How much of this, I wondered out loud, is a function of talent and how much of the time could be gained through tuition and experience? "With a bit of time, you could be taught all bar three or four tenths of that," said Wilson. Palmer was less charitable. "In a day, you could get the gap down to 2 sec., but you'd never get within 1 sec. of Justin because you wouldn't have the sensitivity. It's an iron fist in a velvet glove technique-you've got to know when to be tough and firm with the car and when to just coax it around."

He also reckoned that if we were to repeat the process in a formula car, the gap would increase dramatically: "If you're pulling 3g rather than 1g under brakes, it would feel very different. The sensitivity of bleeding off speed is quite a skill. And, of course, this doesn't take into account the race craft needed to start or overtake. Compared with any road driver, you're very quick, but you have to remember that guys like Justin are exceptional."

It was a salutary lesson. Wilson, with his physical peculiarities, has had to defy the doubters to get where he is, but the duel proved that guts and determination alone are not enough to succeed. Formula One drivers are fortunate that their talent has such a high market value, but there can be no doubt that it's a special talent. Which is why Wilson is lounging in a new Jaguar and I am writing these words.

  J. Wilson A. Weaver
Height 1.92m 1.92m
Weight 78kg 82kg
Age 25 26
Born Sheffield Sheffield
Resides Northampton London
Profession F1 driver Journalist
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