Jackie Stewart: F1 team owner

Jackie Stewart has never retired. He may have been out of a cockpit since 1973, but as a team owner, mentor, car developer and charitable campaigner, Stewart has never quit. He changed the sport in many ways beyond being just a driver... Paul Fearnley outlines his influence

Stewart Grand Prix at F1 Grand Prix of Italy

Stewart Grand Prix was a logical progression from the family’s Paul Stewart Racing team, which had won multiple junior championship titles since its foundation in 1988. With substantial backing from long-time ally Ford, Stewart made its F1 debut in 1997 and finished ninth in the World Championship for Constructors. Here, the team principal is pictured on the grid at Monza, where Rubens Barrichello placed 13th and Jan Magnussen retired

The ‘Staircase of Talent’, with its blazers and flannels, was not to everybody’s taste. Jan Magnussen, for instance, failed to flourish on his arrival in Formula 1. The fact Stewart had stated that the Dane could be the next Senna hadn’t helped, though in fairness he wasn’t alone in thinking that. But the likes of David Coulthard, Dario Franchitti (prior to an F3 nightmare as team-mate to Magnussen) and Gil de Ferran flourished at Paul Stewart Racing, the dominant force in national single-seater racing of the 1990s, with more than 130 victories and 10 championship titles. Juan Pablo Montoya, a less obvious ‘product’ admittedly, Helio Castroneves and Allan McNish also passed through its doors. Alumni that would combine to score 20 grand prix wins – including three at Monaco – plus 10 Indy 500s and three Le Mans victories. Ralph Firman Jr, the late Justin Wilson and Luciano Burti made it as far as F1, too. It wasn’t just about drivers: this team was geared to promote promising talent across motor sport.

Its graduation to F1 as Stewart Grand Prix in 1997 was a giant leap nevertheless.

Much had changed since Ken Tyrrell spent £22,000 of his own money and wheeled out the resultant F1 car from within a large shed comprised of two ex-Army barracks screwed together. Stewart was reckoning on $35 million of sponsorship money and a new factory – a fourth relocation in 10 years such were the pace and size of the team’s expansion. Instant competitiveness, he knew, would likely be beyond it even so. The catalyst to this was the conversation that Stewart had dreaded: son Paul asking for help to follow in his wheel tracks. Now he knew the sickening unease ‘Mother Stewart’ had felt.