John and the others have all survived that time of apprenticeship when accidents due to inexperience are a real worry. They are artists. They must have cars to be able to give expression to their feelings, just as a painter needs oils and a canvas.
Painters, however, need not worry about a brush breaking or the canvas disintegrating as they are working on a masterpiece. John was fortunate this year in having a car that seemed to be more reliable in each succeeding race; I think it is now the most reliable car of all. Graham's BRM was more dependable in the early part of the season, when Enzo Ferrari was making a big effort to beat Ford with his prototype sports cars at Le Mans. When Ferrari then put his mind to putting Surtees' car right he was obviously successful.
The combination of Surtees and Ferrari is ideal. Ferrari is to constructors what John is to drivers. To Surtees motor racing is all-encompassing; he thinks about nothing else. Ferrari is an individualist. He can be a cussed man, a difficult man. But his heart is in the beautiful machines he has made. If yours as a driver is not, he is not very giving, to put it mildly. He has little time for amateurs. He respects Surtees because John is a professional, and John truly cherishes his cars.
Now, when Enzo Ferrari's cars are right they are unbreakable. I have driven Ferraris on 13 different occasions. Except for a fan blade coming off one, and my being disqualified from a race for taking on fuel at the wrong time—which had nothing to do with the car—I had absolutely no problems with them. Every race I finished I won. I was known as a car-breaker, which is neither here nor there, but not as a breaker of Ferraris.
All Grand Prix cars have to be less reliable than production cars because they are tuned to the ultimate. None are perfect. But no one seeks that unattainable perfection more devotedly than Ferrari.
In the Austrian Grand Prix, held on an unusually rough circuit, some little part in Surtees' suspension gave way and put him out of the race. Ferrari immediately did a big engineering exercise on that infinitesimal part. It was discovered to be one of the few Ferrari parts made outside the factory. The whole lot was scrapped. Ferrari then said, "This will now be made within the factory." This in spite of the fact that only one part in 50—the one that failed John—was found defective.
The pressure on the builders to achieve reliability is exceeded only by the pressure on the leading drivers to win. This season it was fantastic. Each of my top four was No. 1 on his team and expected to fight for victory in every race. The pressure was not confined to the great Grand Prix championship races. If any of these drivers went to a sports car meeting and was asked to do a lap, just to let the people look at him, he was expected to break the lap record or go the fastest for that particular car, even if he had never sat in it before. When you arc on top, people don't expect you to drive a car, they expect it to fly.
In my own day with Mercedes, in 1955, when I was No. 2 to Juan Manuel Fangio, there was no pressure at all. All I had to do was sit there, and if the car held together and I wasn't stupid I would be second.
Today the pressure is continuous. These men cannot afford an off day. Mike Hawthorn was world champion in 1958, but he was not, to me, as worthy as any of these men, because Mike had on and off days. When he was on he was very much on, and vice versa. John and the others are almost never off.