Top Formula 1 drivers of the 1970s

  • Niki Lauda James Hunt

For many of us, the 1970s were the Golden years of Formula 1. The drivers were widely popular, many of them became true celebrities, and the cars were powerful, sometimes extremely hard to tame. And the safety issue… Wait. What?!

Back then, drivers were often compared to the gladiators, and all of them needed a lot of courage and a pinch of insanity to reach the top. And the excitement on, but also off the track, was at a very high level.

This is our list of six drivers that we feel emotional about, when we speak about Formula One in the 1970s.

Mario Andretti

He maybe wasn’t the greatest Formula 1 driver but definitely, is one the greatest ever racing drivers. The American of the Italian origin is one of only two drivers who have competed in Formula 1, IndyCar, NASCAR and World Sportscar Championship.

Mario Andretti Formula race 1970 lotus Ferrari winning McLaren season Brabham Rindt

Mario Andretti

Mario Andretti had two stints in Formula 1. The first one, from 1968 to 1972, wasn’t so good, but still scored one win driving for Ferrari in 1971. Andretti’s best years were with Lotus team, from 1976 to 1980. In 1977 he finished third in the championship but in 1978 he won the title. He won six races that year and took the title by a margin of 13 points ahead of Ronnie Peterson.

Andretti made 128 Grand Prix starts, scored 12 wins and had 19 podiums, scoring a total of 190 points.

Jody Scheckter

The only Formula 1 champion born in Africa. Jody had a relatively short F1 career of only nine years. The beginning was hard for the South African racer but in 1974, his first full season, as a driver of Tyrrell, he managed to win two races and finish third in the championship. In 1976, Jody Scheckter again was the third while in the following year, driving for Walter Wolf Racing, he was the championship runner-up, losing to Niki Lauda.

Jody Schecketr Grand Prix South Africa race 1970 lotus Ferrari McLaren season Brabham Rindt winning

Jody Scheckter from South Africa wins F1 World championship, Italian Grand Prix Monza 1979

Finally, in 1979, Scheckter won the F1 World Championship title driving for Ferrari before retiring from racing after 1980 campaign. During his career (1972-1980), Jody Scheckter entered 113 Grand Prix races, scored 10 wins, had 33 podium finishes and collected a total of 246 points.

James Hunt

Probably the biggest Formula 1 star of all times and could be easily compared to the famous rock stars of that time. He was a bit wild, mainly off the track than on it, and very popular among fans all over the world but also among many drivers. James Hunt started his career as a touring cars driver and debuted in Formula 1 in 1973 with Hesketh Racing.

James Hunt formula season brabham grand prix race winning ferrari

James Hunt drank and womanised too much, said his colleague Murray Walker

In 1976 Hunt joined McLaren and that year won his sole F1 crown, winning six races that year. His unusual driving style secured him a legendary status and he definitely could achieve more during a short career which has ended in 1979. Interestingly, James announced retirement in the middle of the season.

Hunt made 92 starts in Formula 1, scored 10 wins and 23 podiums, collecting total of 179 points.

Jackie Stewart

’The Flaying Scot’ is a three-time Formula 1 champion and one of the greatest drivers in the history of motorsport. Stewart started Formula 1 career in 1965 and won his first title in 1969 as a driver of Matra International. In 1970 Jackie moved to Tyrrell and spent four fruitful years with the British team. Jackie Stewart won his second title in 1971 and repeated that success in 1973.

Jackie Stewart Formula season brabham grand prix race Rindt lotus

Jackie Stewart, 1970 British Grand Prix

Except three titles, Stewart twice was the Formula 1 Championship vice-champion (1968 and 1972). Driving in 99 races, Stewart won 27, had other 16 podiums and earned 359 points. Those figures are verification of Jackie’s racing abilities but even without them, he is rightfully considered as one of the greatest persons in the history of motorsport.

Emerson Fittipaldi

The first of many champions and excellent drivers from Brazil. He wasn’t only the two-time Formula 1 champion but also won CART championship title and the famous Indianapolis 500 race twice. Fittipaldi’s Formula 1 career started in 1970 and, interestingly, he was more successful during the first half of his spell in F1.

Emerson Fittipaldi Formula race grand prix season

Emerson Fittipaldi, two-time Formula 1 World champion

Emerson Fittipaldi scored first race win in his rookie year while in 1972 he was already crowned as the Formula 1 champion, as a driver of Lotus, the team with which he reached the stars. The following year Fittipaldi finished as a runner-up losing to Jackie Stewart before clinching another title in 1974. He left Lotus after that and moved to McLaren with which again was second in the 1975 championship, this time losing to Niki Lauda.

Emerson Fittipaldi raced in 144 Grand Prix events, won 14 races and had a total of 35 podiums, scoring 281 points.

Niki Lauda

For many, the Austrian is probably the best ever Formula 1 driver but that is hard to confirm or deny. However, Niki Lauda is definitely a true legend of the series. He won three titles and two of them were won during the 1970s with Ferrari while the third was won with McLaren in 1984, three years after Lauda’s return to the sport.

Niki Lauda Formula Ferrari race grand prix season Rindt

Niki Lauda

Lauda debuted in Formula 1 with March team in 1971 but his best days were with Ferrari. In 1975, Lauda won his first title after he has won five races. The same number of wins he scored in the following year but finished as a vice-champion, losing to Hunt by only one point. That year Lauda missed two races after a horrible crash at the German Grand Prix. Surprisingly, he returned to the seat very quickly and narrowly missed the title.

The second title was won in 1977 after he has scored three race wins in his final year with Ferrari. The following two years Niki spent with Brabham before he has retired in 1979. He returned to racing in 1982 and proved he was still capable of winning.

During his career, Lauda had 171 starts, scored 25 wins and 54 podiums, collecting total of 420.5.

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