Champion of Champions: Jackie Stewart vs Mario Andretti

Jackie Stewart vs Mario Andretti

Champion of championsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Champion of Champions: Jackie Stewart vs Mario Andretti

Jackie Stewart and Mario Andretti competed with each other in F1 for several years in the late sixties and early seventies.

But while Stewart was reeling off wins and titles for Ken Tyrrell, Andretti’s F1 campaign was part-time at first as he concentrated his efforts on racing in America.

Stewart turned down the chance to make his F1 debut alongside Jim Clark at Lotus, preferring instead to drive for BRM in 1965. Regular points finishes and a win in Monza helped Stewart to third in the championship, seven points behind team mate Graham Hill.

He started 1966 with a win in Monaco but much of the rest of the season was blighted by unreliability. The following year was even worse, but Stewart finished on the podium on the two occasions that his H16-engined car saw the chequered flag.

A switch to Matra in 1968 saw him finish runner-up that year before clinching his first championship in 1969.

It was at Watkins Glen in 1968 that Andretti made his debut – from pole position. He made occasional starts for the team for two seasons, then March in 1970. In 1971 he occasionally drove for Ferrari, winning on his first appearance for them at Kyalami.

Stewart, meanwhile, began building a team around him. Tyrrell switched from chassis buyer to full-blown constructor, and although this inevitably meant there was some teething trouble, Stewart won with the car in 1970. That set up a tilt at the title the following year, which he delivered, with six wins sealing his second crown.

Another might have followed in 1972 but he was sidelined by an ulcer, which temporarily kept him out of the cockpit. Emerson Fittipaldi seized the initiative but Stewart gave notice of his intentions by winning the final two races of the year. Sure enough, with five wins supported by consistent points finishes he was champion once again in 1973.

Stewart retired at the end of the season. Andretti didn’t start any F1 races that year and made just two in 1974 with the Parnelli team. Colin Chapman enticed him back to Lotus for 1976 and at the end of the year he scored his long overdue second Grand Prix win.

His title chances were blunted by unreliability in 1977 but he won four of the seven races he finished. With an improved 78 the following year he bagged the title – but Lotus then fell into sharp decline.

Andretti hung around for two more years driving the dreadfully uncompetitive 80 and 81. After a poor 1981 with Alfa Romeo he quit the sport, only to make a couple of appearances as a substitute for Williams and Ferrari in 1982.

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.

Jackie Stewart Mario Andretti
Jackie Stewart, Matra, 1969 Mario Andretti, Williams, 1982
Titles 1969, 1971, 1973 1978
Second in title year/s Jacky Ickx, Ronnie Peterson, Emerson Fittipaldi Ronnie Peterson
Teams BRM, Matra, Tyrrell Lotus, March, Ferrari, Parnelli, Alfa Romeo, Williams
Notable team mates Graham Hill, Johnny Servoz-Gavin, Francois Cevert Jacky Ickx, Clay Regazzoni, Ronnie Peterson
Starts 99 128
Wins 27 (27.27%) 12 (9.38%)
Poles 17 (17.17%) 18 (14.06%)
Modern points per start1 11.20 5.24
% car failures2 32.32 39.84
Modern points per finish3 16.55 8.71
Notes Finished his first six races in the points and won his eighth start Dabbled in F1 with different teams in late sixties/early seventies
Runner-up to Graham Hill in 1968 before winning three titles in five years Six-year stint with Lotus yielded ’78 title
Retired on the eve of what would have been his 100th start after team mate Cevert was killed Made brief return from retirement in 1982 with Williams and Ferrari
Bio Jackie Stewart Mario Andretti

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?

  • Jackie Stewart (92%)
  • Mario Andretti (8%)

Total Voters: 556

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Images ?? (Stewart), Williams/Sutton (Andretti)

103 comments on “Jackie Stewart vs Mario Andretti”

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  1. A lot of people point to Ayrton Senna’s 1993 European Grand Prix at Donington as the greatest drive ever. Probably because he passed so many cars on the opening lap. But as much as I am a Senna fan, and as much as it pains me to admit it, Donington 1993 was only the second-greatest drive ever. Sir John Young Stewart takes the prize for the best drive. His 1968 Germand Grand Prix was nothing short of a masterpiece – running in abysmal conditions that would have made the 2010 Korean Grand Prix look like a sunshower is bad enough, but to do it at the Nurburgring with a broken wrist and beat Graham Hill by over four minutes is just one of those things that is so awesome that you’d think it couldn’t possibly exist. And yet, it does. I think that race gets sadly overlooked in the face of Donington 1993, but it was anabsolutely stellar effort. One that I can’t see the combined might of Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton ever being able to replicate.

    1. Also, there’s no poll.

      1. Yeah I noticed that too…

        1. It’s pretty hard not to notice.

          1. but it took me a while before I realized it was not just me missing it!

          2. i thought i hadn’t logged in or something!

      2. I’d been wondering about that myself… ;-)

        1. HounslowBusGarage
          11th January 2011, 13:28

          I can see the poll. Just can’t vote, but apparently 17 people have managed it.

          1. Are you logged in?

      3. Prisoner Monkeys I agree

    2. Fangio 1957 Nurbrugring was the best ever drive. He couldn’t sleep after it for god sake!

      1. Fangio isn’t in this poll.

        1. It seems that a number of people here think Fangio is in every poll.

          1. Yes, his haters may still use the telegraph, but Fangio fans sure seem to be a modern lot.

            This is the first poll to leave me conflicted. Yes in terms of F1 Sir Jackie obliterates Mario, but as a champion of champions (all forms of racing considered, Andretti takes the cake)

            Stewart will get my vote as this is purely an F1 matter and in terms of F1 I say he is actually underrated. I think he was just as good a driver as Clark, Fangio, Senna, Prost, Schumi, etc. But when you take into account the impact he has had on the sport, the advancements in safety, going against the grain, and how he has remained a great ambassador of the sport make him in my mind, The Greatest.

      2. i would consider both at the same level. It’s one of those days when a master makes the masterpiece of his career.
        About senna. He always said that the race at estoril was much more dificult than the one at donington. The lotus was much harder to drive with th brutal turbo power, plus the lack of tration control. But the one at donington, was the one most of the people saw. So that’s the most talked about.

    3. A masterpiece indeed in foggy, windy and wet conditions in the ‘ring, taking the mantle of Nebelmeister from Rosemeyer.

      1. But this is still a tough one. Sir Jackie Stewart was perhaps one of the greatest drivers ever on and off the track, but who can boast Mario Andretti’s versatility?

        The American was a race winner on both sides of the Atlantic, won races in diverse machines as diverse from midgets to stock cars with USAC single seaters, IndyCars and Formula 1 cars along the way! He’s a legend, earning the wrath of his father and coming up on his own through the ranks to become a successful racing driver racing well into the early 90s in CART.

        I know this is about Formula 1 alone and I wish I could vote for both! But since I can only vote for one, it has to be for Mario Gabriele Andretti. I take my hat off to the legend.

    4. On top of it all, he hated that circuit.

    5. What about Jimmy Clark at Spa, 1965?

  2. Jackie Stewart.
    27.27% – incredible result.

    1. Indeed, for anyone to survive 99 races in that era (never mind win a third of them) was an achievement in itself

      1. 27.27 is a lot closer to 25 than it is to 33.33 Ned 8)

        1. Haha, don’t be pedantic :P

    2. If that’s incredible then what are these??
      Fangio – 47.06%
      Ascari – 40.63%
      Clark – 34.72%
      Schumacher – 33.96%

      1. You have to compare it to how many races they did. Simply stating those numbers would make a guy who entered and won one race a 100%.

        1. Juan Manuel Fangio
          Starts 51
          Wins 24 (47.06%)
          Poles 29 (56.86%)

          Alberto Ascari
          Starts 32
          Wins 13 (40.63%)
          Poles 14 (43.75%

          Jim Clark
          Starts 72
          Wins 25 (34.72%)
          Poles 33 (45.83%)

          Michael Schumacher
          Starts 268
          Wins 91 (33.96%)
          Poles 68 (25.37%)

          1. of these schumacher’s is the most statistically astonishing because of the number of races he started. as with anything, the larger the dataset the more reliable the results. 33% of 268 is a hell of lot more reliable than 34& of 72.

            however, the eras are not comparable. i think statistics will decide too much of this. the best stat is modern points per finish – this is what wins championships.

            regarding this poll: it;s Stewart all the way. andretti is unlucky to be paired with JYS in this round. had he been paired with say Mansell, I think Mario would have it.

  3. Its missing the poll

  4. I’d go for Stewart although I wasn’t familiar with the early one-off drives of Andretti and see much more potential in him now. After all he beat Ronnie Peterson in 1978 who I also appreciate.

    Anyway Stewart was also a class on his own. I’d mention the ‘greatest of eras’ line again in which he’s often mentioned while Andretti is not.

    Fangio, Moss, Clark, Stewart, Lauda, Prost, Senna, Schumacher.

    I wait for the poll and hope that four from these drivers (excluding obviously Moss) will make it to the semis.

    1. I’ve read in a couple of places (that I cannot cite) that in 1978 there were the Dreaded Team Orders at JPS. Andretti was contractually #1 and Ronnie followed closely. Anyone confirm / refute?

      1. Yes, Peterson signed on as No.2 driver and he stuck to the arrangement.

        In my view it is impossible to say who would have won the WDC that year if team orders weren’t in place. Mario definitely had the upper hand in the first half of the season- familiarity and set up savvy while Ronnie was pretty much clueless when it came to set up. As the season prgressed Ronnie got settled in and…it would have been something to watch those two racing each other. The arguement that Peterson was “holding station” in each of their many 1-2 finishes doesn’t hold water because Mario was “holding station”, too, going just fast enough to get them home at the front. The only thing I can with certainty is that it would have been close…

        1. I should add that there was one race that year in which Mario had car trouble while leading and Ronnie did, truely, hold station, protecting Mario’s back to the finish.

          Further to the tale, Mario and Ronnie became fast (pun intended) friends that season…the many stories to the contrary are bulldust.

  5. Jackie Stewart, Duh. But where is the poll.

  6. Jackie Stewart. Tough decision though, but I personally think Jackie is one of the greatest champions in F1, possibly even the best. This is not just because of his remarkable on track achievements – but also because of the way he changed F1. F1 is safe because of Jackie Stewart.

    Further, he was a successful team owner in the late 90’s, even winning a race. One of the greatest people to be in F1, let alone one of the best champions.

    Shame there is no poll though!

  7. Much is made (and rightly so) of the huge steps Stewart took in an effort to improve safety, and as a result it’s often easy to forget that he was absolutely awesome behind the wheel.

    Andretti is probably the greatest all round driver there’s ever been and he had a wonderful career in F1, but against Sir Jackie there can be no contest as to who the better World Champion driver was.

    Jackie used his position as World Champion to improve the sport for everyone in a way that hasn’t been done before or since, and as a result is probably the greatest champion ever. If it was up to me we’d have him and Clark in the final.

  8. Apologies to those of you who couldn’t see the poll, this has now been fixed.

    1. woo i got the first vote in :P 100% to Jackie Stewart

      1. 11 votes in and it’s still 100% :D

        1. 20 and still 100%.
          This says a lot about the man. Not only a excelent driver, but a likable man, respected by the fans no matter what country they are from.

    2. Can’t see the poll either but can’t remember whether I voted… Does the poll disappear once you’ve voted ? Anyway Stewart hands down. Andretti was a good driver but winning the title in 1979 was more the car than the driver.

      1. Re 1978- boy, have you ever got that wrong! Do a little reading.

    3. No problem, thanks for fixing the Poll! LOL

    4. Keith, Fangio/Hawthorn from 2 days ago is not showing up on the list of matches.

      1. Thanks for pointing that out – should be in there now.

        1. Yes it is, but you’ve lost Schumacher now 8)

        2. Nevermind, I see now that the list only holds the last 10 but he’s still there when you click the “Browse All”.

  9. Purely on the basis of Nurburgring ’68 it’s Jackie all the way.

    The Andretti name is synonymous with speed thanks to Mario, was it not he who said…

    If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.

    He will always have a special place, I hate to see him go out.

    That’s what tough about this “competition”, watching your favourites drop out one by one, they’re all winners essentially!

    1. A great quote, and its why I found this decision hard at first. Mario was a great racing driver with real racers passion. However, Stewart pips it for me

    2. My favourite Andretti-ism is from when he beat his son Michael at Portland one year in CART. Michael had a car problem and Mario passed him right at the end of the race. Michael said something like “you should have let me win” and Mario told him “that’s now how it works, son”. Co-ol.

      1. i remember that race. In an interview after the race he said. It was michael’s race, but i took it. With a grin. Cool.!!!
        It’s a shame he had to go in the first round. But what are his chances against such a brilliant figure.
        Imagine the poor driver that goes against senna. He is going to be obliterated.

        1. He’s going to be Damon. I have that feeling. Am I right Keith? ;)

      2. I think that was ’86 Keith, Michael lost out to Bobby Rahal by 8pts in the Championship.

  10. poor mario. What chances does he have against the great stewart.?!!
    Sir stewart is such a class act as well. And his record speaks by itself.
    It is the one i most look forward in an interview. Either behind or in front of the camera. The one he made to senna, when the brazilian got upset was stellar.
    And as a driver!! amazing. He drove in an era that was so dangerous, made efforts to stop the carnage, but still had the guts to keep on driving.
    In my book a top five. If there was any room there.
    So number six plus then.

  11. Sir Jackie wins by KO. Thank you.

  12. Mario Andretti, best driver the USA ever produced.

    Jackie Stewart, definitely in the short list for greatest driver the world ever produced

    1. Funny that Stewart probably isn’t the best driver Scotland ever produced, yet he’s still up there with the best in the world! Says a lot about the racing talent Scotland has produced

      1. Scotland’s greatest is possibly one of the trickiest of all. How the hell do you (subjectively at least) choose between Stewart or Clark (to name just two…)

        For me they are equals – the difference being Clark = Artist & Stewart = Engineer.

    2. One of the greatest from the USA yes, but don’t forget A.J. Foyt….

  13. This is probably not a competition worth having

    1. Between the two I mean, not the Champion of Champions lol. Im not being a d!ck, in case anyone misunderstood.

  14. Kurt Grassierende
    11th January 2011, 13:37

    I’ve watched f1 since 1970 and have seen as much is possible before that. There will always be romantics in the sport and those who claim it was better when…….
    I remember cars being 8 laps down if they finished and I remember cars not passing and it was down to tyres, brakes, tracks you name it the excuses were there. Most people on this site are reasonably young(late teens 20’s and 30’s) and think that they missed out on the great Senna and Piquet era. I see posts about Mansell and his wins and it’s exactly as it is today. People complained when Schumacher won all the time well it was the same with Mansell in a car that with all respect to him was so good it made last years Brawn look bad. Senna and Prost won 15 out of 16 races and noboby was within a lap ot them. The turbos were crazy to see but if they did not blow up they won. The same thing happens an all sport and no mater what age you are some older guy is going to say ah but in my day blah blah blah.
    I am in my mid 40’s and for me the best driver & my hero always will be Sir Jackie & francois cevert

    1. when was the last time you saw a race live?
      For me it was in 2009, and i was so disapointed about the lack of sound and speed sensation that i am still in shock.
      I remember the first f1 i saw at estoril 1984. I was 18 at the time, the qualy was on, and everybody was running to their granstands seats. I was entering at the end of the straight, and thinking what car would it be the one i first see. it was boutsen’s arrows, with the bmw turbo. He was coming like a mad man at full throttle along the main straight, braked just a little, shift down and full throttle again on the very fast right hander, and he was gone. I was in shock, but for a completely different reason.

    2. Old_boy_racer (@)
      11th January 2011, 23:51

      I always loved Rudolf Caracciola, he was my favourite. He was just so good in the rain, he could drive around any problem. It was terrible when Mercedes were favouring Lang over him, the only race he won in ’39 was the German Grand Prix that Lang retired from. He ran him close in the Swiss though, with equal equipment I feel he would have won easily.

  15. I’m sorry for Mario, a driver that was able to win in all categories and for so many years (remember when he came back at Monza to replace Pironi and…got the pole!).
    But Jackie is Jackie.

    1. Yep. Mario is a legend, but just a blip on the radar compared to Sir Jackie.

  16. The winner is always the “first” driver…

  17. Surely the name Andretti is more synonymous worldwide with excellence in motorsport than is Jackie Stewart, and what an amazingly versatile and successful driver he was. That said, Stewart will be getting my vote till the end. To dominate as he did, winning nearly 1/3 of races entered (not classified in nearly 1/3 of those due to mechanical issues), in what was the most brutally dangerous era of F1 racing, is to me, a career beyond compare.

  18. I prefer Andretti, and although I know that Stewart was really great I voted Andretti because his potential was really big. Having pole on his first race and winning his first with Ferrari is incredible, and had he concentrated more on F1 and driven with more competitive cars he’d have won much more.

    1. And he had pole on his first race for Ferrari again in 1982, after competing in one only race that season. Fantastic.

  19. Too many Brits are here, and I can’t vote :]

    ..a choice between Jackie and Mario, is not an easy choice to make. Mario wins on both continents, Jackie no, Yes, he almost win the Indianapolis 500 but that’s all

    So my virtual vote goes to F1, NASCAR,USAC,CART,Le Mans race master Mario.

    1. Jackie won in Can Am.

      1. Don’t get me wrong.
        I still inspired by Jackie performance, his talent and his fight …for all.

        Maybe his last words about Clark and Vattel make my confused, really don’t know.
        I was very angry, champion should not behave like liquid. That’s wrong!

        I wrote this early, it’s very difficult choice, really really hard
        …and I made my decision, the end, dot, and com.

  20. It’s gotto be Steward, no matter how much I apreciate Mario’s talent, but no way he’s better then steward , who mght have won more titles ig he hadn’t retired so soon….

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