Masters Historic Festival

Brands Hatch 27/28 May 2007

F1 Debut for Simon Diffey 

Thankfully Team Leader Monson was away and I was asked to drive the F1 Surtees TS9 B at the Masters meeting at Brands.

Fortunately for me, Lord Laidlaw was unable to make the Friday practice session and gave me the place to me on Friday afternoon.  The weather was good and I fitted into the car using Peter Austin’s booster seat. 3 laps in I found myself panting like a dog and my heart trying to leap out of my chest.

The acceleration is similar to a F5000 car, but the ability to brake later and corner faster is much greater and my body had not expected this, clearly I need to cut out chocolate and crisps and take up running again.


Saturday practice was wet and I drove as fast as possible, I thought I had done well, but found myself way down the order just in front of the evil French man’s JPS Lotus 76.  Verdict from Hall & Hall and Geoff Richardson was that I was not pushing hard enough and getting the tyres hot and I was not revving the DFV high or long enough to get maximum performance from the chassis or engine!! Oh really.

I did not read my regs: due to being otherwise occupied with the recent loss of my brother James, and so missed race 1 on Saturday afternoon. I did however notice a very wet race with F1 cars, as I was leaving the circuit and only then did it dawn on me that there were 2 races, and I should have been in the one I was actually watching. Doh!


I was of course ready for Sunday’s race, which lasted 2 laps before it was red flagged, as the visibility was 20 feet. Due to my non appearance on Saturday I started from the back of the grid along with Simon Hadfield, who was standing in for Ron Maydon in the Amon F1 as Ron had bruised his foot, which had been hard on the brake pedal as his Grimshaw mini struck the barrier. 

I could not see any cars ahead of me during the pace car laps although Hadfield came past me and disappeared into the cloud of spray before we had completed the first green flag lap!  With the race underway I ventured into the spray and could see the rain lights ahead at Dingle Dell but by which time judging the actual speed of the cars ahead was not easy, bizarrely it was better to be closer and in the spray than out of it and not able to see at all.

Just about the time when I thought I might come in, the red flags were out and my F1 debut had lasted l lap.  I was not disappointed that the race was stopped; my regret was that I would have liked to try to push into the mysterious “zone” that the other drivers talked about, where the slicks and wings allow you to corner at speeds you would think impossible.  To be honest I had hoped I would have found myself in the zone anyway.  Could I get there and would I be brave enough to do it in the Professor’s car?  I am not sure.



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