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Johnny Herbert

Full name
John Paul Herbert
Born
25th June 1964 (Age 56) - Brentwood, Essex
Nationality
British
British
Years in Database
20
Recent Race
Starts
196 (4)
Wins
19
Poles
10
Podiums
31

Johnny Herbert arrived at the 1988 Brands Hatch Formula 3000 race poised to be Britain’s next Grand Prix star. Reigning British Formula 3 Champion and winner on his F3000 debut, he had already completed successful tests for Benetton-Ford and Lotus-Honda. But, a sickening accident put his life in doubt and his career in the balance.

A winner in karts and cars

Winning the 1982 British Karting Championship and taking victory in the 1985 Formula Ford Festival when driving the unfashionable Quest FF85 confirmed his promise. That latter success was achieved despite crashing in practice and therefore having to work his way through from the back of the field. Herbert’s Eddie Jordan Racing Reynard 873-Volkswagen was third at Monaco and he dominated British F3 during 1987 – winning five times.

EJR and Herbert graduated to F3000 in 1988 and his Reynard 88D-Cosworth led the opening round at Jerez all-the-way from pole position to victory. Third at Monza and heartened by those impressive Formula 1 tests, Herbert seemed on course for the F3000 title and GP racing.

Brands Hatch accident

On pole again at Brands Hatch, he clashed with Gregor Foitek during the race and hit the barriers head-on at Pilgrim’s Drop. Herbert broke both of his legs but such was his reputation that Benetton signed the injured Englishman for the 1989 F1 World Championship.

Formula 1 with Benetton and Le Mans winner

Hardly able to walk, Herbert took his Benetton B188-Ford to fourth on his F1 debut in Brazil, just 10.493 seconds behind the winner and ahead of more experienced team-mate Sandro Nannini. Despite that sensational performance, Herbert’s injuries had not fully healed and he was replaced after just six rounds.

From the archive

Herbert struggled for five years to re-establish himself. Victory in the 1991 Le Mans 24 Hours for Mazda – the first for a Japanese manufacturer and a rotary engine – restored some lustre but part-time F1 spells with Tyrrell and then Lotus only allowed glimpses of his talent.

On the ascendency once more

However, with former Benetton Team Manager Peter Collins now in charge at Lotus, Herbert joined on a fulltime basis from mid 1991. He often outpaced team-mate Mika Häkkinen only for poor reliability to restrict him to just two points scores during 1992 and deny him a probable third place finish at Silverstone.

The Finn moved to McLaren but Herbert remained contracted to Lotus for the last two seasons of a once-great marque. However, he was back in demand by the end of 1994 and switched to Ligier and then Benetton when both teams were run by Flavio Briatore.

He stayed with Benetton as team-mate to new world champion Michael Schumacher but remained in the German’s shadow for much of 1995. However, the ever popular and genial Essex driver benefited when Schumacher and rival Damon Hill collided at Silverstone and Monza to score maiden F1 victories and finish fourth in the 1995 World Championship.

A final win for Stewart Grand Prix

That was not enough to retain his drive and Herbert then endured three difficult seasons with Sauber. He finished third at Monaco in 1996 but suffered a huge accident at Ste Devote a year later.

Related article

Also third in the 1997 Hungarian GP, Herbert moved to Stewart Grand Prix in 1999 and scored an unexpected final F1 victory in changeable conditions at the Nürburgring. A final, pointless season with the now rebranded Jaguar Racing in 2000 bought Herbert’s GP career to an unreliable and uncompetitive close.

Sports car champion and future in the media

He continued to race in sports cars and success in the American Le Mans Series with an Audi R8 included victories in the 2002 Sebring 12 Hours and 2003 Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Second for Audi North America in the 2002 Le Mans 24 Hours, he repeated that result a year later with a Bentley Speed Eight.

The Volkswagen Group’s marketing objectives swung back from Bentley to Audi once more in 2004 and Herbert shared an Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx R8 with Jamie Davies in the Le Mans Series. He qualified on pole position for the 24-hours itself before finishing second once again. Twice winners in the series, Davies and Herbert were crowned Le Mans Series Champions that year.

Herbert won the all-star 2008 Speedcar Championship for identical stock cars with a double victory at the Dubai finale. Most recently, Herbert has successfully plied his trade as part of Sky Television’s line-up on British television.

It is impossible to tell what he could have achieved but for his injuries although three GP victories are testament to a resolute and talented driver.

Championship Seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points Results

2004

Le Mans Endurance Series

Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx

2

1

2

2

1

34

2004

FIA GT Championship

AF Corse

3

0

3

0

31

8

2004

American Le Mans Series

Champion Racing

1

0

1

1

U

0

2003

American Le Mans Series

Champion Racing

4

1

4

4

U

0

2002

Indy Racing League

Duesenberg Racing

0 (1)

0

0

0

U

0

2002

American Le Mans Series

Audi Sport Team Joest

1

0

1

1

U

0

2000

F1 World Championship

Jaguar Racing

17

0

0

0

U

0

1999

F1 World Championship

Stewart Ford

16

0

1

1 - 7% win rate

8

15

1998

F1 World Championship

Red Bull Sauber Petronas

16

0

0

0

15

1

1997

F1 World Championship

Red Bull Sauber Petronas

17

0

1

0

10

15

1996

F1 World Championship

Red Bull Sauber Ford

16

0

1

0

14

4

1995

F1 World Championship

Mild Seven Benetton Renault

17

0

4

2 - 12% win rate

4

45

1994

F1 World Championship

Mild Seven Benetton Ford

Ligier Gitanes Blondes

16

0

0

0

U

0

1993

F1 World Championship

Team Lotus

16

0

0

0

9

11

1992

World Sportscar Championship

Mazdaspeed

2

0

1

0

9

25

1992

F1 World Championship

Team Lotus

16

0

0

0

14

2

1991

World Sportscar Championship

Mazdaspeed

1

0

1

1

16

20

1991

F1 World Championship

Team Lotus

7 (1)

0

0

0

U

0

1990

F1 World Championship

Camel Team Lotus

2

0

0

0

U

0

1989

F1 World Championship

Tyrrell Racing Organisation

Benetton Formula

6 (2)

0

0

0

14

5

1988

World Sports-Prototype Championship

ADA Engineering

1

0

0

0

U

0

1988

FIA International F3000 Championship

Eddie Jordan Racing

Q8 Team Ford (Jordan)

6

2

2

1 - 17% win rate

8

13

1987

Lucas British F3 Championship

Eddie Jordan Racing

5

3

5

5

1

79

1987

European F3 Cup

Eddie Jordan Racing

1

0

0

0

U

0

1987

EFDA F3 Euroseries

Eddie Jordan Racing

1

1

1

1 - 100% win rate

3

40

Non Championship Races

Title Date Circuit Laps Position

2007 Le Mans 24 Hours

16/06/2007

Le Mans

369

9

2004 Le Mans 24 Hours

12/06/2004

Le Mans

379

2

2003 Le Mans 24 Hours

14/06/2003

Le Mans

377

2

2002 Le Mans 24 Hours

15/06/2002

Le Mans

375

2

2001 Le Mans 24 Hours

16/06/2001

Le Mans

321

R

1990 Le Mans 24 Hours

16/06/1990

Le Mans

359

R

3,168

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