Sir Stirling Moss turned 80 today (Thursday), and to celebrate his milestone the British motor racing legend has launched a new book entitled 'All My Races' – as well as taking time out to speak to Crash.net Radio
about reflections on his career and the state of Formula 1 past and present.
Though a horrific accident at Goodwood in 1962 left him in a coma, partially paralysed the left side of his body and brought down the curtain on his full-time competitive career, Moss has ever since remained an interested observer in the sport to which he has given so much. The Englishman mused that the current scandal enveloping Renault, Nelsinho Piquet and last year's Singapore Grand Prix – a controversy so grave it has already cost the heads of Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds, and is threatening to drive the Régie
out of the sport altogether – would never have occurred back in his day.
“It couldn't happen when it was a sport,” Sir Stirling asserted. “It's not a sport now; it's big business. I just cannot believe that Piquet would do what he did, and then to go and say it – I'm absolutely without words. I think what he did is absolutely terrible, and the whole thing has done motor racing a tremendous amount of harm, which hopefully it will live down.
“I hope that Renault – who are pulling out I'm sure – will keep making the engines, because they are a good engine-supplier, they make good engines and it's beneficial to have more opportunities or more engines available.”
As a man who never lifted the ultimate trophy himself – despite triumphing in no fewer than 16 grands prix along the way and finishing four times as the runner-up in the chase for the coveted crown, on three occasions to multiple world champion Juan-Manuel Fangio and on the other to countryman Mike Hawthorn, Britain's first title-winner – Moss added that he hoped Brawn GP ace Jenson Button can make it back-to-back British successes in 2009.
Just two years ago, the former Mercedes-Benz, Maserati, Vanwall, Rob Walker, Cooper and Lotus star had suggested that Button had missed the boat – and he suggests that the 29-year-old would do well not to risk squandering his chance this season, particularly with the Adrian Newey-designed Red Bull Racing challenge only likely to get stronger still in 2010.
“It depends,” Sir Stirling pondered of his countryman's chances of clinching the coveted crown. “If Jenson really tries and if he has a go, he can do it; if he doesn't try hard enough, then he can still be beaten, so I think it's quite an interesting situation. He did take his eye off the ball, but now of course he's come back with a very good team and he's rallied round and certainly got his talent back much more.
“I think he still stands a really good chance – but there's no doubt that at one time he was the man to be, and he did lose it. [Button's team-mate] Rubens Barrichello is a very nice person and he's a very quick driver. In many races he's been faster than Jenson, so therefore one has to consider him in contention still.
“[Red Bull magnate Dietrich Mateschitz claiming that RBR is now out of the reckoning for championship glory] is a rather deflated idea, but I can see what he means. I can see that from his point-of-view they're not quite in the position they were a few races back, but they've done tremendously well really. One has to realise of course that it's a Newey car, and his influence is now being felt. This year might be tough – I must say, I don't think they're likely to win this year – but next year's going to be all-different again.”