Jody Scheckter's wild ride to the top of F1

Extraordinary tales from the Motor Sport digital archive

Jody Scheckter headshot

Grand Prix Photo

Jody Scheckter went through an F1 transformation like few others. Branded a grand prix enfant terrible when he debuted in 1972, seven years later Scheckter was the sure hand on the tiller Ferrari needed as he paired up with the mercurial Canadian, Gilles Villeneuve.

Four decades on from his first F1 world championship win at the ’74 Swedish GP, F1 Retro looks back on an entertaining and intriguing Lunch With… interview featuring the inimitable South African.

“In my early days I was very wild,” he admits. “We’d take my Renault R8 on a borrowed trailer 1200 miles to Rhodesia and back for a race, and do the trip in around 20 hours non-stop.”

Arriving in the UK as a Formula Ford hopeful in ’71, by the end of the following year he was an F1 driver, first with McLaren, and then Tyrrell as he matured into the complete racing package.

“Everybody says Ken Tyrrell calmed me down, but I think I’d learned by then that you’re not going to win an F1 world championship by crashing.”

Scheckter would end up at the Scuderia via the upstart Wolf team, but it was Ferrari that allowed him to realise his F1 dream.

“Winning the title at Monza in 1979. I remember the sea of people, but what I really felt was relief.”