“Jochen Rindt – Uncrowned King of Formula 1” reviewed

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For fans of books on Austrian racing drivers it has been something of a bumper period, with Jon Saltinstall and Maurice Hamilton’s excellent Niki Lauda retrospectives, and now a reissue of David Tremayne’s – Jochen Rindt Uncrowned King of Formula 1 (if you’re sitting on an unpublished 800 page opus on Patrick Friesacher, now could be your moment).

Tremayne’s satisfyingly deep biography of Jochen Rindt, “Uncrowned King of Formula 1”, was originally published a decade ago by Haynes as a large, extensively illustrated hardback offering. Marking the 50th anniversary of his death, the book has been reissued by Evro as a paperback which, though still hefty, is a more accessible format.

The text can hardly be faulted. As with his Jim Clark book a couple of years ago, Tremayne goes into exhaustive detail about Rindt’s life and career (at almost 500 pages this is not a quick read) while always remaining highly readable. Though Rindt’s life came to a tragic early end, there is much to enjoy in this history of a driver who, like many of his rivals, raced in multiple categories.

Newer fans seeking a window into how the sport was over 50 years ago will find plenty to interest them here. This is particularly the case in the later years of Rindt’s career as the sport started to move recognisably towards the modern era.

Longer-term Rindt fans may give this edition a miss, I couldn’t spot many updates from the 2010 publication, and if you picked it up then I’m not sure you’d necessarily want the paperback as well, except for completeness.

After a recent run of sizable hardbacks, though, it is great to see ‘Jochen Rindt’ appearing in paperback at a price point which should attract casual fans as well as collectors. It is certainly well worth your time.

RaceFans rating

Rating four out of five

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Author: David Tremayne
Publisher: Evro
Published: August 2020 (this edition)
Pages: 496
Price: £14.99
ISBN: 9781910505564

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Ben Evans
Motorsport commentator Ben is RaceFans' resident bookworm. Look out for his verdict on the latest motor racing publications on Sundays....

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10 comments on ““Jochen Rindt – Uncrowned King of Formula 1” reviewed”

  1. How good was Rindt? I’ve heard contemporaries praise him highly.

    1. I saw him win his first race in F1 in 1969 at Watkins Glen. The next year he won the championship even though he was killed during the season. I’d call that “good”. If you used Google you might learn to research these simple facts yourself.

      1. Dave, I agree i saw him in 1970 (not 1969) Zandvoort (win) and Spa (DNS) but even he wasn’t at the last 4 races of a 13 races championship he won.

      2. So all champions are good, and all who didn’t make are not good? I really don’t think it’s that simple. Imo some just got lucky and unlucky with the car. Moss for example lost in the championship fight, but is still rated very highly, and on the other hand people say Vettel had no business being 4 x WC and it was all about the car.

        I just don’t know about the era to say about Rindt and the car he was driving. I could of course research it all myself, but since this is a place to share ideas with knowledgeable people, I thought a quick question about it would fill me in, but will refrain from such silliness in the future.

        1. Magnus Rubensson (@)
          22nd September 2020, 9:44

          Historic F1 still interests me, so I will put in my 2p re. Rindt. Short version: he was great!
          I remember 1970 as an 11-year old boy who read everything F1-related I could come across. My dad was also interested.

          As I recall it, Rindt was very, very fast. It seemed to me that JR was a similar type of driver as Clark, Villeneuve, Peterson, Moss, Amon, Senna… These guys were what the GPL online racing community calls “aliens” – insanely quick and when the cars held together, you would always find them at the top or very close.

          It seemed to me – at the time – that Rindt as a driver often had the edge on the Stewart-Brabham-Hulme-Hill-Ickx-Prost group. These drivers were also very fast and possibly (just my own opinion) a tiny-tiny bit easier on their cars than the “Clark-Rindt-Villeneuve” group.

          Jochen Rindt had done several seasons in slower cars. In 1969, teammate Graham Hill finished seven races with one win (Monaco) and one second place in South Africa. Rindt finished only four races – 4th in Britain, 2nd in Italy, 3rd in Canada and then he won at Watkins Glen, beating Hill by 22 points to 19. So when he finished, he was on the podium three times out of four.

          1970 he finally got a car that matched his ability, and the success followed.

          His unfortunate death was due to a mechanical issue, not driver error (same with his and Hill’s crashes in Spain when their wings broke and both crashed in the same place). Rindt would very likely have been Stewart’s main rival in 1971 and could very well have taken the 1971 title as well.

          The Lotus 72 was most likely a competitive car in 1971 as well but new drivers Fittipaldi, Wisell, Walker etc. were still inexperienced compared to a seasoned veteran like Rindt.
          It would take Emerson Fittipaldi one more year before he could wring out the most from the 72 and he duly went on to win two more titles with this amazing car.

          The British GP in 1969 is on Youtube. Great show by Rindt.

          PS. Special mention:
          As a native Swede, I also think Reine Wisell was underrated in F1.
          In F3 he was frequently on par with Ronnie Peterson.

          Wisell’s third place in USA in 1970 is an indication of his true potential. RW also finished 4th in the first race in 1971. Then followed a string of retirements and problems for Wisell … while Fittipaldi grabbed two podiums and held on to the Lotus seat for 1972.

          1. Magnus Rubensson (@)
            22nd September 2020, 9:57

            The obvious correction for 1974 – sentence should read:
            “…two more titles, *one* with this amazing car…”.

      3. Dave, you’re saying nothing about what skills that Rindt actually had though – just saying “well, he won” doesn’t tell anybody anything about the way in which he won his achievements or anything about Rindt as a person.

        I would have thought that, if you were actually present at some of the races he participated in, you would be able to offer a commentary that was more informative than a contemptuous “go look the answer up elsewhere, I can’t be bothered” – all it does is give the impression you are treating Rindt’s legacy with contempt.

  2. He made the most out of driving his bathtub full of fuel at the time. I likened his loss to any championship point leader in their moment of success suddenly of their championship weekend not return to the pits. It must have stunned all at that time. My first experience of life lost when the future appeared to be so bright was from Gilles Villeneuve at Zolder while trying to better the teams number while on Racing tires that were shot after two laps. Pretty heavy times. But racing is so much safer while so much more dangerous for drivers today. Hard to get hurt bad now a days because so many died while building safer cars. Rindt died in a very fragile high speed car. Cars then were wrapped in real danger, but that can said of all cars. It’s just forty years of technology that keeps most alive today. What over twenty five years since Senna. I never like Senna because he was always better than all other drivers at the time. But his fans loved him as no man had been loved before. He directly contributed in his passing to make racing safer and better. Just as Rindt was doing when he didn’t return to the pits. We did lose something that day. RIP Jochen

    1. Nice words.

  3. One of the worst days of my life, at last he was nearly there, we had lost Jim Clark who undoubtly was pure genius, but Jochen was a character larger than life by a considerable power. As a fan through my teenage years there were disappointments but when the magic turned on every moment watching him made my young life seem worthwhile.

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