My acid test of a good bloke in F1 is whether you would be happy sitting next to them on the 22-hour flight from London to Melbourne at the start of the world championship season.
I never tried it with the late Ove Andersson, but I did sit next to him on the 7-hour slog from Shanghai to Dubai coming home after the 2006 Chinese GP and his delightful company reinforced my impression that the former Toyota F1 team principal was a genuinely first rate guy.
Andersson, who was killed last week in a road accident during an historic rally in South Africa, was responsible for shaping Toyota's international motorsport presence over a period of 30 years, initially behind the wheel but increasingly as a top class administrator and strategist.
On the face of it one might be forgiven for thinking that the alliance between the avuncular Swede and his Japanese employers, with their structured thinking and penchant for doing things their own way rather than relying on outside assistance, would be a recipe for strife. Yet Andersson managed to strike just the right balance of deference and independent spirit to make their partnership work really well.
Andersson's tenure in charge of Toyota's competition programme was not without controversy. On the 1995 Catalunya rally an FIA official discovered a suspect device on Didier Auriol's Celica ST205. To limit the horsepower in rally cars the FIA has introduced the use of a turbo restrictor.
Toyota engineers had mounted the turbo boost restrictor in a way that it would slightly move from its original position, allowing more air into the turbocharger, when the car was running. It was certainly a tricky moment for Andersson, but his reputation and status within the Toyota corridors of power were such that he successfully rode out the storm.
In 2002 he was nominated as team principal of the fledgling Toyota F1 team which began competing with Finland's Mika Salo and Scot Allan McNish on the driving strength. This was very much new and uncharted territory for Andersson who gave the impression of finding it difficult to come to terms with the political ways of formula one after what he regarded as the relatively straight forward, more sporting, atmosphere of the rally scene. He also soon found himself under pressure. After all that glory on the international rallying trail, Toyota found themselves pulled up sharply by the competitive intensity of formula one. They expected it to be a long road to achieve success, but 10th place with only 2 points in the constructors' championship was less by far than the top brass had hoped for.
The 2003 season was little better with 8th place and 16 points being recorded. Andersson was held responsible for this lack of success and was quietly retired, although the magnitude of his previous achievements guaranteed him a place as a consultant for the rest of his life. Ove was a great character who never took the F1 business too seriously.