Jo Bonnier

Full Name:
Karl Joakim Jonas Bonnier
Born:
31st January 1930
Stockholm, Sodermanland
Died:
11th June 1972 (Aged 42)
Le Mans, Pays de la Loire (F), Le Mans 24 Hours
Nationality:
Swedish
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

It is ironic that someone so committed to promoting safety in this most unsafe of sports should die in what was probably the final season of his long career. A one-time Grand Prix winner, Jo Bonnier was the influential President of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association who campaigned tirelessly to improve circuits.

National service and early career

He had competed in a rally in 1948 but three years in the Swedish Navy delayed his racing ambitions. Bonnier drove an Alfa Romeo in ice racing and rallies after completing his national service and he turned professional in 1956. That was in a 1500cc Maserati sports car before he made his GP debut when relieving Luigi Villoresi in that year’s Italian GP in a works 250F.

Grand Prix winner for BRM

Two years in a private Maserati 250F ended with a couple of drives for the thus-far unsuccessful BRM team at the end of 1958. Fourth in the Moroccan GP, he remained with the team for the next two seasons and the combination of the journeyman driver and unsuccessful team turned to gold on one occasion. Bonnier qualified for the 1959 Dutch GP in pole position and beat Jack Brabham to score a first GP victory for driver and marque alike.

Bonnier led for much of the Argentine GP at the start of 1960 but could not repeat his Dutch triumph again. Further success was in other forms of the sport when a works Porsche driver. He won Formula 2 races at the Nürburgring (that year’s German GP) and Modena as well as the Targa Florio during 1960. That led to the next couple of F1 seasons being spent with Porsche but fifth would be his best result as he was generally unable to match team-mate Dan Gurney. Stirling Moss no less tipped him for the 1961 title but Bonnier's long F1 career was on a gradual decline.

Formula 1 privateer

Porsche withdrew from F1 at the end of 1962 but Bonnier continued. That was initially with Rob Walker’s private concern (1963 to 1965) before he ran his own team. Tangible results were limited however and much of 1969 was lost when he crashed during practice for the Oulton Park Gold Cup. Bonnier's suspension failed at approximately 120mph and he was knocked unconscious when his helmet was ripped off in the violent accident that followed. When he finally retired from F1 in 1971, Bonnier hung his last such car (a McLaren M7C-Ford) on the wall of his house in Switzerland.

Sports car success

If F1 results were hard to come by, he was increasingly successful in sports cars during the 1960s. He won the 1962 Sebring 12 Hours for Ferrari before adding another Targa Florio victory with Porsche’s RS62 a year later. He shared a Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari with Graham Hill in selected 1964 sports car events – finishing second at Le Mans and winning both at Reims and in Montlhéry’s Paris 1000Kms.

The 1966 Nürburgring 1000Kms was Bonnier’s last victory in the World Sportscar Championship and the first European success for Chaparral. His Lola T210-Ford won the 1970 2000cc European Sportscar Championship and he represented both Lola and Hewland in Europe alongside his racing career.

Bonnier’s Lola T290-Cosworth led the 1972 Le Mans 24 Hours early in the race. He had dropped to eighth by morning when he collided with a slower Ferrari Daytona approaching Indianapolis Corner. Launched into the trees, this influential and opinionated veteran was killed instantly.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1972 World Championship of Makes
Ecurie Bonnier
3 0 0 0 12
1971 European F2 Trophy
Ecurie Bonnier
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1971 International Championship of Makes
Ecurie Filipinetti
1 0 1 0 4
1971 F1 World Championship
Ecurie Bonnier
3 (2) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1970 International Championship of Makes
Ecurie Filipinetti
1 0 0 0 0
1970 F1 World Championship
Ecurie Bonnier
1 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1970 European 2-litre Sports Car Championship of Makes 1st -
1969 SCCA Formula A Continental Championship 1 0 1 0
0% win rate
0
1969 International Championship of Makes
Ecurie Filipinetti
Joakim Bonnier Racing Team
3 0 1 0 8
1969 F1 World Championship
Ecurie Bonnier
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1968 International Championship of Makes
Joakim Bonnier Racing Team
1 0 0 0 1
1968 F1 World Championship
Joakim Bonnier Racing Team
8 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
21st 3
1967 F1 World Championship
Joakim Bonnier Racing Team
8 0 0 0
0% win rate
14th 3
1966 F1 World Championship
Anglo-Suisse Racing Team
9 0 0 0
0% win rate
17th 1
1966 International Championship of Makes
Jim Hall
Chaparral Racing
2 0 1 1 9
1965 International Championship of Makes
Porsche System Engineering
Maranello Concessionaires
3 0 1 0 7
1965 F1 World Championship
Rob Walker Racing
10 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1964 F1 World Championship
Rob Walker Racing
9 0 0 0
0% win rate
15th 3
1964 International Championship of Makes
Porsche System Engineering
Maranello Concessionaires
5 1 3 2 27
1963 Speed and Endurance World Challenge
Porsche System Engineering
2 0 1 1 10
1963 F1 World Championship
Rob Walker Racing
10 0 0 0
0% win rate
9th 6
1962 Speed World Challenge
Scuderia SSS Repubblica di Venezia
Scuderia Serenissima
3 1 2 1 18
1962 F1 World Championship
Porsche System Engineering
7 0 0 0
0% win rate
14th 3
1961 World Sportscar Championship
Porsche
Porsche System Engineering
2 1 1 0 6
1961 F1 World Championship
Porsche System Engineering
8 0 0 0
0% win rate
13th 3
1960 World Sportscar Championship
Dr Ing F Porsche
Porsche
4 2 3 1 18
1960 F1 World Championship
Owen Racing Organisation
8 0 0 0
0% win rate
15th 4
1959 World Sportscar Championship
Dr Ing F Porsche
Porsche
3 0 2 0 10
1959 F1 World Championship
Owen Racing Organisation
7 1 1 1
15% win rate
8th 10
1958 World Sportscar Championship
Francesco Godia-Sales
1 0 0 0 0
1958 F1 World Championship
Giorgio Scarlatti
Owen Racing Organisation
Joakim Bonnier
Scuderia Centro Sud
9 0 0 0
0% win rate
18th 3
1957 World Sportscar Championship
Officine Alfieri Maserati
2 0 1 0 4
1957 F1 World Championship
Scuderia Centro Sud
Joakim Bonnier
4 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1956 F1 World Championship
Officine Alfieri Maserati
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0