Autosport 70: How Scheckter instigated Silverstone's most famous F1 incident - F1
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Autosport 70: How Scheckter instigated Silverstone’s most famous F1 incident – F1

Jody Scheckter famously triggered considered one of Formula 1’s most notorious crashes on the 1973 British Grand Prix. For the 8 August 2013 challenge of Autosport journal, we spoke to him and different drivers who had been concerned

At the tip of the primary lap of the 1973 British Grand Prix, Formula 1 new boy Jody Scheckter is mendacity in fourth place when his McLaren slides vast on the exit of the ultra-fast Woodcote right-hander. The ensuing spin and accident will contain 9 automobiles and grow to be one of the crucial well-known multi-car incidents in F1, maybe now solely behind the 1998 Belgian GP crash.

Astonishingly, the one driver to maintain accidents within the ensuing chaos was Italian Andrea de Adamich. It took nearly an hour to chop him out of his Brabham BT42 (beneath), with the end result ending his single-seater profession.

Scheckter’s view

“We changed to a harder compound on the left-rear tyre,” remembers the South African. “I don’t think we’d run it before, but we did for this race because we didn’t think the softer tyre would last. All the corners were right-handers, and Woodcote wasn’t flat, but nearly flat.

“I bought midway spherical and the automotive simply twitched round and went onto the grime. I bought sideways, my entrance wheels totally locked leftways. I believed if I lifted off the brake it could roll ahead and I might keep it up, nevertheless it went straight into the wall.

“I jumped out and asked where the spare car was but Phil Kerr, the team manager, told me to hide away! I was given a really hard time” Jody Scheckter

“I looked up and cars were crashing before they hit me. I put my head down and it seemed quiet so I was ready to jump out. Then I looked up and they were still crashing!

“There weren’t as many guidelines then as immediately. These days, they might have put me out for a few races. I jumped out and requested the place the spare automotive was however Phil Kerr, the group supervisor, informed me to cover away! I used to be given a very laborious time.

“Maybe if I’d gone a little slower, I wouldn’t have come off. Maybe when I was older I was a little more cautious. But crashing and doing a good job are so close sometimes. That’s what racing is all about.

“It did not hassle me after I was younger. I hated the thought I might trigger an accident and somebody would get harm however you do not assume you are going to get harm. The first time I realised I might get harm was after I noticed Francois Cevert killed [in practice at Watkins Glen], and I used to be the primary on the scene…”

Andrea de Adamich Q&A

Autosport: What do you recall of the crash?

Andrea de Adamich: Unfortunately I remember everything. I never lost consciousness. Only when everything was finished and I was put into the ambulance did my mind ‘disappear’.

At the old Silverstone, we were flat-out in fifth gear in front on the pits at 160mph with full tanks of petrol. In this case, if you see the turbulence in front of you, the driver only thinks to find the best way between the other cars not to lose time. I saw a good space in front of me and lifted off the brakes and started to accelerate through. At the same time, the BRM of Jean-Pierre Beltoise was hit from the rear by somebody else [Carlos Pace] and turned 90 degrees to the left, closing my open space.

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I crashed badly with my nose into the engine of the BRM and my Brabham was directed into the guardrail, where I crashed again.

AS: Why did it take so long to free you from the car?

AdA: It took 52 minutes. The main problems were the full tanks of petrol; the tanks around my seat and the cockpit were very damaged. The instruments and plastic body were supported by tubular elements that collapsed into my legs.

To take me out it was necessary to open up the car in a longitudinal way to avoid cutting the lateral tanks. The marshals also used hydro-cutting machinery to avoid sparks, which would have been risky with petrol and vapour.

AS: What injuries did you suffer?

AdA: I broke my left knee and, badly, the right ankle. The left ankle was the worst. I couldn’t stand up for three months.

AS: Scheckter had a lot of criticism. Was he pushing too hard?

AdA: I don’t judge Jody for the accident – it was a mistake. But I do criticise his impolite position. He never called me or my team to offer greetings for a quick return.

The Fittipaldis

Brothers Emerson (Lotus) and Wilson (Brabham) Fittipaldi were battling side by side when the Scheckter accident happened.

Emerson: “The crash occurred forward of me. There was one thing very particular about that race. My mom by no means needed to look at; she used to go to the grands prix and keep within the automotive park. I informed my mom, ‘You get so nervous, you need to watch one grand prix and see the way it occurs’.

“Jody was completely sideways. I asked myself whether to stay on the road or jump to the grass. My decision was the grass” Wilson Fittipaldi

“She went up on the garages to watch… at Woodcote! After the race, she said she would never watch another one. That was too much for her! My brother and I both had a close miss.”

Wilson: “I saw the black nose of Emerson’s Lotus pulling alongside. When we came out of the corner I looked ahead. Jody was completely sideways. I asked myself whether to stay on the road or jump to the grass.

“My determination was the grass, however I used to be sideways. Emerson additionally jumped onto the grass, and we managed to simply get previous.”


While Peter Revson went on to win the restarted race for McLaren, the accident did little to fix his team-mate Scheckter’s repute for being quick and wild.

“The mentality was completely different as a result of so many individuals bought killed again then,” says Jackie Stewart, who would go on to take his third world title that season before retiring.

“The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association met at each GP. Discipline was dished out to a younger driver who was a hooligan – three of the GPDA members would go and converse to you.”

So did anyone speak to Jody after Silverstone? “Oh sure…” replies Stewart.


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