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Our Nige Takes the Test

It being April Fools Day, one has to be a bit wary of sensational stories on the net. But here’s a bit of fun that you can take as true – a Top Gear interview with Nigel Mansell and his lap on their test circuit to see how he measures up against other F1 drivers previously tested.

Our Nige

Our Nige and his best mate, Nelson

I was going to call him “Birmingham’s most famous son” but then it occurred to me that he might not be – maybe there is a Brummie I haven’t thought of. Tolkien lived part of his life in or near Birmingham, for instance, but he wasn’t really a Brummie. There is always a chance that I have missed some celebrity who originated in Birmingham without my noticing (Ozzy Osborne? Nah, he can’t be more famous than Our Nige…). Any suggestions?

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Gilles Villeneuve Again

I was digging through the videos in YouTube this morning and came across yet more reminders of the bundle of determination that was Gilles Villeneuve. Regardless of whether you think he was the fastest of all time or just a little crazy, there is no doubting the man’s refusal to give up, no matter what happened.


Here are a few samples of Gilles in all his glory:

Dutch GP, Zandvoort, 1979 – Gilles gets a puncture in the left rear, slides off the road but keeps the engine running and drives back to the pits. On the way, the tire comes off and the wheel begins to do the same; Gilles keeps going, right front wheel waving in the breeze, so low is the rear corner of the car. When he entered the pits, expecting a new tire, the mechanics just looked and shook their heads…

Canadian GP, Montreal, 1981 – The race is held in pouring rain and cars are sliding off everywhere. Gilles has a bit of an altercation and crunches the front wing but, hey, that’s nothing to this guy; he continues undaunted. The wing folds up on itself and eventually falls off, leaving Gilles to finish the race in a car without a nose. He was third.

Spanish GP, Jarama, 1981 – Gilles manages to get into second spot before Jones exits and leaves him in the lead. The Ferrari’s tires are going off, however, and the car handles like a pig through the corners. A train of cars builds behind Gilles, all much faster than him now, but somehow he holds them off and wins. This was probably the victory he had to work hardest for – at the end he was exhausted.

That was Gilles Villeneuve, a racer through and through.

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YouTube and F1

In this three-week period between Grands Prix when nothing is happening and news gets thin on the ground, those of us suffering from F1 withdrawal symptoms can get some relief by delving into history at YouTube. This is a fantastic resource if you’re looking for old video clips of great races or drivers. Just enter the name in the search bar and, if the videos are there, they will show up in the results.

Here are three I found in a few minutes digging this morning:

A lap of Monaco with Senna. Who better to drive you through the streets of the principality than the master himself?

Senna holds back Mansell at Monaco in 1992. Mansell had a commanding lead until having to change tires ten laps from the end, allowing Senna in the uncompetitive McLaren to move to the front. The Williams was so much the quicker car that Mansell was able to catch Senna with three laps to go. The problem then was the minor matter of getting by him…

Hakkinen versus Schumacher at Spa. It’s a fair old battle but the real reason I include this one is that it has a wonderful in-car shot of the Eau Rouge corner, taken at full speed.

There are quite a lot of repeats amongst the videos as the most popular ones get copied again and again, but this is a sure pointer to something worth watching. And, every now and then, it is possible to stumble across a gem, a clip of some great moment remembered vividly from the past and now presented once more for our delight. How about this, for instance:

A compilation of highlights from 1967. All the old names are here and the cars as well. But look at the circuits – can you see any run-off zones or armco? They were brave men indeed, although I suspect the guy waving the flag at the start and end of the race was the bravest of them all!

Jim Clark

Jim Clark


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