THE CHAMPIONS / Jackie Stewart
- Mattijs Diepraam
- March 11, 2004 (introduction previously appeared in the 8W February 1999 issue)
- 1968 German GP - The class of the field, by Mattijs Diepraam/Felix Muelas
- 1969 Spanish GP - Adios aerofoils, enter aerodynamics, by Mattijs Diepraam/Felix Muelas/Robert Blinkhorn
- 1970 International Trophy - JYS practising the De Tomaso, by Mattijs Diepraam
- 1973 Italian GP - After you, sir?, by Mattijs Diepraam
- Matra International - Ken Tyrrell's French connection, by Mattijs Diepraam/Rick MacLennan
- Tyrrell 006 - Ken's team at the height of its powers, by Mattijs Diepraam
Matra International Matra-Cosworth MS10
1968 German GP
For a man having campaigned solemnly against the safety risks of old-fashioned Formula One, Jackie Stewart could never be seen as a coward. The starkest example of his bravery was set in the rain-sodden 1968 German GP. In a race which should never have taken place in the first place, JYS powered ahead on the first 14-mile blast through the fog and was unseen for his competitors until the chequered flag. While qualifying had already seen horrendous Eifel weather, the race was started during a brief dry spell. Stewart, earlier having voiced his opposition against racing in these conditions, had been forced by Ken Tyrrell to take the start. He was sixth on the grid, behind the Ferraris of Ickx and Amon, Rindt's Brabham, Hill's Lotus and Vic Elford's surprising Cooper. To minimize the chance of spray blocking his view, Jackie shot away at the start and was third by the first corner. By the Karusell he had passed Hill and Amon and disappeared into the mist, his hand-cut Dunlops working like a charm. For the next two hours and 19 minutes he drove with extreme precision, avoiding pressure on his hurt wrist. He eventually won by the largest victory margin in Grands Prix to date. A whopping 4 minutes and 3 seconds. Had he been witness to this gargantuan win, Nebelmeister Bernd Rosemeyer would have been proud to carry over his coveted nickname to the wee Scotsman...
John Young Stewart of Milton, Dumbartonshire, Scotland, is best known as the triple World Champion whose singular effort put Ken Tyrrell's team among the all-time great equipes of Grand Prix racing. But the Scot's sporting accompliments pale in historical significance compared to the unfaltering campaign he organized against the unsafe, cavalier nature that had characterized his sport up until the sixties and into the seventies. Bernie Ecclestone may have turned the F1 World Championship into a highly organized commercial circus, it is Jackie Stewart who laid the foundations of Bernie's work, striving towards the safe and clean sport that would later attract big manufacturer money and the casual sports fan's attention.
It made him an unpopular character at the time. Even today people will readily admit a dislike to JYS, and not just because he was a hugely successful racing driver instead of an underdog winning against all odds. While he was a worthy successor to fellow Scot Jim Clark, respect and admiration was the best he seemed to garner among the broad British public, while in the US he could do no harm since his stunning Indy performance on board a Mecom Lola. On the hero scale other British drivers like Graham Hill would easily beat him in the home country, yet he performed numerous heroics in his decade at the very top, and never looked back on safety issues once he had started a race. He consummately won in atrocious conditions at the 'Ring while still nursing a wrist injury, he beat his failing equipment and the rest of the field at Monaco, he survived a near-fatal and possibly career-destroying crash at Spa, and overcame the loss of many racing friends, from his early mentor Bob McIntyre to his crown prince at Tyrrell, François Cevert. In other words, he got into the kitchen, took the heat but tried to make it a safer kitchen all the same.
Stewart's was a meteoric rise to prominence. As a youngster, Jackie started out being blindingly fast in touring cars and GTs before moving up to Formula 1 in the space of two years. Although seldomly regarded as a natural on the same level of Jim Clark, he can't have been anything other than that. Fast from the word go, amazing car control in all conditions, a dominating leader from the front, quicker than his team mates - he possessed all the traits of a champion. Like Michael Schumacher, he had the talent to rally a tight-knit team around him and was the first professional Grand Prix driver to focus on Grand Prix racing and endulge in endless testing, in an age in which such an attitude was still received with resent instead of praise. As a man who has a way with words, Jackie's self-PR easily moved him towards a status of the world's first exceptionally well-paid Grand Prix superstar, a status spurred on by the jealousy-evoking presence of Helen, possibly the world's first Grand Prix glamour wife.
Yet there is still so much old school about Jackie Stewart – his roots lay in his father’s garage business, his driving was certainly gentleman-like, and he stuck with his small private team all throughout his successful years, giving them the final privateer Grand Prix win and turning them into World Champions. But then, through sticking with Ford, he was also instrumental in moving Tyrrell Racing Organization towards constructing its own car, the start of a trend that would eventually lead to the Concorde Agreement slug out by manufacturers and garagistes alike. So if slicks and wings were the pivotal technologies of the time, Jackie Stewart was the pivotal figure between the old and the new.
Stewart's quick rise to Grand Prix fame was the ultimate result of being a Jaguar dealer's younger son, but it wasn't a foregone conclusion. On the contrary, one might even say. With older brother Jimmy an integral part of the very successful Ecurie Ecosse of the fifties it could have been plain sailing for ambitious young Jackie. Instead a big 1954 Le Mans crash for Jimmy changed all that. After another Silverstone incident during the annus horribilis of 1955 that badly injured Jimmy, he decided to give in to his mother's wishes and quit racing. At the time, 15-year-old Jackie was working as a mechanic for the Stewarts' Dumbuck Garage in Dumbarton, and while Mrs Stewart was instrumental in Jimmy's decision to leave racing alone, Mr Stewart moved Jackie towards the noble art of trap shooting. If there are any thoughts that JYS could almost have been lost for motor racing, it can at least be argued that Jackie's natural precision and instant reflexes were honed by his brief but monumental shooting career. As it was, the teenager became some sort of a shooting star - forgive the pun - as he became national champion in 1959 and 1960, before preparing for the Olympic games.
But then he cracked. Attempting to qualify for the British team should have been a formality, yet he failed miserably. He didn't admit as much at the time but this personal defeat tore him away from shooting, right in the arms of motorsports. And this is where being the offspring of a garage owner came in useful.
One of Dumbuck Garage's best customers was a car collector and racing enthusiast called Barry Filer. Among Filer's cars prepared in the Dumbuck workshop were a Marcos, an AC Ace and an Aston Martin DB4GT, all of which were raced at club events. Gradually, as Jackie's interest in shooting subsided, he started to accompany Mr Filer to the races to help out as a trackside mechanic. Then he was offered to have a go himself. From that moment on he was sold. His racing became more frequent, as he even drove the garage's E-type demo car, but keeping it a secret from his parents by famously entering as A N Other. The breakthrough came at Oulton Park in 1962 where, at 23 years of age, he impressed himself and his onlookers so much that he decided his future lay in motor racing. Shortly after, the decision was clouded by the death of motor-cycle star Bob McIntyre, one of Jackie's early supporters, but he carried on even more determinedly.
A stunning Goodwood performance for Ecurie Ecosse, in an old Cooper Monaco, led to his national discovery and an introduction to Ken Tyrrell. Alan Brown's former associate in the Alan Brown Equipe, running F2 Coopers for himself and the likes of Hernando da Silva Ramos, Claude Storez, André Guelfi and a young Innes Ireland before handing them to star drivers such as McLaren and Gregory in 1959, had started his own F2 team in 1960. In his debut year as a team boss he succeeded in luring John Surtees into four-wheeled motorsports, before the category's rule book would be usurped by F1. Now, in 1963, he grabbed the opportunity to sign Jackie Stewart on the spot.
Which spot? The Goodwood pit, after Jackie took over Ken's new F3 Cooper-BMC from Bruce McLaren and went out to beat the New Zealander's time. While continuing to race GTs and touring cars for Ecurie Ecosse, and impressively so, 1963 would be Jackie's first season in single-seaters before he embarked on a full season of F3 in 1964. Driving Tyrrell's Cooper he virtually swept the board, winning all but two of the races he entered. Things were going quickly now, as he received one offer after the other. In the summer he accepted an offer by Colin Chapman and Ron Harris to race the Harris F2 Lotus at Clermont-Ferrand and finished second. He had also practiced Jim Clark's F1 Lotus before the British GP, before returning to the Ron Harris team for his first victory in a category he almost jumped in his speed to conquer the Grand Prix world. That would happen at the Rand Grand Prix at Kyalami on December 12, 1964, the first part in the '64-65 South African "Temporada". Filling in at Lotus for a slightly injured Jim Clark, Jackie lost his driveshafts in the first heat but more than made up for that by winning the second heat.
Clark was back for the South African Grand Prix on January 1st, winning it too, but Jackie didn't quite sit out the East London race. His amazing Kyalami performance caused all Grand Prix teams to go out of their to sign the young Scot, and eventually he chose to become team mate at BRM to the Kyalami winner, Graham Hill. At East London he finished sixth to score a point on his Championship debut. In May, five races into his F1 career, he took his first win in the International Trophy race at Silverstone. Two weeks later, in Monaco, he edged closer to his team leader to finish on the podium for a World Championship race for the first time - even if there is no such thing as a podium in Monte Carlo. Soon, with second places at Spa, Clermont-Ferrand and Zandvoort, he was the closest man to runaway champion and fellow Scot Jim Clark, and rivals were forced to pay attention to the upstart from Dumbarton. In one of F1's finest debut seasons a victory would soon be inevitable. It came at Monza where he slipstreamed his way past Hill to clinch his first World Championship Grand Prix. Mechanical woes in the overseas races prevented him from threatening his experienced team mate's runner-up position in the championship, but he had impressed mightily all the same.
With the advent of the new 3-litre formula, 1966 would be all change. BRM didn't adapt very well. Like Lotus they started out with a bored-out version of the 1.5-litre engine, BRM increasing the capacity of their P60 engine to 1.9 litres while awaiting the completion of their proper 3-litre engine - the ambitious P75 H16. Coming to Monaco, the non-championship races at Syracuse and Silverstone had fallen to Ferrari and Brabham, both using their 3-litre engine, Ferrari's 218 being the most powerful and Brabham's Repco 620 the most reliable (as it turned out to be over a season). The small entry at Monaco saw a peculiar field of half-decent cars - even the works teams apart from Cooper hadn't managed to complete a full 3-litre phalanx of at least two cars, but then Cooper's Maserati Tipo 9 engine wasn't the class of the field, nor was Bruce McLaren's American Ford 406 unit. But power isn't all-important at Monaco, and so the nimblest cars driven by the most talented drivers started from the front. A hundred laps later, Jackie Stewart was the clear winner in a field of four finishers. A 1.9-litre car had won the first 3-litre World Championship race.
A week later Jackie was at Indianapolis for his Indy 500 debut. In a race described by the Indianapolis Star as "the most fantastic, confused and incredible 500", kicked off by a 16-car tangle on the main straight as its freakish opening act, British rookie Graham Hill eventually took the spoils, albeit controversially after having been said to not have overtaken anyone during the entire race. Jackie was racing the Bowes Seal Fast Lola-Ford for John Mecom and gradually rose to take the lead on lap 151 after Lloyd Ruby's Eagle was black-flagged and Jim Clark's Lotus had spun out of first position twice. Commandingly homing in on a surprise victory Jackie lost it all with ten laps to go when an oil scavenge pump failed, dropping the oil pressure to fatal levels. JYS took the defeat graciously, which made him an instant hit with the Americans. He did cover enough laps to finish sixth.
Two more weeks and Stewart was lining up third for the Belgian GP. Jackie had starred at Spa the previous year and BRM were hoping he was to repeat that performance, even though Surtees' 3-litre Ferrari was streets ahead at this power track. But then, on race day, it rained. Ardennes-style. The first lap was a mess, when a sudden outburst hit the back of the track. In total, seven cars skidded off before they had even covered half of the 14km track. Stewart aquaplaned off at Masta. His car slid through the barriers and fell into the ditch behind it (some say it was a garden) where the tanks ruptured and began to spill their fuel. Miraculously it didn't catch fire but the rain-soaked driver was caught in his bent car.
Then two angels arrived. They pulled him out of the wreck and carried him to the nearby farmhouse where they started to remove his fuel-drenched overalls. At that moment two more angels entered the basement room and they were startled by what they witnessed.
The angels to the rescue were Bob Bondurant and Graham Hill, who had both crashed nearby and were lucky to spot Jackie's BRM. The other two angels were nuns who were shocked at first but then persuaded by Graham and Bob to help. Jackie had broken his shoulder, cracked some ribs and suffered from fuel burns all over. The wait for the ambulance to arrive seemed endless. The seeds of his ardent safety campaign were sown there and then.
He was back in Britain with the 2-litre P261 but he seemed to have lost some of his edge, with Hill generally having the upper hand the next couple of races. At Monza, finally, the P83 with the H16 engine was introduced, but it was a disaster, both cars off the pace in practice and out of the race within three laps. Their form improved somewhat at Watkins Glen but again the cars failed to finish while in Mexico both went out at half-distance. A ghastly end to a terrible year that had started so promisingly.
The H16 engine ruined much of 1967 too. While Jackie was promoted to team leader, with Mike Spence signed as the second driver, they were largely wasting their time with the slow and unreliable P83. When the car lasted and the track demanded the extra driver effort Jackie usually took it to places it didn't deserve - a second at Spa, ironically, his most prominent achievement, a performance further enhanced in magnitude by having to hold the car in gear for much of the race. He had infinitely more fun in F2, his continuing link-up with Ken Tyrrell beginning to bear fruit as he took wins at Albi, Oulton, Enna and Karlskoga - four of the last five F2 events of the season.
The car responsible for that was Tyrrell's Matra MS7, powered by Cosworth's FVA engine. It was a strong combination, and the missile factory's F2 successes meant the French were brooding on a Grand Prix entry. Ken Tyrrell had also watched Lotus dominate the second part of the F1 season with their new "exclusive" Cosworth Double Four Valve, which were to be on general sale starting 1968. He immediately placed an order before starting to persuade Matra to build a suitable F1 chassis for it and, equally importantly, sign Stewart as his driver.
So here was Jackie, on the back of two largely unsuccessful seasons following his amazing debut year. Yet Ferrari was willing to take him on - on the back of a famous sportscar win for Maranello, sharing the P4 with Chris Amon in the BOAC 500 at Brands to take the victory that clinched the title for the Prancing Horse - and there were other teams too. But then Tyrrell made it all click for him. While Matra was an unknown factor it did manage to produce a neat and effective F2 chassis. The DFV had proven itself remorselessly during the end of 1967. And then Tyrrell managed to lure newly formed French oil company Elf and tyre supplier Dunlop to sponsor the team, or rather, furnish the superstar salary that Jackie was unable to decline… The professionalism that Stewart sought after his Spa crash cut both sides - car and track safety on the one hand, and on the other hand (or in it) a more deserving paycheck in return for the risks a Grand Prix driver was willing to take.
In a hurry, the new Matra International outfit wasn't quite ready for the New Year's Day race at Kyalami - testified by their paintless car - but then it had at least brought an F1 Matra whereas the official Matra Sports works team only brought a Formula Two car for Jean-Pierre Beltoise. From the get-go it was clear that the DFV had been a spirited choice - so much so that it was hard to believe why no-one else had jumped on it. In practice, Jackie was battling with the Lotus-Fords for pole, and eventually ended up creating an all-DFV front row. If Chapman's cars made it to the finish in a one-two, Jackie Stewart had put down notice by leading away from the start and fighting for second place until his DFV broke a connecting rod op lap 44. In hindsight, the result would have quite some historic significance, as it was the last win by a Lotus car in BRG livery and Jim Clark's 25th and final GP win before he perished at Hockenheim some months later. The two Scots would never be able to compare themselves in front-running cars, in the same way as Michael Schumacher took over Ayrton Senna's mantle while not having had the opportunity to beat the Brazilian consistently over a longer period of time.
And indeed he was seen as the new title favourite now. But in the run-up to the Spanish GP his bid for 1968 glory was thwarted by an accident in an F2 race at Jarama, as the crash injured his wrist seriously enough to sideline him for three races: Spain, Monaco and the Indy 500. While Jackie sat out the two Grands Prix, Graham Hill stepped up to the plate for Lotus and won both of them, inching out into a lead that would prove to be unassailable over the season. On his return at Spa, he could only finish fourth in a crazy race won by Bruce McLaren, but would have won if the Tyrrell had properly fuelled up the Matra. In the event he ran out two laps from the finish. Then he got into his stride at Zandvoort, winning imperiously, with Beltoise making it a Matra double. A wrong tyre choice in the rain-soaked, tragic French GP at Rouen wrongfooted him from the start, while his hurting wrist was a big handicap on the twisty Brands circuit. His eventual sixth place set an unsuspecting stage for arguably the greatest achievement of his career - a crushing win in torrential rain on the spooky and daunting Nürburgring.
And he nearly hadn't started the race. With practice being an extremely wet and misty affair already, Jackie had publicly voiced his concerns against starting in these conditions. In fact first practice saw just half a dozen cars set times below 10 minutes, almost a manifestation of irreality, since the cars were happily capable of sub-8-minute times. The official Friday qualifying was cancelled, as the conditions deteriorated even further. Saturday was even worse, with a extra session to cover for the cancelled Friday session, but Jackie's best time of 9.54.2 could not even get close to Ickx's 9.04.0 set on Friday morning. The rest of the Saturday was a waste of time, on occasion visibility not going beyond a couple of yards. Sunday's weather was only slightly better, which caused quite a debate on whether to start the race at all. After a delay of about 20 minutes the weather hit some sort of dry spot and it was decided to get the race underway in a 3-2-3 grid formation. Ken Tyrrell had to oblige Jackie to take the start. But start he did. On his special Dunlop super-wets he shot away from the line, was third into the first corner, second on half of the lap and first after passing Hill out of Schwalbenschwanz. From that moment on, Jackie disappeared. He completed the lap with a 9-second lead, built on that in the following lap to increase his lead to 34 seconds. Lap four: over a minute. Half distance: 1.5 minutes. A spin and stall by second-place man Hill: some three minutes. Finish: 4 minutes, 3 seconds and 2 tenths. A monster performance, in gruelling conditions, in which ironically Stewart's wrist gave him less trouble.
The last four races of the season brought lots of bad luck, some under-par form but also a classic, commanding win from the start at Watkins Glen, which kept him in the running for the title despite having missed two GPs earlier on. The Mexican apotheosis was just that, with the two title pretenders battling it out at the front after the interloping Siffert had fallen by the wayside. At half-distance there was still nothing between Hill and Stewart, as a win would seal the World Championship for each one of them. But on lap 38, the gap suddenly increased to 5 seconds while next time round it was up to 16 seconds. Stewart's engine had started to misfire due to dropping fuel pressure. Carrying on valiantly, he dropped down the order over the remaining laps to finish 7th, while Hill romped to the win and the title. It later transpired that Jackie had been racing a cracked Matra chassis.
There were no regrets in 1969, however, as the Stewart-Tyrrell-Matra-Cosworth train steamrollered the World Championship. Starting fourth on the grid at Kyalami, Jackie had jumped into the lead by the second corner and never looked back. Montjuich saw the dramatic swansong of the high aerofoils but also another Stewart win, albeit a gifted one on the back of the ill fortune of Chris Amon who saw a 40-second lead go up in a cloud of Ferrari V12 smoke. At Monaco, Jackie snatched pole and set fastest lap but was forced to retire from a huge lead on lap 23, his driveshaft broken two laps after team mate Beltoise had the same happening to him. He was back for more glory at Zandvoort, though, repeating his '68 form and causing the World Champion some embarrassment by lapping him twice.
At Clermont Ferrand, which saw a dismal entry of just 13 cars, and Silverstone, scene of the influx of four 4WD cars it was Stewart all over again, making it four out of five. In France, Beltoise had made it a Matra-Ford one-two. At Silverstone, Jackie managed a quick Thursday time in the 4WD MS84 - his 1.24.1 would have put him 14th on the grid, ahead of the other 4WD cars, but then commandeered JPB's MS80 for the race.
The Nürburgring event, which started off sadly with Gerhard Mitter's fatal accident and had Jackie test the MS84 once again, finally saw a challenge in the form of Jacky Ickx. A tense battle for the lead was decided half-way by Ickx, as Stewart dropped back after losing third and fourth gear. He had to see the Belgian pull out to a one-minute lead at the finish but nonetheless salvaged second place.
Now, having built a huge championship lead, Stewart was poised to take the title at Monza, with three races still remaining. This he duly did, in style, with another win, but he had to work hard for it in a typically thrilling Italian slipstreamer in which the first four finishers were covered by 0.19 seconds.
For 1970 Matra wished that Matra International a.k.a. the Tyrrell Racing Organisation change to their V12, but given their strong Ford ties Stewart and Tyrrell weren't impressed by the idea of switching to the acoustically overwhelming but technically underperforming French engine. So they stuck with the DFV and looked out for a replacement customer chassis while Derek Gardner went to work in his shed to design the first proper Tyrrell Grand Prix car. The easiest choice was provided by the gang of four that had founded March the year before and produced the neat 693 F3 chassis. Still working according to the Graham Coaker principle of building a customer-car empire before momentarily giving in to Mosley and Rees' wishes to focus on the F1 works team, the March factory sold an example of their first F1 car to Tyrrell. It wasn't a particularly good car, as was testified by the general performance of the works drivers and the other private drivers. Only Amon could keep up with Stewart on occasion.
Stewart was unfluttered by the March's deficiencies. He gave the car a debut pole in South Africa and then won convincingly in the Race of Champions and at Montjuich, in only its second and third races. As he led the championship going to Monaco, he set another pole position and looked like waltzing to another victory before dropping back because of a misfire and eventually retiring. Pole number three was added at Spa but a down-on-power engine led to him tussling for the lead before the Cosworth blew up in a big way on lap 14. Meanwhile, Jochen Rindt's new Lotus 72 had shown its first intentions too, now meaning business in C specification with the anti-squat and anti-dive characteristics removed from the suspension.
Chapman's decision to scrap the original suspension concept of the 72 was the turning point of the season, as it transformed the ill-handling car into a race winner, whereas Stewart's engine problems had kept him from capitalizing on his majestic World Champion form in the early races. By the Dutch GP, the Lotus was the fastest car of the field and Rindt strung together a brace of victories at Zandvoort, Brands and Hockenheim (although the British GP win was another Brabham gift) while Jackie suffered dreadful reliability during a horrible summer for the Tyrrell team. Only at Monza did his engine hold on for the entire race for him to finish a close second to Regazzoni after several spells in the lead.
Then St. Jovite in Canada saw something of a unique statistic, as Jackie put Tyrrell 001 first on the grid, giving two constructors a debut pole position within a single season. If ever there was a calling card for Derek Gardner's design talent, the first half of the 1970 Canadian GP provided it, as 001 strode clear of its often similarly engined rivals, going faster at almost a second a lap. Or was it Jackie Stewart's talent of driving away from the field in any half-decent car? Then, on lap 32, the left front stub axle broke and his race was suddenly over. Perhaps he could have done well starting from the second row in the March that he also qualified but this scenario was infinitely preferable. The USGP saw another dominant performance but an easy win was denied by yet another DFV failure, while he was a leading contender in the season-closing event in Mexico when his steering column worked its way loose.
Looking back on the season Jackie had shown true title-defending form only to be let down by his machinery, while his year was marred by the tragic deaths of Bruce McLaren, Piers Courage and Jochen Rindt. Their accidents sparked a further desire in Jackie to make Grand Prix racing a safer sport. At the same time he had teamed up with IMG’s sports marketing guru Mark McCormack, venturing into the multi-million promotion territory that had been hitherto unknown to Grand Prix racing. Along with Rod Laver and Jean-Claude Killy, Jackie Stewart joined golf stars Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player in their business agreement with “Mark the Shark”. McCormack’s clever marketing pitched Jackie into the limelight as the sport’s first true superstar, a Swiss-domiciled multi-millionaire now building towards his second title.
Indeed, there would be no letting down the following year, as the 001's fragility was patched up over the winter and 002 added to the stable. A similar amount of effort went into the DFVs, which had shown poor reliability during 1970, especially hurting the Tyrrell team. Therefore, the Northampton company decided to concentrate on building new batches of engines while allowing subcontracting companies to overhaul the '69 and '70, as the increasing amount of returns was overworking the Cosworth factory. The combination of Tyrrell chassis (001, followed in Spain by 003), reliable DFVs, Goodyear tyres and Jackie Stewart proved insurmountable for the opposition as Jackie took five of the first seven races to as good as settle the championship with a 32-point lead before officially clinching it at the Österreichring. A year earlier Tyrrell had been non-existent as a constructor, the car being finished in secrecy. Now, Stewart, Cevert and the Surrey team were running away with both titles. In fact, there was so much disbelief with the speed of the cars that their engine capacity was checked at Silverstone while Elf’s fuel was analysed in France. Nothing was found.
Stewart supplied his mastery in excess at the Monaco Grand Prix, which he dominated from Ascension Day until stepping up to receive the winner's trophy from Prince Rainier and Princess Grace. Having crashed the 003 at the International Trophy some weeks before, Stewart was driving a completely rebuilt car. After taking the pole on Friday with a sizzling lap time 1.2s faster than Jacky Ickx, the Scot lined up first on the dummy grid in the confidence of a good result. But then, on the warm-up lap, he found there was something wrong with the brakes. In fact, the brake balance had completely broken, so he was effectively without any rear brakes! There was no time to do anything about it, so he just coped. After 80 laps, Jackie's "coping" with the problem had led to a flag-to-flag victory by 25 seconds, and that was after easing off in the final stages. Afterwards, the Tyrrell mechanics found that the car's rear brake patches were totally untouched.
It was additional proof of the safety advocate not being a coward himself. Sadly, at the end of the season there was yet more reason for Stewart continuing his crusade – next to the drama itself, there was tragic irony in Jo Siffert’s cruel burning to death at the non-championship race at Brands Hatch that was organized to celebrate the safety champion’s World Championship…
After the dominance of 1971 things took a downturn in 1972. Although Stewart and Tyrrell started off in fine style with a clear victory in Argentina and pole in South Africa and was awarded the Order of the British Empire for his racing accomplishments, his form began to tail off on the Grand Prix circus’ return to Europe. In 1971 Jackie had been doing a concurrent Can-Am programme for Carl Haas, winning two rounds in the process in the No.1 L&M Lola-Chevy T260, but the continued trans-Atlantic travel played havoc with his fitness, as did his relentness jet-set promotion programme. He began having off days before being diagnosed with a stomach ulcer, sidelining him for six weeks. This caused him to miss the Belgian GP, which was convienently won by title rival Emerson Fittipaldi. On his return in France, he scored a lucky win but that could not stop Fittipaldi from disappearing into the distance, winning three of the next four races.
Jackie’s progress was also halted by 003 becoming more outdated, as the Tyrrell team focused its efforts on completing two new-generation cars, 005 and 006. 005 made its debut at Monza but a promising qualifying which left Jackie to line up third turned into disappointment when he stalled on the grid with a fried clutch. In the two North American races, 005 and 006 were finally out in full force. The two races at Mosport Park and Watkins Glen became Tyrrell benefits, as Jackie served his intentions for 1973 with two crushing victories in front of “his” crowd, Cevert making it a double at Watkins Glen.
It was the best possible introduction to 1973, after which Stewart had decided he would retire, having completed a century of World Championship Grand Prix participations and hopefully a trio of titles. He didn’t have to worry either about leaving his team empty-handed, as young team mate François Cevert was starting to prove that he had the talent to step up to the plate.
In similar style to his other championships Stewart turned the season into a dominant affair, winning in South Africa, Belgium, Monaco, Holland and Germany, with Cevert usually at close guard, but it was a third title at great cost. 1973 proved to be season marred by horrific accidents claiming the lives of Roger Williamson – in the race that gave Stewart his 26th Grand Epreuve win, beating Jim Clark’s tally – Helmut Koinigg and his “crown prince” François Cevert. After hearing the news of his team mate’s death Jackie was unable to focus on his racing and withdrew after practice, stopping one race short of a 100 GP entries.
It was long after he had clinched the title in a gripping race at Monza, which saw him lose over a minute while a punctured tyre was changed in the pits. His comeback charge ranks with the best of their kind – Fangio at the Nürburgring in 1957, Clark at Monza in 1967. Having rejoined in 20th position he was up to 8th after 14 laps, 7th and the new lap-record holder after lap 16, before streaking past Ickx, Hailwood and Reutemann into 5th. With Cevert one place ahead a swap ensured Jackie of the championship before the long haul to North America where chaos and tragedy would await him.
Having quit motor racing as a driver, Jackie remained the organizer who was never far away from the center of things, although he didn't stop driving completely. His filmed laps in the Tyrrell P34 sixwheeler are still among the most popular onboard videos. He became an industry consultant and a fine TV commentator before becoming involved in Paul Stewart Racing in 1988 when Paul decided to go racing himself. While Paul ran the team in the same meticulous, professional manner as his father managed his own racing career, Jackie Stewart OBE was instrumental in charming sponsors into supporting the team. PSR would become the best-organised and most successful British F3 outfit of the nineties, winning six driver titles in the space of seven years. The team’s F3000 exploits were less successful, with only Gil de Ferran doing some winning, so in 1996 these exploits were canned in favour of a Formula One enterprise called Stewart Grand Prix. Jackie’s talents of persuasion hadn’t abandoned him, as he convinced his friends at Ford to supply him with a works engine deal and added a portfolio of first-class sponsors too. Here was a man with the canny ability to make partnerships work for all involved parties.
Although the Stewart team principal did well to give Rubens Barrichello a deserved opportunity and again proved himself to be a master organiser, his talent-spotting skills left something to be desired when he hyped Jan Magnussen into the new Ayrton Senna before launching him into the fatal second Stewart car. The Milton Keynes-based team never made its breakthrough, apart from a freak win by Johnny Herbert in a crazy and rain-soaked race at the Ersatz-Ring in 1999, and passed on its ill-prepared second car tradition when Ford took over control. The second Stewart/Jaguar has shown itself to be a deadly environment for a driver career, as can be vouched for by Jan Magnussen, Johnny Herbert, Luciano Burti, Pedro de la Rosa, António Pizzonia, Justin Wilson and, undoubtedly in the near future, Christian Klien. Only Jos Verstappen managed a comeback after a short but disastrous spell in the car, but then Jos is the king of comebacks.
After the Ford takeover the Stewarts gradually withdrew themselves from the operating environment of the team, finally retiring as CEO and COO of Jaguar Racing in January 2000, a development hastened by Paul Stewart's suffering from cancer. Paul is in remission now and has returned to visiting Grands Prix on occasion. Sir Jackie Stewart (since 15 July 2001) is still very much involved in the British racing scene as the Chairman of the BRDC, for which he was elected in July 2000, and will voice his concerns over the future of the British Grand Prix any time when asked, after securing the race's rights for Silverstone for the coming 15 years.
Still, the racing tartan that made a welcome return to F1 in 1997 is greatly missed. Many people feel it has more heritage than the leaping white cat on the glaring and not quite British racing green that replaced it.
FORIX: Jackie Stewart's F1 career