The only pilot in F1 history who was happy to lose the title. I also drove a Lada


The only pilot in F1 history who was happy to lose the title. I also drove a Lada

The champion title is the ultimate goal of every Formula 1 driver who gets into a racing car. The victory at the end of the season will forever inscribe the name of the driver in the history of motorsport. However, in order to be considered a legendary pilot, the coveted title is not always required. For example, Jacqui Ickx left his mark on motorsport history as the only driver in the world to win a Formula 1 stage, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the grueling Paris-Dakar rally marathon. This rather original triple gold crown makes Belgian X the most iconic pilot in the history of his country.

Jacqui Ickx’s talent was first considered by Ken Tyrrell. On an F-2 car he fought on equal terms with the pilots of Formula 1

Interestingly enough, as a child, little Jacqui was completely indifferent to racing, despite the fact that his father was a famous motorsport journalist in Belgium. The loving parent tried in every possible way to “infect” his son with motorsport and even often took him with him to the races.

“When I was 10, I was brought to Spa for the 1955 Belgian Grand Prix, and I saw Fangio and Moss in their Mercedes W196. But it didn’t interest me at all, ”the Belgian recalled his childhood.

It was only at the age of sixteen that Jacqui Ickx really “got sick” with racing, after his father gave him a 50 cc motorcycle. Father’s gift largely predetermined X’s future. The young Belgian showed a talent for racing almost immediately.

It was with the motorcycle that Jacqui was destined to start his racing career. Starting to perform in the motorcycle trials class, the talented junior first conquered the Belgian championship, and then repeated his success in the European championship. After several more victories in motorcycle racing, Jacqui X made the decision to change two wheels to four.

The Belgian took his first steps in his motorsport career in 1963, taking part in the European Touring Championship. Jacqui quickly enough managed to adapt to new conditions and looked quite dignified against the background of more experienced pilots. The following year, at the Hungarian stage, Jacqui Ickx managed to attract the attention of the future boss of the F1 team, Ken Tyrrell.He was so impressed with the speed of the young Belgian that he invited him to Goodwood to test the Formula 3 car. Despite the fact that during the tests Jacqui crashed the car, he still managed to convince Tyrrell of his prospects. Therefore, the 1966 season X began already with Ken’s team, taking part in the Formula 3 championship in the Matra MS5 car. We can say that it was Tyrrell who launched X’s future formula career, giving him the opportunity to debut in the open-wheel series. Many years later, Jacqui will call Ken Tyrrell the most important person in his racing destiny.

All in the same 1966 on the legendary “Nordschleife” Jacques Ickx made his debut in the Royal Races. Driving a Formula 2 car on the most difficult track in the Eifel mountains, the Belgian qualified quite well: 16th position is the best result among pilots from Formula 2, plus the whole X managed to get ahead of three F1 pilots. The race itself was just awful for Jacqui: on the first lap, he became a participant in an accident that resulted in the death of British pilot John Taylor .

The next year, behind the wheel of the same Matra MS5 car, Jacqui Ickx confidently took the Formula 2 championship title. The 1967 season generally became one of the most important in the Belgian’s racing career. Indeed, it was in 1967 that Jacqui first seriously declared himself in Formula 1. Like last year, Ken Tyrrell brought Jacqui Ickx to the Nurburgring again to compete with the Formula 1 drivers.

Even at the beginning of the racing weekend, the Belgian shocked everyone present at the circuit, showing the third time in qualifying in a Formula 2 car. Jacqui left behind such giants as Jack Brabham , Jackie Stewart and Jochen Rindt . However, despite the brilliantly conducted qualification, X was not destined to start from a high third position. The fact is that, according to the then rules, no F-2 pilot could start higher than an F-1 pilot, no matter what time he showed. Therefore, on the starting grid, the Belgian was sent to the end of the peloton – to the 18th position.

Before the race, the head of the pilots’ association, Yo BonnierIn a personal conversation, Jacqui explained why he could not start from the first row, referring to the fact that a too slow Formula 2 car would interfere with the F1 pilots at the start, and this is very dangerous. Ironically, at the very beginning of the race, X was ahead of Bonnier. Having completed the first lap in 12th place, Jacqui continued to play one position after another at a frantic pace. And at the end of the third lap, the Belgian broke into fifth place. In the same position, X spent most of the race – exactly until, due to problems with the suspension, he left the race three laps before the finish.

Jacqui X did not score points in that race, but he managed to delight the formula public with his aerobatics. In many ways, it was Ickx’s performance at the Nordschleife that prompted him to join the Cooper team for two races that took place at the end of the F1 season. And now, as part of the British team, Jacqui managed to score his debut points in Formula 1. And he did it on the first try – at the Italian Grand Prix.

I got to Ferrari thanks to Jackie Stewart. Due to serious injury, he could not compete for the title in 1968

After a bright 1967 season, several strong teams became seriously interested in X’s person, one of which was Ferrari. In general, the Belgian got to Scuderia partly by accident. The fact is that before the 1968 season, Ferrari expected to sign a contract with Jackie Stewart. The Scotsman already had one leg in the Scuderia, but Stewart tried to knock out too luxurious conditions for himself. Jackie’s demands seemed overstated to the Ferrari leadership, and then the Italian team proposed an agreement to another talented pilot, X. Upon learning of this, Jackie Stewart decided not to continue the dialogue with Maranello and signed a contract with Ken Tyrrell’s team, which was then called “Matra”. For the Scotsman, it was one hundred percent hit – it’s better not to come up with it.

By the way, at the start of the Matra project in F1, Ken Tyrrell also wanted to invite his old friend X to the team. However, the sponsors of the team in the person of “Elf” lobbied for the place of the co-pilot behind the Frenchman, and Johnny Servo-Gaven was invited to join Stewart . As for X, he successfully joined the ranks of Ferrari. In 1968 “Scuderia” was going through hard times. The ten-year period, starting from the second half of the 1960s, for Ferrari is perhaps the most difficult in the history of Formula 1.

Nevertheless, the first season in the camp of the Italian team was generally good for Jacqui Ickx. Although for the Belgian, the championship did not start well: the first two stages in the performance of Ickx were a mixture of weak qualifications and retirements due to mechanical problems. And Ferrari boycotted the third stage of the season in Monaco: a year ago, Lorenzo Bandini died on the streets of Monte Carlo , and the Scuderia believed that the city track was not safe enough.

Jacqui Ickx achieved his first successes behind the wheel of a red Ferrari at the Spa-Francorchamps home circuit. In front of his native stands, the Belgian finally managed to successfully qualify – the third position on the starting grid. In the race, Jacqui safely held his place in the coveted top three – the first podium in F1.

Further more. A month after his debut finish in the top three at the French Rouen track, Jacqui Ickx wins the F1 race for the first time in his life. The key for the Belgian at this Grand Prix was the decision to start on rain tires, while all the other pilots went into the race at intermediate.

In subsequent races of the season, X no longer won, but quite successfully scored points and finished in the top three. It was stability that allowed Jacqui to be considered one of the contenders for the title three races before the end of the season. Before the stage in Canada, X was only three points behind the leader of the individual classification, Graham Hill. However, the Belgian was not destined to really fight for the championship. In qualifying, Jacqui had a rather serious accident, as a result of which he broke his leg and seriously injured his face. As a result, X missed both the race in Canada and the next stage in the USA.

Before the 1969 season, Jacqui X quite unexpectedly changed Ferrari to Brabham. Three-time champion and part-time teammate X’s Jack Brabem initially invited the Belgian to the role of the co-pilot. And at first, Jacqui did not particularly shine with the results, but before the fifth stage of the season, Jack Brabham broke his leg and dropped out for a certain period. In the absence of the boss, X became the team’s only hope. And we must admit that the Belgian coped with his duties excellently. While his eminent partner was on sick leave, Jacqui took one podium after another and even managed to win at the Nordschleife.

At the end of that season, the Belgian became vice-champion, but the fight for the title in 1969 was far from smelly: Jackie Stewart won the championship in one wicket.

Return to Ferrari. Fought for the title in 1970. I was glad that I didn’t become a champion in the end

After a rather successful season at Brabem, Jacqui Ickx finally decided to return to Scuderia. Paradoxically, the Belgian got the chance to fight for the title in the season before which he came to the Ferrari camp. As in 1968, the new season did not start well for X. Already in the second race of the season, which took place on the Harama track, Jacqui Ickx had a very serious accident: after a collision with Jackie Oliver’s car, both cars caught fire, and if the Briton was able to safely leave the cockpit, then Jacqui had problems with this. An ordinary Spanish policeman came to the rescue of the Belgian, who literally saved the life of Jacques Ickx by pulling him out of a burning car with his bare hands.

The protagonist of the 1970 season is undoubtedly Jochen Rindt. While Jacqui Ickx was faced with a variety of problems, the Lotus pilot took one victory after another. Unfortunately, during the qualification of the Italian Grand Prix, Jochen Rindt died tragically. At that time, the Austrian was confidently leading the championship. Until the end of the season, there were three stages, and some pilots in theory could take the title from Rindt – among them was X. In order to become a champion, the Belgian had to win back 26 points, that is, to win three victories.

Jacqui did not cope with this task, and Jochen Rindt remained the leader of the personal standings, becoming the only posthumous champion in the history of Formula 1. Years later, X admitted that in his heart he did not strive to win the title. “It was not at all what I wanted. It would not be very pleasant to get such a title, ”Jacqui said honestly.

The next two seasons developed for X according to a very similar scenario: a shock start to the season with participation in the struggle for high places and a decline in the second half of the championship associated with the wild unreliability of the Ferrari car.

The only pilot in F1 history who was happy to lose the title.  I also drove a Lada

The 1973 season for Scuderia was the worst in six years. The Ferrari car was so terrible that season that the Italian team decided to skip a couple of stages in order to somehow improve the car. Jacqui X at this time openly expressed his dissatisfaction with what was happening. The Belgian did not like the state of the Ferrari car, or the team’s initiative to skip several stages. Because of the latter, he even went to McLaren for exactly one Grand Prix. By the way, it was in that race that Jacqui won the only podium in the 1973 season. The union of X and Ferrari was gradually coming to an end, and even before the end of the championship, the Belgian left the Italian team.

Then Jacqui expected not the most successful transition to Lotus, and X had his last chance to be in the top team before the start of the 1976 season. McLaren was looking for a replacement for the departed Emerson Fittipaldi and was considering Jacqui as a candidate. However, the general sponsor of Marlboro insisted on inviting James Hunt, and the last four years of his formula career, Jacqui X spent in not the strongest teams.


Despite the fact that Jacqui Ickx never managed to take the title in F1, he can undoubtedly be called a great pilot. Moreover, the greatness of the Belgian lies not only in his victories on the track. First of all, the status of the legend of motorsport, Jacques Ickx, gives him versatility, as well as the desire for new challenges.

Having started his racing career with a motorcycle, in the future the Belgian very quickly managed to adapt to racing on four wheels. Having moved to the championship with open wheels, he did not forget about the body racing and even before his debut in F1 began to take part in the legendary marathon “24 Hours of Le Mans” – six victories!

And two years after the end of his formula career, Jacqui set off to conquer the exhausting Paris-Dakar rally-marathon, where he also achieved success, having won on the third attempt. After that, Jacqui Ickx will take part in the most exhausting race in the world 11 times, and three times he will do it while driving a Lada. Legend!

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