- June 11, 1939
- United Kingdom
- Not Active
- BRM,Owen Racing Organisation,Matra,Tyrrell
Sir Jackie Stewart is a British former racing driver, a three-time winner of the Formula One World Championship (1969, 1971 and 1973) and twice a runner-up. He competed for nine seasons in Formula One and scored 27 victories in 99 races. He also was the owner of a Formula One team, but without any notable success.
Jackie's father and older brother were racers
Jackie Stewart (full name John Young Stewart) was born on June 11th, 1939, in Scotland, near Glasgow. His family owned the Austin and Jaguar dealership in Milton, 15 km west of Glasgow. His father and his older brother were active amateur racers and it was obvious that young Jackie would also develop a strong passion and liking for cars and racing.
Unfortunately, due to dyslexia, he had trouble learning in school. He dropped out at the age of 13, and started working in his father’s garage. Through his business connections, Jackie started racing on an amateur level and very soon became successful. After the first attempts during 1961 when he drove a Marcos and Aston Martin DB4GT that belonged to their business partner Barry Filer, Jackie decided to expand his racing activities and to become a professional racer. He raced with different cars and scored numerous victories at various British circuits.
Stewart won British F3 championship in debuting season
The word quickly spread out and Stewart was offered a place in Tyrell Formula Three team. During the first season, he drove a Cooper T72-BMC and he was so dominant that he won seven of eight races. Immediately, he was offered a place in Cooper's Formula One team, but Stewart felt that he needed more experience. He raced with Lotus 32-Cosworth Formula 2 car in five events in France and Britain, scoring one victory and four podiums. He also competed with John Coombs' Jaguar E-Type at Brands Hatch GP and finished second. He attended Le Mans to practise with Ferrari 250 GTO alongside Innes Ireland and Tony Maggs, but Jackie didn't start in the race.
He tested Formula One Lotus 33-Climax and impressed Colin Chapman and Jim Clark. He competed with that car at South African Rand Grand Prix in December 1964 and finished 17th. He was satisfied with F1 car debut and it was finally time to enter Formula One championship. He signed for the BRM (Owen Racing Organisation).
Impressive first Formula One season
Jackie's maiden Formula One season was impressive. He finished sixth in the championship debut at South African Grand Prix, then won the non-championship BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone and on May 30th, he scored his first podium at Monaco Grand Prix. He finished third behind his teammate Graham Hill and Ferrari's Lorenzo Bandini.
Jackie achieved three more podiums later in the season, with second places at Belgian GP, French GP and Dutch GP. His first Formula 1 championship victory followed at Italian Grand Prix at Monza, after an incredible 40 lead changes with Graham Hill, Jim Clark and John Surtees. He retired at last two races (USA and Mexico) and finished third in the championship standings, behind Jim Clark and Graham Hill.
During 1965 Jackie also competed in few races with Tyrrell's F2 Cooper T75-BRM and had a Le Mans test of the Rover's revolutionary turbine car.
Victory at 1966 Monaco Grand Prix
In 1966, Jackie continued to race with BRM P261 and won the season-opener at Monaco, the race which had only four finishers. It was his only season's victory, later he reached the points at Dutch GP and German GP. He recorded five retirements, both with BRM P261 and the new BRM P83, to finish 7th in the final championship classification.
The accident that changed everything
The most important is his retirement at rain storm-affected Belgian Grand Prix on June 12th. He crashed and he was trapped in the car for 25 minutes, soaked with leaking fuel that could catch fire any moment. Graham Hill and Bob Bondurant, both of whom had gone off near Stewart, managed to rescue him with a spectator's toolkit.
After that incident, all cars got a main electrical switch, which is the standard today in case of such accidents. Also, Stewart noticed how the ambulance reaction time was slow, so from that day on, he had his own medical crew and ambulance on site which helped everybody. For many years after the accident in Belgium, Jackie was the main advocate of safety and security issues in Formula One.
1966 Tasman Series champion
Although Stewart's F1 season was bad, he was a champion of 1966 Tasman Series, in which F1 drivers competed with F1 cars at Australian and New Zealand's circuits. Stewart won four of eight races and took the title ahead Graham Hill and Jim Clark. While in Australia, he also won Rothmans 12-hour race at Surfers Paradise International Motor Circuit, driving a Ferrari 250Lm together with Andy Buchanan.
In 1966, Stewart also debuted at famous Indianapolis 500. He almost won, driving John Mecom's Lola T90-Ford, but retired while he was still leading, eight laps before the end. He also drove Mecom's Lola T70 in the Canadian-American (Can-Am) Challenge Cup.
In 1967, Stewart and BRM changed cars three times (P83, P261 and P115), but after nine retirements and just two podiums (Belgium and France), he finished 9th in the championship standings. He was again much more successful in the Tasman Series, finishing second behind Jim Clark.
Fantastic victory at Nordschleife
During 1967, Jackie was competing occasionally with Tyrrell's Matra MS5 in the Formula Two, so in 1968, he switched to Tyrrell's Formula one team. Cosworth-powered Matra MS10 was a victorious car and Stewart finished second in the championship. He scored three Grand Prix victories at Zandvoort, Nürburgring and Watkins Glen. He won the German Grand Prix by a margin of four minutes ahead Graham Hill, which was one of the greatest victories in the history of Formula One. Stewart entered the last race of the season (Mexican Grand Prix) with a chance to win the title, but he finished 7th. Graham Hill won the race and the world title.
Jackie won his first world title with Tyrrell's Matra MS80
In 1969, Jackie finally won his first world championship title. Cosworth-powered Matra MS80 was a perfect car and Stewart won six of eleven races. In some races, he completely dominated the rivals with big gaps, such as two laps at Montjuic or over a lap at Silverstone.
For 1970, Matra chose to use their own V12 engines, while Tyrrell and Stewart wanted to keep the Cosworths. Matra and Tyrrell split up and Tyrrell bought a March 701 chassis. Stewart won Race of Champions and Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama and scored three more podiums with March 701-Cosworth. The new Tyrrell 001-Cosworth was ready for last three races, but Stewart retired all three and finished fifth in the championship.
During 1970, Stewart went to America to race with revolutionary Chaparral 2J in the Can-Am. He was fast in the qualifying, but the unreliable car prevented him from finishing a single race. He had one more failed project in 1970. Stewart intended to race alongside the famous actor Steve McQueen at 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Porsche 917K was ready, but McQueen wasn't, due to insurance issues.
Stewart and Cevert were an unbeatable pair
Next year, Tyrrell's cars were on the top again, with six victories of Jackie Stewart and one of Francois Cevert. The team took the 1971 Formula One constructors' title while Stewart dominantly took his second title with a big gap ahead Ronnie Peterson. Tyrrell 003-Cosworth was a masterpiece car and Stewart won six races with that car - at Montjuic, Monaco, Circuit Paul Ricard, Silverstone, Nürburgring and Mosport Park.
In 1971, Stewart competed full Can-Am season with Carl Haas Racing's Lola T260. The Chevrolet-powered car driven by Jackie was the only one capable of challenging McLarens with Peter Revson and Denny Hulme. Stewart won two races and finished third in the classification.
Second in the world behind Fittipaldi
Stewart’s busy schedule and medical problems cost him his 1972 Formula One title, but during that year, his performance was good and he scored some wins. He won the Argentine GP, French GP, United States GP and Canadian Grands Prix. Emerson Fittipaldi was the world champion, Stewart finished second.
He also competed in the European Touring Car Championship, driving Ford Capri RS2600 with F1 teammate François Cevert and other F1 pilots (Jochen Mass, Chris Amon, Niki Lauda, James Hunt etc). Stewart also shared a Capri with Cevert in the 1972 6 hours of Paul Ricard, finishing second.
Cevert's death forced him to an immediate retirement
However, the turning point of his career came in 1973. Entering the season that year, Stewart decided to retire but he started the season racing with full force and won six races. His last and 27th F1 career's victory came at the Nürburgring with a convincing 1–2 for Tyrrell. The American Grand Prix in Watkins Glen proved to be the end of his professional career.
Unfortunately his teammate and protege, Francois Cevert, was killed in an accident during the practice at Watkins Glen. Cevert and Stewart were very close friends and Cevert's death forced Stewart to an immediate retirement. He missed the US Grand Prix, which would be his 100th F1 championship race, but he already had enough points to take his third world title. He retired at the peak of his career, with record-setting 27 victories in 99 Grand Prix races. His record was broken in 1987 by Alain Prost.
Safety was always a priority
After his retirement, Stewart remained active in the motorsport world in many ways. He was always one of the top advocates of the need for an increased safety in motorsport, urging for the protection of the drivers and spectators in every motorsport series. He was a TV commentator and motorsport celebrity but in 1996 announced that from 1997 onward, he and his son Paul would be entering Formula One as team owners of Stewart Grand Prix team. Stewart Grand Prix remained active until 2000 when it was bought by Jaguar.
Stewart Grand Prix team scored only one win
The only success in 1997 was the second place of Rubens Barrichello at the Monaco Grand Prix. Barrichello finished 13th in the standings, Jan Magnussen scored no points and the team finished 9th of 11 active teams. In 1998 Barrichello, Magnussen and Jos Verstappen brought the team to 8th place. Stewart Racing was using Ford's engines and in 1999, after they got the newest engine, the team became competitive and finished 4th in the championship. Barrichello scored three podiums and Johnny Herbert won the European Grand Prix at Nürburgring, which remained their only victory.
One of the most popular F1 drivers
Jackie Stewart remains one of the most loved and popular Formula One drivers, apart from being recognized as a great character and a philanthropist. He is still very active in the motorsport community and is often seen at events and races.
And to add to his list of achievements, he was one of the characters featured in the video for Robie Williams’s song ‘Love Supreme’ which featured actual footage from the glory days of Formula One and Stewart’s races.