GPBlog's Top 50 drivers in 50 days - #44 - Stefan Bellof

31-01-2020 19:00
by Adam Newton
F1 News
GPBlog's Top 50 drivers in 50 days - #44 - Stefan Bellof

Hello and welcome back to GPBlog’s countdown to the first race of the 2020 season in Australia, as we count down our top 50 drivers of all time. You can catch up on yesterday’s here, where we profiled Argentine racer Carlos Reutemann, but we’re returning to mainland Europe today for German star Stefan Bellof.

If you look on any top 50 or 100 driver list, Stefan Bellof always makes it, but if you look at his F1 results, it’s tough to see why.

A year of disqualifications due to Tyrrell’s illegal car in 1984 and then only two points finishes before his sad death in a sportscar crash might not scream impressive, but if we dig deeper into his results, we see him in a new light.

Bellof already had a good start to his career before he reached F1, winning races in both Formula 2 and the World Sportscar Championship. This convinced Tyrrell to take him on along with fellow rookie Martin Brundle.

Brundle made the better start to F1 life, scoring points at the season opener in Brazil, but it didn’t take long for Bellof to show what he could do, in uncompetitive machinery.

He finished sixth in Belgium and then fifth at the next event at the San Marino Grand Prix.

But it was at the Monaco Grand Prix of that year where he fully showed what he could do.

This wet race is often remembered as Ayrton Senna’s breakout race, as the young Brazilian was catching future teammate and rival Alain Prost and was set to overtake when the Grand Prix was called off after 31 laps.

And whilst Senna would’ve overtaken Prost given a few more laps, Bellof was catching both of them in third and had an opportunity to win, had it not been for the premature ending.

Despite this, he made his first appearance on the podium and the world had not just one, but two young stars in the making showing their talent in that race.

Soon after, Tyrrell were discovered to be using an illegal water injection system that was being refuelled during the race, illegal under the 1984 laws.

This meant all of Bellof’s points were taken away, but he was retained as a driver for the 1985 season.

1984 wasn’t a complete disaster for Bellof however, as he claimed the World Sportscar title with six victories across the season.

The following season started solidly for him, with Tyrrell’s car at least being legal, finishing sixth in Portugal and fourth in Detroit as Brundle failed to score any points.

Sadly, his promising career was cut short in a sportscar accident at Spa-Francorchamps.

Lining up a move on the way into the fearsome Raidillon corner on Jacky Ickx, the cars touched and Bellof was killed in the following accident.

Bellof was rumoured to have been joining Ferrari the following season, so it is a tragedy F1 never got to see him race against the likes of Senna, Prost, Mansell and Piquet at the front of the grid, as his talent warranted.

Michael Schumacher referenced Bellof as his racing hero, so if that isn’t a great legacy to have, then what is?

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