Jo Siffert


  • Fribourg, Switzerland Place of Birth
  • 7 July 1936 Date of Birth
  • 1962 Monaco Grand Prix F1 Debut
  • BRM Current/Last Team

Considered one of the greatest racing drivers of all time, Siffert rose from humble beginnings to become a beloved and glamorous star on the international racing circuit. He tragically died in a non-championship F1 race at Brands Hatch. His funeral in Fribourg, Switzerland, drew a crowd of 50,000 mourners lining the streets.

BornJoseph Siffert
7 July 1936
Fribourg, Switzerland
Died24 October 1971 (aged 35)
Kent, England

Siffert was born in Fribourg, Switzerland, the son of a dairy owner. Nicknamed “Seppi,” he began racing in 1957 on a 125cc Gilera. Coming from a modest background, he found creative ways to finance his racing, including selling shells back to the Swiss Army for recycling and trading cars.

In 1959, he participated in the Sidecar World Championship with Edgar Strub to earn additional money, winning the Swiss 350cc motorcycle championship before switching to four wheels in a Formula Junior Stanguellini in 1960.

Siffert gained prominence in 1961 driving a Lotus 21, winning races like the Eifelrennen and finishing as joint European Formula Junior champion with Tony Maggs.

He entered F1 as a privateer in 1962 with a four-cylinder Lotus-Climax, later driving for Swiss Scuderia Filipinetti. He debuted at Monaco but failed to qualify, making it onto the grid at the 1962 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa.

In 1963, Siffert ran independently with a Filipinetti Lotus 24-BRM, earning a championship point at Reims and winning the non-championship Syracuse GP and placing second in the Imola GP.

He purchased a Brabham for 1964, winning the 1964 Mediterranean Grand Prix by a tenth of a second over Jim Clark. The following year, he repeated the victory, beating Clark by three-tenths of a second while driving for Rob Walker.

Before joining Rob Walker, Siffert and his team often slept in cheap hotels or outdoors in sleeping bags to save money, contrasting with the glamour of today’s Grand Prix circuit. Walker and his wife, Betty, held Siffert in deep affection, and he continued driving for them through 1969. They struggled over the next couple of seasons, occasionally winning points, with podium finishes only in non-title races.

In 1968, Walker persuaded Colin Chapman to provide a Lotus 49B, which Siffert crashed during testing. After a fire destroyed the car, they borrowed a replacement from the factory. Siffert won the 1968 British Grand Prix, beating Chris Amon in a Ferrari by 4.4 seconds. He was a front-runner for the rest of the season, often quicker than the works car of Graham Hill.

Siffert continued with Rob Walker in 1969, experiencing a disappointing season despite initial promise. He became a star in sports car racing with Porsche, winning five major races that year. In 1968, he won the Daytona 24 Hour and the Sebring 12 Hour races and took class wins at Le Mans in 1966 and 1967, securing pole in 1968. He also helped launch Porsche’s Can-Am development program, finishing fourth in the championship despite limited entries.

Ferrari was keen to sign Siffert for 1970, but Porsche paid for him to join the STP March team, resulting in a difficult Grand Prix season with a seventh place in Belgium as his best result. However, he continued to succeed in sports cars, winning the Targa Florio, Spa 1000 Km, and Osterreichring 1000 Km with Brian Redman in the Gulf Porsche team. He also had strong results in Formula 2 with the works BMW.

In the Porsche team, Pedro Rodriguez was known as the “Mexican Bandit,” while Siffert was affectionately called the “Crazy Swiss.” In 1971, Siffert moved to BRM, partnering with Rodriguez. He purchased a Chevron for F2, a Porsche 917 for Can-Am, and continued racing the works Gulf Porsche.

Tragically, Rodriguez died in a sports car race in Germany before the British Grand Prix. Siffert lifted team spirits with a victory in Austria a few weeks later, holding off Emerson Fittipaldi’s Lotus-Ford 72 by 4.1 seconds despite a slow puncture. He finished the season second at the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. Beyond F1, he had numerous podium finishes in other categories and looked forward to 1972 as they arrived at Brands Hatch for the Rothmans Race of Champions.

At Brands Hatch, a suspension failure caused Siffert’s BRM P160 to crash, leading to a fire that trapped him in the wreckage. Despite surviving the initial impact with just a broken leg, he died from asphyxiation due to oxygen starvation and smoke inhalation. The accident spurred rapid safety improvements, including mandatory on-board fire extinguishers and piped air for drivers.

Siffert’s funeral in Switzerland drew 50,000 attendees, and a Gulf-Porsche 917 of Team John Wyer accompanied the hearse. His legacy includes a significant focus on improving vehicle and driver safety in racing.

Jo Siffert Formula One World Championship career

F1 Career1962–1971
TeamsPrivateer: Lotus and Brabham
Constructor: Rob Walker Racing Team, March, BRM
Entries100 (96 starts)
Career points68
Pole positions2
Fastest laps4
First entry1962 Monaco Grand Prix
First win1968 British Grand Prix
Last win1971 Austrian Grand Prix
Last entry1971 United States Grand Prix

Jo Siffert Teammates

12 TeammatesInvolvementFirst YearLast Year
Heini Walter11962
Heinz Schiller11962
Hap Sharp21964
Jo Bonnier1219641965
Chris Amon131970
Howden Ganley111971
Pedro Rodriguez61971
Vic Elford11971
Helmut Marko41971
Peter Gethin41971
George Eaton11971
John Cannon11971

Formula One Record

YearEntrantTeamWDC PointsWDC Pos.Report
1962Ecurie Nationale Suisse

Ecurie Filipinetti

1963Ecurie FilipinettiLotus-BRM114thReport
1963Siffert Racing TeamLotus-BRM114thReport
1964Siffert Racing Team

R.R.C. Walker Racing Team

1965R.R.C. Walker Racing TeamBrabham-BRM512thReport
1966R.R.C. Walker Racing TeamBrabham-BRM314thReport
1966R.R.C. Walker Racing TeamCooper-Maserati314thReport
1967Rob Walker Racing TeamCooper – Maserati612thReport
1967Bayerische Motoren Werke AGLola-BMW *612thReport
1968Rob Walker Racing TeamCooper-Maserati127thReport
1968Rob Walker Racing TeamLotus-Ford Cosworth127thReport
1969Rob Walker Racing TeamLotus-Ford Cosworth159thReport
1970March EngineeringMarch-Ford Cosworth0NCReport
1971Jo Siffert AutomobilesMarch-Ford Cosworth195thReport
1971Yardley Team BRMBRM195thReport

Complete Formula One Results

1962Ecurie Nationale SuisseLotus 21Climax FPF 1.5 L4NEDMON DNQNC0
1962Ecurie FilipinettiLotus 21Climax FPF 1.5 L4BEL 10GER 12NC0
1962Ecurie FilipinettiLotus 24BRM P56 1.5 V8FRA RetGBRITA DNQUSARSANC0
1963Siffert Racing TeamLotus 24BRM P56 1.5 V8MON RetBEL RetNED 7FRA 6GBR RetGER 9ITA RetUSA RetMEX 9RSA14th1
1964Siffert Racing TeamLotus 24BRM P56 1.5 V8MON 810th7
1964Siffert Racing TeamBrabham BT11BRM P56 1.5 V8NED 13BEL RetFRA RetGBR 11GER 4AUT RetITA 710th7
1964Brabham BT11R.R.C. Walker Racing TeamBRM P56 1.5 V8USA 3MEX Ret10th7
1965R.R.C. Walker Racing TeamBrabham BT11BRM P56 1.5 V8RSA 7MON 6BEL 8FRA 6GBR 9NED 13GER RetITA RetUSA 11MEX 412th5
1966R.R.C. Walker Racing TeamBrabham BT11BRM P60 2.0 V8MON Ret14th3
1966R.R.C. Walker Racing TeamCooper T81Maserati 9/F1 3.0 V12BEL RetFRA RetGBR NCNED RetGERITA RetUSA 4MEX Ret14th3
1967Rob Walker /Jack Durlacher Racing TeamCooper T81Maserati 9/F1 3.0 V12RSA RetMON RetNED 10BEL 7FRA 4GBR RetGER RetCAN DNSITA RetUSA 4MEX 1212th6
1968Rob Walker /Jack Durlacher Racing TeamCooper T81Maserati 9/F1 3.0 V12RSA 77th12
1968Rob Walker /Jack Durlacher Racing TeamLotus 49Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8ESP RetMON RetBEL 7NED RetFRA 117th12
1968Rob Walker /Jack Durlacher Racing TeamFord Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8Lotus 49BGBR 1GER RetITA RetCAN RetUSA 5MEX 67th12
1969Rob Walker /Jack Durlacher Racing TeamLotus 49BFord Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8RSA 4ESP RetMON 3NED 2FRA 9GBR 8GER 11 1ITA 8CAN RetUSA RetMEX Ret9th15
1970March EngineeringMarch 701Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8RSA 10ESP DNQMON 8BEL 7NED RetFRA RetGBR RetGER 8AUT 9ITA RetCAN RetUSA 9MEX RetNC0
1971Yardley Team BRMBRM P153BRM P142 3.0 V12RSA Ret5th19
1971Yardley Team BRMBRM P160BRM P142 3.0 V12ESP RetMON RetNED 6FRA 4GBR 9GER DSQAUT 1ITA 9CAN 9USA 25th19

Sources: Wikipedia.com, fandom.com, statsf1.com and historicracing.com


Driver Nationality Current/Last Team F1 Debut Status
Swedish Ecurie Bonnier 1956 Italian Grand Prix Died
New Zealand Frank Williams Racing Cars 1963 Monaco Grand Prix Died


Team Nationality Debut Season Status
March British 1970 Historic
BRM British 1951 Historic