by Rob Wilkins


Tony Jardine was the host at Cars International's 'Mille Miglia - Then and Now' evening with Sir Stirling Moss and celebrity BBC chef James Martin on Wednesday. Radio caught up with the motorsport pundit and Sky Sports presenter at that event in Kensington, London and got his thoughts on it - and the goings on in F1 this year...
Tony, what have you made of the 'Mille Miglia - Then and Now' evening?

Tony Jardine:
It has been superb. It has been a bit of nostalgia, mixed with legends and current Formula 1 people. We have had Cosworth people here, we have had Martin Brundle here - all sorts of people have turned out because the greatest legend of them all, Sir Stirling Moss OBE was here talking about, what was in my opinion, one of the greatest wins ever in his career, the 1955 Mille Miglia. Cars International have recently discovered one of his road cars, which was supplied by Mercedes GB and which he used for promotional purposes leading up to the Mille Miglia. We showed him all the pictures of him driving this car in the snow at Brands Hatch in 1955 and so on and so forth. Linking that car to him and getting him to shares his memories of the great event was very enjoyable.

But that was the 'Then' and then we had the 'Now' with James Martin, the BBC chef, who is going to do the Mille Miglia, nostalgia retro event. He will be doing that in about six day's time. He took advice from Stirling and came up on stage. It was really a lovely mixture of the history and the current modern day people, like James, who just loves his motoring and motor sport.
The Mercedes Benz 300 SLGullwing is obviously for sale, what's the price tag?

You know what I haven't bothered to ask, because I know I can't afford it whatever it is! But I am sure someone here will be able to afford it. I would have thought because Sir Stirling has driven it, with its history and everything thing and it is immaculate and it is the 19th SLGullwing ever built, so I would have thought ?5 and the rest! [laughs]
What have you made of F1 so far this season?

It started off in a very exciting fashion with Lewis [Hamilton] hammering them all in Australia. But then we had our doubts because Albert Park is not a real, real test of the cars and aerodynamics. So by the time we got to Barcelona, Ferrari, who tested so well over the winter, were looking very, very strong. McLaren have just got to fight back now. For me it is fascinating because you have got BMW knocking on the door and you have even got Red Bull and Adrian Newey's team with Mark Webber starting to do well too. I am off to Turkey now and I am going to enjoy that. It is a hell of a circuit and even though it is a new track, it has the notorious turn 8 there. I think it is going to be a very, very exciting year and I am waiting for McLaren to bite back and make a little bit of a jump, which I am sure they will, and really fight back against Ferrari.
When do you expect to see Lewis and McLaren comeback?

I would say in the next two to three races to be honest. McLaren are very good at updating their cars quite quickly, in terms of aerodynamics, suspension development and that is what I expect them to be doing. They are a team that is geared to react and make fast changes. I think they will be a little bit disappointed that they didn't do that a bit more in Bahrain and they certainly didn't do that in Spain. Third place was a good solid result - but that is all you can say and McLaren will have been disappointed with that result. They need to be challenging.
Heikki Kovalainen obviously had that huge crash in Spain too.

Yeah, they suspect that a wheel rim broke on the left front and if that happens, you lose all steering and off you go. I mean the velocity of that crash and then burying yourself in the tyre wall like that, which the FIA will review - the fact he actually went under the skirts of the tyre wall and buried himself. The big test for him is can he pass all the medical tests pre-Turkey? If not does [Pedro] de la Rosa [McLaren's third driver] get a ride? I rate Heikki very highly. I always have. He is a very, very fast driver and I hope he makes it. I hope he gets to race in Turkey. Heikki and Lewis are great team-mates as well. It is great to see them work together. They are a great combination. [Tony was speaking prior to confirmation Heikki will race in Turkey this weekend - Ed].
How important is it for the FIA to look at those barriers, because, as you say, Heikki was buried for quite so time and if the accident had been worse, well that could have had serious consequences?

Yeah, also the McLaren held up very well - the front nose box was scrunched and a lot of the deformable structures did there job. But look it is still a dangerous sport and the fact the car managed to go under the skirting I am sure is under full investigation by the FIA. How did that happen? Why did it happen? The belting that goes in front of all of the tyres is crucial and if the car went in at a certain angle and pierced under the edge of the skirting they will want to know why. They will come up with some results for that and then they will make sure it doesn't happen again.
In the build up to Turkey we have lost the Super Aguri team and that is a big blow for the sport isn't it?

It is a big blow for the sport and I think it is a big blow for Aguri Suzuki. It is a big blow for Honda too and they all tried very, very hard to rescue the situation. But ultimately you have to survive and you have to have the financing to survive. There aren't any hand-outs for anyone - sadly. For me Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson are great, great drivers. They should be on the grid. They are not on the grid and I hope they can get more rides in the future. But Aguri Suzuki is bruised and battered now. He has gone away saying: 'That is the Piranha Club and I don't want to dip my fingers back in there - I don't want to get bitten again'. You can understand that. The guy is exhausted. He has tried every rescue deal in the business to try and keep the cars on the grid and it has failed. But at the same time Bernie [Ecclestone] looks at it from the image of the sport and he doesn't want struggling minnows, making the sport look, almost, impoverished. He has got some very, very high standards and some very high achievers in terms of all the other teams. So certain standards have to be met at the same time. The sad thing for SAF1 is that they were very close to a lot of money from Dubai and that is what should have happened. I don't know why it didn't and now they are no longer on the grid. The sad thing for Great Britain is we don't have Anthony Davidson and the sad thing for Japan and GB, because everyone knows Takuma very well, is they are not around. Let's hope they come back soon.
A lot has been written about FIA president Max Mosley since those articles in British newspaper, The News of the World. What do you think? Should he stay or should he go?

The World Motor Sport Council is going to make a decision on that and I think the biggest thing you can really say about it is that Max is a fighter. He believes passionately that what he did was in private and that is up to him to defend and for others to judge. I think that people like myself, who are inside the sport, say you know what: 'he has done a great job in the past and he has done a fabulous job for road safety'. I have always admired the way he has worked. But he personally will have to question in the future whether he has brought the sport into disrepute or not. If he wins the vote from the Council he then has to decide himself if the position is tenable. The ball is in his court. There is no doubting his ability, his talent in that respect. But if others judge he has brought the sport into disrepute then he has to listen and make his own decision.


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