How is a driver's talent defined? Is it just a question of numbers, or is there more? Formula 1 has always been the most important stage of speed in the world and only a few, blessed with talent, can aspire to tread it. Jacky Ickx is undoubtedly one of these, but it is certainly not just the talent that strikes. As for victories, we probably won't find him at the top of the list, but isn't it true that a driver is much more? In fact, during the years spent on board cars of all kinds, Ickx was a mixture of versatility, resilience and sportiness, unique in his being.
Jacques, known as Jacky, Bernard Ickx was born on January 1, 1945, in Brussels. Motorsport at Ickx is a family business, thanks to his father Jacques, a renowned sports journalist and considered one of the forerunners of motocross, and his older brother Pascale, professional aviator and driver in his spare time. Not inclined to study, since childhood Jacky devoted himself to motor sports, which in the future will in fact become his job. Jacky's career began at sixteen in motocross, aboard a Suzuki first and a Zundapp later. This first experience, fundamental in helping him to develop an effective driving style, will lead me in two years to win the title of Belgian and European champion in the 50cc class category.
The next step then took place in 1963, when Ickx switched to touring cars, putting himself to the test with races on the track and uphill. Despite a difficult debut, already in the second race he conquered his first uphill victory, scoring other excellent performances during the rest of the season and thus earning a fixed salary the following year for Ford Belgium. During the season he participates for the first time in the 24 Hours of Spa, paired with Teddy Pilette, finishing in fourteenth position due to a mechanical failure; despite this, however, the good performance in the race earned him the call of Alan Mann, owner of a team of touring cars, to compete in some tests of the European Championship.
And so, in 1965 Ickx raced for both Alan Mann Racing and Ford Belgium, competing on the track, in climbing, and in rallies, confirming his driving versatility. The excellent season is crowned by the victory of the title of European Touring Champion in the third division, and absolute Belgian Champion for touring cars. These triumphs are but the beginning; the following year, in fact, in addition to the fruitful commitment in the tourism category, Jacky also carried out the first tests on board a single-seater. Precisely this season, he gets the opportunity to test a Ferrari prototype twice and to compete in Formula 2 and Formula 3 for Ken Tyrrell's team, a fundamental figure for his development, as it gives him the opportunity to gain experience. and work without pressure and demands on the results.
In the intense 1966 season, which will see him play about fifty races between Europe, the United States of America and South Africa, Jacky Ickx made his first experiences at the wheel of prototype and single-seater sports cars, however continuing his commitment with touring cars that they will lead him to win the prestigious 24 Hours of Spa, with a BMW 2000 TI shared with Hubert Hahne. In early 1966, former Belgian driver Jacques Swaters gives Ickx the opportunity to race at the wheel of a Ferrari prototype at the 24 Hours of Daytona, and later, he will also participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans at the wheel of the Ford GT40. In the same year, thanks to a program wanted by Elf and Matra to support young French-speaking drivers, in which Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Johnny Servoz-Gavin will also be included, Ickx has the opportunity to compete in Formula 2 with the French single-seaters managed, as mentioned, by Ken Tyrrell, with whom he had previously taken a test in Hungary at the wheel of a touring car.
In his first season in a single-seater, Ickx has Jackie Stewart as his teammate, already an established Formula 1 driver, with whom he shares the car on several occasions. And at the German Grand Prix, Ickx made his Formula 1 debut aboard a Tyrrell team Matra: on the Nurburgring circuit, Jacky qualified sixteenth, but retired in the race during the first lap. At the end of the season the Belgian driver will be confirmed by Ken Tyrrell, to continue in Formula 2 with his team, and I will agree with John Wyer to compete with the prototypes in the following season.
In 1967 Jacky Ickx engages in the new Formula 2 European Championship at the wheel of Tyrrell's Matra. Although the series was also frequented by Formula 1 drivers such as Jochen Rindt, John Surtees and Jim Clark, the Belgian driver achieved excellent results, conquering the hat trick in Zandvoort and Vallelunga, finishing third at the finish line at the Nürburgring and Pergusa (where Ickx is contacted by Franco Lini, Ferrari's sporting director, to join the Scuderia di Maranello in the following season), and managing to become the first European Champion in the category.
During 1967 the Belgian driver also shines in Formula 1, disputing an excellent qualification at the German Grand Prix, where he drives the usual Formula 2 Matra scoring the third time, and obtaining his first world championship point at the Grand Prix of Italy, driving a Cooper-Maserati, thanks to the sixth-place finish. And finally, with a prototype Mirage will also win the 1000 Kilometers of Spa. 1968 is the year of his arrival in Ferrari. After the death of Lorenzo Bandini, who died in May 1967 following burns at the Monaco Grand Prix, Enzo Ferrari wanted to hire Jackie Stewart to race the following season; not finding a meeting point with the Scottish driver, the management of the Scuderia Ferrari will make an agreement with Jacky Ickx offering him an annual salary of 30.000 dollars to compete in Formula 2 and Formula 1. The debut in South Africa, on the day of his twenty-third birthday, is unfortunately unfortunate, and in Spain a mechanical problem prevents him from reaching the finish line. But Jackie didn't give up, and in the third Grand Prix with Ferrari he got on the podium thanks to the third place conquered on the difficult circuit of Spa, in Belgium, thanks also to the innovative wing mounted on the car.
After obtaining an encouraging fourth place in the Netherlands, Ickx manages to clinch his first victory in Formula 1 at the French Grand Prix. At the Rouen circuit, Ickx set the third time in qualifying and could therefore start from the front row, but he was not completely satisfied with the car's set-up. The crystal-clear talent of the Belgian driver can be admired on race day. An hour before the start of the race, there will be a lap of the circuit aboard Ligier micro cars, to allow the drivers to greet the public, but Jacky is not interested in the fans, preferring instead to scrutinize the sky which in the meantime is gathering clouds.
Despite weather forecasts claiming that there will be no rain showers, Ickx is struggling to have the wet tires fitted (the hand-sculpted Firestone R125s). Both the technical director Mauro Forghieri, and Franco Gozzi, Ferrari's sporting director in this circumstance, try to dissuade Ickx, who however remains of his idea even when, before the start, he is mocked by the rival competitors. But a few moments before the start of the race, it rains: Ickx was right, and won his first Grand Prix ahead of John Surtees and Jackie Stewart, bringing the first success in two years to the Maranello Scuderia: on the occasion, at twenty-three years, six months and six days, he becomes the youngest driver to triumph at the wheel of a Cavallino single-seater, a record that will last for the next fifty-one years before being snatched from him by Charles Leclerc.
With the subsequent third place in Great Britain, Ickx will take pride of place in the drivers' standings. But that's not all: at the German Grand Prix he will hit his first pole position, setting the best time when it is raining on the Nürburgring, improving by one minute the performance obtained by Jim Clark in 1967 (at the beginning of the season, on the German circuit, Ickx also started from pole with the Ferrari Dino 166 F2, in a race not valid for the European Championship). With fourth place finish, Ickx is now only seven points behind the top.
A victory in the World Championship is therefore not to be excluded, were it not for the fact that in Monza, slowed down by problems with the fuel system, Jacky will make a mistake in operating the wing, which can be maneuvered manually. Once on the straight, Ickx does not open the wing, therefore the friction slows the car. From the pits, Giulio Borsari, his mechanic, shows him the sign with the words aileron (in Italian) and volet (in French) to try to point out the problem, but the Belgian driver does not understand the indication and comes only third in the finish line.
With only three races left to go, Ickx has only three points less than Graham Hill in the championship, but his dreams of glory die out in Canada, where he competes in good practice, but is forced to give up participation in the race due to an accident caused by blocking the accelerator, which causes a broken leg. Initially blamed by the team for his aggressive driving style, he will later be cleared by Giulio Borsari, who will confirm the accelerator problem that Ickx himself had previously reported, not being believed.
Jacky will return to drive for the Mexican Grand Prix, but will retire on lap three due to a problem with the ignition system, and will finish his first World Championship in fourth place, scoring more than double the points of the unlucky Chris Amon, who only gets a podium and numerous retirements. The difficult relations with the team, which earned him the nickname of Pierino the plague (due to an Italian joke), and the desire to race in the Sport championship too, will lead Ickx at the end of the year to agree with Ford to race in the Marche championship, and in Formula 1 with the Brabham, which is also sponsored by Gulf, in the 1969 season.
Jacky Ickx will compete in the 1969 world championship with Jack Brabham's team, of which the Australian is the owner and driver, even if by now at the end of his career, but a good relationship will not be established between the two. The Belgian driver makes his debut with the new team at the South African Grand Prix where he will start from the back, while Brabham gets the pole position three seconds ahead of the Belgian. However, the race will not be lucky, as Jacky will be forced to retire during the twentieth lap.
In Spain Ickx will finish in sixth position, out of six riders who reached the finish line, with seven laps late due to suspension problems, then he will be fifth in the Netherlands, and will lose the place of honor in France by committing a mistake in the final race that will relegate him on the third step of the podium. Performance will gradually get better and better, and after second place in Great Britain, Ickx scores pole position, fastest race lap and wins the German Grand Prix, taking his first Formula 1 hat trick and second place in the world rankings. Compared to the previous year, Ickx reaches Monza in second place, but without any ambition to win the championship, given the difference in points from Stewart, firmly in command of the standings with a twenty-nine-point advantage.
At the Italian Grand Prix, Ickx will break the engine in testing and will have to start the race from the last row. The Belgian driver will compete with an engine supplied by Frank Williams, which however will prove to be not very powerful, and then retire due to lack of fuel. In Canada, where he signs pole position and fastest lap, the Belgian driver will engage in a duel with the new World Champion, Jackie Stewart, but the cars will collide and the Scotsman will be forced to retire, while Ickx will win the second win of the season and reduce the disadvantage in the drivers' standings.
In Mexico, the last Grand Prix of the year, Jacky ranks in second place ahead of Brabham, who started from pole position, and ends the season in second position. During the season Ickx will occasionally dedicate himself to Formula 2, and with the Brabham he will reach the podium in Zolder and will start from pole position at Reims, while at the Enna Grand Prix, valid for the European Championship, he will participate with a De Tomaso, retiring. The firm and decisive character of Ickx can also be seen during 1969, given that on the occasion of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in which the Belgian participates aboard a Ford GT40, he will decide to walk slowly across the track towards his car, instead of racing like the other drivers, then getting into his car and carefully tightening his seat belts before starting last.
Before the race Jacky Ickx told reporters that he considered the traditional starting procedure dangerous, with drivers running across the track to sit behind the wheel of their cars, quickly fasten their seat belts on their own and then take off as quickly as possible. as soon as possible, as the Belgian driver believes that it is not possible to fasten the seat belts correctly by yourself, but it turns out to be necessary the help from mechanics. The traditional Le Mans-style start will fall into disuse due to the accident on the first lap of the race and, starting from the 1970 edition, the drivers will start being already firmly tied to their seats. And Ickx will win the 24 Hours of Le Mans recovering from the last position.
In a dramatic finale characterized by constant overtaking and counter-overtaking, Ickx will manage to beat Hans Herrmann for a few seconds, as the Porsche 908 suffers from brake problems. Jackie Ickx and Jackie Oliver win with the GT40 with chassis number 1075, the same car that had won the previous year: this is the second time that the same car has won for two years in a row; previously a Bentley Speed Six had succeeded in the feat in 1929 and 1930, while years later the Joest Racing team would have achieved the same pairing twice.
Ironically, after the race Jacky Ickx will have a car accident near Chartres on the way to Paris on Monday morning. A car comes out in front of his Porsche 911, and Ickx's car crashes into a pole. Ickx will unfasten his seat belt and emerge unscathed from the wreckage of his Porsche. At the end of 1969, Enzo Ferrari contacted Jacky Ickx, and asked to compete with his cars in the following season. The Scuderia Ferrari, recently acquired by the Fiat Group, and the Belgian find an economically advantageous agreement, which plans to compete in Formula 1 and with prototypes.
Friend of Jacques Ickx, father of the young driver, Gianni Agnelli, president of Fiat, is the architect of the agreement between Ickx and Ferrari, who in any case appreciated the excellent year just played by the driver; in particular Ferrari was struck by the victory of the Belgian in the last edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the Ford GT40. In the 1970 season Ickx will have as teammates Clay Regazzoni, a thirty-year-old debut in Formula 1, and Ignazio Giunti, limited to some Grand Prix. The Belgian places great expectations in the new Ferrari 312 B. The single-seater designed by Mauro Forghieri, traditional for the chassis part but equipped with the new flat 12-cylinder engine called 001, will prove to be very fast, but initially not very reliable.
At his seasonal debut in South Africa, immediately after the good start from the second row, Ickx gained the second position and then retired after a few laps due to engine problems. On the occasion of the Spanish Grand Prix, held on the Jarama circuit, Jacky qualifies with the seventh fastest time and starts from the third row. During the first lap, the Belgian is hit by Jackie Oliver, the BRM driver with whom he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans the previous year; the collision causes a fire in which both pilots are trapped. Later Jacky Ickx will describe those dramatic moments like this:
"The flames were the real danger. At the 1970 Spanish Grand Prix, in Jarama, my Ferrari turned into a stake because Jackie Oliver hit me in the side. We had just started and the tanks were full. I remember that I was surrounded by fire, which but he could not reach me thanks to the spray of foam. I was desperately trying to unfasten my seat belts, to escape from the car and to safety. The trouble was that on impact the body had deformed and I could no longer reach the clip, when the on-board fire extinguisher was empty, I still hadn't been able to free myself. That liquid kept the flames away from the body guaranteeing at least twelve seconds of survival. I remember that I was surrounded by the fire, but it could not reach me thanks to the spray of foam. By now the flames had reached me and I knew that I could not count on other help as no one could enter that pyre without an asbestos suit. And in Jarama the commissioners had none. I had to go out alone. After about twenty seconds, when the process of asphyxiation had already begun, my fingers miraculously managed to unfasten and I jumped out of the cockpit. My suit was burning. I was a human torch. I did not understand where I was going, the visor of my helmet was melted, I was stunned. I ran blindly, trying to realize the direction of the race, but I risked being hit by other riders. It went well anyway. I felt a violent spray hit the suit by now in flames. I made it".
Despite the fear, Ickx manages to activate the fire protection system, free himself from the seat belts and get out of the car; engulfed in flames and in shock, the Belgian driver tries to escape far away, passing between the moving cars, until the commissioners intervene with the fire extinguisher. Like Oliver, Ickx does not report serious consequences and immediately returns to the races. In the following tests in Monaco and Belgium Ickx will not get important results; he third in the Netherlands, he will sign the pole position in France and then retire in the race, as well as in the next round in Great Britain. At the same time Jochen Rindt, thanks to the amazing Lotus 72, earns championship points that will prove to be determined at the end of the season.
In Germany Ickx gets again the pole position and even the fastest lap, but will be beaten in the race by Jochen Rindt, firmly in the lead of the world championship. Jacky will make up for the next Austrian Grand Prix, where he wins ahead of his teammate Clay Regazzoni, bringing the Ferrari that hadn't won since 1968, when Ickx himself won in France. Having demonstrated notable progress, Ferrari presents itself with great ambitions in Monza, where Jochen Rindt, leader of the championship, is killed; Ickx wins pole position but in the race, won by Clay Regazzoni, he is forced to retire due to mechanical problems.
Despite the many points accumulated by Jochen Rindt, with his death the possibilities for the Ferrari driver to win the world title reopen. Jacky Ickx will win the Canadian Grand Prix and move up to second place in the world championship standings, thus taking him to seventeen points behind Rindt. But after scoring pole position and fastest lap at Watkins Glen, he will only finish fourth in the United States Grand Prix; this result will not allow him to win enough points to overtake Jochen Rindt in the standings, who will thus become the first and only posthumous World Champion. On the victory of the title by Jochen Rindt, the Belgian declares on this occasion:
"Better this way, I wouldn't have liked to snatch the title from Jochen, who fully deserved it".
Ickx will finish the championship by imposing himself again in the Mexican Grand Prix, confirming his second place in the championship ahead of Clay Regazzoni. Active for the last year in the Formula 2 European Championship, which he competes with a BMW 270, the Belgian comes third at the finish line in the Mediterranean Grand Prix and wins the Tulln race, as well as winning at the Salzburgring, in an off-championship race. For the 1971 championship, Scuderia Ferrari, confident for the upcoming season, designates Jacky Ickx as the first driver, alongside the confirmed Clay Regazzoni, and in some Grands Prix by Mario Andretti.
Over the course of the season, Jacky drives the Ferrari 312 B, a single-seater from the previous year but still competitive, and the new 312 B2, in which the team has many ambitions, which immediately proved to be fast, especially in qualifying, but unreliable enough to be replaced by the old model in some races, towards the end of the championship. After the tragic death of Ignazio Giunti, driver of Ferrari prototypes, the Maranello team leaves the first round of the season, the Argentine Grand Prix, an extra-championship race. Later Ickx came eighth in South Africa, where Mario Andretti won, and second in Spain after scoring pole position and fastest lap; at the Monaco Grand Prix he qualified with the second-best time and then crossed the finish line in third position, a result that allowed the Belgian to climb to second place in the world championship rankings.
On the occasion of the Memorial Jochen Rindt, a race not valid for the world championship, the Belgian disputes an excellent test obtaining pole position, fastest lap in the race and final victory, and the following week, he will obtain the same result in the Dutch Grand Prix, disputed with very heavy rain in Zandvoort, proving once again his driving skills in the wet. The second part of the season will prove to be very bad. Despite the good qualifying he will be forced to retire due to mechanical problems in France and Great Britain. After a good start from the front row and an initial duel with Jackie Stewart, during the first laps of the German Grand Prix he will retire following an off track.
Still due to engine problems, he too will retire in Austria and Italy, only to reach the finish line eighth in Canada, two laps behind the winner; after scoring the fastest lap, he will abandon the race in the United States, the last round of the World Championship in which he will finish in fourth place. Nonetheless, at the end of the season he will renew his contract with Ferrari to continue racing both in Formula 1 and with prototype sports cars. In Formula 1 the single-seater entrusted to him is still the fast and unreliable Ferrari 312 B2, on which work will be carried out to improve the suspension, aerodynamics and engine.
Jacky starts the 1972 season with a third place in Argentina, but will not score points in the next race in South Africa. Bad start from pole position, he will score the fastest lap in Spain but will have to settle for second place at the finish, behind an unbeatable Emerson Fittipaldi; second too in Monaco with the rain, a result that will allow him to reach second place in the world championship standings, he will then retire to Belgium due to injection problems. Qualified with the fourth fastest time, in France Ickx will be slowed by a puncture and will finish the race in eleventh place, while in Great Britain he will retire again due to mechanical problems. He will then dominate the next German Grand Prix, taking pole position, fastest lap and victory on the difficult Nürburgring circuit, and getting his fourth hat trik; on the finish line he will precede team mate Clay Regazzoni.
Retired in Austria due to mechanical problems, the Belgian driver will start from pole in the Italian Grand Prix, once again demonstrating his immense driving quality, but will retire a few laps from the end due to an electrical failure, immediately after scoring the lap fast. He will therefore conclude the championship in fourth place, as in the previous season, after having completed the Canadian Grand Prix in the rear, four laps from the winner, while he will conquer fifth place in the United States, in the last round of the Championship won by Emerson. Fittipaldi.
Despite the last two vintages certainly not exciting, in the 1973 championship Jacky Ickx continues his collaboration with Ferrari, alternating between Formula 1 and prototypes, receiving a salary of one hundred and twenty million Italian lire. Ickx starts the season at the wheel of the Ferrari 312 B2, now in its third world championship season, competing in good qualifying and getting some points in Argentina and Brazil. Then, having retired in South Africa due to an accident, he will debut the new 312 B3 at the Spanish Grand Prix, qualifying with the sixth fastest time and finishing the race in twelfth place, six laps behind the winner, due to brake problems.
Still due to mechanical failures, he will also retire in Belgium and Monaco. Ferrari will try in vain to improve the competitiveness of the car but Ickx will not go beyond the points in Sweden and France, and eighth place in Great Britain, where he will qualify with the nineteenth time. Disappointed by the poor results of his team, Enzo Ferrari will choose not to complete the racing season of Formula 1 and will free Jacky Ickx, who says he is available to run the remaining races of the season that Ferrari would eventually intend to play.
The Belgian, however, in the meantime agrees with McLaren to participate in the German Grand Prix, at the wheel of an M23-Ford, alongside Denny Hulme and Peter Revson; qualified on the front row, he will climb to the third step of the podium, beating occasional teammates and achieving the best result of the season, proving to be still competitive. After Ferrari fielded a profoundly modified car for Merzario in Austria, Ickx was recalled one-off by Enzo Ferrari for the Italian Grand Prix, which he would finish in eighth place, and then unsuccessfully entered the United States Grand Prix with a ISO-Marlboro IR from Frank Williams' first team.
Ickx will conclude his last and difficult season with the Maranello team in ninth place in the standings, with only twelve points. For the 1974 season Jacky Ickx agrees the Lotus, winner of the previous constructors' championship, with the role of second driver alongside Ronnie Peterson. The relationship with the Swede, who will beat him frequently, will prove very difficult and Colin Chapman's cars will fall short of expectations. This first season with the English team, which began with discrete ambitions, will mark the beginning of the downward trend for Jacky Ickx's career in the top flight.
Over the course of the championship, he will bring the fast, but now dated, Lotus 72 and the disappointing new 76, both powered by Ford Cosworth, into the race. Ickx made his race debut with a retirement at the Argentine Grand Prix and climbs to the third step of the podium in Brazil. Subsequently, in the month of March he participates in the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch, a race not valid for the world championship: he started in the middle of the grid, competed in an excellent race, with pouring rain and low temperatures, crossing the finish line in first position, after scoring the fast lap.
This result will give him new reasons for the rest of the season which, as mentioned, will prove negative: retired due to mechanical problems in the following five Grands Prix, he will finish eleventh, four laps behind the winner, in Holland and fifth in France. Then he will finish third at the finish in Great Britain and fifth in Germany, and in the last four races, always qualified with bad times, he will retire due to accidents and problems with the car, except in Canada, where he will finish eleventh with two laps late; he will finish the Championship in eleventh place, with only twelve points collected.
Despite the disappointments of the previous season, Jacky Ickx will participate in the 1975 world championship again with Lotus. Also confirmed Ronnie Peterson, the English team, which should have built a new single-seater, will instead field an evolution of the Lotus 72, now in its sixth year of racing. Ickx will complete the first Grands Prix of the season, in Argentina, Brazil and South Africa, always out of the points area, without ever having played a good qualifying, but will then get the fourth place in practice and in the race at the Race of Champions, not inserted in the calendar of the Formula 1 World Championship.
On the occasion of the Spanish Grand Prix, the safety measures adopted at the Montjuïc Circuit will be deemed inadequate for a Formula 1 Grand Prix; the drivers of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association will go on strike threatening not to compete, while Jacky Ickx, with a few others not members of the association, will dissociate himself from this choice. After a difficult negotiation between organizers and drivers, the race will still be disputed, only to be stopped prematurely due to the dramatic accident of Rolf Stommelen, which cost the lives of four spectators; at the moment of the suspension Ickx is in second position, therefore he will get on the podium for the last time in his career, getting only three points as at least half of the expected laps had not been completed.
Eighth in Monaco, retired in Belgium due to brake problems, he will finish fifteenth in Sweden three laps behind the winner. Disappointed by the umpteenth retirements due to mechanical problems in the Netherlands and France, he will agree with Lotus to interrupt their relationship early, withdrawing from the championship still in progress. For the 1976 season Jacky Ickx will accept Frank Williams' offer, financially supported by Marlboro, which was later taken over by one of the team's financiers, who will change his name to Wolf.
The Wolf-Williams FW05 immediately proved to be a disappointing and underperforming car, so much so that the Belgian will start from the rear without ever entering the top positions in both Brazil and South Africa; after the encouraging third place at the Race of Champions, where Ickx starts from fourth, the situation will get worse and, on the occasion of the US-West Grand Prix, the Belgian driver will not be able to qualify, for the first time in his career.
Seventh in Spain, he will again miss the qualification in Belgium and Monaco; still out of the points zone in France and not qualified in Great Britain, due to the car's road holding problems, Ickx decided to leave the English team. After the German Grand Prix, in which he will not participate, Jacky will be called by Ensign to replace Chris Amon, who has recently retired; with the MN176, the Belgian driver will get the eleventh time in qualifying in the Netherlands, best result of the year, but will retire in the race.
Tenth in Italy and thirteenth in Canada, at the United States-East Grand Prix, following an exit from the road and the consequent collision with the barriers, the car will break and catch fire in the rear; the pilot, who will be transported in the closest hospital, with an ambulance that will even have to stop for refueling, will report burns and fractures. Curiously, the ambulance driver will ask Jacky if by chance he doesn't have enough money to complete the fuel purchase.
After yet another difficult season, Jacky Ickx realizes that his career in Formula 1 is now coming to an end, just as he is at the peak of success in endurance races. Initially without a team for the 1977 season, the Belgian driver will participate in the Monaco Grand Prix to replace Clay Regazzoni, and at the wheel of an Ensign MN177 he will qualify with the seventeenth time, coming back just in the qualified drivers, who on the difficult city circuit of Monte Carlo are only twenty. In the race he will not go beyond the tenth position, two laps behind the winner.
For the 1978 season Ickx will agree again with Ensign to compete in some Grands Prix. At the International Trophy, a race not valid for the championship, he will retire as in the following Monaco Grand Prix; in Belgium he will cross the line in twelfth position, six laps behind the winner, then he will retire in Spain and will not qualify in Sweden. The poor results will lead Jacky Ickx to leave the team who, later, will replace him with rookie Nelson Piquet.
During the 1979 championship, Jacky Ickx will again have the opportunity to compete in some Grands Prix, but this time aboard a Ligier, even if he is busy with prototypes in the CanAm Championship. Called by the team owner, friend Guy Ligier, to replace Patrick Depailler, who was injured in a hang-gliding accident, Ickx joined Jacques Laffite, and at the wheel of the JS11 he retired to France, only to reach the finish line sixth in Great Britain, winning his first world championship point in four years.
Forced to retire due to a puncture in Germany, he will abandon the race due to engine problems in Austria. Later, starting from the rear, at the Dutch Grand Prix he will play a good race finishing in fifth place, also favoured by the numerous retirements, and will get the last points of his career; again, due to mechanical problems he will retire in Italy and Canada, and then finish the Grand Prix of the United States-East, the last race in the top flight, retiring after an off track due to rain. At the end of the season, not finding a team to participate in the 1980 world championship, he will retire permanently from Formula 1. With eight victories and two world titles close to in fourteen years of activity, Jacky Ickx is considered one of the best drivers not to have won the World Championship, like Stirling Moss, Ronnie Peterson and Gilles Villeneuve.
After leaving Formula 1 as a driver, Ickx remained in the business for many years as race director of the Monaco Grand Prix, and in this capacity he will also lend his service in the 1984 edition, marred by the heavy rain that makes the track dangerous, pressured by the organizers, Ickx will give the order to suspend the race on lap 31, when a young Ayrton Senna, making his debut at the Monte Carlo circuit, is about to join Alain Prost at the head of the Grand Prix. Ickx will justify the decision by saying:
"The Grand Prix could have continued, but if a serious accident had occurred, they would have said that I was an irresponsible madman. Better to stop the race, because the visibility was non-existent, the grip was zero".
Nevertheless, Ickx will be accused, among others, by Mauro Forghieri and Jean-Marie Balestre, of having wanted to facilitate Prost who drives a Porsche-powered McLaren, a manufacturer of which Ickx is a driver in the endurance world championship (continuing to race until 1985, year in which, during the 1000 Kilometers of Spa, he is involved in the accident that will cause the disappearance of Stefan Bellof). And even Senna will strongly criticize the decision of the race commissioner, without however considering it a favouritism towards the French rival. For this episode the Belgian will be temporarily suspended by the Automobile Club de Monaco, the organizing body of the Grand Prix of which he was a member.
Jacky Ickx obviously is not known only for his experiences in Formula 1: in fact, an element that has always accompanied the Belgian driver, even during the years spent driving a single-seater, are endurance races and rallies. And if for rallies, it's more a question of fun, as far as endurance is concerned, Jacky has always known that this was his place. In his twenty-year career aboard endurance cars, Jacky is in fact called Monsieur Le Mans, a title fully earned thanks to several victories on the 24 Hours of Spa, Daytona and Sebring circuits. Ickx won his first Le Mans in 1969, while his last victory was in 1982, as well as winning the World Endurance Championship in 1982 and 1983.
Ickx's career came to an end in 2000, after one hundred and twenty-two races in Formula 1 in which he obtained twenty-five podiums and eight victories, and fifteen participations in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in which he triumphed six times. A career, albeit an unlucky one in Formula 1, surprising and above all able to fully demonstrate Jacky's talent, together with the great versatility of this driver.
"A combination of daring and calculation. In the first year I raced with my cars, he gained an experience that promised great results. Then, after an interval season with Brabham, for four years we chased a title, while they were there. often inconsistent polemics are attributed beyond journalistic acrobatics. If we make a ranking of Ferrari drivers who have won Grand Prix valid for the world championship, Ickx is third, together with Villeneuve, with six claims, behind Alberto Ascari with thirteen and Lauda with fifteen. Some of his attitudes, which among my collaborators earned him the nickname of Pierino the Terrible, did not erase the memory of a boy who grew up quickly and the impression of his fine and reckless guide in the rain".
With these words Enzo Ferrari will describe his relationship with the Belgian, profitable but not without friction. Grateful but often critical of the manufacturer, for the management of the team and the lack of his presence at the Grand Prix, he will instead justify his tough and ambitious behavior, often contested by his colleagues. Very famous in Belgium, according to a poll of the national television network RTBF in 2013, Jacky Ickx is considered the third best Belgian sportsman ever, preceded by Eddy Merckx and Stefan Everts; at home he had previously been awarded the Trophy for Sporting Merit in 1968, when he was still at the beginning of his professional career, and was named Sportsman of the Year in 1982, when he won the World Endurance Championship as an established driver.
Since 2000, Officer of the Order of the Crown, in 2007 he will be awarded the title of Grand Officer of the Order of Leopoldo, the highest national honor. From December 2014 to June 2015, an exhibition will then be set up in Brussels to celebrate the 70th birthday of Jacky Ickx and Eddy Merckx, fellow citizens and peers; in addition to motorcycles, touring cars, single-seaters and sports prototypes driven by the pilot in his long career, trophies, photographs and the aforementioned helmet burned in the stake of the 1970 Spanish Grand Prix will be exhibited. Many are also the awards received by Ickx abroad, especially in France and linked to the 24 Hours of Le Mans: nominated Driver of the Century for the French marathon, from June 16, 2000, Jacky became an honorary citizen of Le Mans, and in the center of the town will be present, among the footprints of the winners, a bronze plaque dedicated to him that reproduces the cast of his hands and feet.
In 2004 the Automobile Club de l'Ouest will award him the Spirit of Le Mans trophy in recognition of his six victories in the French race, and at the 2012 Paris International Automobile Festival I will be awarded the Palme d'Or. Due to his long career as race director in Monte Carlo, in 2002 the Prince of Monaco will appoint him Officer of the Order of San Carlo. And again in 2002 he will be inducted into the International Motorsport Hall of Fame in Talladega, in the United States, where the great names in motoring of all time are registered. In Italy, at the 2014 Golden Helmets ceremony, organized by Autosprint magazine, he will be awarded the Casco Legend.
Even in mass culture Jacky Ickx has been celebrated: some books deal entirely with his biography, while in others chapters are reserved for him or he is quoted. In addition, he will often appear in Michel Vaillant's comics so much that, to celebrate his 70th birthday, a box set containing six volumes will be published with all the episodes that saw him represented. Finally, the Yemeni post office will produce a stamp to celebrate his first victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, while the Austrian one will be included in the series dedicated to Formula 1 celebrities; two more will be issued by the United Arab Emirates, in two different collections on car drivers.