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 ?? Ford.com (Stewart), Williams/Sutton (Andretti)

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103 comments on Jackie Stewart vs Mario Andretti

  1. 0634 (@) said on 11th January 2011, 18:35

    Jackie Stewart, by a huge mile.

  2. Dangarcia said on 11th January 2011, 19:31

    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?

  3. Victorinox said on 11th January 2011, 19:45

    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…

    • 0634 (@) said on 11th January 2011, 20:14

      I agree that Mario Andretti is a very allround driver, but this contest is about F1, so the rest doesn’t matter in this case.

  4. Bleu (@bleu) said on 11th January 2011, 20:59

    Mario Andretti would be my choice if this was all-round poll, but it is F1, so I vote for Stewart.

  5. Bleu (@bleu) said on 11th January 2011, 21:01

    Ten champions left. Interesting to see what pairs are. Will we see father and son Hill paired?

    • Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 12th January 2011, 2:17

      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. :)

  6. mrgrieves (@mrgrieves) said on 11th January 2011, 22:17

    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.

  7. judo chop said on 11th January 2011, 22:32

    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.

  8. skodarap (@skodarap) said on 12th January 2011, 0:11

    Andretti for me, only because he entered so late in the F1 (well, full time at least) – after all, he’s only a year older than Jackie

  9. AndyEssex (@) said on 12th January 2011, 6:07

    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!

  10. xxiinophobia (@xxiinophobia) said on 12th January 2011, 22:25

    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.

  11. William Sanders said on 22nd February 2015, 23:08

    One must always wonder what Andretti’s F1 career would have looked like if he had taken on the full-time ride with Lotus following the death of Jimmy Clark in ’68. He would likely have been the lead Lotus driver for that early 70s era and then a true comparison with Stewart would have been possible..

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