Carlos Reutemann, Formula 1 driver who lost world title by just one point and then entered politics – obituary

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Carlos Reutemann, who died at the age of 79, was one of the greatest talents in motor racing in his heyday; but for a series of fateful circumstances, he could have been Formula 1 world champion – and, later, president of Argentina.

He drove for several teams – Automóvil Club Argentina, Rondel, Brabham, Ferrari, Lotus and Williams – and was considered by many to be as fast as Ayrton Senna and as smart as Juan Manuel Fangio. He raced in 146 grand prix, winning 12. In his first F1 victory, in a Brabham at Kyalami, South Africa in 1974, he beat Niki Lauda – who seemed to hold a grudge forever.

Apart from F1, Reutemann has also driven Lola, Porsche, McLaren, De Tomaso-Fiat, Ford, BMW and Alfa Romeo cars in endurance and touring races. He then turned to rallying, winning a stage of the world championship.

He became a hero not only for Argentinian schoolchildren but also for the British; his own hero was Jackie Stewart, whose taste for racing in the rain he shared.

In the 1970s, Reutemann, whose life began modestly on a farm in Argentina, came to prefer the Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge and his villa in Cap Ferrat. With his movie star look and immense driving talent, he seemed predestined to become F1 world champion. Yet that wasn’t the case: As he admitted to retirement, he suffered from what he called his “anxieties”, constant worry and pre-race nerves.


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