GP he finished fourth. This is the sort of domination that only Fangio and Clark have been able to achieve before, but whereas they were often able to go out and win as they liked Stewart has had more opposition than he has cared to handle in several races this year.
In Spain, only the unreliability of the opposition gave him victory as his car was running poorly; at Silverstone he had a great fight with Jochen Rindt which ended when Jochen's aerofoil began to disintegrate; at the Nurburgring Jackie Ickx caught him after a poor start and they had a big scrap until the Matra began refusing to select its gears properly and in the Canadian GP Ickx once again harried him unmercifully until the unfortunate accident which put the Matra out of the race. So he hasn't been entirely without opposition.
Where has he had the edge? As someone pointed out to me he is the only driver to be using a new design of car this year-everyone else is stuck with a 1968 car, which in effect means a 1967 design, and many of the drivers are actUally driving the very same cars they used in 1968. Naturally they arc well maintained but rivets start stretching and glue comes unglued and each tiny bit of movement means a less rigid car. This did happen to Lotus, whose 49Bs were handling poorly for no apparent reason at one stage in the season, and it was only when the cars were stripped completely that wear in the basic chassis could be traced.
Stewart quite candidly admits that the MSI0 would never have won the Championship for him, so it was an astute move on someone's part to design a new 2wd car as well as an interim 4wd machine while everyone efse was putting their eggs in the 4wd basket and keeping their old 2wd car as standby.
Unfortunately, the 4wd layout proved to be anything but the magic elixir everyone hoped for, and there was much scrambling to update the 1968 cars. The situation was not improved at Monaco with the banning of aerofoils amidst much acrimony. However, everyone seems to have forgotten about the fuss, and the wings hardly seem to be missed any more. The MS80, with its dumpy fuselage, hardly looks a race winner but the centre of gravity is nice and low and it is not affected as much as some of the opposition by the weight transfer of fuel during a race. On occasions the Lotus 49B has been as quick as the Matra and the relatively simple Brabham BT26 has been slightly quicker when young Ickx has had the bit between his teeth, but Stewart has always had the edge on reliability and superb preparation from Ken Tyrrell and his men at the woodyard in East Horsley. Everyone was predicting a shattering performance from Jochen Rindt this year, but his bad crash at Barcelona in May seems to have affected his driving just as Jackie Stewart's crash at Spa in the BRM affected his performance. Probably neither of them would admit it openly but after their crashes they had just lost that fine edge. There was no real visible difference in Stewart's driving after his crash, but Rindt's is noticeably less lurid - he no longer takes that slight extra risk no longer leaves his braking later "'than anyone else, no longer hangs the tail out on those sweeping fast bends and has developed a positive dislike for long circuits which need learning. Ickx is the opposite-he loves the long circuits as does Jackie Stewart, their natural ability and almost photographic memory putting them streets ahead of the opposition. Ickx had a bad crash in a Ferrari last year which left him with a broken leg, but it seems to have affected him very little and he is still very young and very ambitious-after all this is only his second Formula 1 season.
Stewart dedicated himself to winning the Championship with an almost monastic fervour. Despite his admitted interest in the 'bawbees' he gave up many lucrative offers of drives in the Tasman series, sports cars, Indianapolis and CanAm racing to concentrate full time on winning the Championship. He did endless series of tests with Dunlop to ensure their tyres were competitive, he visited nearly every circuit well before the race to carry out private testing and have the car properly set up before practice ever started and he weighed up. the opposition very carefully during practice. He is also a master tactician. If you read Jackie's column last month you will recall how he worked out his gear ratios at Monza for the Italian GP so that he crossed the finishing line in fourth gear while everyone I else had to change into fifth, thus: losing that vital fraction of a second: a gearchange takes. In fact he won: the race from Jochen Rindt by a nose - just about the length of time it took Jochen to change into fifth.
Jackie has his critics. Many call; him cocky, others dislike his extrovert long locks, still more vilify his campaign for safety in racing while his business acumen is the subject for much debate. Before Jackie, probably only Stirling Moss ~ really capitalised on his ability while other drivers thought it was t ungentlemanly to ask for a lot of ~ money in exchange for doing something they liked. But a racing driver's life can be a short one, tragically short in so many cases, and who in all honesty 1 can say that a top class driver is overpaid? If the market cannot stand it, then the money won’t be paid. Jackie's earnings this year have been estimated by people (who cannot have the faintest idea) at over £100,000 I don’t think that's an unreason, able sum; after all a pop singer or a I film star could knock that up in a week or two, their only brushes With danger being the possibility of a shock from their electric guitars. Over-- exposure could be the danger, but Jackie's handler Mark McConnack has had a good deal of success in the field of promotion and won't let Jackie be seen too often. You can be sure, however, that his name is going to appear on all sorts of products, from driving gloves to tee shirts. Jackie gives his sponsors good value, for he is an amusing speaker and. will sign endless autographs; he has also been known to prod some. of his sponsors into getting a bit of publicity for themselves, as witness the recent sprucing up of Dunlop personnel with their yellow and black outfits.
I have gone into print saying that I thought the 1969 Formula 1 season has lacked excitement and interest from the spectator's point of view, but races since then have certainly gone a long way towards changing my mind. I still say, however, that small fields, one-engine domination and one or two drivers streets ahead of the others is no recipe for bringing in the crowds. With fields as low as 13 cars on five-mite-long circuits (as happened at Clermont Ferrand) there is not much to see, especially since the races seldom last longer than two hours. This forces organisers to lay on other attractions to give spectators value for their money, which in turn puts up the cost of promoting a meeting. Naturally, Cosworth cannot do anything about the uncompetitive state of their only two rivals, BRM and Ferrari, and in a way it dOes lead to closer racing since everyone has more or less the same amount of power. Neither can Stewart, Ickx and co help being better drivers than the others, but the fact remains that Grand Prix racing is not at its healthiest at present. You cannot force new people to join in, and even if they do there is no guarantee that they will be competitive. At least one new car, the March, should be on the starting grids next season which will make a welcome change, but let's hope that Honda will come back, together with more international competition. I will openly admit that I gave several F1 races a miss this season and watched long-distance sports car races instead; to my delight I enjoyed them immensely, purely for the variety in the machinery and the opponunity to travel a11 round the circuit.
On the subject of safety Jackie Stewart has been cast as the villain of the piece, vinually being branded single-handed for stopping the Belgian Grand Prix. He happened to be the GPDA member who inspected the Spa circuit, but all the other drivers concurred with his decision, and since the organisers did not complete tbe necessary modifications in time the race had to be cancelled. Drivers who stand to earn more than £1000 in starting money if a race is held are hardly going to force its cancellation unless there's a very good reason. Now
that the circuit has been modified there seems every chance that next year's race will be held. Nearly every driver has expressed his apprehension at the thought of averaging 150mph round the Spa circuit, which has claimed so many lives. The fact that it is now safer doesn't make the circuit itself any less demanding, but there is a peculiar bunch of people who think that unless the result of a mistake or a mechanical failure is a horrendous crash into the surrounding scenery then a driver is not proving his bravery, whereas the opposite is undoubtedly true