Derek Warwick in focus

provided by Maximiliano Catania/FUNO
Buenos Aires (AR), 22 Feb 2005

The following transcript is taken from Adrian Chiles's Saturday morning show for BBC Radio 5 Live in the UK. Adrian's show is a topical mix of sports and news - typically previewing the weekend's sporting highlights. Adrian quite often interviews F1 personalities ahead of a Grand Prix. Derek was featured on his show on the eve of the 2003 San Marino Grand Prix.

CHILES: 22 years ago, a young 'whipper snapper' made his entrance into Formula 1 - he went on to have the unfortunate title of 'best F1 racing driver never to win a Grand Prix'. Derek Warwick, I am sorry to introduce you like this but it is a fact...

WARWICK: A bit sad but unfortunately true, yes, it was a good career when I look back, but it was unfortunate because I didn't win a Grand Prix, that's for sure.

CHILES: What's the closest you came?

WARWICK: I had a couple of 2nd places - British Grand Prix, Belgium, but I was always the bridesmaid I am afraid.

CHILES: It's a shame. Is there anything you could have changed - drive faster I suppose! (Derek laughs) Is there any single factor you point to? Do you curse your luck which is what I would be doing in that situation?

WARWICK: Yeah... I mean, I cursed it at the time although I have to say I never wished that I was doing something else. Once you make your mind up and drive for a team you can quite quickly realise that it's the wrong team because they have the wrong engine and tyres, (or) all the team are on a downward spiral because maybe they have lost their engineer or designer and that kind of happened to me. I was on a roll at the end of '83 with Toleman finishing in the points in the last 4 races and then signed a big contract with the Renault works team and things were going very for me. But we joined Renault just after Prost had left them and they were already deciding, I think, to get out of motor racing as a manufacturer. Then I suppose I just made a lot of wrong decisions, now, whether that was just bad luck or just bad business brain or wrong advice, I am not really sure but I always found myself in a car that wasn't really competitive enough to win Grands Prix.

CHILES: Derek, you were described in one article I read from the time as 'gregarious and outgoing - the nicest bloke you could possibly wish to be around'. Were you unusual - were there lots of morose people wandering around Grands Prix in those days?

WARWICK: Well there still are!!! There are a lot of pompous Grand Prix drivers that believe that the world owes them a living and I think they were around in the 70s, 80s, 90s and indeed now. I was kind of fortunate that I came up the hard way as I had a good upbringing with my Father - a very much a working background. I came through stock cars and got a bit lucky as I found a couple of sponsors which allowed me to do well in Formula 3 and come up through the ranks. It was a quite extraordinary way into Formula 1 - not like nowadays where these young guys are coming in with full budgets etc etc. We always had to buy one tyre at a time, not a complete set! So we were lucky, we got up there and survived 147 Grands Prix. I don't look back and think 'if only', because you know it can make you a very sour person but I think I had the right attitude. I enjoyed the people, the team, the sponsors, the marshals, the spectators. I enjoyed giving interviews... I enjoyed training so I was kind of lucky really - I enjoyed the whole shooting match of Grand Prix racing.

CHILES: We were looking at your statistics yesterday and I was saying that I could always remember Derek Warwick because he was always 4th. It's true as you were 4th about 8 times, you had a couple of podiums and then exactly half the Grands Prix you started you did not finish. Was that an unusual statistic?

WARWICK: I don't know, I've never really looked at it that way! I thought I was one of the most successful Grand Prix drivers to finish 7th! I mean it seemed that I always finished just outside the points. I think it is like I said just now as I was always driving for an under financed team and when you drive for teams like Arrows they do run on a relative shoestring and therefore the reliability quite often is poor because they cannot afford to use new bits race after race after race and I suppose I was caught up a bit in that really.

CHILES: You made your debut at San Marino - what would you say about that track?

WARWICK: I think it's fantastic. I mean the old track was just incredible, quite dangerous, but of course when you are young and in Grand Prix racing you don't necessarily see the dangers until afterwards. There were a few corners that needed changing and you knew that it was something that you sort of accepted at the time - it is not until afterwards that you realise 'WOW' how lucky it was to survive the 80s and still have all your limbs working in reasonable order.

CHILES: Will it be a Ferrari at the front tomorrow?

WARWICK: Yes. It's a little bit confusing for Schumacher at the moment. I think he's confused because his normal weekend has been turned upside down. He's had a little bit of bad luck and he's made mistakes which is a bit unusual for Michael but he will turn it around. He is the best in Formula 1 and he will probably turn out to be champion again this year.

CHILES: OK, thanks a lot Derek - good talking to you. Have a good weekend.

WARWICK: Thanks a lot mate.