Festival of Speed: Sir Jackie Stewart and Damon Hill

Damon Hill at Festival of Speed 2013
Damon Hill at Festival of Speed 2013

THREE generations of racing drivers were speaking on the stage at Festival of Speed today within an hour.

Sir Jackie Stewart, Damon Hill and Charles Pic all took to the stage to share their stories.

Signing autographs at Festival of Speed 2013

Signing autographs at Festival of Speed 2013

Earlier in the day, Sir Jackie had driven the ‘car he always dreamed about’, a Mercedes W196.

Sir Jackie said it almost brought him to tears when he was presented with a Stewart-tartan cap by Mercedes and saw the driver’s seat of the car had also been upholstered in the tartan.

“There was just such attention to detail,” he said.

However, Sir Jackie is not so keen to jump into a modern Formula 1 car.

“I drove one a couple of years ago and I didn’t much like it because I am dyslexic,” he told a crowd of eager spectators.

“I can’t find my name on a keyboard, I can’t text, I can’t email.

“So to get into a car with 25 to 30 buttons on the steering wheel, telling you to do different things, for a dyslexic, it is a nightmare.”

However, despite the change in the cars, Sir Jackie believes racing drivers have changed little.

“They are the same animal but with totally different technology,” he said.

“For me, there is no amusement in driving a modern Grand Prix car. For me, it is more fun to go back in history and drive a car that I could only dream about as a boy.”

This year, Sir Jackie is associated with Lotus and had nothing but praise for returned driver, Kimi Raikkonen.

“The way he has driven for Lotus is just fantastic.”

When asked why he thought Raikkonen had made such a successful return when others, including Michael Schumacher, had failed to recreate their earlier success, he said: “I think Michael retired too early, he still was hungry to do it.

“I think Ferrari pushed him out. I don’t think he wanted to retire.

“When you retire too early, and you see this in other sports like boxing and athletics as well, and then come back it can often be a mistake. In his case it was a mistake.”

He said he would ‘love to see’ Raikkonen win but thought it was still a ‘big ask’.

Speaking about British drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, he said: “I think Lewis is probably the fastest Formula 1 driver at the moment but he can’t do it consistently enough.

“His fast is just too tight. To finish first you have to finish.

“Lewis has got it but whether he has got the capability to be a multiple world champion only time will tell.

“Jenson is smooth and calm and drives like I would like to drive but he doesn’t have that performance edge that some of the others have.”

Damon Hill

Another driver who knows what it is like to win is 1996 champion Damon Hill.

One of the first questions he was asked was about his son, Josh, who recently left motor racing and is now a drummer.

Mr Hill said his son was to ‘be admired’ for deciding racing was not his calling.

“Motor racing is dangerous, you have to be 100 per cent committed,” he said.

Speaking about his own retirement, he said: “Your normal state of being is on an adrenalin high so actually it can feel quite unnatural at first.

“I am sure it takes a while to wean yourself off the adrenalin.”

Mr Hill is now a Formula One commentator for Sky.

Speaking about watching the next generation of drivers, he said: “It is quite interesting because it is like watching a film of my own career, not that I am identical to any of the drivers but, in may ways you, can see people going through the same trials we all went through as drivers.

“There is a process, to development as a sportsperson, isn’t it a shame you can’t get someone’s experience, like Fernando Alonso or Kimi Raikkonen and give it to younger drivers.

“I think Sebastian Vettell is hugely talented but in some senses he hasn’t matured completely. But then he is only 25, at that age I had only just sat in a car.”

Mr Hill is also involved with the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) and is particularly interested in the future of Silverstone.

“This country has got such a valuable asset in motorsport that it would nice to see some investment in the infrastructure,” he said.

“But everything has to pay for itself these days so hopefully Silverstone will be able to generate some additional revenue to get the facility we really deserve.”

Charles Pic

Current racing Formula 1 driver Charles Pic was also on the track and on the stage, his first time at Goodwood.

He said the track was a ‘bit more narrow’ than he was used to but he had enjoyed seeing some classic cars and motorcycles for the first time.

Mr Pic, who races for Caterham, said he was looking forward to Hungary.

“From Silverstone we are pushing forward and hoping to get closer to Williams,” he said.