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It was forty years ago today.....

FEATURE BY CHRIS BALFE
05/09/2010

It was on 5 September 1970 that Jochen Rindt was killed whilst practicing for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, subsequently becoming Formula One's first - and thankfully only - posthumous world champion.

The Autodromo Nazionale Monza has seen much blood shed over the years. In 1922, Fritz Kuhn was killed during practice for the Italian Grand Prix, the first ever event held at the circuit which had been officially opened just seven days earlier.

In 1928, Emilio Materassi was killed along with 27 spectators in a horrific accident on the main straight in the Italian Grand Prix. While in the 1933 event, Giuseppe Campari, Baconin Borzacchini and Stanislaw Czaykowski all lost their lives on the southern banked curve as a result of an earlier oil spill. And thus continued a tradition of sickening carnage.. Alberto Ascari... Wolfgang von Tripps... Ronnie Peterson.

In 1970, Jochen Rindt headed to Monza with a clear lead in the world championship having won five of the eight races contested thus far that season.

Born in Germany but raised by his grandparents in Graz, Rindt raced under an Austrian licence but never actually became an Austrian citizen.

Having achieved great success in F2, in 1964 Rindt made his F1 debut, driving Rob Walker's Brabham-BRM in the Austrian Grand Prix at Zeltweg, retiring after 58 laps of the 105 lap race.

Between '65 and '67, Rindt drove for the works Cooper team but was unable to repeat the sort of form witnessed during his F2 career. That said, that didn't mean the Austrian - who finished the '66 season in third place - wasn't one of the most spectacular drivers out there, his overweight Cooper-Maserati almost always at seemingly impossible angles at he drew every last ounce from his car.

Subsequently, in 1968, having been introduced to a certain Bernard Charles Ecclestone a year earlier, Rindt joined Brabham in a deal arranged by the Englishman who had become the driver's unofficial manager.

Ecclestone had advised the Brabham move because he felt the Coopers were no longer competitive, and in late '68, feeling the same about Brabham, arranged a deal with Colin Chapman for Rindt to join Lotus alongside Graham Hill - newly crowned as world champion - as the British team still came to terms with the loss of Jim Clark.

Having had the edge over Hill during the Tasman Series, Rindt's F1 season got off to a bad start when he was hospitalised after crashing in Spain, the result of the collapse of the enormous rear wing on the 49B. While the next few races were relatively unremarkable, Rindt was to give one of the finest performances of his career at Silverstone in an epic duel with Jackie Stewart.

The first win came at Watkins Glen, Rindt taking a clean sweep of pole, victory and fastest lap. However, the event was overshadowed by the dreadful accident which saw teammate Graham Hill break both legs, the Englishman having been thrown from his car following a tyre failure.

Starting the 1970 season in the ageing 49C, Rindt drove the striking new 72 at Jarama eventually retiring with an ignition problem. At Monaco, Rindt scored a remarkable win. Having pressurised race leader Jack Brabham for much of the race, the Australian veteran made a rare mistake in the final corner, running wide into the straw bales... Rindt didn't wait for the invitation.

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