‘The truth is that James was actually very professional, particularly after he realised he was in with a chance of winning the title. All you hear about the drinking and the sniffing – I never saw any of it. We were team-mates and my recollection is of a man who, like the rest of us, knew there was a job to do and knew very well what was required of him to do it.
‘As a driver, I would say James was not just talented, but highly skilled, particularly in the M23. He was quite highly strung and had his anxieties before the race, but you could say much the same about any one of us: F1 was both difficult and dangerous then so there is nothing extraordinary about that. Again the perception of a man wracked with fear and throwing up before every race is just another part of the image – I never saw anything other than the apprehension that was natural for anyone about to climb into an F1 car in those days.’
One more thing: Mass is also colossally funny. We were on the same team during the Mille Miglia last year and so far as I can see, he spent the entire event clowning around. I most recently saw him at the Goodwood Revival ball dressed as Popeye...
So happy birthday Jochen Mass. I hope you continue to race at Goodwood for years to come. In the meantime thanks not just for being such a superb ambassador for your sport, but far more importantly, for being such a supremely good bloke too.
Photography courtesy of LAT and Matt Sills.