by Russell Atkins

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE

Sir Stirling Moss is one of those rare people who are truly legends in their own lifetime. A multiple grand prix winner, the four-time world championship runner-up is widely regarded as the best driver never to lift the Formula 1 crown.

The 77-year-old was one of the star guests at the inaugural GPlive event at Donington Park, a celebration of motor racing nostalgia from years gone-by. Here he gives us his views on the weekend as well as his impressions on the state of play in Formula 1 in 2007...

Q:
Stirling, first of all how much are you enjoying GPlive?

Stirling Moss:
I think it's terrific. There are so many different cars, and just being here is very nice. The weather overall has been pretty good too. I just hope it's successful enough for them to be able to continue with it and build on it in the same way that Goodwood has been built up over the years.

Q:
What is it do you think that makes this kind of event so popular and special?

SM:
I think it's just a good family day out. There are a lot of kids here, including some really young children, and it's good to get them into it. There are also plenty of older folk who know who the cars were driven by and who know who I am for instance. I just think there's such an opportunity for people to see cars they can't normally see and be able to talk to drivers and mechanics in a way they can't normally do.

Q:
And for the drivers it's a chance to catch up with some old friends, both in terms of fellow competitors and also the cars they used to race isn't it?

SM:
Oh yes, definitely. It's all been very nice. In the drivers' club I've met many people I haven't seen in quite a while. There's generally just a very friendly atmosphere here and that's really good to see.

Q:
You're a patron of the event and have been involved in it from the early stages. How much hard work has gone into all the preparation?

SM:
I'm glad to say being a patron doesn't mean you have a lot of hard work to do! Seriously though, an awful lot of work has gone into this. I just hope it proves successful enough and a financially viable enough proposition for it to be able to continue.

Q:
Another new project you're involved in is Roary the Racing Car. Tell us about that.

SM:Roary the Racing Car is amazing. It's a TV show for pre-school children and I'm the narrator. We hope grown-ups will like it too. The way they do it all is amazing. They have this little model which is only about five or six inches long but costs as much as an ordinary car! They write the script and the vehicle speaks. It's all quite remarkable, especially when you realise they are doing 25 frames a second. There's a tremendous amount of work involved, and the end product is something I'm sure the kids and those watching it with them will enjoy. I'm very happy to be connected with it, because hopefully the children will ask their grandparents who the old man talking is. Hopefully they will know and tell them who I am, and that will mean a whole new crop of young people who know who Stirling Moss is.

Q:
You still keep a close eye on Formula 1 now don't you? What's your take on the 2007 season so far?

SM:
I think Lewis Hamilton is really quite a stunning driver. Of course he has won an enormous amount coming up to Formula 1, from karting onwards. I'm really very impressed with him, and not only by his driving - because he is a racer, which is terrific - but also in terms of his personality. The way he drives is very interesting. If you watch him, he is always there waiting to pounce and looking for a space to put his car, and that's the sign of a true racer. In my entire career of 525 races, I don't suppose I drove against more than four or five real racers, so to see Lewis coming in like that is a breath of fresh air. Here is this guy who is very down-to-earth - not in any way big-headed about anything - and at the same time also a racer.

Q:
Since Michael Schumacher's retirement from the sport at the end of last year, the majority of pundits have considered Fernando Alonso to be the best driver in Formula 1. Lewis seems to have him a bit rattled of late though, doesn't he?

SM:
I must say I feel very sorry for Alonso, because there's no doubt Fernando has done a terrific job. Winning those two titles the way he did was tremendous, but to go along to a team which I presume said to him 'we can get you the championship again' and then suddenly find you've got a guy you've never heard of alongside you and leading the world championship after four races would really shake anybody. I think Alonso is certainly still as good as he was, but the interesting thing I think is that Lewis is clearly of the same type. Who is going to win? People often say you're not allowed team orders anymore, but I think Ron Dennis is in a very difficult position. Normally McLaren let their drivers race each other, but we will see. Ron convinced Alonso to come across by promising him he could get him another title, but now he has someone else in the team too he can't really control.

Q:
The next race on the 2007 Formula 1 calendar is the undisputed jewel in the crown that is Monaco. Lewis has never lost at Monaco in all his races in the Principality. Do you think he can take his maiden grand prix victory there next weekend?

SM:
Monaco is a funny place; it's a tough race and very fickle with it. In my day it was 100 laps; it's shorter now but of course a lot faster too. I think Lewis has the ability to win there, and if the car keeps going and he gets a good start to the weekend I would think he is as likely to do it as anybody. It's fairly important for him to be at the front when the lights go out, which will hopefully allow him to pull away and open up a lead. That would give him potentially a tremendous advantage.

Q:
The main question on many people's lips before the season got underway was can Lewis win a race this year? Now it seems to be can he win the world championship in 2007? What are your thoughts on that?

SM:
I'm staggered quite frankly. I would never have given you odds on that - to be leading after his first four races is unbelievable. It's never happened before, and I'm sure it will never happen again either, but one has to say it is a possibility now. I wouldn't have thought that for a moment if you had asked me the same question at the end of last year.

Q:
What about the other three Brits on the Formula 1 grid in 2007? Jenson Button is having a torrid time at Honda at the moment; can he bounce back from that do you think?

SM:
I'm afraid quite honestly Jenson's time has passed. Lewis has now arrived and is very dedicated about it all. I think Jenson made a couple of difficult moves under what was probably not the best guidance. I don't know how that all happened, but there's no question the car Jenson has at the moment is not capable of winning.

Q:
David Coulthard at Red Bull Racing, by contrast, seems to be enjoying something of an Indian summer to his career. How much longer do you think he can carry on for?

SM:
I think we've got to realise David is never going to win a race again. That's terribly unlikely, but he is still doing a good job and if he is prepared to settle for that then there's no doubt that car is only going to improve with the talent they've got working on it in the shape of Adrian Newey and so forth. I don't see why he shouldn't go on longer. Fangio didn't retire until he was 47, and I certainly had no intention of stopping until I was 50 but I had my bad crash. Otherwise I would have carried on much longer.

Q:
The last Brit in Formula 1 this year is Anthony Davidson, who has made his long-awaited full-time grand prix debut with Super Aguri. How do you rate his season so far?

SM:
Anthony is doing a very good job. It's unfortunate for him he has entered in a year when there's this other British guy who has also come in out of the blue - that makes it very difficult for people to be as excited about him as maybe they should be. He is doing a good job, though, and long may that continue.

Q:
Finally, what difference do you think has been made to grand prix racing since Michael Schumacher's retirement from the sport at the end of 2006?

SM:
I think Michael frankly had reached his use-by date. He did a terrific job - there's no doubt at the beginning of his career he was absolutely brilliant. At the end of his career he was still extremely good, and terribly good at bringing teams together, but I don't think he was the fastest driver anymore.

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE

 

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