Joakim Bonnier

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Jo Bonnier
BonnierJo196608.jpg
Born (1930-01-31)31 January 1930
Died 11 June 1972(1972-06-11) (aged 42)
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality Sweden Swedish
Active years 1956 - 1971
Teams Maserati, Scuderia Centro Sud, Joakim Bonnier Racing Team, BRM, Porsche, Rob Walker Racing Team, Lotus, Brabham, Anglo-Suisse Racing/Ecurie Bonnier and Honda
Races 108 (104 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 1
Podiums 1
Career points 39
Pole positions 1
Fastest laps 0
First race 1956 Italian Grand Prix
First win 1959 Dutch Grand Prix
Last win 1959 Dutch Grand Prix
Last race 1971 United States Grand Prix
Bonnier at 1962 German Grand Prix driving a Porsche 804.

Joakim "Jo" Bonnier (31 January 1930 – 11 June 1972) was a Swedish sportscar racing and Formula One driver who raced for various teams.

Early life[edit]

Bonnier in a Chaparral, during practice at the Nürburgring in 1966

Jo Bonnier was born in Djurgården, Stockholm, to the wealthy Bonnier family. He spoke six languages. His parents hoped that he would become a doctor. His father, Gert, was a professor of genetics at the University of Stockholm. Many members of his large family were in the publishing business, and it was his aspiration to join them for a while. He attended Oxford University for a year, studying languages. He then went to Paris, France planning to learn about publishing.

First competition[edit]

Bonnier began competitive racing in Sweden at 17, on an old Harley-Davidson motorcycle. He returned home to Sweden in 1951 after his Paris trip. He took part in several rallies as the proud owner of a Simca.[1]

Formula One[edit]

Bonnier entered Formula One in 1956 with a Maserati. Bonnier's racing career almost ended in September 1958 at a race at Imola, near Modena. He debuted a 1,500 Maserati and moved up through the field following a bad start. Bonnier passed Luigi Musso and was gaining on leader Eugenio Castellotti at around two seconds per lap. Bonnier lost control when another car pulled directly into him while negotiating a fast corner. His Maserati struck a large rock at the edge of the road and catapulted. The other driver went underneath him as he turned over and over in the air. While he was upside down the crash helmet of his competitor made contact with his. Bonnier's Maserati landed on its side before skidding 75 feet and heading into a ditch where it came to a stop against a pole. Bonnier was thrown out of the car. He suffered a concussion, several cracked ribs, and a broken vertebra. Nothing remained of his car aside from a pile of smoking junk.

His greatest achievement in F1 was taking victory for BRM in the 1959 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, when the notoriously unreliable car worked well for once (Dan Gurney and Hans Herrmann had bad crashes after brake failures). He also won the 1960 German Grand Prix with a Porsche 718, a race held for Formula Two in preparation for the rule change of 1961. Bonnier was one of the driving forces behind the Grand Prix Drivers' Association.

Bonnier in 1966.

Despite his win for BRM, Bonnier did not drive for many works teams throughout his career, with only one-offs as a replacement driver for Lotus, Brabham and Honda. After his debut in a works Maserati, he then drove for his own Joakim Bonnier Racing Team and for Mimmo Dei's Scuderia Centro Sud in the late 50s, before finding a spot in the BRM and Porsche teams.

After Porsche quit Grand Prix racing at the end of the 1962 season, Bonnier switched to Rob Walker Racing Team, the only privateer that had scored wins in World Championship events, where he drove Coopers and Brabhams, scoring few points.

In 1966 he reformed his own team as Anglo-Suisse Racing Team (later to be renamed Ecurie Bonnier), but his interest in F1 gradually diminished. His last full season was 1968, in which he traded his old Cooper T86 for an old McLaren. He raced occasionally in F1 until 1971.

In 1966, along with American racing drivers Phil Hill, Richie Ginther and Carroll Shelby, he was the racing advisor on the 1966 motor racing epic Grand Prix starring James Garner. All of the aforementioned people (including Garner, who did all his own driving) were employed as drivers for the racing scenes. While filming the 1966 Belgian Grand Prix at the notorious and extremely fast Spa-Francorchamps circuit, Bonnier, along with more than half the field including Jackie Stewart, Bob Bondurant, Graham Hill and Denny Hulme, crashed out on the 1st lap of the race. According to Phil Hill, Bonnier went through an upstairs window at a house next to the track and could not take part in the later filming on the circuit.

Sports car racer[edit]

1965

Alongside F1, Bonnier also took part in many sports car races. He won the 1960 Targa Florio, co-driving a works Porsche 718 with Hans Herrmann, and in 1962 took a Ferrari 250 TRI entered by Count Giovanni Volpi to top honors in the 12 Hours of Sebring, sharing the car with Lucien Bianchi. In 1963 he was once again winner at the Targa Florio, with Carlo Mario Abate in another works Porsche 718.

1964 was his best year in sports car racing, where he co-drove a Ferrari P entered by Maranello Concessionaires with Graham Hill, taking a 330P to second place in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and to a win at Montlhéry, while a 12 hour race in Reims also gave him a first place in a 250LM.

He then won the 1000km Nürburgring in a Chaparral in 1966 (with Phil Hill), his last win in a major sports car event, but still managed to snatch victories in the minor 1000 km of Barcelona at Montjuïc in 1971 (with Ronnie Peterson), and the 4 Hours of Le Mans in 1972 (with Hughes de Fierlant).

1970 Lola T210

Bonnier purchased a McLaren M6B to campaign in the 1968 Can-Am series. In the first outing at the Karlskoga Sweden GP, Bonnier had the pole but an off course excursion on the first lap caused him to finish second to David Piper in a Ferrari 330P3/4. He then ran his McLaren in five of the six Can-Am races with his best finish an eighth at Las Vegas.[2] He was plagued with mechanical problems most of the season. However, he finished 3rd in the M6B at the Mt Fuji 200-mile race.[3]

In 1970 he drove a Lola T210 to victory in the European 2-Litre Sports Car Championship, securing the drivers title at the end of the season with 48 points.[4]

Team management, safety campaigning and death[edit]

By the early seventies, he had taken to managing his team, entering several cars in World Sportscar Championship events, and taking a backseat to driving. He had also taken a lead in the fight for track safety, which had started around that time. Nevertheless he was involved in a hideous accident on the straight between Mulsanne Corner and Indianapolis at Le Mans in 1972 when his open-top Lola-Cosworth T280 collided with a Ferrari Daytona driven by a Swiss amateur driver Florian Vetsch. His car was catapulted over the Armco barriers and into the trees right next to the track. The 42-year old Swedish Bonnier was killed instantly. Fellow racer Vic Elford saw the Ferrari burning furiously, and pulled his Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 over to the right side of the track and ran across the track to the Ferrari, opening the door, attempting to get Vetsch out. But Vetsch had already gotten out of the car and was on the side of the track where Elford had parked his Alfa. Elford saw Vetsch and then saw the wreckage of Bonnier's yellow Lola in the woods next to the track. According to Elford, the last he saw of Bonnier's Lola was that it was "spinning into the trees like a helicopter". Elford later handed off his Alfa to Helmut Marko, but the gearbox froze solid and they dropped out of the race. Elford later said "it was the first time in my racing career I'm glad my car broke."

Formula One results[edit]

Complete World Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 WDC Points
1956 Officine Alfieri Maserati Maserati 250F Maserati Straight-6 ARG
MON
500
BEL
FRA
GBR
GER
ITA
Ret
NC 0
1957 Scuderia Centro Sud Maserati 250F Maserati Straight-6 ARG
7
PES
Ret
ITA
Ret
NC 0
Joakim Bonnier Racing Team MON
DNA
500
FRA
GBR
Ret
GER
1958 Scuderia Centro Sud Maserati 250F Maserati Straight-6 ARG
DNA
GER
Ret
20th 3
Joakim Bonnier Racing Team MON
Ret
NED
10
500
BEL
9
GBR
Ret
POR
Ret
Giorgio Scarlatti FRA
8
Owen Racing Organisation BRM P25 BRM Straight-4 ITA
Ret
MOR
4
1959 Owen Racing Organisation BRM P25 BRM Straight-4 MON
Ret
500
NED
1
FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
GER
5
POR
Ret
ITA
8
USA
8th 10
1960 Owen Racing Organisation BRM P25 BRM Straight-4 ARG
7
18th 4
BRM P48 MON
5
500
NED
Ret
BEL
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
POR
Ret
ITA
USA
5
1961 Porsche System Engineering Porsche 787 Porsche Flat-4 MON
Ret
NED
11
15th 3
Porsche 718 BEL
7
FRA
7
GBR
5
GER
Ret
ITA
Ret
USA
6
1962 Porsche System Engineering Porsche 804 Porsche Flat-4 NED
7
FRA
10
GBR
Ret
GER
7
ITA
6
USA
13
RSA
15th 3
Porsche 718 MON
5
BEL
WD
1963 Rob Walker Racing Team Cooper T60 Climax V8 MON
7
BEL
5
NED
11
FRA
NC
11th 6
Cooper T66 GBR
Ret
GER
6
ITA
7
USA
8
MEX
5
RSA
6
1964 Rob Walker Racing Team Cooper T66 Climax V8 MON
5
15th 3
Brabham BT11 BRM V8 NED
9
BEL
Ret
FRA
GBR
Ret
GER
Ret
Brabham BT7 Climax V8 AUT
6
ITA
12
USA
Ret
MEX
Ret
1965 Rob Walker Racing Team Brabham BT7 Climax V8 RSA
Ret
MON
7
BEL
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
7
NED
Ret
GER
7
ITA
7
USA
8
MEX
Ret
NC 0
1966 Anglo-Suisse Racing Cooper T81 Maserati V12 MON
NC
BEL
Ret
NED
7
GER
Ret
ITA
Ret
USA
NC
MEX
6
17th 1
Brabham BT22 Climax Straight-4 FRA
NC
Brabham BT7 Climax V8 GBR
Ret
1967 Joakim Bonnier Racing Team Cooper T81 Maserati V12 RSA
Ret
MON
NED
BEL
Ret
FRA
GBR
Ret
GER
6*
CAN
8
ITA
Ret
USA
6
MEX
10
15th 3
1968 Joakim Bonnier Racing Team Cooper T81 Maserati V12 RSA
Ret
ESP
22nd 3
McLaren M5A BRM V12 MON
DNQ
BEL
Ret
NED
8
FRA
GBR
Ret
GER
DNA
ITA
6
CAN
Ret
USA
NC
Honda RA301 Honda V12 MEX
5
1969 Ecurie Bonnier Lotus 63 Cosworth V8 RSA
ESP
MON
NED
FRA
GBR
Ret
NC 0
Lotus 49B GER
Ret
ITA
CAN
USA
MEX
1970 Ecurie Bonnier McLaren M7C Cosworth V8 RSA
ESP
MON
BEL
NED
FRA
GBR
GER
AUT
ITA
DNQ
CAN
USA
Ret
MEX
NC 0
1971 Ecurie Bonnier McLaren M7C Cosworth V8 RSA
Ret
ESP
MON
NED
FRA
GBR
GER
DNQ
AUT
DNS
ITA
10
CAN
USA
16
NC 0
  • Bonnier was 6th at 1967 German Grand Prix but he was given points for the 5th place because F2-drivers who competed in the same race were ineligible to score points.

Non-Championship results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
1957 Joakim Bonnier Racing Team Maserati 250F Maserati Straight-6 SYR
PAU
GLV
NAP RMS
Ret
CAE
4
INT
4
MOD
MOR
1958 Joakim Bonnier Racing Team Maserati 250F Maserati Straight-6 GLV
SYR
2
AIN
INT
Ret
CAE
2
1959 Owen Racing Organisation BRM P25 BRM Straight-4 GLV
4
AIN
Ret
INT OUL
DNA
SIL
1960 Owen Racing Organisation BRM P25 BRM Straight-4 GLV
6
INT
NC
SIL LOM
3
OUL
5
1961 Scuderia Colonia Lotus 18 Climax Str.-4 LOM GLV PAU
2
VIE
WD
Porsche System Engineering Porsche 718 Porsche Flat-4 BRX
Ret
AIN SYR
3
NAP LON SOL
2
KAN
2
DAN MOD
2
FLG
3
OUL
WD
LEW VAL RAN
3
NAT
3
RSA
3
UDT-Laystall Racing Lotus 18/21 Climax Str.-4 SIL
11
1962 Porsche System Engineering Porsche 718 Porsche Flat-4 CAP
3
Porsche 804 SOL
2
KAN
3
MED DAN MEX
DNA
RAN NAT
Scuderia SSS Republica di Venezia Porsche 718 BRX
2
LOM
3
LAV GLV PAU
Ret
AIN INT
12
NAP MAL
6
CLP RMS
8
Rob Walker Racing Team Lotus 24 Climax V8 OUL
Ret
1963 Rob Walker Racing Team Cooper T60 Climax V8 LOM GLV PAU
Ret
IMO
Ret
INT
5
ROM SOL
9
MED
4
AUT
Ret
Lotus 24 SYR
5
AIN
Cooper T66 KAN
5
OUL
Ret
RAN
1964 Rob Walker Racing Team Cooper T66 Climax V8 DMT
2
NWT
Ret
SYR
4
AIN
4
INT
16
Brabham BT11 BRM V8 SOL
5
MED RAN
1965 Rob Walker Racing Team Brabham BT7 Climax V8 ROC
3
SYR
4
SMT
5
INT
5
MED
Ret
Lotus 25 RAN
Ret
1966 Rob Walker Racing Team Lotus 25 Climax V8 RSA
Ret
Brabham BT11 BRM V8 SYR
5
Anglo-Suisse Racing Cooper T81 Maserati V8 INT
3
OUL
1967 Joakim Bonnier Racing Team Cooper T81 Maserati V8 ROC SPR INT
Ret
SYR
5
OUL ESP
1968 Joakim Bonnier Racing Team McLaren M5A BRM V8 ROC
Ret
INT
Ret
OUL
Ret
1969 Ecurie Bonnier Lotus 49B Cosworth V8 ROC
INT
MAD OUL
DNS
1971 Ecurie Bonnier Lola T190 Chevrolet V8 ARG
NC
ROC QUE SPR INT
RIN
OUL VIC

References[edit]