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From two wheels to four

Steven Lynch June 18, 2010
© Getty Images

Our resident expert - Steven Lynch - is here to answer all your questions about any aspect of F1. If you have a burning question or just want to test Steven, send us your questions… And check out the new Ask Steven Facebook page

With the constant speculation about Valentino Rossi taking up four-wheel racing, who has been the most successful convert from motor cycling to motor racing? asked Mike Briggs from London

Undoubtedly the most successful former bike racer in F1 was John Surtees, who won the world drivers' championship in a Ferrari in 1964, not long after winning motor-cycling world titles too. He remains the only man to win senior world titles on two and four wheels. I hadn't realised until recently just how dominant Surtees was on a motorbike: in 1958 and 1959 he won every 350 and 500cc race he finished - no fewer than 25 races over those two seasons. His F1 crown was rather closer: going into the final round of the 1964 season, in Mexico, Graham Hill led Surtees by five points - but Hill dropped out of the race near the end, and Surtees's Ferrari team-mate Lorenzo Bandini let him through late on to claim the six points he needed to take the title.

Who has finished runner-up in the world drivers' championship most often? asked Bob Hartman from Chester

This record is held by none other than Sir Stirling Moss, who was runner-up in the drivers' championship no fewer than four times - each year from 1955 to 1958 - without ever quite winning it. Another Briton, Nigel Mansell, finished second in the championship three times before finally winning it in 1992.

Andrea de Cesaris retires ... again © Sutton Images
You wrote last time about people who had finished the most GPs in a season - what's the reverse record, the most DNFs? asked Carey Steele from Worcester

The record for a season is 15 DNFs ("did not finishes") by Andrea de Cesaris in 16 races in a Brabham in 1987. He was classified as a finisher in one of those races - the Australian GP - even though he went off the track with four laps remaining. De Cesaris also managed 14 non-finishes the previous season, in a Minardi. Two other drivers - both Italians like de Cesaris - have failed to finish 14 of 16 GPs in a season: Piercarlo Ghinzani in an Osella in 1986, and Ivan Capelli in a March in 1989. In 1997, Rubens Barrichello failed to finish in 14 of 17 GPs in a Stewart - a dispiriting run of retirements in the first 12 races was broken only by a second-place finish at Monaco.

Who is your own favourite F1 driver, and why? asked Simon Collins

Well, as I was growing up Graham Hill was a very dashing figure, what with his raffish moustache and amusing way with words. At some point I got hold of Hill's first autobiography (Life at the Limit) and thought it was a cracking read. F1 seems to have been a lot more fun back in the 1950s and '60s ... but also far more dangerous. A driver from a slightly later era I always admired was Mario Andretti, the world champion of 1978, as he seemed to be able to drive anything: on his F1 debut, in the 1968 United States GP, Andretti stuck his borrowed Lotus on pole position. After that watching Nigel Mansell was a thrill, if a painful one at times (see the question above!), and some of his races with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost were absolute classics. These days I like watching Fernando Alonso carve his way through the field, and am enjoying this year's healthy rivalry between Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, and Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.

Is the Justin Wilson currently driving in the Indycar series in America the same guy who raced in F1 a few seasons ago? asked Tim Bright from Romford

Yes, the Justin Wilson currently driving in the American Indycar series - he's had a good start to the season, with two second places from five starts so far - is indeed the same man who raced for Minardi in 2003 before switching to Jaguar towards the end of the season and picking up a point at the United States GP at Indianapolis. Wilson, who was born in 1978, has had problems getting designers to fit him into his cars - he's 6ft 4ins tall.