Happy 70th birthday Jody Scheckter! Reviewing his 1979 F1 title

29-01-2020 14:01
by Adam Newton
F1 News
Happy 70th birthday Jody Scheckter! Reviewing his 1979 F1 title

Today marks the 70th birthday of an F1 legend, 1979 world champion Jody Scheckter. So let's look back on that season, the one that made Scheckter Africa's only F1 title winner...

A tough start, followed by home comforts

Scheckter had a tough start to the year, scoring just one point in the Argentine and Brazilian Grands Prix, whilst Jacques Laffite won both in his Ligier. The following round saw his season get off the gorund, as he came third in his home race at Kyalami in South Africa. His teammate Gilles Villeneuve won the race, leaving Scheckter fifth in the standings.

Consecutive wins as others falter

Reliability was an issue for everybody back in the 70s and it was no different this year. Whilst Scheckter cashed in with back to back wins in Belgium and Monaco, the only championship rival to score points was Laffite, and even he had retired in the previous three races. The win in Monaco allowed Scheckter to take the championship lead for the first time.

Consistency to fight off Jones' late charge

As the South African's nearest rivals struggled, especially teammate Villeneuve, Scheckter continued to pick up regular points, with a podium in the Netherlands and victory in Italy seeing off the late scare of Alan Jones. Jones' Williams team had found some reliability and the Aussie won three races in a row and then again in Canada, but unreliability cost him a shot at the title.

Africa's only world champion

Despite a slow start to the year, Scheckter ended up taking the title with some comfort, with fourth in Canada making it impossible for Villeneuve to beat him, given the complex scoring system of the time. Scheckter remains Africa's only F1 world champion and retired at the end of the next system, at just 30 years of age.

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