Sunday, September 26

Jochen Rindt, the first F-1 champion posthumously

  • The 28-year-old Lotus driver crashed in Monza at nearly 200 kilometers per hour on September 6, 1970
  • Jacky Ickx could not win the three races that were left to finish the World Cup, so he achieved the championship, now deceased
  • “If you want to win titles, sign for Lotus, but if you want to stay alive, stay in Brabham,” Bernie Ecclestone had told him.

Jochen rindt came into the world in the middle of a hornet’s nest. He was born in April 1942 in Mainz in the midst of the madness that was World War II. His mother was Austrian and his father, Karl Rindt, a German lawyer in good standing. But nothing was synonymous with security in those days. He was only fifteen months old when the allies in 1943 began the devastating bombing of Hamburg, which was given the biblical name ‘Operation Gomorrah’. It is estimated that more than 42,000 civilians died during those days under intense fire, including the married couple Rindt.

The little boy never knew why he was saved if he was with his parents at the time of the fatal outcome. Days later his maternal grandparents took him to Graz, Austria, the place where he would grow up but whose nationality he would never adopt. Rindt He developed his career with an Austrian license although he always kept a German passport. It was a matter that bothered him and that he tried to avoid when it came to referring to him. On one occasion he said that his origins were a “terrible mixture” and to the question of whether he felt more Austrian than German he answered that “European”.

The young man was a sports freak to help him raise the adrenalin. He liked skiing but being very young he fractured the upper part of his femur during an accident on a descent and had to undergo a handful of surgeries that left one leg significantly shorter than the other and generated a small limp that would accompany him for the rest of his life. Convinced that he was not going to make ski history, he focused on what was his great passion: racing cars.

The new passion

He was a teenager when he first attended a race at the Nurburgring. There, in the ‘green hell’, he saw win Sterling moss and it was clear to what he wanted to dedicate his life. At the age of 18 he competed in the first race of his life in Vienna driving his grandmother’s Simca Abarth 2000 that he would end up destroying. From that moment on he has been evolving unstoppably in the motor world. In 1963, at the age of 20, he went to Junior Formula thanks to the help of Bardi barry, the owner of a travel agency and one of the great Austrian pilots of that time. In his second race in the category he already achieved victory. It did not take him long to reach Formula 2, a category in which he would obtain a doctorate, permanently adding triumphs. Obviously the top flight was a matter of time.

In 1964 he began his time in Formula One when the Brabham team hired him to contest a single event, the Austrian Grand Prix. He did a great qualifying but in the race he had to abandon due to mechanical problems. copper He hired him and he spent three years with that team in which he added three podiums and great performances that made him return to Brabham, who at that time was directing Bernie ecclestone (currently responsible for Formula One) and who had taken the two previous world championships. In those years Rindt it had proven its versatility. He was still racing and winning in Formula 2 (a category he would never abandon) and had even taken the 24 Hours of Le Mans at the wheel of a Ferrari.

Arrival at Lotus

At Brabham things did not go too well for him. He made a couple of podiums, but the mechanical problems that prevented him from fighting for higher heights happened too often. But his hands caught the attention of Lotus who was looking for a replacement to Jim Clark, world champion who had lost his life in an accident a few months earlier. Rindt accepted the proposal and at that moment ignored the prophetic phrase of Ecclestone who told him “if you want to win titles, sign up for Lotus, but if you want to stay alive stay in Brabham.”

His new team, thanks to the ingenuity of Colin Champman, had a reputation for evolving more than anyone at the end of the 60s at the cost of making cars lighter and above all more unstable. In the 1969 season he made his debut with his new team. It was bad at the beginning, but in the last part of the year the results began to arrive and especially his first victory in the Formula One World Championship in the United States Grand Prix. He finished the season in fourth position and with the feeling that 1970 would be the year of his definitive consecration.

The terrible accident

He started the season with two retirements, but from then on his Lotus was intractable for the rest. He achieved five almost consecutive victories (Monaco, the Netherlands, France, Great Britain and Germany) and the title seemed in his hand because Jacky Ickx and RegazzoniHis great threats were too far away. They passed Austria, test in which Ickx cut the difference somewhat by taking advantage of the abandonment of Rindt, and arrived in Monza to contest the Italian Grand Prix on September 6.

And there the unthinkable happened. On qualifying day, after 2:15 p.m., the German rider took to the track in search of a new pole. Right on the straight that leads to the ‘parabolica’ (the long and emblematic curve of the Italian track with which you reach the goal) the Lotus made a couple of strange movements due to a problem in the axis. He veered slightly to the right before slamming into the left guardrail. The car hit almost 200 kilometers per hour and was smashed in a cloud of dust. Rindt he was taken to the circuit infirmary and after a series of massages the doctor Piero Carassai decided to send him urgently to Milan.

I was only 28

The injuries to the legs and chest were terrible. Su learned from the investigation of the collision that Rindt He was wearing four of the five security anchor points and that the one at the crotch was loose because he wanted it that way. In any case, the severity of the accident means that this detail surely would not have changed the fatal outcome. An hour later the doctors certified the death of Karl Jochen Rindt. He was 28 years old and left a widow (the Finnish model Nina lincoln whom he had married in 1967) and a daughter, Natasha, barely two years old.

But the history of that World Cup did not end with the tragic accident at Monza and the sadness that accompanied those days to Bernie ecclestone who regretted that that dark prediction that he had made a few years earlier, when he communicated his desire to drive a Lotus, had come true. The ‘circus’ went ahead as usual and Rindt he was still the leader with a fairly comfortable lead. There were three races left and Jacky Ickx he could be champion if he was able to win in all of them. He did it in Mexico and also in Canada, but in the United States it could only be fourth and on October 4, 1970 Jochen rindt He became the first and only Formula One world champion posthumously.

It may interest you

A scare in Barcelona

He left the world not knowing that he had finally realized the dream he had as a teenager and decided that he would be a racing driver. On November 17 in an exciting ceremony Jackie Stewart presented the world champion trophy to Girl, his widow. To her, Jochen rindt He had promised him that he would leave Formula One if he achieved the title of world champion that year. He was shocked by many of the accidents that had occurred that season and that had cost a good friend his life and even a serious scare to him in Barcelona and that caused him to write a letter to Champion, his engineer, in which he advised him to increase the stability of the cars convinced that they would remain just as competitive. He did not imagine to what extent that promise to Girl it was going to come true.

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