The older but not the faster Scheckter
- Mattijs Diepraam
- 8W March 1999 issue
1977 Belgian GP (practice)
The elder brother of Ferrari's last World Champion had been a star in domestic F Atlantic racing, only showing up at his home GP in privately-run Lotuses and Tyrrells and doing a few one-offs elsewhere for Lord Hesketh and Sir Frank, before finally embarking on a full season of F1. Signing with the ailing March team turned out to be a bad idea, though.
Mosley and Herd had just lost the services of all its three 1976 works drivers - notably Ronnie Peterson, who had delivered them an unexpected win at Monza - and were missing out on star drivers, as much of the team's budget had gone to waste in the development of the stillborn 761-derived sixwheeler. With only a 1976 update on offer, it could do nothing more than take on the tobacco money of Ian Scheckter and Alex Ribeiro, Scheckter taking along Rothmans, Ribeiro securing the backing of his national Hollywood brand. Thus, the 761Bs elaborated further on the dual-livery theme introduced by Max Mosley in 1975. Imagine FIA president Jean-Marie Balestre - later deposed for his authoritative attitude and replaced by the 'democratic' Mosley - dictating March Engineering it should run both cars in 'Rothwood' or 'Hollymans' livery...
March's last season before returning proper in 1987 was a season plagued by transmission and clutch trouble, on top of the cars just being too slow. The factory's only virtue was supplying the beleaguered Williams team with a customer 761 for Belgian rent-a-driver Patrick Neve, enabling Frank to carry through into a new year with a spark of promise surrounding his new young designer Patrick Head. Meanwhile, the works wasn't doing any better than its customers. Scheckter only took delivery on the new 771 in summer, practising it on several occasions but racing it on one occasion, the final GP in Canada. With March bowing out rather ungracefully, Herd turning his attention to F2 and Mosley leaving in anger, the elder Scheckter was left with a reputation in tatters. He was unseen in GP cars ever since.