• Sir Jackie Stewart

'The best drivers since the the late 60s and early 70s'

Fraser Masefield
December 6, 2010

Triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart gives his views on the gripping 2010 world championship battle

Is Sebastian Vettel and a worthy world champion and do you think he will go on to dominate the sport?
First of all I think it's probably the best collection of grand prix drivers that I've seen since the late 60s and early 70s. And if you think back to then, you think of Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jack Brabham, myself, Dan Gurney, Jacky Ickx, Jochen Rindt, Mario Andretti, John Surtees, Emerson Fittipaldi, Niki Lauda, Francois Cevert - just a huge collection of potential grand prix winners as well as potential championship winners. Since Schumacher retired there has been no natural leader. Jim Clark was definitely the natural leader when he was alive, then there was maybe myself, then Niki Lauda, then Alain Prost, then Ayrton Senna, then Michael Schumacher. When Schumacher left, nobody actually took up the mantle. Even Alonso, who has won two world championships, was not seen to be the absolute undisputed leader of the pack. And that's been true all season again. Even when Lewis won the world championship he was not seen to be the leader of the pack. All the other guys dominated the championship. We don't know yet whether Sebastian Vettel is going to be that undisputed leader of the pack. Having said that, I kind of thought that Mark Webber would win it and thought he would even be a better world champion because Alonso has twice won it and he's not let's say a bubbly or dynamic personality. I thought before Vettel won it that he'd be too young to carry it off in a dignified and exciting way because he's only 23. Mark Webber at 34 would, I think, have carried the title a little better having had the maturity and the experience. Having said that, I think Vettel genuinely won the world championship and Mark basically lost the world championship in qualifying.

Has Mark Webber's big chance of winning the title now gone?
Not necessarily because I think that if he stays with Red Bull, Vettel could come back tired after the winter having had so many different things to do. As I said, I think Webber would make a great world champion. He has driven some wonderful grands prix and I hope he comes back an even stronger person in 2011.

Is it best that Alonso did not win it after what happened with team orders in Germany?
Exactly right. After Hockenheim it didn't look like he was going to win it by more than seven points and I think that certainly would have been the biggest story in the world championship outcome, which would have been sad after such a season. I think it would have been a questionable one for the media and the enthusiasts to take.

How much of a difference does Adrian Newey make and Red Bull's clever exploitation of the rules, the blown diffuser and flexi-front wing?
They should have wrapped it up earlier and they did their best to lose it because the car was unquestionably the fastest car of the season. Adrian Newey is just the best at what he does and yet again proved it. He has done it with Williams, he has done it with McLaren and now with Red Bull. He's again demonstrated that he is a very creative engineer and comes up with things that other people look to duplicate.

And what of the McLaren duo this season?
I think they worked very well. Lewis is a real racer and more of a racer than Jenson but when Jenson won the Australian Grand Prix this year I would have been proud to have driven in the fashion he did. He was so smooth in both wet and dry conditions and looked after his tyres the right way. He is a very smooth and gentle driver. He is not the hard core racer that Lewis Hamilton is but when he drives like that, he doesn't have to be.

Michael Schumacher has made far too many driving errors this season for Stewart's liking © Getty Images

You left the sport on top of your game. Has Michael Schumacher done the wrong thing?
I think he has unless he is able to come back next year and win the world championship in a resounding fashion. But I rather think it will be difficult for him to do that, not just because Vettel's there, Webber's there, Alonso's there but also because Rosberg is there never mind Hamilton or Button. Rosberg has continuously been faster than him. Schumacher says the car doesn't suit him and it may turn out that with the new tyre next year he will be faster and better, it could well be that Rosberg does it again. It seems Schumacher likes a very pointy car and the brain of the car is over the front wheels. I've never felt that's the best way for a car to be driven. It means that it's very nervous in the front end and he seems to like that. What I don't approve of is that every weekend he goes off the road. Of course you can afford to go off the road now and again and not hit anything nowadays but nevertheless it means that he is overdriving to the extent that he does fly off the road and I don't think any of the great drivers have ever done that on a regular basis. He has this year been involved with an awful lot of scrapes not to mention the very big one with Rubens where he just didn't think it was a dangerous manoeuvre. It was an atrocious piece of attempted bullying and had it not been for someone as good and experienced as Rubens it could have ended in tears. So whilst I'm sorry he's come back I would have liked to have seen him come back and succeed. But it's not an easy trip. I think the problem is that he retired too early and he didn't get it out of his system. If he retires after one more year, he's either got to do it as world champion or otherwise walk away with his tail between his legs.

Do you think the new teams added anything?
I'm disappointed they haven't come up and shown themselves to be more competitive than they've been. Having set up a team of my own, I know how difficult it is. It's a huge undertaking and a very difficult task but I expected at least one of them to be mixing it a little more with the midfield runners. So it's not an impossible task but not an easy one. The three new teams really have not been putting up good performances.

The illustrated history of Sir Jackie Stewart's career, 'Collage: Jackie Stewart's Grand Prix Album', is availible to buy at Genesis Publications' website or by phoning +44(0)1483 540 970.