Graham Hill vs Jochen Rindt

Champion of Champions

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Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt were team mates at Lotus in the late sixties.

But Hill while Hill enjoyed a long career Rindt’s was all too brief and often spent at the wheel of unreliable cars.

Hill started his F1 career in a Lotus in 1958, but moved on to BRM two years later.

The team was ill-prepared for the change of engine formula in 1961, but once its in-hour 1.5-litre unit was ready in 1962 Hill cleaned up. He finished every race, winning three of the last four to clinch the championship.

He enjoyed sustained success with the team, finishing runner-up in the world championship for the next three years in a row. He was especially unfortunate to miss out in 1964, when he had the title in his sights before being hit by Ferrari’s Lorenzo Bandini in the last race of the year.

Rindt made his F1 debut that year in his home race at the wheel of a Brabham entered by Rob Walker. That led to a three-year deal with Cooper but his equipment was clearly not up to the job, although he finished third in the championship in 1966.

He joined Brabham for 1968 but found himself cursed by unreliability there too. That led him to Lotus for 1969, teaming up with Hill.

Hill had joined Jim Clark at Lotus two years earlier and did the development work on the pioneering Cosworth DFV-engined 49. After Clark’s death in early 1968, Hill brought some consolation to Lotus by winning his second world championship.

In 1969 Rindt broke his Grand Prix victory duck and out-scored Hill by 22 points to 19. But Hill was seriously injured in a massive crash in the penultimate race of the year at Watkins Glen caused by a burst tyre.

To the surprise of his doctors he recovered to score a point on his return in the first race of 1970. But he never won another F1 race.

This was to be Rindt’s championship year as he won five times and amassed a considerable points lead. But the season took a tragic turn as Rindt crashed and lost his life at Monza.

His lead in the championship was so great that none of his rivals were able to beat him in the remaining races, and so he became the only driver to win the title posthumously.

Hill remained in F1 for another five years, first with Brabham and then with his own team. But this lengthy postscript to his career was largely devoid of success. In a cruel twist of fate, he lost his life shortly after concluding his 18th year in F1.

Which of these drivers should go through to the next round of the Champion of Champions? Vote for which you think was best below and explain who you voted for and why in the comments.

Graham HillJochen Rindt
Titles1962, 19681970
Second in title year/sJim Clark, Jackie StewartJacky Ickx
TeamsLotus, BRM, Brabham, EmbassyBrabham, Cooper, Lotus
Notable team matesRichie Ginther, Jackie Stewart, Jim ClarkJack Brabham, Richard Attwood, John Miles
Wins14 (8.00%)6 (10.00%)
Poles13 (7.43%)10 (16.67%)
Modern points per start16.025.97
% car failures233.1455.00
Modern points per finish39.0013.26
NotesNarrowly lost 1964 title to John Surtees after being hit by Lorenzo BandiniJoined Brabham after three years with struggling Cooper
Won second title in 1968 following team mate Jim Clark’s deathWon first race after joining Lotus in 1969
Badly injured in 1969 crash at Watkins GlenThe only driver to win the title posthumously
BioGraham HillJochen Rindt

1 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of races they started
2 The percentage of races in which they were not classified due to a mechanical failure
3 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of starts in which they did not suffer a race-ending mechanical failure

Which was the better world champion driver?

  • Jochen Rindt (38%)
  • Graham Hill (62%)

Total Voters: 525

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Images © Brian Waddell (Hill), John Evans (Rindt)

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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71 comments on “Graham Hill vs Jochen Rindt”

  1. My vote goes to Graham Hill.

    Double world Champion, narrowly missing out on becoming a Triple world Champion and being a constant title challenger throughout the 60’s. His stats are somewhat skewed by the 5 winless years after his accident but the fact he remained in F1 for those final 5 years when many others might have given up is another reason for my vote to go to him.

    1. thats true but jochen rindt was a very different driver he was very exciting he spent some time on f2 and he earned some rep cause of his style thats why i voted Rindt

  2. Although Rindt holds a unique (long may it remain unique!) record of being the only posthumous World Champion, I confess that is really all I know about him. He seemed like a good man, but I can’t see past the 5 (I think!) wins that Hill recorded, and two, and should have been more, WDC.

    I think that Hill will win this hands down. I voted for him.

  3. Whilst Rindt was no doubt very quick, it is hard to really compare him and Hill, as Rindt’s time in the top flight was sadly so very brief. However, the fact than in his Championship year, 4 of his wins came consecutively after the introduction of the Lotus 72, and the other one came after Jack Brabham ran wide and got stuck at the last corner at Monaco, doesn’t seem to show off his talent to best effect, and serves more to underline the strength of the Lotus 72. This isn’t an entirely fair comaprison, as he was apparently very quick, and able to beat Graham Hill on his day, as well as having quite good stats on his side, but I think that ultimately Hill made the greater contribution to F1 history, and is thus to me the greater Champion. A shame that Rindt never got a chance to show the kind of champion he would have been.

    1. Regardless of if he’d been killed or not, he was going to give up at the end of the season anyway

      1. He was certainly talking about it.

  4. I feel on this one that Rindt was a generally more gifted driver, though it is hard to argue with Hill’s record pre-crash, Rindt was an upcoming star. Once he had gotten himself into a good car he was more than a match for anyone and it 1970 blew the opposition away. The man won a championship in which he didn’t even start the last 4 races and still won the title.
    Many such as Bernie Ecclestone(his manager) regard him as one of F1’s fastest and im led to believe that if he had not been tragicaly killed there would have been more to come especially with that Lotus 72.

    1. Rindt would have retired at the end of the 1970 season anyway. He had told his wife Nina he would do so if champion.

      1. Oh yeah, i do remember hearing this somewhere, i stand corrected. Still would of been nice to see what he could of achieved if he had been in f1 for longer.

  5. Graham Hill is the only race driver ever to get the ‘Crown of Motorsport’, so vote goes for him for sure:

    1. Good point! I had forgotten about that! A real triumph.

    2. Thank you for bringing this up – as I think its worth noting!

      My vote goes to Graham Hill. I admit, I don’t know enough about Rindt, but having seen various documentaries on Graham Hill, how he went about racing is inspiring. He was a constant challenger throughout the 60’s and while he was eventually eclipsed by Clark and Stewart, his achievements were vast. Rindt, however, was very fast, but i’m going mainly on statistics.

    3. He wasn’t a bad ‘colour comentator’ either

      1. cheers for this link, never seen that before. Strange thinking of Frank Williams and Chapman racing like that – and how unlucky was Chapman!

      2. How like a lotus… fast and fragile.

  6. I dare say that most people will look at Rindts achievments against Graham Hills and vote for Graham, and whilst i wont judge them for it, the lack of WDCs dont tell the complete truth for just how good Jochen was. He was quick, Ronnie Peterson/Gilles Villeneuve quick. Unreliability cost him a lot of points and Jochens win at Le Man is the stuff of legend.

    Hill by contrast is a modern racer in the 60s, quick in the car but also has had that mechanical side to him with the setting the car up to his liking and tweeking it, Rindt would just get in the car and drive it regardless.

    Both very good and should have been going to the next round, imo. But since i can only vote one. If i hadnt just finished reading a book on Rindt, id be swayed to vote for Graham Hill, but im going for the Austrian raced German.

    1. I opted for Rindt, some stats are better than Hill’s despite a too-short career. And 10 poles to 13 is really good.

      1. The only stat that matters is the points per finish one. this may be the only round where the winner is not ahead in that regard.

        i’m a big fan of g.hill but i voted rindt. from what i’ve read he was a absolute legend. his F2 success reflects how good he was, in an era where F1 drivers regularly and typically competed in F2.

        1. Hill’s results are skewed though by his post-crash career, much as Schumacher’s stats suffered in 2010. It would be interesting to see how he compared to Rindt with the post-crash results completely removed. I was tempted to vote for Hill based on his stylish mouthbrow, but ultimately I went for Rindt as I knew Hill was going to win this round handily anyhow.

        2. Jeffrey Powell
          15th January 2011, 12:25

          Great comment in my opinion if this was a competition for the fastest driver of the WDC.
          Jochen would win. That day in 1970 a brilliant light was extinguished I couldn’t believe it and almost gave up on F1 . But for his tenacity and tremendous contribution to F1 in that era, and for being a great bloke it has to be Graham.

        3. Do you want to explain your contrary first paragraph please?

  7. Whoa. Too close to call for me. I have to pass on this round

  8. What I would like to know if the were any driver who protested Rindt’s title as not being legitimate and that it shouldn’t be possible to receive the title when you’re dead.. That would have been pretty sad! “What are you talking about? He’s dead! He should be excluded. I won the championship!” :P

    1. No, i’m pretty sure they all accepted it, after all, he won it!

    2. The FIA (or whatever it was called then) did not want to give to title to Rindt. The uproar, led by Ickx and Stewart, caused them to change thei minds.

      1. i didn’t know about that. Another reason to despise the fia.
        I will go for hill. Mr montecarlo, won lemans and the indy 500. twice world champion.
        Rindt on the other hand, was fast, and very flanbuoyant driver. But just 6 gp wins, puts him in a lower level than graham.

        1. flamboyant character i meant. There is a pictre of him in a fur coat. I he actually looked good on it.

    3. I can imagine that happening between modern drivers. Perhaps drivers were more like reall gentlemen in the 60’s/70’s ;)

    4. Actually, his closest challenger Jacky Ickx, said he was extremely relieved when he could no longer catch Jochen as he didn’t feel right to take a championship which couldn’t be defended. There was a great interview with Ickx in Motorsport within the past year where he talks at length about this. Ickx = Class

      1. @Kenny: Never heard that FIA story before. What’s the source ? The trophy was actually presented to his finnish wife Nina and I’ve never heard nor read that there was any debate about it.

        1. Didn’t the FIA actually change the rules afterwards so that it could never happen again – ie. you have to be around to be able to pick up that trophy or it isn’t yours? Unless I’m wrong about that, it does show that the FIA wanted it to be that way.

          1. you are absolutely right.
            Article 6.6:
            “The drivers finishing first, second and third in the Championship must be present at the annual FIA Prize Giving ceremony.”

            I don’t know when this rule was adopted but certainly after Rindt’s death so it would vindicate your point.

        2. My info comes from an article I read in the International Herald Tribune at the end of the 1970 season. I was unaware of any debate until I read that article…the problem was that the FIA wanted a driver defending the title in 1971, ie, Ickx. Ickx and Stewart objected, backed up by everyone else, and Rindt got the title.

  9. I have to give this one to Hill, winning the WDC twice and runner up on many occasions, and to top that the only driver to have the Triple Crown.

    Rindt, though undoubtably quick, it was all but short-lived and it’s hard to say how far he would have went. It’s not necessarily absolute speed that wins the day overall, but speed combined with nuance, and we’ll unfortunately never know if Rindt had ability to win WDCs as the underdog.

  10. Voted Graham, a wonderful driver, similar to Prost for race tactical…and look who his opposite were when hi won the titles!!!
    But Jochen Rindt probably would have had a wonderful career hadn’t the fate betrayed him so early.
    Really hard to decide, because they’re both among my favourite drivers, from an era that was so fascinating and attractive.
    I decided Graham for…the numbers.

  11. Vote goes to Hill, taking 2 titles in “golden era” of F1 with so many potential champions on the grid is just a remarkable achievement. Though, Rindt would take another title or two if he lived. Rindt would be topping my “what if” list with Bellof and Rodriguez, but this is champion of champions, so Hill is my choice.

  12. From what I’ve found out about them both I think they were supremely fun characters and good guys too. I really believe Rindt was quite possibly the fastest F1 driver ever and could have had more than one title but that’s just me guessing really. However, I think Graham was a more complete driver and he put in a stunning job of lifting up Lotus after Jimmy died. I voted Hill but it was a tough one and I’m a little sad that one of these two can’t progress to the next round.

    1. Well said Steph – I voted for Hill in a similar fashion.

  13. Hill looks like James Bond; so he gets my vote.

  14. Rindt is really one of those drivers I’d like to have seen race, apparently he was amazing.

    As for those people who say he probably would have won more championships if he’d survived are wrong I’m afraid. His wife was terrified he was going to die in F1 so he’d promised her he’d retire if he won the drivers championship.

  15. The trouble here is that Rindt died when at the peak of his career. We’re comparing a start of a career with someone who completed a full career. That’s pretty difficult to do.

    1. Its more a case of somewhile who died at his peak and someone who had gone well past the other side by the end. As great a driver as Hill was, the fact his stats are so long clearly show he just carried on too long.

      1. Actually in that accident ridden era with fatalities such a frequent occurrence, to have been able to go on so long shows both a huge amount of talent and a huge amount of luck.

        1. Ill rephrase what I said:

          What I meant was, because he went on for so long his stats dont really show how good a driver he was, Its distorted and in future rounds if people vote solely on stats, then they wont see the full picture.

      2. he just carried on too long.

        If I was in F1, I’d never quit…
        What if he liked racing in F1?

  16. it should read “But while Hill …..” and not “But Hill while Hill …..”

    1. And I believe the 1.5L BRM engine was developed “in-house”, not in an hour! 8)

  17. Triple crown, five victories in Monaco, two world championships and three times, team manager (though not as succesful) and a gentleman. Jochen was good, Graham was great.

  18. Should read “and three times second”

  19. Hill was good, but his later years (Driving for his own team and then running it) Were quite dissapointing. I love to watch Rindt drive in old races and I liked him as a person. Had he not died in Monza, he surely would go on to win another WDC, maybe two. While Hill was good in his days, he only won four races in his whole time with Lotus, while the far less experianced Rindt won six (and took the WDC). Thats why I voted for Rindt.

    1. Though Hill’s record with the Embassy-Hill team as a driver was dismal, the team really started pulling it together when he became a full time manager. Tony Brise was doing well and so was Alan Jones with points finishes to show for in 1975 before Hill, Brise and several others members of the team got killed in the plane crash

  20. The vote is going a lot closer then I would have expected, but I have to go for Hill here, the man was a force in the 60’s. Rindt would have retired after 1970 anyway, so what might have been doens’t really come into play i.m.o. And I can’r forget that HIll won the triple crown!

    so hill it it, besides, can’t vote against both fater and son, that would be cruell ;)

  21. Who do we have left anyways…? Alonso, Hamilton, Button and Phill Hill by my count?

    1. If that’s right, we’ll probably see Alonso v Button and Hamilton v Phil Hill.

      Actually, any combination of Alonso, Hamilton, and Button would be interesting.

  22. This is the closest contest yet, in every other line-up I saw a clear winner immediately, but in this won I really struggled to my ultimate decision: Rindt.
    Both drivers are fantastic, easily going in my all-time top ten drivers, but Rindt appeared to show incredible talent – he only failed to finish outside the top ten on three occasions – he was badly let down by reliability throughout his career and I reckon that his career would have gone from strength to strength on the back of that WDC win.

    1. Agreed. A couple of races where Jochen really shone: Aspern 1962 beating 3 liter Jaguars with his Alfa Romeo Giulia TI. 1964 F2 London Trophy race where he won beating the class of the field including Jim Clark, Denny Hulme, Peter Arundell and Graham Hill himself.

  23. One of the closest battles. Rindt was the faster one, but Hill had his strong points too. He wasn’t Clark’s closest rival in the 60’s for no reason! However, he started badly at Lotus, he was far from Clark(second best but still far away), he was crushed by him in their years together( although I have to admit he was beginning to age at that point). And,also, the rookie Jackie Stewart proved a match to him.
    I don’t want to consider his later years because it would be unfair to him, he is a great driver and I think he did it because of his passion for the sport, so this is something we should respect, not criticize.
    On the other hand Rindt was very, very fast and had only one oportunity to shine which he took flawlessly.
    I don’t remember the source, but Frank Williams once said that,in his opinion, Jochen Rindt was the most gifted driver in F1. That has to mean something! I go with him.

  24. I think Rindt is more attractive character, but I voted to Hill. not because of his mustache. probably.

  25. Graham Hill was my hero growing up. I didn’t particularly like his upper class twit accent, I didn’t like his dashing mustache, I liked his driving, his victories and his cars. In my mind it was him driving my electric car set’s Lotus and consistently beating the Ferrari. And I share part of my name with him, maybe that was the strongest link when I was a kid.
    I can still remember hearing of his death and it still makes me sad to recall. Jochen Rindt tragically came and went so fast in F1 that he didn’t make the same mark on my memory.
    Thus +1 for Graham.

  26. This is pretty close. I’d say Hill considering he’s the only driver in motorsport history to complete the triple crown of motorsport. A sad thing I read about was that Rindt said he was going to retire if he won the title.

  27. I voted Rindt.

    I’ve never much rated Hill. He won his championships in dominant cars and was not the fastest driver in any of those seasons. Only his record at Monaco strikes me as remarkable.

    Rindt on the other hand was a true great, in terms of raw speed only Clark really rivaled him amongst his contemporaries. It is telling that Stewart felt that towards the end of 1969, Rindt had become the outright fastest in the field as well as developing over the course of that season in to a more complete driver.

    His final laps in the 1970 Monaco Grand Prix are amongst the most astonishing ever seen in F1, right up there with Fangio’s drive at the Nurburgring in 1957 and his title should have been the first of many.

  28. Sorry to DP but missing from ‘notable team-mates’ for Rindt are;

    Pedro Rodriguez, Jackie Ickx, Graham Hill, Mario Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi.

    and for Graham Hill;

    Jochen Rindt, Mario Andretti,

  29. Again a very difficult decision Graham Hill nearly got my vote but in the end I had to vote for Rindt. He achieved so mutch in a shortened career

  30. I was totally stuck after going through write up’s on the net, stats, footage of the two so in the end followed my gut and went hill, although i’ve een very little of him from his prime. By far the hardest so far though

    Cant see the last two being so hard, surley thanks too the seeding we wont get Nando and Lewis as Phil Hill and Button were awful champions

  31. Rindt’s percentage of car failures (55%) is the highest I’ve ever seen. Is there any other champion with such misfortune?

    I’m really surprised by the figures…

    1. It is quite high. Most of his retirements are in his last year with Cooper and his one and only year with Brabham

      Ten retirements out of twelve races in 1968 when he was driving for Brabham. Nine times due to mechanical failure and once for an accident in Monaco. He only finished two races in the whole year and both of those were third places.

      Very unlucky but on the flipside when his car managed to get to the finish he finished well!

  32. Jochen was more than capable of more wins + a few more championships.

    Unfortunately it wasn’t to be.

    I’m voting for Hill and it’s not for the length of his career. He just put a lot into F1 and got a lot in return.

  33. Some people are basing their choice in this match up on factors outside of F1. I was under the impression that we are meant to make a choice based on accomplishments in F1 only. Perhaps I misunderstood, and if so, I want to change my vote in the Stewart-Andretti match up.

    Can someone enlighten me on this point? Thanks.

  34. Easily Hill for me. The triple crown is a unique feat. Plus 2 WDC’s, 3 runner up spots & 5 Monaco wins. And to top it off, he was my grandma’s cousin! (not that this would make any difference)

  35. Greham Hill
    The only driver to have won the Triple Crown of Motorsport.

  36. Well, I voted for Rindt, primarily due to the stats and winning his first race.

    But I was conflicted about this. I’ve got the greatest respect for Damon’s dad.

    And I was probably hasty, had I considered a bit more and remembered the Triple Crown, I probably would have reversed my vote.

    Actually I wish I could, but that’s the way it goes.

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