The Only Posthumous F1 World Champion
On September 5, 1970, Jochen Rindt was killed during practice for
the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. In the two remaining races of this deadly
season no other driver was able to overtake him in the standings and the
Austrian became the only posthumous F1 World Champion.
Rindt's Lotus 72 crashed when one of its inboard front brake shafts
snapped as he was approaching Monza's Parabolica corner at nearly 200mph...
HEINZ PRULLER (journalist and friend of Rindt): "Bernie
Ecclestone, Jochen's friend and manager, started running. He ran
so quickly that he reached the Parabolica before the much younger
mechanic, Eddie Dennis. He wanted to go to Jochen's assistance
and he believed that this was the time to take a look at the car.
"In the meantime they had got Jochen out of the car. Bernie
picked up the white helmet, one shoe and - on the right-hand side
of the road - a wheel with parts of the suspension, which he
passed on to Eddie to put by the car. The Lotus was stuck in the
sand, five yards from the crash barrier and five yards from the
COLIN CHAPMAN (Lotus founder and team leader): "Oh God,
not another one."
JACKIE STEWART (Rindt's friend and rival):"As I put on my helmet,
the tears started rolling. I went back into the pit in order to regain
control over myself; then I climbed into the car. While the mechanics
strapped me in, I started crying again. I tasted salt. I sat there and
people tried not to look at me and I knew there was nothing I could
do to stop the crying, so I went out. And as soon as I got going, the
crying stopped. I was all right. When I got to the Parabolica, I went
around slowly,searching for the marks where Jochen went off. I ran
four laps and my last lap was the fastest I had ever done Monza, and the
fastest I was to do that weekend. It will be said I was trying to hurt myself,
that it was suicidal, but it wasn't. It felt the same as any other lap.
"I finished second in the race and felt completely empty, drained
and exhausted as all the pressures of the past two days collapsed.
I felt capable of nothing and absolutely lost."
HERBIE BLASH (Lotus mechanic, now an FIA executive): "Chapman
shot off immediately. Just went. Nina Rindt was at home in
Switzerland, so we had to get Jochen's belongings back up to her
at Begnins. When I arrived at Geneva there were banner headlines
in German, 'Jochen Rindt Killed.' As I drove up to the house,
Nina was at the bedroom window and waved like mad. I can imagine
now that it was as if it was Jochen coming home, although of
course it couldn't have been.
"There was nobody else in the room, just Sally Courage (whose
husband Piers was killed earlier that year) and Nina. There I
was, sitting on the settee between these two widows. What can
you say in a situation like that?
"All of a sudden, Natasha (Rindt), who was six and upstairs,
cried out, 'Papa, Papa.' Both girls burst into tears, and there I
am, 21 years old and not knowing what life's about, with one arm
round Sally Courage and the other round Nina Rindt."
HEINZ PRULLER: "Ferrari's Jacky Ickx, runner-up to Jochen,
composed a much discussed 'Adieu to Jochen Rindt' with his father
(a former sports writer) and ended it with these words..."
JACKY ICKX: 'I would like to add - as I consider it important -
that Jochen Rindt died a happy man. When, after four years of
courage and disappointment, success in Grand Prix racing finally
came to him, he became a different person. At the moment when he
climbed into his car for the last time he was particularly happy.
He had the looks and manners of a contented man.
'There can be little doubt that he remained happy until the very
moment of his accident, for we drivers are always happy behind
the wheel. The two seconds of the final drama cannot have changed
things, for there is something passionate about fighting a car
that has gone mad. Rindt would not have had even one second of
fear (the excitement only comes later) and he would not have
'And even if one can talk of an untimely death, all I can say is
that the duration of a life should not be measured in days or
hours, but by that which we achieve during the time given to us.
There isn't a single one of us who hasn't left his hotel room in
the morning well aware that he may not return, but this does not
prevent us from achieving complete happiness.
'On the contrary, perhaps it enables us to be all the more so.
The knowledge that everything could finish before the end of the
day enables us to enjoy the wonders of life and all that
surrounds it all the more.'
- excerpt from F1 The Autobiography (edited by f1speedwriter,
1970s contributed by David Tremayne)
Profile of Jochen Rindt by f1speedwriter in formula1.com Hall of Fame