Jo Siffert

Joseph " Jo " Siffert (* July 7, 1936 in Fribourg, † October 24, 1971 at Brands Hatch, United Kingdom) was a Swiss Formula 1 and sports car racing driver.

The entry into the racing

Even as a child visited " Seppi " Siffert with his father, a dairy owner, motor sports events in Switzerland. Fascinated by the charismatic drivers of that time he decided himself to become a racing driver. Since his parents could not afford him this sport, Siffert tried after finishing school first as scrap metal and rag pickers to earn the necessary money. Later, he served an apprenticeship as body mechanics and went into the used car market.

Mid-1950s learned Siffert in a motorcycle race the driver Michel Piller know who recognized his talent and supported him in his early days. In 1957, he started with an old Gilera Piller quite successful in some Swiss motorcycle race in the 125 cc class, 1958, he piloted a 350 cc AJS. 1959, Siffert as a passenger of his compatriot Edgar Strub at the Grand Prix of France for motorcycles in Clermont -Ferrand on BMW in the semi- trailer class and took third place. A week earlier, the two had already won the Grand Prix of Finland, which has not yet counted in this year's World Cup.

In 1960, Siffert moved from motorcycle to car racing. He bought a used Stanguellini racing car with which he went to the start at hillclimb and slalom. The season was so successful that Siffert started his own race team and for the next year a Lotus Formula Junior bought. Right away he was 1961 points with South Africans Toni Maggs Formula Junior European Champion.

Sport car

In addition to its operations in Formula racing Siffert denied in the 1960s numerous sports car and endurance racing. In 1961 he finished his first 1000 km Nürburgring with a borrowed Ferrari 500 on the third place. With these successes, he made a name for himself in the motorsport scene, and the prize money helped him finance his racing team. 1965 started Siffert with a Maserati for the first time in the 24- hour race at Le Mans, but out due to a technical defect from. The following year he was employed at the factory with a Porsche 906 won the 2 -liter class and fourth overall.

From 1967 to 1969 he was in addition to the formula sports championships for the Porsche factory team in the World Sportscar Championship at the start. With his teammate Hans Herrmann and Brian Redman Siffert scored numerous victories and podium places in the classics of the long distance races. He won 1968 Porsche 907 in the 24- hour race at Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 1,000 km race at the Nürburgring. 1969 followed victories in the 1000 km race at Monza and Spa-Francorchamps and the fourth overall in the CanAm series on a new Porsche 917 PA Spyder.

1970 and 1971 Porsche dominated, but the intra-brand duels with or against Vic Elford and Pedro Rodríguez were exciting. Siffert won with Brian Redman on a set up by the Gulf Team Porsche 908 light the legendary Targa Florio and the more powerful Porsche 917, the 1000 km of Spa and Zeltweg.

Jo Siffert 1969 Porsche 908.01

Siffert 1970 Porsche 908.03 in the 1000 km race

And ... during training in 1971 at the Nürburgring

Formula 1

In 1962 Siffert by the newly founded Swiss Ecurie Filipinetti team the opportunity to enter into Formula 1. In the Belgian Grand Prix he qualified with a Lotus - Climax for his first Formula 1 Grand Prix and finish the race in tenth. The season began in 1963 not promising. After he often could not deny because of technical glitches race, it came after the Monaco Grand Prix to a rift with the team. He had both of buying out his contract as also accept the Lotus 24. This racing car, he denied again. Than drivers of his own Siffert Racing Team, the following formula 1 races and some hill climbs For the 1964 season he bought at a Brabham F1 cars with BRM engine. Despite some success, he could end of the season not finance the participation in the overseas races in the U.S. and in Mexico. To be able to start, let Siffert undertake as a third driver for the Rob Walker Racing Team and painted his car in the team color to blue. The Grand Prix of the USA he could finish behind Graham Hill and John Surtees with a podium finish.

In addition Siffert took part in Formula 2 race for his team in 1964. In 1967 he was works driver for the BMW F2 team.

From 1965 he started regularly for the Rob Walker Racing Team. Siffert's first major success in Formula 1 was the victory in the Grand Prix of Great Britain 1968 in Brands Hatch ahead of Chris Amon and Jacky Ickx. At the end of the season he finished seventh in the championship. In 1970 he joined for one year to March. Since Siffert but had no competitive car there and was able to enter any success, he spent the 1971 season to BRM His last Formula 1 season should also be his most successful. He won with the twelve-cylinder Grand Prix of Austria and was at the Grand Prix of the United States behind François Cevert second. In the world championship he finished fifth.

Accident and death

When not on the Formula 1 World Championship World Championship Victory Race counted (in honor of the already fixed World Cup winner ) on October 24, 1971 in Brands Hatch, his 41st car race this year, Siffert had in the starting phase, an initially seemingly harmless collision with Ronnie Peterson. He continued the race until lap 15 at high speed, probably as a result of the accident, a suspension broke. The B.R.M. accident and began to burn. Siffert died from asphyxiation or suffocation.

At his funeral, 50,000 people lined the streets of Freiburg. This was one of the largest funeral that has ever existed in Switzerland. Posthumously Joseph Siffert was elected in 1971 to the Swiss Sportsman of the Year. In June 1984, his memory of Jo Siffert Fountain ( " Fontaine Jo Siffert " ) opened, a gift from his friend Jean Tinguely at the city of Freiburg.


In the magazine, the Tages -Anzeiger (1972, No. 5) Niklaus Meienberg published a report on the life of Jo Siffert (see literature). Roger Benoit, a former Formula 1 reporter and good friend or even friend Siffert, in 2005 published a devotional series in the Swiss newspaper "Blick" (see links).


" Jo Siffert - Live fast, die young " is the name of the documentary Bündners Men Lareida which revives the new myth of the Swiss racing driver. The film was produced in Switzerland and started in the German part of Switzerland on 22 December 2005.


Grand Prix victories

Individual results

Le Mans results