Henry: It was an incredibly special thing to do
Henry Surtees admitted it had been an emotional experience piloting his father’s restored Surtees TS10 – in which Mike Hailwood won the 1972 European Formula Two Championship – at the 2009 Goodwood Festival of Speed last weekend.
"Getting in the TS10 and talking to legends like Jochen Mass has been an incredible experience," Surtees enthused – "it’s been a really special thing to do. Driving it around Goodwood has been a great bridge to my dad’s time of racing, and my respect has increased tenfold for what drivers in the past were able to achieve.
"This is the first time I had driven the car in a competitive environment, and although I was driving for fun it wasn’t long before I started pushing the car. I was very careful however – this is a one off car which won the 1972 European F2 Championship, so I wasn’t planning on making any mistakes."
After completing three runs over the course of the weekend, Henry was able to compare the TS10 to the modern F2 car in which he has impressed with his pace – including taking a superb pole at Brno in the Czech Republic. "The TS10 is still a good car, and it was great fun to drive. Obviously it is slower than the modern F2 car around the corners because it simply doesn’t have the same grip and traction levels, but both cars have their merits. That said, it did emphasise how nice it is having a sequential gearbox rather than the H-box the TS10 uses!
Henry also admitted that whilst the TS10 had given him a newfound respect for his father, it was important to cut his own path in motor racing. "I have always said that my career is about me, not my father," he insisted. "I can only do my best, and I’ll just keep pushing to improve.
"My father has been a fantastic support for me throughout my career. Of course we fall out sometimes, and I’m the first to tell him he’s wrong, but it is fantastic to have him alongside me at the races. He is a great source of advice, as he was an engineer before he was a driver, and he really knows his stuff. The main thing for me though is that I have to be my own man – ultimately I am the one driving, so it all comes down to me."
Henry will be trading in the Surtees TS10 for his Williams JPH1 F2 car when the FIA Formula Two Championship comes to Brands Hatch on 17-19 July for rounds seven and eight of the 2009 season.