Jo Siffert

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Jo Siffert
Siffert, Joseph 1968.jpg
Born (1936-07-07)7 July 1936
Died 24 October 1971(1971-10-24) (aged 35)
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality Switzerland Swiss
Active years 19621971
Teams Privateer Lotus and Brabham
Rob Walker Racing Team
March
BRM
Races 100 (96 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 2
Podiums 6
Career points 68
Pole positions 2
Fastest laps 4
First race 1962 Monaco Grand Prix
First win 1968 British Grand Prix
Last win 1971 Austrian Grand Prix
Last race 1971 United States Grand Prix

Joseph Siffert (July 7, 1936 – October 24, 1971) was a Swiss racing driver.

Affectionately known as "Seppi" to his family and close friends, Siffert was born in Fribourg, Switzerland, the son of a dairy owner. He initially made his name in racing on two wheels, powering his way to the Swiss 350 cc motorcycle championship in 1959, before switching to four wheels with a Formula Junior Stanguellini. Siffert graduated to Formula One as a privateer in 1962, with a four-cylinder Lotus-Climax. He later moved to Swiss team Scuderia Filipinetti, and in 1964 joined Rob Walker's private British Rob Walker Racing Team. Early successes included victories in the non-Championship 1964 and 1965 Mediterranean Grands Prix, both times beating Jim Clark by a very narrow margin. Siffert was married twice and to his second wife Simone during the height of his career in the late 1960s and at the time of his death in 1971. They had two children together, Véronique and Philippe.

Life and career[edit]

Formula One[edit]

Siffert at the wheel of a Porsche 906 in practice for the 1966 1000 km Nürburgring race

In 1968, Siffert drove into the F1 history books by winning the 1968 British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch in Rob Walker Racing Team's Lotus 49B, beating Chris Amon's Ferrari into second place after a race-long battle. This is regarded as the last GP victory by a genuine privateer.[1]

Sports cars[edit]

While Siffert's status in F1 grew slowly, his fame came as a leading driver for the factory Porsche effort in its quest for the World Sportscar Championship. In 1968, Siffert and Hans Herrmann won the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring in a Porsche 907, marking the first major outright wins for the company, apart from a few earlier victories on twisty tracks.

Siffert in the Porsche 908.03 at the 1970 1000km Nürburgring
Siffert at the wheel of a Porsche 908

Later on, Siffert's driving displays in the Porsche 917 were legendary, earning him several major wins in Europe. In addition, Siffert was chosen by Porsche to help launch its CanAm development program, driving a Porsche 917PA spyder in 1969 and finishing fourth in the championship despite few entries.

In 1970 he teamed up with Brian Redman to drive a Porsche 908/3 to victory at the Targa Florio. That same year, Porsche bankrolled Siffert's seat in a works March Engineering F1 since the German company did not wish to lose one of their prize drivers to rival Ferrari. His association with March in F1 was disastrous, so he was delighted to join rival Porsche racer Pedro Rodriguez at BRM the following season.

Death[edit]

Siffert won the 1971 Austrian Grand Prix, and was later killed in the non-championship World Championship Victory Race at Brands Hatch, Kent, England, the scene of his first victory in 1968. The suspension of his BRM had been damaged in a lap one incident with Ronnie Peterson, and broke later. This was not admitted by BRM until much later when it was accidentally divulged by a BRM ex-mechanic.[2] The BRM crashed and immediately caught fire. Siffert could not free himself from the burning car.

This accident led to a rapid overhaul of safety, both in-car and on circuit. In the subsequent Royal Automobile Club (the UK organising and regulatory representative of the FIA at the time) investigation, it was discovered that the crash itself caused non-fatal injuries but Siffert had rather been killed by smoke inhalation. None of the trackside fire extinguishers worked, and it was found to be impossible to reach the car and extract Siffert because of the intense fire. On-board fire extinguishers (using BCF—bromochlorodifluoromethane, an aircraft product) became mandatory and also piped air for the drivers, direct into their helmets. Thus, perhaps one of the legacies of Seppi was the focus on vehicle and driver safety in Formula One and lesser formulae and far better fire retardant driving overalls.

His funeral in Switzerland was attended by 50,000 people and a Gulf-Porsche 917 of Team John Wyer led the hearse and procession through the streets of Fribourg. A very comprehensive story about Siffert's life and death was published in 2005 by Roger Benoit in the Swiss newspaper Der Blick. Benoit was a period Formula 1 sports reporter and knew Siffert well. He was also present at Siffert's tragic last Brands Hatch race in 1971. The night before the race, Benoit took pictures of Siffert, his wife Simone and his mother Maria as well as a friend Jean Tinguely at an evening victory celebration Link. He then also took the very last picture of Siffert alive as he sat waiting in his BRM in the pole position on the starting line five minutes before the start of the fateful race.

Legacy[edit]

In 2005, a very informative 90-minute documentary about his life was made by director Men Lareida: Jo Siffert - live fast, die young[1] "DVD"[2].

In the final round of the 2007-08 A1GP season, at Brands Hatch, the A1 Team Switzerland car carried the message:

Jo 'Seppi' Siffert

40th Anniversary

Brands Hatch

This commemorated his 1968 British Grand Prix victory at Brands Hatch.

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 Pts
1962 Ecurie Nationale Suisse Lotus 21 Climax straight-4 NED
MON
DNQ
NC 0
Ecurie Filipinetti BEL
10
GER
12
Lotus 24 BRM V8 FRA
Ret
GBR ITA
DNQ
USA
RSA
1963 Siffert Racing Team Lotus 24 BRM V8 MON
Ret
BEL
Ret
NED
7
FRA
6
GBR
Ret
GER
9
ITA
Ret
USA
Ret
MEX
9
RSA
14th 1
1964 Siffert Racing Team Lotus 24 BRM V8 MON
8
10th 7
Brabham BT11 NED
13
BEL
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
11
GER
4
AUT
Ret
ITA
7
Rob Walker Racing Team USA
3
MEX
Ret
1965 Rob Walker Racing Team Brabham BT11 BRM V8 RSA
7
MON
6
BEL
8
FRA
6
GBR
9
NED
13
GER
Ret
ITA
Ret
USA
11
MEX
4
12th 5
1966 Rob Walker Racing Team Brabham BT11 BRM V8 MON
Ret
14th 3
Cooper T81 Maserati V12 BEL
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
NC
NED
Ret
GER
ITA
Ret
USA
4
MEX
Ret
1967 Rob Walker Racing Team / Jack Durlacher Cooper T81 Maserati V12 RSA
Ret
MON
Ret
NED
10
BEL
7
FRA
4
GBR
Ret
GER
Ret
CAN
DNS
ITA
Ret
USA
4
MEX
12
12th 6
1968 Rob Walker Racing Team / Jack Durlacher Cooper T81 Maserati V12 RSA
7
7th 12
Lotus 49 Cosworth V8 ESP
Ret
MON
Ret
BEL
7
NED
Ret
FRA
11
Lotus 49B GBR
1
GER
Ret
ITA
Ret
CAN
Ret
USA
5
MEX
6
1969 Rob Walker Racing Team / Jack Durlacher Lotus 49B Cosworth V8 RSA
4
ESP
Ret
MON
3
NED
2
FRA
9
GBR
8
GER
11†
ITA
8
CAN
Ret
USA
Ret
MEX
Ret
9th 15
1970 March Engineering March 701 Cosworth V8 RSA
10
ESP
DNQ
MON
8
BEL
7
NED
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
GER
8
AUT
9
ITA
Ret
CAN
Ret
USA
9
MEX
Ret
NC 0
1971 Yardley-BRM BRM P153 BRM V12 RSA
Ret
5th 19
BRM P160 ESP
Ret
MON
Ret
NED
6
FRA
4
GBR
9
GER
DSQ
AUT
1
ITA
9
CAN
9
USA
2

†Formula Two cars occupied fifth to tenth positions in the 1969 German Grand Prix, however drivers of these cars were not eligible for championship points. The points for fifth and sixth were awarded to the drivers of the eleventh and twelfth placed cars.

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
1962 Ecurie Nationale Suisse Cooper T60 Climax V8 CAP BRX
6
LOM LAV GLV PAU
7
AIN INT MAL CLP KAN DAN OUL MEX RAN NAT
Scuderia Filipinetti Lotus 25 Climax V8 NAP
DNA
RMS
9
SOL
Ret
MED
4
1963 Ecurie Filipinetti Lotus 25 Climax V8 LOM
DNS
GLV PAU
Ret
IMO
2
SYR
1
AIN INT ROM
DNP
SOL
Ret
KAN MED
5
AUT
Ret
OUL
11
RAN
1964 Siffert Racing Team Lotus Lotus 25 V8 DMT NWT SYR
DNS
AIN
WD
INT
11
SOL
7
MED
1
RAN
1965 Rob Walker Racing Team Brabham BT11 V8 ROC
6
SYR
Ret
SMT
Ret
INT MED
1
RAN
5
1966 Rob Walker Racing Team Brabham BT11 V8 RSA
2
SYR
Ret
INT
Ret
OUL
1967 Rob Walker Racing Team Cooper T81 Maserati V12 ROC
3
SPC INT
3
SYR
3
OUL ESP
Ret
1968 Rob Walker Racing Team Lotus 49B V8 ROC
DNS
INT
Ret
OUL
1969 Rob Walker Racing Team /
Jack Durlacher
Lotus 49B Cosworth V8 ROC
4
INT
11
MAD
OUL
1971 March Engineering March 701 Cosworth V8 ARG
6
Yardley-BRM BRM P160 BRM V12 ROC
QUE
6
SPR
Ret
INT
RIN
OUL
VIC
4

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Jochen Rindt
Formula One fatal accidents
October 24, 1971
Succeeded by
Roger Williamson