One of the greatest Formula One drivers to never win a Grand Prix, Chris Amon, has passed away in hospital this morning after his long battle with cancer. He was 73 years old and commonly regarded as one of the greatest drivers to never win a Formula One Grand Prix.
Amon competed in Formula One between 1963 and 1976, driving for teams such as Ferrari, Tyrell and BRM. Although he never achieved a race win, Amon scored 11 podiums and 5 pole positions in his time. Hailing from New Zealand originally, Amon was certainly regarded as one of the countries greatest drivers, alongside legends Bruce McLaren and 1957 Formula One World Champion, Den
Early in his Formula One career a prominent drive was difficult to find, despite strong performances in underpowered machinery. It was only until his breakthrough win at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans with fellow New Zealander, Bruce McLaren, that Amon’s career shot off. Following the race, Enzo Ferrari himself, sent the Kiwi driver an invitation to visit the Ferrari home in Maranello – which would materialize into a 1967 Ferrari drive for Amon.
1967 would be the most successful season for Amon, as he would score five 3rd place finishes en-route to 4th place in the Drivers Standings. The first of these podiums came during the opening championship race of the season, in the illustrious streets of Monaco.
1967 would also see Amon compete in other well-known endurance races, winning the Daytona 24 and 1000km of Monza that year. Amon has completed two legs of the Triple Crown of Endurance Racing, Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring. He competed in all three legs and won at Le Mans and Daytona, but could only finish 2nd in the 12 Hours of Sebring (in 1969).
Throughout the 70s Amon would move to other smaller teams including March, Matra, Tecno, Tyrrell and BRM. Podiums continued in 1970 and 71′ for March and Matra respectively, but a win still eluded him – with a broken helmet and visor even costing him what looked to be a certain victory in the 1971 Italian Grand Prix.
Good results would dry up in from 1972 through till 1975 – until a chance meeting with Morris Nunn would see Amon sign for Ensign in 1976. Results looked as though they would begin to materialize as the car had pace, but reliability problems would cost Amon a podium finish twice. At the 1976 German Grand Prix, Amon refused to race following Niki Lauda’s horrific incident. In response, team boss, Morris Nunn, fired Amon and he announced his permanent retirement from Formula One.
Since his passing, tributes have flowed in. Former Formula One driver, Martin Brundle tweeted this:
Very sad to hear that the great Chris Amon has died. Met him a few years ago in NZ, what a lovely man. Approachable, humble, a class act
— Martin Brundle (@MBrundleF1) August 3, 2016
Aspiring New Zealand Formula One driver and GP2 race winner, Mitch Evans, tweeted this:
Terribly sad to be given the news that Chris Amon has passed. An inspiration to many of us from down under.You will be missed my friend. RIP
— Mitch Evans (@mitchevans_) August 3, 2016
Chris Amon will be remembered by New Zealanders as one of their greatest drivers and an inspiring man. Although the Championship Grand Prix eluded him at Ferrari, he showed true fight in smaller teams in the early 70s to prove to anyone that he certainly had the capability to win.