John Watson (racing driver): Wikis

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John Watson
John Watson 1971 Hockenheim.JPG
John Watson (1971)
Nationality British
Formula One World Championship career
Active years 19731983, 1985
Teams Penske, Brabham, McLaren
Races 154 (152 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 5
Podiums 20
Career points 169
Pole positions 2
Fastest laps 5
First race 1973 British Grand Prix
First win 1976 Austrian Grand Prix
Last win 1983 United States Grand Prix West
Last race 1985 European Grand Prix

John Marshall "Wattie" Watson MBE (born 4 May 1946 in Belfast) is a British former racing driver from Northern Ireland. He competed in Formula One, winning five Grands Prix and also in the World Sportscar Championship. He currently works Sky Sports.

Contents

Early Formula One career

Educated in Rockport School, Northern Ireland, Watson's Formula One career began in 1972 for Goldie Hexagon Racing driving in a non-championship event: the World Championship Victory Race, at Brands Hatch in an old customer March-Cosworth 721 [1]. Watson's first World Championship events came in the 1973 season, in which he only raced in the British Grand Prix where he drove a customer Brabham-Ford BT37 and US Grand Prix, where he drove the third works Brabham BT42, and wasn't particularly successful. In the British GP, he ran out of fuel on the 36th lap and his engine failed after only 7 laps in the US GP.

Watson scored his first championship point in Monte Carlo the following year for Goldie Hexagon Racing. He went on to score a total of 6 points that season, driving a customer Brabham BT42-Ford modified by the team.[2] He failed to score points the following year, driving for Team Surtees, Team Lotus and Penske Cars.

First victory

He secured his first podium with third place in the French Grand Prix. Later that season came his first victory, driving for Penske-Ford in the Austrian Grand Prix having qualified second on the grid. After the race he shaved off his beard, the result of a bet with team owner Roger Penske.

The start to the 1977 season was disastrous for Watson. In the third race, the South African Grand Prix, he managed to complete race distance and managed a point and his first ever fastest lap. Unfortunately the race saw the deaths of driver Tom Pryce and a track marshal Jansen Van Vuuren. His Brabham-Alfa Romeo let him down throughout the season but, despite this, he managed to put in impressive performances. He gained his first pole position in the Monaco Grand Prix and qualified in the top ten no fewer than 14 times, often in the first two rows. As fate would have it though, problems with the car, accidents, and a disqualification meant that he raced the full distance in only five of the 17 races. The closest he came to victory was during the French Grand Prix, where he dominated the race from the start only to be let down by a fuel metering problem on the last lap which relegated him to second place behind eventual winner Mario Andretti.

In 1978, Watson managed a more successful season in terms of race finishes, even out-qualifying and out-racing his illustrious team mate Niki Lauda on occasion. He managed three podiums and a pole, and notched up 25 points to earn the highest championship placing of his career.

Move to McLaren and championship challenge

Watson driving the McLaren MP4/1

For 1979, Watson moved to McLaren where he gave them their first victory in over three years by winning the 1981 British Grand Prix and also securing the first victory for a carbon fibre composite monocoque F1 car, the McLaren MP4/1. His most successful year was 1982, when he finished third in the drivers' championship, winning two Grands Prix. He was perhaps best known for his astounding drives from the back of the grid. At Detroit in 1982, he overtook three cars in one lap deep into the race on a tight, twisty track that was supposedly impossible to pass on; working his way from 17th starting position on the grid, he charged through the field and scored a victory in the process. A year later in 1983, he repeated the feat at the Long Beach Grand Prix; starting from 22nd on the grid, the farthest back from which a modern Grand Prix driver had ever come to win a race.

At the end of the 1983 season however, he was dropped by McLaren and subsequently retired from Formula One. He did return for one further race two years later, driving for McLaren in place of an injured Niki Lauda at the 1985 European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch, in which he placed 7th. Watson raced with Lauda's usual race number of "1". This was the only occasion since 1975 (when the current system related to the use of car number 1 began) that a driver other than the reigning World Champion has raced car number 1 in a World Championship race.

Sportscar career

In 1984 Watson turned to sports cars racing, notably partnering Stefan Bellof to victory at the Fuji 1000km during Bellof's 1984 Championship year. Watson also finished 2nd in the 1987 season alongside Jan Lammers in the Silk Cut Jaguar when they won a total of three championship races (Jarama ,Monza and Fuji). Watson also competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans seven times over the course of his career, finishing 11th, a career best, in 1990.

Other work

After retiring from active racing, he worked as a television commentator, ran a race school at Silverstone and managed a racetrack. He also became the first man to ever test a Jordan Formula One car in 1990.

From 1990 to 1996 he worked as a Formula One commentator for Eurosport alongside Richard Nicholls (1990-1992), Allard Kalff (1993-1994) and Ben Edwards (1995-1996). The last Grand Prix Eurosport broadcast live was the Japanese GP in 1996. The contracts for Formula One live broadcasts were shifted to private TV stations for 1997. In 1997 Watson worked as a Formula One commentator for ESPN.

From 1998 to 2001 he was Charlie Cox's sidekick in commentating on the British Touring Car Championship for the BBC.

During the 2002 F1 season, John co-commentated on Sky Sports' Pay Per View F1+ coverage (nicknamed Bernie Vision) alongside Ben Edwards. However, this was fairly unpopular and it was axed for the 2003 season.

Currently Watson works for Sky Sports, commentating on A1 Grand Prix alongside Ben Edwards.

Complete Formula One World Championship results

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 WDC Pts.
1973 Ceramica Pagnossin Team MRD Brabham BT37 Ford ARG BRA RSA ESP BEL MON SWE FRA GBR
Ret
NED GER AUT ITA CAN NC 0
Brabham BT42 Ford USA
Ret
1974 Goldie Hexagon Racing Brabham BT42 Ford ARG
12
BRA
Ret
RSA
Ret
ESP
11
BEL
11
MON
6
SWE
11
NED
7
FRA
16
GBR
11
15th 6
Brabham BT44 Ford GER
Ret
AUT
4
ITA
7
CAN
Ret
USA
5
1975 Team Surtees Surtees TS16 Ford ARG
DSQ
BRA
10
RSA
16
ESP
8
MON
Ret
BEL
10
SWE
16
NED
Ret
FRA
13
GBR
11
AUT
10
ITA NC 0
John Player Team Lotus Lotus 72F Ford GER
Ret
Penske Cars Penske PC1 Ford USA
9
1976 Citibank Team Penske Penske PC3 Ford BRA
Ret
RSA
5
USW
NC
ESP
Ret
BEL
7
MON
10
7th 20
Penske PC4 Ford SWE
Ret
FRA
3
GBR
3
GER
7
AUT
1
NED
Ret
ITA
11
CAN
10
USA
6
JPN
Ret
1977 Martini Racing Brabham BT45 Alfa Romeo ARG
Ret
BRA
Ret
RSA
6
USW
DSQ
ESP
Ret
MON
Ret
BEL
Ret
SWE
5
FRA
2
GBR
Ret
GER
Ret
AUT
8
NED
Ret
ITA
Ret
USA
12
CAN
Ret
JPN
Ret
13th 9
1978 Parmalat Racing Team Brabham BT45 Alfa Romeo ARG
Ret
BRA
8
6th 25
Brabham BT46 Alfa Romeo RSA
3
USW
Ret
MON
4
BEL
Ret
ESP
5
SWE
Ret
FRA
4
GBR
3
GER
7
AUT
7
NED
4
ITA
2
USA
Ret
CAN
Ret
1979 Marlboro Team McLaren McLaren M28 Ford ARG
3
BRA
8
RSA
Ret
USW
Ret
ESP
Ret
BEL
6
MON
4
FRA
11
9th 15
McLaren M29 Ford GBR
4
GER
5
AUT
9
NED
Ret
ITA
Ret
CAN
6
USA
6
1980 Marlboro Team McLaren McLaren M29B Ford ARG
Ret
BRA
11
RSA
11
11th 6
McLaren M29C Ford USW
4
BEL
NC
MON
DNQ
FRA
7
GBR
8
GER
Ret
AUT
Ret
NED
Ret
ITA
Ret
CAN
4
USA
NC
1981 Marlboro McLaren International McLaren M29F Ford USW
Ret
BRA
8
6th 27
McLaren MP4 Ford ARG
Ret
SMR
10
BEL
7
MON
Ret
ESP
3
FRA
2
GBR
1
GER
6
AUT
6
NED
Ret
ITA
Ret
CAN
2
CPL
7
1982 Marlboro McLaren International McLaren MP4B Ford RSA
6
BRA
2
USW
6
SMR
BEL
1
MON
Ret
DET
1
CAN
3
NED
9
GBR
Ret
FRA
Ret
GER
Ret
AUT
9
SUI
13
ITA
4
CPL
2
3rd 39
1983 Marlboro McLaren International McLaren MP4/1C Ford BRA
Ret
USW
1
FRA
Ret
SMR
5
MON
DNQ
BEL
Ret
DET
3
CAN
6
GBR
9
GER
5
AUT
9
NED
3
6th 22
McLaren MP4/1E TAG ITA
Ret
EUR
Ret
RSA
DSQ
1985 Marlboro McLaren International McLaren MP4/2B TAG BRA POR SMR MON CAN DET FRA GBR GER AUT NED ITA BEL EUR
7
RSA AUS NC 0

External links

References

  1. ^ "1972 Non-World Championship Grands Prix"
  2. ^ Henry, Alan (1985) "Brabham, the Grand Prix Cars" p. 143 - 145 Osprey ISBN 0-905138-36-8
Awards
Preceded by
James Hunt
Hawthorn Memorial Trophy
1978
Succeeded by
Alan Jones
Preceded by
None
Autosport British Competition Driver
1982
Succeeded by
Jonathon Palmer
Preceded by
Alan Jones
Hawthorn Memorial Trophy
1982-1983
Succeeded by
Derek Warwick
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