Forty years ago yesterday (September 5), Jochen Rindt was killed in a practice accident at Monza, while at the wheel of a Lotus Formula 1 car. When he was killed Rindt had won five of the 10 Grands Prix and was in the lead in the World Championship. Although it was mathematically possible for him to be beaten by Ferrari’s Jacky Ickx, his replacement Emerson Fittipaldi deprived the Belgian of the points he needed and Rindt became the sport’s first posthumous World Champion.
Born in Germany in 1942, Rindt grew up in Austria where his grandparents lived after his parents were killed in a bombing raid on Hamburg. He enjoyed much success in Formula 2 and made his Formula 1 debut in the Austrian Grand Prix of 1964, driving for Rob Walker. Between 1965 and 1967 he raced Coopers and then in 1968 moved to Brabham. In 1965 he won the Le Mans 24 Hours. It was not until 1969 that Rindt moved to Team Lotus and he finally had a car to translate his talent into results. He won his first F1 victory at Watkins Glen and ended the year fourth in the World Championship. His first win in 1970 came at Monaco, where he overtook Jack Brabham at the last corner. Using the Lotus 72, he then went on to win four more Grands Prix in The Netherlands, France, Britain and Germany.
My colleague David Tremayne has recently completed a biography of Rindt, which is published this week. I have not read it yet, but I know that it will be a sensational read and will feature much new research. For more details and to buy the book, click here.