Former Formula 1 driver Chris Amon has passed away from cancer, at the age of 73.
He was often regarded as the greatest driver never to have won a Grand Prix, after starting 96 races for Ferrari and Matra between 1963-1976. He scored eleven podiums and five pole positions in this time.
He first broke into the sport in 1963 with Parnell, however in 1966, his victory in Le Mans 24 hours with Bruce McLaren secured him a chance to drive for Enzo Ferrari.
Despite several podiums, it was unreliability problems that kept a win out of reach for Amon, even though his talent with Ferrari shone through when he managed to beat Jackie Stewart to pole position at the 1968 Belgian Grand Prix by 3.7s.
Back luck became commonplace for Amon, holding him back from that win that he deserved, for example at the 1972 French Grand Prix, he was leading the pack when a puncture caused him to fall behind.
However, Amon never considered himself particularly ‘unlucky’.
“I had several big accidents that could have killed me; I broke ribs, but I was never badly hurt,” he spoke in 2008.
He also considered himself luckier than a number of fellow drivers, such as Jimmy Clark, Bruce McLaren, Piers Courage and Jochen Rindt.
After he retired from the sport, he returned to his home country of New Zealand, to help run a family farm.
McLaren chief Ron Dennis has paid tribute to him:
“It was with profound sadness that I heard the news this morning that Chris Amon had passed away.
“Chris started 96 Grands Prix but won not one of them – and it is safe to say that he was the greatest racing driver never to have won a race at the very highest level. He nearly won a fair few, but always it seemed that his luck would run out before he saw the chequered flag.
“However, he won at Le Mans, in a mighty 7.0-litre Ford, exactly 50 years ago, his co-driver his friend and fellow Kiwi, Bruce McLaren, whose name still graces the team to which I have devoted my working life.
“I have not met Chris for many years, but, even so, I have extremely fond memories of him, and indeed I would describe him as one of the most likeable men I have met in my long racing career.
“For all those reasons I want to take this opportunity to extend the heartfelt sympathies of all 3300 of us at McLaren to the family and friends of a great New Zealander, a true gentleman, and one of the fastest racing drivers there ever was: the one and only Christopher Arthur Amon.
“May he rest in peace.“