Jo Siffert

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

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

Affectionately known as "Seppi" to his family and friends, Siffert was born in Fribourg, Switzerland, the son of a dairy owner. He initially made his name in racing on two wheels, winning 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. He won two races in Formula One for the Rob Walker Racing Team and BRM. He died at the 1971 World Championship Victory Race, having his car roll over after a crash caused by a mechanical failure and being caught under the burning vehicle. 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. 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 1,000 km Nürburgring
Siffert at the wheel of a Porsche 908
Siffert at the 1969 Dutch Grand Prix.

Later on, Siffert's driving displays in the Porsche 917 earned him several major wins in Europe. In addition, Siffert was chosen by Porsche to help launch its CanAm development programme, 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 pleased 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.

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. 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.[3] 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 race.

Legacy[edit]

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.


Jo Siffert memorial bust outside Palexpo complexe (Geneva Feb.1997)

Racing record[edit]

Complete Formula One 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 FPF 1.5 L4 NED MON
DNQ
NC 0
Ecurie Filipinetti BEL
10
GER
12
Lotus 24 BRM P56 1.5 V8 FRA
Ret
GBR ITA
DNQ
USA RSA
1963 Siffert Racing Team Lotus 24 BRM P56 1.5 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 P56 1.5 V8 MON
8
10th 7
Brabham BT11 NED
13
BEL
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
11
GER
4
AUT
Ret
ITA
7
R.R.C. Walker Racing Team USA
3
MEX
Ret
1965 R.R.C. Walker Racing Team Brabham BT11 BRM P56 1.5 V8 RSA
7
MON
6
BEL
8
FRA
6
GBR
9
NED
13
GER
Ret
ITA
Ret
USA
11
MEX
4
12th 5
1966 R.R.C. Walker Racing Team Brabham BT11 BRM P60 2.0 V8 MON
Ret
14th 3
Cooper T81 Maserati 9/F1 3.0 V12 BEL
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
NC
NED
Ret
GER ITA
Ret
USA
4
MEX
Ret
1967 Rob Walker/Jack Durlacher Racing Team Cooper T81 Maserati 9/F1 3.0 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/Jack Durlacher Racing Team Cooper T81 Maserati 9/F1 3.0 V12 RSA
7
7th 12
Lotus 49 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 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/Jack Durlacher Racing Team Lotus 49B Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 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 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 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 Team BRM BRM P153 BRM P142 3.0 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.

Complete Formula One 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 Lotus 22 Ford 109E 1.5 L4 CAP BRX
6
LOM LAV GLV
Lotus 21 Climax FPF 1.5 L4 PAU
7
AIN INT NAP MAL CLP
Scuderia Filipinetti RMS
9
MED
4
DAN OUL MEX RAN NAT
Lotus 24 BRM P56 1.5 V8 SOL
Ret
KAN
1963 Ecurie Filipinetti Lotus 24 BRM P56 1.5 V8 LOM
DNS
GLV PAU
Ret
IMO
2
SYR
1
AIN INT
Siffert Racing Team ROM
DNP
SOL
Ret
KAN MED
5
AUT
Ret
OUL
11
RAN
1964 Siffert Racing Team Lotus 24 BRM P56 1.5 V8 DMT NWT SYR
DNS
AIN INT
11
Brabham BT11 SOL
7
MED
1
RAN
1965 R.R.C. Walker Racing Team Brabham BT11 BRM P56 1.5 V8 ROC
6
SYR
Ret
SMT
Ret
INT MED
1
RAN
5
1966 R.R.C. Walker Racing Team Brabham BT11 BRM P56 1.5 V8 RSA
2
Cooper T81 Maserati 9/F1 3.0 V12 SYR
Ret
INT
Ret
OUL
1967 Rob Walker/Jack Durlacher Racing Team Cooper T81 Maserati 9/F1 3.0 V12 ROC
3
SPC INT
3
SYR
3
OUL
Lola Racing Lola T100 BMW M12 2.0 L4 ESP
Ret
1968 Rob Walker/Jack Durlacher Racing Team Lotus 49 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 ROC
DNS
INT
Ret
OUL
1969 Rob Walker/Jack Durlacher Racing Team Lotus 49B Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 ROC
4
INT
11
MAD OUL
1971 Jo Siffert Automobiles March 701 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 ARG
6
ROC
Yardley Team BRM BRM P160 BRM P142 3.0 V12 QUE
6
INT
Ret
RIN OUL VIC
4
BRM P153 SPR
Ret

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1965 France J.H. Simone Germany Jochen Neerpasch Maserati Tipo 65 P +5.0 3 DNF DNF
1966 West Germany Porsche System Engineering United Kingdom Colin Davis Porsche 906/6L Carrera 6 P 2.0 339 4th 1st
1967 West Germany Porsche System Engineering West Germany Hans Herrmann Porsche 907/6L P 2.0 358 5th 1st
1968 West Germany Porsche System Engineering West Germany Hans Herrmann Porsche 908 P 3.0 59 DNF DNF
1969 Switzerland Hart Ski Racing United Kingdom Brian Redman Porsche 908/2L P 3.0 60 DNF DNF
1970 United Kingdom John Wyer Automotive Engineering Ltd. United Kingdom Brian Redman Porsche 917K S 5.0 156 DNF DNF
1971 United Kingdom John Wyer Automotive Engineering Ltd. United Kingdom Derek Bell Porsche 917LH S 5.0 DNF DNF

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 Pos. Pts
1967 Bayerische Motoren Werke Lola T100 BMW M11 SNE SIL
Ret
NÜR
Ret
HOC TUL JAR ZAN PER BRH VAL
9
NC 0
1968 Bayerische Motoren Werke Lola T102 BMW M11 HOC THR JAR PAL TUL ZAN PER HOC
Ret
VAL
18
NC 0
1969 Bayerische Motoren Werke Lola T102 BMW M11 THR
Ret
HOC NÜR
2
JAR TUL NC 0
BMW 269 PER
Ret
VAL
1970 Bayerische Motoren Werke BMW 270 BMW M11 THR
Ret
HOC BAR PAL PER
2
TUL
11
IMO
Ret
HOC NC 0
1971 Jo Siffert - Chevron Racing Team Chevron B18 Cosworth FVA HOC THR
Ret
NÜR
10
JAR PAL
DNQ
ROU MAN TUL ALB VAL VAL NC 0

Graded drivers not eligible for European Formula Two Championship points

References[edit]

  1. ^ "8W – What? – R R C Walker Racing Team". Retrieved 2008-04-19. 
  2. ^ Benoit, Roger (24 December 2005). "Jo Siffert (7. Juli 1936 - 24. Oktober 1971)". blick.ch (in German). Der Blick. Archived from the original on 12 July 2011. Retrieved 20 January 2016. 
  3. ^ Benoit, Roger (24 December 2005). "Jo Siffert (7. Juli 1936 – 24. Oktober 1971) Das Scheckheft des Todes". blick.ch (in German). Der Blick. Archived from the original on 8 July 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2016. 

Sources[edit]

  • Lareida, Men (director) (2005). Jo Siffert. Live Fast, Die Young. (DVD). Hugofilm. 

F1 Results include information from the following sources:

External links[edit]

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