He is a six-time Le Mans winner, Can-Am champion, the runner-up in the 1969 and 1970 Formula 1 World Championships for Brabham and Ferrari, twice World Endurance champion and Paris-Dakar rally winner. Jacky Ickx is a soulful, philosophical and enigmatic character who thinks deeply about his 32 seasons at the top of a dangerous sport. His success in so many different disciplines, and his prowess in the rain, has given him a rare status among both his peers and the fans who have followed his career from his early days as a champion motorcycle racer.
We catch up with the man many consider to be one of motor sport’s greatest talents at his home in Monaco, where he’s lived for the last 40 years.
Motor Sport: Let’s begin with that remarkable drive in Ken Tyrrell’s Formula 2 Matra at the Nürburgring in August 1967. You made a big impression on the F1 teams that day at the German Grand Prix.
Jacky Ickx: “Before we start… You’ve described me as one of the greatest, and I am happy if you want to say that, because you cannot say any driver is the greatest, or the greatest of all time, or whatever. I have seen that people say Lewis Hamilton is the greatest F1 driver of all time but this is not possible because you cannot compare racing drivers from so many different eras. It is not a proper comparison because there were so many – Nuvolari, Caracciola, Fangio, Moss, Schumacher, Prost, Senna – and they were all in totally different cars in totally different times of the sport. ‘One of the greatest’ is enough and, of course, Lewis is one of those. The young F1 drivers are all extremely talented and gifted. They don’t need to be compared in this way.”