Those who regularly watch Pointless on BBC, or the type of people who look at car covers reviews usually utter one of two names when asked to name a Formula One driver: Jochen Rindt, or Juan Pablo Montoya. Well, while the latter’s accomplishments are not appreciated as much as they should, some would argue that this is even more so the case for Rindt, who drove between the 60s an the 70s, and who is the only F1 world champion to receive the award posthumously.
Jochen Rindt was orphaned when he was just an infant, due to the bombing raids of the Allied forces in 1943, which happened when he was just one-year old. Following this event, he was raised in Austria by his grandparents.
It was early on in his life that he first showed a passion for races and speed. In fact, he managed to break his limbs during ski races while still in school twice. Later on, when he took up motorized bikes and mopeds, he would either crash or win.
The Beginning of His Love of Cars
There are people who say that when Rindt was old enough to drive, he used to fling his cars on the streets, which led to him having several issues with the law. In fact, he started driving before he was old enough to have a license, and got caught one day before he was eligible to get it. Not only this, but his type of personality led to him being expelled from a few private schools. There were elements of his personality, including his arrogance, that intimidated some, while also setting him apart from the rest.
It seems to be a rule that all top sportsmen need to have a hero, and Rindt was no exception. His was Wolfgang con Trips, a German count. Despite the fact that he died in 1961 at Monza during a crash, Rindt’s excitement over motor racing did not weaken. He used to say that since no one knows how long they have to live, and everyone should do as much and as fast as they possibly can.
Rindt crashed with what can only be called a distressing regularity, and was admitted to the hospital plenty of times. However, he was starting to be seen as a fast driver. In fact, it was only his second F2 race that he beat Graham Hill, who was quite well known by that time.
In 1965, he signed a 3-year deal with the Cooper team, effectively moving to Formula One. He then went on to win the race that same year, driving a Ferrari 250LM. He stayed with Cooper an additional 2 years, during which he pushed the cars he drove as much as he could, to get the most performance possible out of them.
Team Lotus opened their arms for him in 1969, as they were trying to find a replacement for Clark, who was a two times world champion, but had passed away one year earlier. Sadly, the Lotus was an unreliable car, and Rindt, as well as Hill crashed their cars, with Rindt being left with a concussion and a broken jaw.
His defining moment happened in 1970 in Monaco, where he had spent most of the race in fifth place, but thanks to a few retirements, he got to second place. He was 15 seconds behind Jack Brabham, but managed to put pressure on him so that Brabham ended up crashing during the final lap. Rindt accepted the trophy for one of the most memorable races in the entire history of Monaco. He then went on to win four consecutive races: the Dutch, the French, British and German.
Rindt did not even get to reach 40, as two races after the German one, his Lotus ploughed into the guard raid. He was not wearing a crotch strap, which lead to his seatbelt buckle creating throat injuries that proved to be fatal.
Rindt’s early love for racing, and his amazing performances later on proved that he was a natural talent when it came to racing. As such, it’s a sad thing that he is now so little known.