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A fictitious interview with Legends of the sport.

By Parminio
July 15 2005

Welcome to the first installment of the Legends Interview. Taking part are, from my left, Jimmy Clark – Team Lotus, Alberto Ascari – Team Ferrari, Ayrton Senna – Team Williams and Bruce McLaren – Team McLaren. Gentlemen, welcome and thank you for attending. To open things up, I would like to pose the question: What do you think about the current state of Formula 1 in general
Jim Clark: I don’t know. I’m a bit disappointed really. I mean, it’s become such a mess to me…the legalities, driver aides and all…it just seems to me to be a bit more about everything BUT driving these days.

Alberto Ascari: Like what Jim said. It is not pure like it was. It has, I think, become too watered down. It has been like putting ice in wine.

Ayrton Senna: I would agree with them. I for one could see it coming. In a way, I’m satisfied that I’m not there now. I think this FIA have done so much to control this sport that it’s not a sport anymore. It is, but it isn’t a sport first I mean.

Bruce McLaren: I agree with them. I think there are way too many Generals and not nearly enough privates.

I suppose you all saw the events at Indianapolis. Your thoughts on that?

Jim Clark: I drive. That’s it.

Alberto Ascari: Same thing here. The understanding I do not have is what are the drivers these days thinking? Do they think that there is no risk? No. I think they are…

Bruce McLaren: Spoiled brats?

Alberto Ascari: Yes! It was always part of this thing. The risk that is. It was always a risk and you never would know. It is scary sometimes…a lot of times really…but it is what you do. It is what I do. I drive.

Ayrton Senna: What Alberto said. That is part of what makes a driver I think; his fear or fearlessness. I mean, the brave drive no matter what. You can always tell who is scared the most. They brake first.

Bruce McLaren: I drive too. I’m with Alberto on this. What do these guys think they’re being paid to do? I think when a tire company starts dictating what race you do or don’t drive, then things are in a right bloody mess. I can remember times having to run a tire or two that I wouldn’t put on my mothers car to go to the store on…but I still drove.

So do you agree with the FIA? That the teams should have driven anyway?

Yes! (collective)

What about the legalities involved? What if something had happened?

Jim Clark: Something always happens. Read a book or two. Look at me…us. Something is bound to happen. I’ll give you one more thing to consider: what if it happens when the tire maker gives you the green light? What makes it any different? You might not make it, you’ll make it with no problem…then you don’t make it. How is one any different from the other? No matter what anybody says there is, has been and always will be a risk. To me, there is absolutely no difference between the two.

Bruce McLaren: Jimmy hit the nail on the head there. These days it’s all about ‘what if?’ It gets to be a bit much to me. The only ‘what ifs’ we ever dealt with were ‘what if we soften up a spring’ or ‘what if we add a bit of tire pressure’. We didn’t spend 90% of our time wondering ‘what if I run off’ or ‘what if we get sued’. That seems to be the first thing on everybody’s mind these days…not racing.

So what do you gentlemen think about the new tracks they’re building these days?

Alberto Ascari: You cannot, I think, call those tracks.

Jim Clark: (laughing) I have to agree.

Ayrton Senna: This is something I must say I saw coming…

Bruce McLaren: If you’ve seen everything coming Ayrton, why didn’t you say something?

Collective Laughter

Aryton Senna: No, really. They started with the safety, safety, safety in my days. It really was starting to get to where the tracks were so safe it was silly. Now, it is not just silly, it is stupid. The drivers do not have to respect a track anymore. They have wide runoff areas, that grass junk that is like concrete on the corners, the whole thing. You do not have to stay on the track. You can simply drive off of it and keep going. They aren’t afraid of tracks anymore and they do not respect them…yet they are scared to death of a tire. I am sorry but that is stupid. I do not think it could get any more stupid than it is.

Jim Clark: Aryton has a very good point. Several actually. Another thing that gets me is they always talk about G-forces. So what? I can’t remember the last time I saw those guys in zero gravity. In the air, waiting to come down and hoping against all hope that the suspension holds together. Get back to zero gravity, blind corners side by side…and I don’t mean a flat corner you can’t see around all the way. I mean a blind corner where the road drops off and you can’t see the road at all while you’re in the air…and THEN I’ll say you’re driving on a track.

Like the old Ring perhaps?

Yes. (Collective)

Didn’t they get rid of the track because the cars were no longer safe to run on it?

Jim Clark: That’s not possible. If you build a car that is not safe for the track, then you built the wrong car. There isn’t a thing wrong with the track.

Bruce McLaren: Exactly!

Alberto Ascari: I agree totally. It is a sad thing I think…these new tracks. It is not a driver’s track. I mean, it is not a track that a driver can show talent on. These tracks are all the same now…the same turns, the same straights, the same width and are all very flat. Why drive them all? Just make one and run it 12 times.

So are there any tracks on the calendar today that you like?

Jim Clark: Spa would be my first choice. I like the Spain track too…that uphill turn into the hard right hander is nice. A big, long straight for some power…it has a bit of everything. They butchered Hockenheim. Put that back the way it was. It’s terrible now.

Alberto Ascari: Spa is first for me too. I like the Japan circuit as well. It has many different types of turns. I like that. I hate what they did to Monza. It to me is like Jim’s Hockenheim I think: ruined. Put it back to the thing it was.

Aryton Senna: Spa. I always loved that place. I like Spain too, and Imola…but they need to take that stupid chicane out. At the very least, take my name off of it. I don’t want it there. It has no business being there. It is like we said before: drive!

Bruce McLaren: I like Spa, no doubt about that. I’m again with Jimmy: put Hockenheim back. God have mercy, they really know how to screw up a track these days. I like Indianapolis too. Although it’s flat, it does have a bit of everything…provided of course they actually drive it.

(Collective laughter)

OK guys…here it comes: If you had to pick a teammate from today’s grid, who would it be?

Jim Clark: Michael Schumacher. No doubt.

Alberto Ascari: Michael. I have the first choice on him for the obvious reasons.
(Collective Laughter)

Aryton Senna: I like Fernando Alonso. I like him a lot.

Bruce McLaren: I don’t know…like Alberto said, for the obvious reasons, I take Kimi and don’t look back…but if they give Michael a pass then I take him, definitely.

How about a second choice gentlemen?

Jim Clark: Michael Schumacher.

You already chose him.

Jim Clark: Then I choose him again. (Laughter)

Alberto Ascari: I like that young Nick Heidfeld. He has been very good this year I think. I like him. I would drive with him.

Aryton Senna: Second? Hmmmm…I like Kimi. Yes. I take Kimi after Alonso.

Bruce McLaren: Mark Webber. I know the kid is rough on the edges…but I like his style. I’d race with him.

OK, here it comes again: Who’s the best driver you’ve ever seen?

Jim Clark: You mean the best all time?

Yes. Well, how about a top 3?

Jim Clark: The gentleman to my left, Alberto…then Michael Schumacher, then Graham Hill.

Alberto Ascari: The man to my right, Jimmy Clark, then I think Jack Brabham and then Michael Schumacher I think.

Aryton Senna: Jim, then Alberto, then Graham.

Bruce McLaren: Me, no…I’m kidding. Ummm…it’s got to be Jimmy, then Michael, then Stirling Moss. Man that gent is incredible. I don’t think he ever really got the credit he deserved. He’s fantastic.

OK, who’s the best team boss these days?

Jim Clark: Jean Todt. No question.

Alberto Ascari: Jean for me too. He has done wonderful things. I think as a boss he is what you should be. He never has the look of surprise. He finds a way to win many times when I think he should not be able to. I think he is the best…and not for why you think.

Aryton Senna: I have to agree. Jean is the best.

Bruce McLaren: I’ll be odd man out. Ron Dennis, and yes it’s for the obvious reasons.

Who’s the best team boss ever?

Jim Clark: That is a tough one. I can’t pick one. For me, it is a toss up between Jean Todt and Ken Tyrell. They’re both just as good as it gets to me.

Alberto Ascari: Jean Todt. I have said why already.

Ayrton Senna: Ken Tyrell or Jack Brabham. You cannot lose either way.

Bruce McLaren: Don’t hate me for this, but Dan Gurney. Even though it didn’t last, he was the best. If not for him…well…you know.

One last question for this session gentlemen: If you could race now, what team would you like to race for?

Jim Clark: BAR. I would have loved to race for Jaguar if they had stayed in it…but I’d go to BAR and race with Jenson.

You think you two could pull it out?

Jim Clark: (smiles)

Alberto Ascari: Ferrari of course with Michael and Jean. And yes, we would beat Jimmy and Button.

Jim Clark: Uh huh.

(Collective Laugther)

Ayrton Senna: Renault with Alonso. You think that it is bad now?

Bruce McLaren: McLaren of course with Kimi. And yes, it’s bad now…but that would change very quickly.

That concludes our first Legends Interview. Thank you very much gentlemen, and I look forward to seeing you in our next session where we’ll discuss the cars and the rules.

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