Stefan Bellof

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Stefan Bellof
Born (1957-11-20)20 November 1957
Gießen, West Germany
Died 1 September 1985(1985-09-01) (aged 27)
Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality  German
Active years 19841985
Teams Tyrrell
Races 22 (20 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podiums 0
Career points 4
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First race 1984 Brazilian Grand Prix
Last race 1985 Dutch Grand Prix

Stefan Bellof (20 November 1957 – 1 September 1985) was a German racing driver, best known for setting the fastest lap ever on the Nordschleife configuration at the Nürburgring in 1983, driving a Porsche 956. He was the winner of the Drivers' Championship in the 1984 World Sportscar Championship, driving for the factory Rothmans Porsche team. He also competed with the Tyrrell Formula One team during 1984 and 1985. He was killed in an accident during the 1985 1000 km of Spa World Sportscar Championship race.

Career[edit]

Karting[edit]

Born in Gießen, West Germany and following in his brother Georg's footsteps, Stefan Bellof made his karting début in 1973, competing in the Automobilclub von Deutschland's Federal Junior Cup, in which he ended up in fourth position. Several other top-five championship placings occurred during the next few years before Bellof claimed his first karting title, by winning the International Karting Championship of Luxembourg in 1976. In the same season, Bellof also finished thirteenth in the Karting World Championship in Hagen, Germany. Geörg won the German Karting Championship in 1978, while Stefan finished in eighth position in the same race, improving to third in 1979 and becoming German champion in 1980, while dovetailing a campaign in Formula Ford.

Junior formulae[edit]

Bellof moved into Formula Ford at the tail end of the 1979 season, as a member of Walter Lechner's Racing School setup, making his bow at Hockenheim in November 1979, where he finished in second place. A full season in the 1600cc class beckoned in 1980, and Bellof became champion taking eight victories and nine podium placings from twelve races. He continued in the series in 1981, but was not as successful as his championship-winning season, taking five wins and also made a foray into the more powerful 2000cc class, but retired from both his starts in the Lion Trophy at Zolder and the 300 km meeting at the Nürburgring. Bellof also contested three VW Castrol Europa Pokal races, of which he won one.

As well as those outings, Bellof moved into the German Formula Three Championship, making his début for Bertram Schäfer's team at Wunstorf. Despite missing the opening two races of the season, Bellof led the championship by seven points going into the final round at the Nürburgring, having taken a top four finish in each of his first eight races. Luck eluded Bellof however, as he finished the race in thirteenth position, while title rivals Frank Jelinski and Franz Konrad finished in first and second places to overhaul Bellof's points total.[1] Eleven points separated Bellof from Jelinski,[2] who claimed his second successive German Formula Three championship. At the conclusion of the season, Bellof contested the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch, but was excluded from the meeting after finishing sixth in his quarter-final heat, for excessive contact. Bellof made a promise to the meeting's clerk of the course, saying that the official had "better watch my career, because I'll be back here next year and I'll win my first Formula 2 race."[3]

Formula Two[edit]

Bellof joined Mike Thackwell and Alain Ferté at a test session with Maurer Motorsport at Circuit Paul Ricard in France at the end of the 1981 season.[3] Eje Elgh, who finished third with Maurer in the 1981 European Formula Two Championship was present at the test and was impressed by Bellof, and recommended him to team boss Willy Maurer to sign him for the 1982 season. After acquiring a limited amount of BMW backing, Bellof assumed a place in the team, with Maurer eventually becoming his manager, having signed an eight-year management deal with Bellof.[3]

The first race of the season was the BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone, where Bellof qualified ninth on the grid. Sticking to his promise that he made at the 1981 Formula Ford Festival, Bellof drove through the field in showery conditions to win by 21 seconds ahead of Satoru Nakajima and became the first driver to win outright,[4][5] and second driver to win a race on his European Formula Two début after Dave Morgan won on aggregate at Silverstone in 1972. He followed this win up with a second successive triumph at the Jim Clark Gedächtnisrennen at Hockenheim, having started from pole position and achieved the fastest lap during the race.[5][6] Two points from the next six races ruled him out of the championship hunt, as he fell to an eventual fourth place classification, scoring 33 points.[7]

By comparison to his 1982 season, Bellof's 1983 season was much less successful. He made only one trip to the podium with second at Jarama while he lost another podium when he was disqualified from third place at the Pau Grand Prix, after his and team-mate Ferté's cars were found to be underweight at the race's conclusion.[8] Bellof's only other points-scoring finish was fourth at Silverstone, as he finished the season in ninth position on nine points.

Sportscar racing[edit]

While competing in Formula Two in 1982, Bellof made a one-off appearance in the World Endurance Championship at the 1000 km of Spa, partnering Rolf Stommelen at the wheel of a Kremer CK5. The pairing retired from the race on lap 51, due to a problem with the starter motor.[9] The previous weekend, Bellof had joined Kremer to compete in the Hessen Cup at Hockenheim as part of the Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft, but retired with transmission failure.[10]

A Porsche 956 being demonstrated at the 2008 Goodwood Festival of Speed, formerly a car shared by Bellof and Jochen Mass in the 1983 World Endurance Championship.

In 1983 Bellof joined the Rothmans-backed Porsche factory team for the World Endurance Championship driving a Porsche 956 alongside Derek Bell. Bellof and Bell won first time at the 1000 km Silverstone, beating Bob Wollek and Stefan Johansson by almost a minute,[11] having taken the lead at half-distance,[12] completing the race's duration at an average speed of 198.274 kilometres per hour (123.202 miles per hour).[11][13] Bellof's pole time for the race – 1 minute, 13.15 seconds[11] – would have put him twelfth on the grid for the British Grand Prix later in the year.[4] The next race on the calendar was the 1000 km Nürburgring in which Bellof rewrote several records at the Nordschleife. His pole time for that race of 6 minutes, 11.13 seconds[14] is unofficially the fastest lap ever driven on the Nürburgring Nordschleife in its current configuration, taking pole position by five seconds,[3] at an average speed of 202.073 kilometres per hour (125.562 miles per hour). Bellof also set the fastest lap during the race, with a lap time of 6 minutes, 25.91 seconds, which remains the official Nordschleife lap record for all cars.[15] Two laps after setting the race record, on lap 20, Bellof's 956 – chassis 956-007[16] – flipped out of the race at the Pflanzgarten.[3] Bellof added two more wins later in the season at Kyalami and at Fuji, as he ended the season in fourth position. He also added a win in the non-championship Norisring Trophäe race.

Bellof was the dominant force in the 1984 championship driving alongside Bell, with John Watson also joining the team. Bellof also contested races with Brun Motorsport with whom he won at Imola partnering Hans-Joachim Stuck. Bell and Bellof won the opening round of the season at Monza, but only after the pairing were reinstated to the results. After crossing the line first, their 956 was promptly disqualified in scrutineering with the car found to be under the 850 kg (1,874 lb) weight limit, which would also apply to the third-placed Martini Racing Lancia LC2. Appeals from both teams were lodged, with the outcome being successful.[17]

Other victories at the Nürburgring, Spa, Mosport and Sandown helped Bellof claim the World Sportscar title by eight points from Jochen Mass,[18] and also helped Porsche secure the manufacturer's title for the year; the make taking all but one victory in the season.[18] He was also champion in the German DRM series. Bellof only contested six sportscar races in 1985, taking one win at the Norisring alongside Thierry Boutsen again in DRM.

Formula One[edit]

Bellof in a Tyrrell 012 at the 1984 Dallas Grand Prix.

Bellof first tested a Formula One car towards the end of 1983, when he joined the top two drivers from that season's British Formula Three Championship – Ayrton Senna and Martin Brundle – in testing for McLaren at Silverstone, where Bellof managed to damage the gearbox before Brundle's opportunity behind the wheel.[19] Bellof did move into the championship ahead of the 1984 season, joining Tyrrell Racing Organisation, to partner Brundle in naturally aspirated, Ford-engined machinery, which were giving away in excess of 150 horsepower (110 kW) to their turbo rivals.

Bellof failed to finish in his first two races in Brazil and South Africa, before scoring his first two championship points in successive races at Zolder and Imola. A retirement followed at Dijon, before Bellof achieved a podium finish in the rain-shortened Monaco Grand Prix. Despite starting down in 20th and last place, Bellof remained away from the barriers that caught out many of his rivals, and was catching the race-leading pairing of Alain Prost and Senna[20] when the race was curtailed after 31 laps due to inclement weather conditions. At the end of the race, Bellof had been 21 seconds in arrears of Prost and 13.7 behind Senna.[21] Retirements followed in Canada and in Detroit, where Brundle claimed the team's best result of the season with second position as Bellof stuck his Tyrrell in the pit wall.[3]

However, Bellof, Brundle and the team were stripped of all their championship points, after their cars were disqualified from the 1984 season after a dispute over lead ballast in their fuel tanks found after the Detroit Grand Prix. FISA charged the team on four separate counts, but the team appealed for injunctions to allow them to continue competing in the championship.[22] Ultimately, the FIA Court of Appeal rejected their final appeal and kicked the team out of the remainder of the season.[23] Despite this, Bellof missed his home race to compete in a World Sportscar race on the same weekend at Mosport Park, where he and Derek Bell finished fourth overall and third in class.

Bellof at the 1985 German Grand Prix.

Bellof remained with the team into the 1985 season, but did miss the opening round of the season – the Brazilian Grand Prix – as Tyrrell had Brundle and Stefan Johansson in their two cars in Rio de Janeiro. Bellof returned at the Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril where the weather conditions were similar to that of Monaco 1984 in which Bellof had slithered his way up to the on-the-road positioning of third place. He once again started way down the order in 21st place, but by the race's conclusion, he had managed to make it into the top six,[24] and claiming a point for the team, which would be Bellof's first as all of his 1984 results were expunged.

He failed to qualify in Monaco, the only time Bellof failed to qualify in his short Formula One career, along with his exclusion at the 1984 Austrian Grand Prix. He made amends for his error of 1984 in Detroit, by finishing fourth in the 1985 race, which would ultimately be his final three points in Formula One.[25] His final race was the Dutch Grand Prix, where his Renault turbocharged engine blew on lap 40. Tyrrell had only changed to such engines from the German Grand Prix onwards meaning that Bellof never truly had the opportunity to show his talent at the wheel of a Formula One car.

Death[edit]

Regarded as a likely future Formula One World Champion, Bellof was racing at the 1000 km of Spa World Sportscar Championship race at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium on 1 September 1985,[3] the seventh race of that season's championship. Bellof was making his fourth appearance of 1985 in the series, despite there not being any clashes with his Tyrrell campaign in Formula One. Partnering Thierry Boutsen as he had done in his other appearances during the season, their Brun Motorsport Porsche 956 would start the race from third on the grid, 0.86 seconds adrift of the pole position-winning Lancia LC2.

On lap 78, Bellof was racing Jacky Ickx's works Porsche 962C from the La Source hairpin on the run to Eau Rouge corner. Both drivers had just commenced their stints in their respective cars after Boutsen and Jochen Mass started them. Entering the left kink of Eau Rouge, Bellof moved to the left of Ickx in an attempt to set up a pass for the immediate right-hand Raidillon corner up the hill. Bellof's right front came into contact with Ickx's left rear, and both drivers spun into the barriers. Ickx's car hit the wall on the right rear side, while Bellof's car went straight into the barriers, breaking through and hitting a secondary wall. The Brun Porsche caught fire moments after the wreck, while Ickx – able to climb unaided from his car – attempted to help safety workers in extricating Bellof. During the caution period, members of the Brun team also arrived to aid in the rescue. With smoke pouring from the wreckage, the emergency medical team struggled for over 10 minutes before extricating him. Bellof was pronounced dead of massive internal injuries after he had reached the track hospital.[26]

Out of respect for Bellof, the race organisers chose to end the event some 150 kilometres (93 miles) earlier than planned. The entire incident was recorded on an in-car camera that Ickx's 962C was carrying. Even after the accident, the camera continued to work, and was pointed in the direction of Bellof's wreckage.[27] The accident involving Bellof was the second in the space of three weeks in which a driver was killed at the wheel of a Porsche. At the previous World Sportscar race at Mosport Park in Canada, Fellow West German and F1 driver Manfred Winkelhock died of severe head trauma after crashing into a concrete wall while at the wheel of a Kremer Racing-run Porsche 962C.[28] Many of the customer teams had concerns with using the 956 for the remainder of the season, and the 956 was eventually withdrawn from the series by the end of the 1986 season, taking victory on its final start at the 1000 km of Fuji.

Effect and legacy[edit]

After Bellof's death at Spa, teams became unwilling to allow their expensive drivers to compete in other races that were not part of the championship. Fellow Formula One driver Jonathan Palmer was injured in an unrelated accident during a free practice session at the same meeting, with the result being that many teams would have drivers' contracts tightened to prohibit them from competing outside their respective championships. Bellof's talent had been noted by many of the rival teams that he had been competing against in Formula One, including an offer from Ferrari for the 1986 season, with a meeting scheduled with Enzo Ferrari before his death.[3]

Today, he is often mentioned as Michael Schumacher's childhood racing idol, and during an interview for the January 2007 issue of the 911 and Porsche World magazine, teammate Derek Bell felt Bellof's death was caused by lack of discipline in his driving style, and that the blame for his death lay with those around Bellof, including team personnel, who should have allowed him to mature.

Recently, Bellof's family donated his racing mementos to the local Sammler und Hobbywelt museum for public display. The donated items included his go-kart from his early racing days, his racing overalls and helmets from his works Porsche and Tyrrell days and trophies.[29][30] There is a karting circuit named in his honour known as Motorsportarena Stefan Bellof, located in Oppenrod.[31]

In 2009, a poll of 217 Formula One drivers chose Bellof as their 35th greatest Formula One driver, in a survey conducted by British magazine Autosport.[32]

In August 2013, Bellof was honored after management of the Nürburgring renamed the section of the Nordschleife previously known as Pflanzgarten II as the Stefan-Bellof-S.[33]

Racing record[edit]

Career summary[edit]

Season Series Team Races Wins Poles F/Laps Podiums Points Position
1979 Formula Ford 1600 Germany Walter Lechner Racing School 1 0 0 0 1  ?  ?
1980 Formula Ford 1600 Germany Walter Lechner Racing School 12 8  ?  ? 9  ? 1st
1981 German Formula Three Championship Bertram Schäfer Racing 9 3 5 4 6 124 3rd
Formula Ford 1600 Germany Walter Lechner Racing School 10 5  ?  ? 8 77 4th
Formula Ford 2000 Germany 2 0  ?  ? 0  ? NC
Formula Ford Festival 1 0 0 0 0 N/A NC
VW Castrol Europa Pokal 3 1 1 0 2 15 12th
1982 European Formula Two Championship Maurer Motorsport 13 2 1 5 4 33 4th
World Endurance Championship Kremer Racing 1 0 0 0 0 0 NC
Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft 1 0 0 0 0 0 NC
1983 European Formula Two Championship Maurer Motorsport 8 0 1 2 1 9 9th
World Endurance Championship Rothmans Porsche 6 3 4 4 4 75 4th
European Endurance Championship 1 0 0 1 1 47 10th
All Japan Sports Prototype Championship 1 1 1 1 1 20 4th
Norisring Trophäe 1 1 1 1 1 N/A 1st
1984 World Endurance Championship Rothmans Porsche 9 6 5 3 6 139 1st
Brun Motorsport
Formula One Tyrrell Racing Organisation 11 0 0 0 0 0 NC
All Japan Sports Prototype Championship Rothmans Porsche 1 1 1 1 1 20 7th
Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft Brun Motorsport 5 3 2 1 3 80 1st
Norisring Trophäe 1 0 0 0 1 N/A 3rd
1985 World Endurance Championship Brun Motorsport 4 0 0 2 1 12 32nd
Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft 1 1 1 0 1 20 12th
Norisring Trophäe 1 0 1 1 0 N/A 5th
Formula One Tyrrell Racing Organisation 9 0 0 0 0 4 16th

Complete European Formula Two 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 Pos Pts
1982 Maurer Motorsport Maurer BMW SIL
1
HOC
1
THR
Ret
NÜR
5
MUG
7
VAL
Ret
PAU
9
SPA
Ret
HOC
3
DON
6
MAN
Ret
PER
2
MIS
5
4th 33
1983 Maurer Motorsport Maurer BMW SIL
4
THR
Ret
HOC
DNS
NÜR
Ret
VAL PAU
DSQ
JAR
2
DON
7
MIS
DNS
PER
Ret
ZOL
7
MUG 9th 9

Complete Formula One results[edit]

(key)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 WDC Points
1984 Tyrrell Racing Organisation Tyrrell 012 Cosworth V8 BRA
DSQ
RSA
DSQ
BEL
DSQ
SMR
DSQ
FRA
DSQ
MON
DSQ
CAN
DSQ
DET
DSQ
DAL
DSQ
GBR
DSQ
GER AUT
EX
NED
DSQ
ITA EUR POR NC 0*
1985 Tyrrell Racing Organisation Tyrrell 012 Cosworth V8 BRA POR
6
SMR
Ret
MON
DNQ
CAN
11
DET
4
FRA
13
GBR
11
16th 4
Tyrrell 014 Renault V6 t/c GER
8
AUT
7
NED
Ret
ITA BEL EUR RSA AUS

* – Tyrrell was stripped of all championship points for 1984 in a dispute over lead ballast in their fuel tanks at the Detroit Grand Prix.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Bilstein Super Sprint – 11. Lauf DM" (PDF). formel3guide.com. Formel 3 Guide. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  2. ^ "Punkteindex 1981" (PDF). formel3guide.com. Formel 3 Guide. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Watkins, Gary (19 August 2010). "Bellof: Germany's Lost F1 Superstar". Autosport (Haymarket Publications) 201 (8): pp. 32–37. 
  4. ^ a b Arron, Simon (4 July 2008). "British Grand Prix: Silverstone at 60". The Daily Telegraph (Telegraph Media Group). Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Hilton, Christopher (2010). The Toleman Story: The Last Romantics in Formula 1. Veloce Publishing Ltd. p. 110. ISBN 978-1-84584-217-8. 
  6. ^ "XVI Deutschland Trophäe 1982, XIII Jim Clark Gedächtnisrennen: European Championship for F2 Drivers, Round 3; Hockenheimring, Heidelberg, Germany". formula2.net. F2 Register. 12 October 2001. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  7. ^ "Formula 2: 1982". Team Dan. Spectrum Holobyte-MicroProse. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  8. ^ "Jo Gartner: F1 Rejects". f1rejects.com. Formula One Rejects. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  9. ^ "1982 Trophee Diners Club 1000 kilometres, Spa-Francorchamps". WSPR Racing. Classics Cars. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  10. ^ "1982 Hessen Cup, Hockenheim". WSPR Racing. Classics Cars. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  11. ^ a b c "1983 Grand Prix International 1000 Kms, Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit". WSPR Racing. Classics Cars. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  12. ^ "Bell, Bellof win Grand Prix". The Ledger (Lakeland, Florida: Lakeland Ledger Publishing Company). Associated Press. 9 May 1985. p. 3D. 
  13. ^ Parker, Chas (2010). Endurance Racing at Silverstone in the 1970s & 1980s. Veloce Publishing Ltd. p. 88. ISBN 978-1-84584-277-2. 
  14. ^ Baime, A. J. (1 September 2010). "Honoring 'the King of the Ring'". The Wall Street Journal (Dow Jones & Company). Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  15. ^ McFarlane, Michael (1 September 2010). "Why it's not exactly good to be a German F1 driver.". Crossdrilled. Blogger. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  16. ^ "Porsche 956-007". 962.com. Cyberspeed. Retrieved 6 October 2010. 
  17. ^ Long, Brian (2008). Porsche Racing Cars: 1976 to 2005. Veloce Publishing Ltd. p. 109. ISBN 978-1-904788-45-4. 
  18. ^ a b Long, Brian (2008). Porsche Racing Cars: 1976 to 2005. Veloce Publishing Ltd. p. 115. ISBN 978-1-904788-45-4. 
  19. ^ Brundle, Martin (19 August 2010). "Brundle on Bellof: Personal memories". autosport.com. Haymarket Publications. Retrieved 14 October 2010. "I'm not sure any of us was entirely ready for that test: I remember getting in the car after Stefan and he'd taken the corners off the dog rings in the gearbox." 
  20. ^ Hamilton, Maurice (1984). "Autocourse 1984–85". Autocourse (Hazleton Publishing). p. 141. ISBN 0-905138-32-5. 
  21. ^ Hilton, Christopher (2010). The Toleman Story: The Last Romantics in Formula 1. Veloce Publishing Ltd. p. 160. ISBN 978-1-84584-217-8. 
  22. ^ Knutson, Dan (15 May 2005). "BAR Honda has nothing on Team Tyrrell". ESPN.com (ESPN). Retrieved 15 October 2010. "According to the 1984 F1 annual Autocourse, FISA charged Tyrrell with: refueling during the race; using fuel that did not comply with the regulations; using illegal fuel lines; and using unsecured ballast." 
  23. ^ Gorman, Edward (5 July 2007). "Teams have always tried to bend rules". The Times (Times Newspapers Limited). Retrieved 15 October 2010. 
  24. ^ "'Dangerous' race goes to Ayrton Senna". The Gainesville Sun (Gainesville, Florida: The New York Times Company). Associated Press. 22 April 1985. p. 3C. 
  25. ^ Harris, Mike (24 June 1985). "Rosberg Wins Race In Record Time". The Evening Herald (Rock Hill, South Carolina: News & Observer). Associated Press. p. 7. 
  26. ^ "Driver Is Killed In Race Accident". The New York Times (Arthur Ochs Sulzberger; The New York Times Company). Associated Press. 2 September 1985. Retrieved 8 October 2010. 
  27. ^ Triumph and Tragedy: Spa 1000km '85 (VHS). Duke Video. 4 March 1998. 
  28. ^ Etzkin, Mike (13 August 1985). "Racer Dies". Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida: Howard Greenberg; Tribune Company). Associated Press. p. C2. 
  29. ^ "Stefan-Bellof-Memorial". suhw.de. Sammler- und Hobbywelt GmbH. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  30. ^ "Stefan-Bellof-Memorial". thx.org. Thomas Guthmann. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  31. ^ Hahn, Jasmin (27 May 2010). "Louis Walter vom WST Motorsport gewinnt Stefan Bellof Pokal". Gießener Zeitung (in German). GZ Medien GmbH. Retrieved 15 October 2010. 
  32. ^ "Formula 1's Greatest Drivers: 35. Stefan Bellof". autosport.com. Haymarket Publications. 10 December 2009. Retrieved 8 October 2010. 
  33. ^ "Stefan-Bellof-S named at the Nürburgring". AUSringers.com. 12 August 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Jochen Mass
ADAC Norisring Trophäe
Winner

1983
Succeeded by
Manfred Winkelhock
Preceded by
Bob Wollek
Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft
Champion

1984
Succeeded by
Jochen Mass
Preceded by
Jacky Ickx
World Sportscar Championship
Champion

1984
Succeeded by
Derek Bell
Hans-Joachim Stuck