Champion of Champions: Jackie Stewart vs Mario Andretti

Jackie Stewart vs Mario Andretti

Champion of champions

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”

  1. I really, really want to give my vote to Andretti. He’s for some reason one of the “oldest” drivers I remember seeing on TV and combined with his exploits in other categories, I can only admire him.

    But the numbers kinda speak for themselves as far as F1 goes. And it’s not like I mind voting for Steward :)

    1. Something like that for me too – I think Mario Andretti is a great racer, and had he concentrated solely on F1 his stats might be a lot closer to those of Stewart, but as it is, Stewart has my vote.

      1. By the way, not that I think Andretti made a wrong choice, I think he did great stuff, and it could very well be that he is a lot happier this way. In F1 I am sure he couldn’t have been competing so long as he has been racing now in the USA.

  2. I can’t vote for some reason as well, but no worries, I’ll just explain. J Stewart is a better f1 driver, andretti is a better all around driver. He has proved that he can win in anything, from dirt track to NASCAR to something as advanced as f1.

  3. This one was tough.

    I had to vote for Mario though, with a focus on “Champion” rather than F1.

    Mario shone in F1, Nascar and Indy racing. And for much of his F1 career he drove both in F1 and in America and was one of the most frequent customers on the Concorde. I recall one of the F1 reports in “Road and Track” written by Innes Ireland, or perhaps Rob Walker (they both used to write then as I recall), where the writer was convinced by Andretti to fly the Concorde to get to the states, and running into weather delays meaning that the Concorde had to land early, in Newfoundland I think, resulting in a very late arrival in New York.

    Andretti was also a great test driver, and was responsible for much of Lotus’ success in developing the F1 cars during his tenure there. He understood things about suspensions and tires from his oval track experiences which turned out to be applicable to road racing. He and Jim Clark were probably the best drivers for Lotus in developing the cars and working with Chapman.

    Now the fact that I’m Italian American probably affects my vote. I remember an exciting finish to the British GP one year with Mario coming from behind in a Lotus, back when I was driving a Triumph Spitifire, which formed a bond between two Italian Americans driving British cars, at least in my mind.

    I’d love for both Jackie and Mario to survive this first round, but that can’t be, but I’ve got to speak up for my man, much as I also love Sir Stewart.

  4. I didn’t think so few would vote Andretti compared to the amount that Stewart got. Still, Jackie’s better in my mind. F1 wouldn’t be what it is today without him. I just wish he didn’t sell the team to Ford. Jaguar was no good compared to Stewart. At least they became good when Red Bull took over.

  5. Well I’ve gone for Stewart for two reasons, one, after Clark he was undoubtably the best in his era, he won three championships on 99 starts, built teams around him.

    Two, after he retired Stewart has probably been the best Champion for the sport, his at times one man crusade to help transform the sport from a brutal death trap an towards an age of saftey where truly comendable.

  6. There are always sportsmen/women that lead their sport from one generation to another through their talent and professionalism. These are guys who understand their talents but it is not good enough for them to beat those around them. They have to move their sport to the next level. For me Jackie Stewart did that. From my minor level of geekness about F1 he was the first one to combine talent, professionalism, fitness, business and politics to change F1.
    He also, and maybe this is excellent PR on his part, carries himself with a code of ethics or gentlemanlyness that is so hard to combine with the will to win.
    Jackie Stewart was a great driver and an even better world champion.
    Was that too gushy?

  7. Too bad the two crossed in the first round.

    Sir Jackie stewart is surely one of the best, but Mario Andretti is by far one of the most complete drivers in history. The guy was able to be competitive in anything with 4 wheels. F-1 champion, IndyCar champion, IROC champion, Le Mans 24h 2nd overall and class win, plus another 3rd overall place, Daytona 24h win, Sebring 12h win (3 times), Indy 500 win, Daytona 500 win… So the guy was able to be successful in single-seaters/open-wheels, endurance cars, sprint/dirt cars, stock cars, younameit…

    1. I don’t think so. Most of the time Keith pairs up drivers who have something in common in their career so they have usually driven in the same era (think of Mansell-Piquet, Clark-Surtees, Lauda-Jones, etc. the notable exception being Schu-Farina for example).

      So I expect a Senna-D. Hill, a P. Hill-G. Hill, a Brabham-Rindt and so on.

      But chanches are high that I’m wrong in at least one or two cases. :)

  8. Mario has to be recognised as “the” complete racing driver. However Jackie Stewart is in my opinion the greates F1 driver ever. Many say Clark beat him when they went face to face in the 60’s but i feel Stewart was unlucky and still developing, but thats for another day. Stewart for this one although Mario is one of the best loosers so far.

  9. Jackie Stewart for sure. Top 5 all time. Andretti’s a strong match but misses out here. His success in other series doesn’t count because it’s like being the top scorer in Scottish football.

  10. There’s something about Stewart that always annoys me. He seems to be in every TV shot and F1 picture, I don’t know how, just in the background. I think he has been very harsh on certain drivers, maybe singling out Schumacher even more than EJ this year. He always seems to be sucking around the royal family too. Sorry guys, it’s only my opinion but he just seems to get everywhere and it irritates me!

  11. Based on results it’s absolutely got to be Jackie Stewart. From what he did behind the wheel, adding in his work for driver safety and a classy demeanour, when I think of the ideal F1 champion and ambassador, Jackie Stewart is the first name that springs to mind every time.

    Mario didn’t have the mass of F1 results to show for it, but I think no less of him simply because he has proved his worth behind the wheel in a myriad of disciplines.

    Two men, both motorsports legends, and both rightfully so.

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