We’re going to need a bigger trophy room - 1970s flashback

British drivers make their mark in sports cars, rally and F1, and Williams finally arrives

Porsche le Mans 24 Hours 1970



Porsche claims the first of what will become a record number of victories at the Le Mans 24 Hours. But rather than its ‘hares’, the relative ‘tortoise’ 917K driven by understated Richard Attwood and veteran Hans Herrmann prevails in a rain-affected race of attrition. Action – and the era – is captured by a Hollywood film crew for a movie starring Steve McQueen.

John Rindt head shot 1970


Jochen Rindt is crowned as the only posthumous Formula 1 world champion, after Ferrari’s Jacky Ickx – the sole driver within range of the Austrian’s points haul – retires from the US Grand Prix with a fuel leak. Rindt is mourned after losing his life in a practice crash at Monza, having lit up the season in the new Gold Leaf-sponsored Lotus 72.

Graham Hill at Le Mans 1972


Graham Hill becomes the only driver to win motor racing’s unofficial Triple Crown with victory at Le Mans. Driving partner Henri Pescarolo is initially sceptical about sharing a Matra MS670 with Hill, fearing that the two-time world champion, five-time Monaco GP victor and 1966 Indy 500 winner is past his prime at 43. But his doubts are unfounded. The pair win by 11 laps.

Roger Clark and Tony Mason rally 1972


Roger Clark and co-driver Tony Mason become the first all-British crew to win the RAC Rally since 1959, in a Ford Escort RS1600. Clark wins the RAC again with Stuart Pegg in 1976, by which time it counts as a round of the World Rally Championship. The next British driver to win in the WRC doesn’t arrive until 17 years later – Colin McRae in New Zealand.

Jackie Stewart retires from F1


Jackie Stewart retires from Formula 1 a race early following the death of his Tyrrell team-mate François Cevert in practice at Watkins Glen. Already world champion for a third time, he stops one short of his 100th start and with a record 27 wins. In the wake of losing so many friends, Stewart continues to campaign for improved safety in racing.

Derek Bell Le Mans 24 Hours 1975


Derek Bell wins the first of his eventual five victories at the Le Mans 24 Hours, sharing a Gulf Mirage GR8 with Jacky Ickx. Bell wins the race twice more with Ickx for Porsche in 1981 and ’82, then with Al Holbert and Hans-Joachim Stuck – still with Porsche – in 1986 and ’87 to become Britain’s most successful Le Mans racer.

James Hunt celebrates with two women


James Hunt is crowned Formula 1 world champion at Fuji after a dramatic season climax. He beats friend Niki Lauda by a single point in the wake of a tense McLaren vs Ferrari rivalry, interrupted by Lauda’s fiery Nürburgring crash and resumed by his incredible comeback. Such is the global interest, the season is considered ‘year zero’ for the modern era.

Mario Andretti and Ronnie Peterson f1


Mario Andretti and Ronnie Peterson dominate F1 as Lotus harnesses the power of ground-effect aerodynamics, first with the Type 78 and then with the ‘Black Beauty’ 79. Their hegemony is threatened by Brabham’s fan car, which is withdrawn after Lauda wins on its debut in Sweden. Andretti’s title is overshadowed by Peterson’s death at Monza.

Frank Williams victory


After 10 years of toil, Frank Williams finally becomes an F1 winner when Clay Regazzoni claims his team’s first GP victory at Silverstone. A year later, Williams takes the drivers’ and constructors’ titles with Alan Jones. Championships for Keke Rosberg, Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve follow in the next two decades.