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 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 R?gie 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."

Having recently opined that record-breaking multiple MotoGP Champion Valentino Rossi is 'too good' for F1 and would not enjoy himself in the far more restricted and regimented environment of the grand prix paddock, Moss offered a similar opinion on five-time World Rally Champion S?bastien Loeb - statistically comfortably the most successful driver in WRC history, even if he acknowledged that the Frenchman 'would probably be very, very good' should he switch disciplines.

One driver who has had little cause to enjoy himself this year - at least over the first half - is reigning F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, but the man often referred to as 'the greatest driver never to win the world championship' contends that McLaren-Mercedes' talisman and the sport's youngest-ever title-holder is 'still a great racer' and that 'if you want to see an exciting driver, he's about as good as you can get'.

As to his own illustrious career, finally - a career that took witnessed outstanding victories in both single-seaters and sportscars, back in an era when drivers were able to alternate between the two during the course of a season - Sir Stirling is happy to reminisce about old friends and foes. Singling out the 'unique' Ferguson P99 four wheel-drive machine, Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR - 'probably the finest sportscar ever built' - and Cooper F1 cars he drove to three of his grand prix victories, he also fondly remembered his fiercest on-track adversaries.

"In Formula 1 Fangio was unbeatable," he acknowledged. "In sportscars I could cope with him, but not in Formula 1. There was also Tony Brooks, and Jim Clark who I raced against but only at the beginning of his career - not when he got to the best that he became. I would say probably Clark and Brooks were the two best British drivers.

"I think probably my greatest race in Formula 1 was Monaco in '61, and in sportscars certainly the Mille Miglia in 1955 - it was 1,000 miles, and I averaged 98.98mph with three mountain passes and stopping to get things checked and all that. Eight hundred cars took part, and I'm glad to say of course they can't beat my record now.

"That was probably my toughest race, too; you're talking just over ten hours' driving, which is an awful lot, with having to pass hundreds of cars, different terrains and without really knowing the circuit. Jenks (co-driver Denis Jenkinson) gave me signals and so on, but I think that had to be the worst.

"Doing the book was very interesting for me, to be honest. I did it with Alan Henry - who's a hell of a nice guy, and also a good writer, which I'm not - and seeing all the different cars I've driven was quite illuminating because I'd forgotten quite a lot of them. I did 585 races, which is quite a few, and I think I drove 108 different cars, so that's quite a lot too. It's all very special."


For your chance to win a privileged autographed copy of Sir Stirling's new book 'All My Races', click here


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