The top ten men’s men – part 2

Keke Rosberg

Don’t you just love a driver whose pre-race fitness regime involved him smoking one cigarette instead of two? The very antithesis of today’s eggshell-treading, sponsor-pleasing, uber-fit beanpoles. Combined some of the most entertaining qualities for a racing driver to have – stupidly fast (his pole lap average speed  - over 160mph – at Silverstone in 1985 remained unbeaten until 2002), totally obstinate (witness blocking of Mansell at Dallas in ’84 or of Senna at Brands in ’85 when he thought they’d wronged him) and also honest – his verdict on being Alain Prost’s teammate in his last season was ‘He’s the best I’ve ever known, no question about it. As an all-round race driver he’s head and shoulders clear of anyone else, because he’s brilliant in every department…and he’s bloody quick, I can tell you’. You would rarely get such candour from drivers in this day and age. And he managed to look cool with a moustache, too.

Jody Scheckter

Mainly for not giving two shits about anything. Scored the only win for the Tyrrell P34 six-wheeler, even though he thought it was a bit ridiculous. Got Frank Williams sacked from the Wolf team (a brave move). Scored the same team’s first win on their first outing together. After winning the title for Ferrari in 1979, their last for 21 years, he retired abruptly at the end of the next year and never looked back. Is now a grumpy farmer – a manly occupation if ever there was one.

Graham Hill

I’m including Mr Hill Snr here for several reasons. One, the fact that he looked like Dick Dastardly. Two, the fact that he wasn’t the most naturally talented driver on the grid but still managed to win two world titles, five Monaco Grands Prix (the last one at the age of 40) Le Mans and the Indy 500. Third, the fact that he smashed his legs to smithereens at Watkins Glen in 1969 and barely even flinched.

Nelson Piquet

Whereas Ayrton Senna was a simmering combination of stone cold calmness and explosive Latin passion at various times, Piquet was more what you expect from a Brazilian all the time. He just seemed to love life. Apart from when he was punching Elizio Salazar. In Di Spire’s book I Just Made the Tea she tells of various occasions where Piquet would ask her to keep his wife away from one of his girlfriends while he was out in the car. The fact that he couldn’t really speak English very well also made him sound hilariously funny at times. When Nigel Mansell famously knocked his engine off when he was about three corners away from winning the 1991 Canadian Grand Prix, Piquet inherited the lead. And when asked if he was sorry for Mansell losing a win in such a heartbreaking way, he replied ‘I don’t feel sorry nobody’ and sniggered. Also watch this.

David Coulthard

Often unfairly denigrated as a bit of a robot, probably because of his McLaren associations. But he was actually, for the modern era, a bit of a dude. He had a string of stunning girlfriends, did the ‘wanker’ sign at Michael Schumacher (and then overtook him), raced to second place a few days after being involved in a plane crash that killed both pilots and, best of all, said that he was ‘going to beat seven shades of shit out of the little bastard’ if Felipe Massa didn’t apologise to him for crashing into him. Cooler than many give him credit for.

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