they created, or whether there was a Godlike feeling that they brought in with them, and that's obviously Ayrton Senna. I've been to many drivers' briefings, and Prost and Mansell and those sort of guys walked into the room and you never really looked around. But when Ayrton came into the room, he brought a different feeling to that room. He looked to be walking on water, he really was that different. And of course I had that love-hate relationship with him where he screwed me over…’
Paddy Hopkirk (interviewed by Philip Porter)
Do you have any favourite stories about the various drivers?
‘Alec Poole is a wonderful guy. He did the London-Sydney [Marathon] with me. I said, “Look, I'm keeping the weight down on this car. I want to see everything [because] we want to carry the minimum weight in this big Austin 1800.” I said, “What's that you've got wrapped in a cloth and which you're putting in the passenger door pocket?” He said, “Oh, it’s just a revolver.” He pulled out this loaded revolver. He said, “It's just in case anybody in Afghanistan tries to stop us or anything.” So we actually had a loaded gun in the car.
‘I flew quite a lot with Graham in his aeroplane up to Scotland and also we opened the Ulster Motor Show with the Duke of Edinburgh. I met Graham [Hill] up at Elstree. It was a dirty, wet winter Monday morning. He gets into the plane and fires it up. It’s all damp and cold, a twin-engine thing. He takes off and he looks around and says, “My God, there was a map in here. Where’s the map?” He scared the hell out of me. He did break the rules a bit, but we got to Belfast.’
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