A shining example in the troubled world of Formula One

Forty years ago today, the world of motorsport was shattered when the great Jim Clark was killed at Hockenheim.

At the time, and even today, the fact that he was running for Team Lotus in a Formula Two race tends to get derided, but Clark was doing what he always did: racing, and being loyal to his friend, team boss Colin Chapman.

Not until Gilles Villeneuve died at Zolder in May 1982, and Ayrton Senna was killed, together with Roland Ratzenberger, at Imola in May 1994, did tragedy of such magnitude strike the sport again.

With a record 25 victories in 72 starts, two world championship titles (and two more lost to mechanical failures in the final races) records for pole positions and lap records, and victory in the Indianapolis 500, Clark was head and shoulders above his peers in the era that followed Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss.

His close friend and compatriot, Jackie Stewart, inherited his mantle. “Jimmy’s death was to motor racing what the atomic bomb had been to the world,” he said. And he paid him the highest accolade any driver can pay a rival. “Jim Clark,” he said, “was everything that I aspired to be, as a racing driver and as a man.”

Great words, from a great man. The sort that leave you bathed in the warmth of genuine humanity.

Lewis Hamilton is very much as a modern-day Jackie Stewart in his manner and self-conduct. He had his worst race in F1 at the weekend and, yes, he hightailed out of Bahrain as fast as he could. But it’s not difficult to imagine his thoughts as he all but stalled at the start, compounded that error with another a lap later, and then stayed mired in the midfield for the next hour and a half. Yet he left television interviews for the media to pick over in which, far from trying to blame his old rival Fernando Alonso for a brake test, he simply took it all on the chin, raised his hands in mea culpa, and vowed to do better next time. And we know that he will.

Clark, Stewart, and now Hamilton. What great examples all three continue to set across the spectrum of a wonderful sport.

And what stark contrast to the behaviour of beleaguered Max Mosley, the president of the sport’s governing body, the FIA, who was competing for the first time in Formula Two all those years ago in the race in which Clark was killed.

Clark did not have to do the decent thing – he was the decent thing. His standards of behaviour were the highest, the legacy he left his sport utterly untarnished. But what will we say of Mosley, whose every extra day in an increasingly untenable position merely serves to undo the undoubted good he has done for the safety cause during his presidency?

The calls for him to stand down on moral grounds far outweigh the meagre public support he has received since the allegations in a Sunday newspapers, last weekend and the weekend before. No matter what he might claim to the contrary. He might not be able to tear himself away from a base of power which he has never hesitated to use ruthlessly, but in the name of all that is credible and decent about the sport the time has come for him to bow to majority opinion and step down. Even if he were to brazen his way through the current scandal, which seems increasingly less feasible, a president who is fast becoming a pariah surely cannot command the respect that the role demands.

News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own