In the second part of our special Jochen Rindt tribute, we hear from three more of his rivals who were due to race against him at the fateful 1970 Italian Grand Prix, where the Austrian was killed in practice before becoming Formula 1’s only posthumous World Champion. Fifteen of the 26 drivers entered for that race survive, and we’ve spoken to all but one of them.
There are more recollections to come tomorrow, as we count down to this weekend’s Grand Prix at Monza.
Sir Jack Brabham
AUS, Motor Racing Developments
“Monza 1970 was a very sad weekend for me. I had become very close friends with Jochen and we had so many great races together.
“Jochen had a horrible car failure at the end of the straight and was killed through no fault of his own. I rated him very highly indeed as a driver and felt he was a wonderful competitor, and I always enjoyed racing with him. I would say also that he was a very good type of man, who became a bosom friend, and beyond that he was one of the best drivers of that period and captured the imagination of the racing public.
“Fatalities, unfortunately, were something we had to live with and we had to get on with the job at hand, but it was a very sad period altogether.”
GB, Team Surtees
“Jochen was my team-mate, of course, at Cooper. I’d seen him in Formula 2, where he had a number of good events. He came before me at Cooper-Maserati. He showed good pace and did a good race at Spa, where I watched him because his tyres were handling in the wet better then mine. And it was obvious he was talented.
“In terms of his World Championship… Well, at that time there were a number of drivers who, if they were in the right car at the right time, had the potential to become World Champion, and he was definitely one of those. When he went to Lotus, to work with Colin Chapman, then definitely he was one of those with World Champion potential. Jochen had the right degree of aggression and he was also someone who was able to come together with a car. Colin could put together a real driver’s car, and by the time Jochen went there he had the right amount of experience to be a potential champion. What happened was just tragic.
“I had had a major accident in 1966 that nearly killed me, due to a mechanical failure. And Jochen’s accident was probably caused by a mechanical failure too. That reawakened memories that there are things beyond your control at times, particularly in those days. It’s one of the facts of life. You have to recall why you are there and what you are there to do – a job that generally you love doing. There are moments when that love goes away, of course, but you have to cast that to one side once you get behind the wheel, without wishing to sound callous.”
Andrea de Adamich
“I first met Jochen at the Vallelunga Italian Formula 3 race in 1963. We were both beginners, although our career paths diverged after that. He was far faster than me in Formula 1 but I was very proud to beat him in the 1968 Temporada Argentina, when I had the Ferrari Dino Formula 2 car.
“By Monza 1970, the only reason he was not dominating rather than simply leading the championship was that his Lotus was fragile as well as fast. It’s a weekend that will remain imprinted on my memory. Just before Jochen crashed he had come out of the pits. It’s my belief that his belts weren’t done up properly after he left, and this is what caused him to slide under them, with the buckle crushing his neck. We’ll obviously never know, but I think that if his belts had been properly fastened then he could have survived the accident, although he would still have sustained severe leg injuries.
“I remember both him and his wife Nina with a lot of affection. They were cultured, educated and refined people – which is not something that you could always say about everyone in the paddock.”
Anthony Rowlinson is executive editor of The Red Bulletin