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GP Week : Issue 199
F1 >>> FEATURE 23 GPWEEK.com // 23 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: the car because the Brawn wasn’t quick in the dry and I battled through the field from 14th. All anyone focused on at the end of the race was the championship, but that was one of my best races. What’s been your most embarrassing moment in an F1 car? Probably China '11, when I drove into the wrong pit-box. Even when I was stationary in the Red Bull box and the mechanics were waving me through, I still thought I was in the right place! I remember asking myself, “what’s the matter with these guys?” , andthenI realised what was going on. What’s your favourite corner? Piratella at Imola. It’s a very quick left- hander, just before the circuit drops down to Acque Minerali. It’s such a rush when you go through there and get it right. But corners don’t make circuits; it’s sections of track that make circuits special. The Esses at Suzuka is one such place. When you exit them at the top of the hill and breathe for the first time, you ask yourself what happened? Becketts at Silverstone is another classic section. Then there’s Spa, which is just one big flowing corner. Who’s been your best team-mate? The most interesting and exciting team-mate has been Lewis. He was very up and down emotionally, but always super-fast. He’s very talented and it was great having him alongside me. He was very quick in qualifying and there were days when I’d look at his lap time and say, “I don’t know how he did that” . But there were days when I beat him and they felt very special. In terms of race pace there wasn’t much between us and we both had to do the perfect job to beat each other. Who’s been your best rival? The best ones are those who I’ve been racing the longest. That means Fernando [Alonso] and Kimi [Raikkonen], and [Mark] Webber was one of them too. And of course Lewis. With all of those guys it’s tough racing; you push the limit, but you always know the fight will be fair. It’s not the same with a lot of the new drivers. Can you name the best McLaren that you’ve raced? That has to be the MP4-26 from 2011. It wasn’t the prettiest car, with its u-shaped sidepods, but once you’d got used to the blown diffuser it was a bloody quick car. The 2010 car was also special, with its F-duct, but the best has to be the MP4-26. What advice would 250-race Jenson give to first-race Jenson? To take the rough with the smooth. Like most F1 drivers, I didn’t experience much rough en route to F1 and it was only when I got here that I had to learn to deal with it. You’re going to have frustrating days, but it can turn around tomorrow and you’ve got to be ready for that moment. Tell us one lesson that you’ve learned over the years. It’s not a lesson, but the nicest thing anyone ever said to me came from my dad. He said: ‘You might not be the quickest driver in the world ... but you’re the best.’ Those words meant a lot, and they still do. When you eventually retire from F1, is there anything in F1 that you’ll miss? That moment when I close my visor and head out of the garage. The driving’s the bit that I love. When Dave [Robson, race engineer] comes on the radio and says, “Bite point find, three burn-outs and launch,” that’s what it’s about. It’s just you and the circuit. I’ll miss that. THE ANSWER: Jenson’s 10 F1 team-mates: Jenson’s first team-mate, in 2000, was Ralf Schumacher. Then came Giancarlo Fisichella (2001), Jarno Trulli (2002), Jacques Villeneuve (2003), Takuma Sato (2004/’05), Anthony Davidson (Malaysia 2005), Rubens Barrichello (2006, ’07, ’08, ’09), Lewis Hamilton (2010, ’11, ’12), Sergio Perez (2013), Kevin Magnussen (2014). Favourite track, favourite corner, best qualifying lap – all came at Imola (above); Best McLaren driven by Jenson was the 2011 MP4-26 (above right).