The wrinkles around his brow come to life, his face lifts and then a warm smile follows. He rests his right hand over his all carbon-fibre walking stick (yep, they do make that too!), pointing it at Vaishali, our intrepid motorsport correspondent who is gleefully taking all he has to share about the good ol' days of motorsport racing.
Ordinarily, I spend my time firing questions from my hip (er, notepad actually), but for once I got to watch someone far better than me on the subject do the grilling. But what came out was an interview beyond my wildest imagination. Sir Stirling Moss is what represents the last-of-the-line. A passing away of an era when gentlemen raced every weekend and went back to their lives. As he put it himself, 'When Lewis Hamilton finishes his race on Sunday, he has to finish Vodafone commitments. When I did, I got the girls!'
There is something absolutely charming about his demeanour, even though age has caught up with him. Yet, he's quite sharp, measuring each question and answering not with reservation, but with a sense of 'Yer' lad, let me tell you how I did that'. And Moss is just one of them. Talking to drivers who've been there, done that, been the subject of biographies and discussions about their greatness over beers, is, in all honesty, something very different from all what you've read or heard. Prost, who has four titles under his belt and is a winter racing driver par excellence tells you about death on the track with hung shoulders and a drop in his voice. Moss tells you why he thought Fangio was a better driver than him, and that's beyond all the driver titles the Argentinian ever had. If you read what Michael Schumacher has to say about racing now, he doesn't need to chest thump at all. Even if he does feel contrite, it doesn't come through as that, rather with a sense of humility. And that's an antithesis of what his public persona once was.
Would a modern day Sebastien Vettel, Lewis Hamilton or even Fernando Alonso do things the same way? I hope to be around a few decades from now to be able to tell you that. On a medium probably far different from this.
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