The son of the great pre-war Auto Union driver of the same name, it was perhaps inevitable than Hans-Joachim Stuck would become a Formula 1 driver.
Learning from the masterful skills of his father, Hans-Joachim made his racing debut in 1969 at the tender age of 18 at, of all places, the Nürburgring! By age 19, he had already won his first 24 Hour race at the same circuit.
Stuck made his mark with successful touring car results for both Ford and BMW, with his victories including the Spa 24 Hours in 1972.
With backing from BMW, he moved to single-seat racing and was the championship runner-up to Patrick Depailler in the 1974 European Formula 2 championship.
Stuck’s F1 debut occurred that year with the works March Team, and he drove their cars in F1 on a semi-regular basis until 1977, while still representing BMW in touring car and IMSA races.
A vacancy appeared at the Brabham team in 1977 after Carlos Pace’s death, and achieved excellent back-to-back podium finishes at the German and Austrian Grands Prix.
Offered the opportunity to stay with the team for 1978 if he won at Wakins Glen, Stuck was storming away in the wet until he crashed out of the lead.
The offer now withdrawn, Hans-Joachim moved to the Shadow team, but his F1 results went into a terminal decline and he only achieved a handful of results with the British team, and his final season with ATS in 1979 saw him pick up points on his final race.
With no further F1 drives forthcoming, Stuck switched to sports car racing, and was a force in the mid-1980s. Partnered with sports car ace Derek Bell, they romped to the 1985 World Sportscar Championship title and back-to-back 24 Hour Le Mans wins in 1986-7 in the all-conquering Porsche 962. He also took victory at the Sebring 12 Hours.
When the Porsche project ended, he ventured to the United States and competed successfully in the TransAm and IMSA GTO championships before returning to Europe and taking the German Touring Car Championship title in 1990 with Audi.
Although he declared his retirement after 1995, he continued to race on an occasional basis for BMW and dabbled in Formula 1 TV commentary. He returned to the circuit again in the 2005-6 Grand Prix Masters championship to compete against his F1 contemporaries and reminded everyone that he still possessed considerable speed.
Hans-Joachim now works for Volkswagen Motorsport, and oversees the parent group’s participation in a variety of motorsport forms.
Hans-Joachim very kindly accepted an interview request from Richard’s F1, and he has given us a great insight into his motorsport career and VW’s prospects of joining Formula 1 (his answer regarding the engine regs is curious…).
I offer my sincerest thanks to him for his time and support with this interview.
|Full Name:||Hans-Joachim Stuck|
|Born:||1 January 1951, Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER)|
|First GP:||1974 Argentine Grand Prix|
|Last GP:||1979 United States East Grand Prix|
|1970||24 Hours of Nürburgring, Koepchen BMW 2002 TI, 1st overall with C. Schickentanz|
|1972||24 Hours of Nürburgring, Fritzinger Ford Capri RS2600, 2nd overall with K. Fritzinger|
|Spa 24 Hours, Ford Capri RS2600, 1st overall with J. Mass|
|Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft, Zakspeed Racing Ford Capri RS, 1st overall|
|1974||Formula 1, March Engineering Cosworth 741, 11 races, 5 points, 16th overall|
|European Formula 2 Championship, March BMW 742, 3 wins, 6 podiums, 2nd overall|
|1975||12 Hours of Sebring, BMW Motorsport 3.0 CSL, 1st overall with A. Moffat & B. Redman|
|European Formula 2 Championship, March BMW 752, 4 races, 1 podium|
|Formula 1, Lavazza March Cosworth 751, 5 races, 0 points, Not Classified|
|1976||Formula 1, March Racing Cosworth 761, 15 races, 8 points, 13th overall|
|Formula 1, Theodore Racing March Cosworth 761, 1 race, 0 points|
|European Formula 2 Championship, BMW Motorsport March 762, 2 wins|
|1977||Formula 1, Rothmans March Cosworth 761B, 1 race, 0 points|
|Formula 1, Martini Brabham Alfa Romeo BT45B, 14 races, 2 podiums, 12 points, 11th overall|
|1978||Formula 1, Shadow Racing Cosworth DN8 / DN9, 14 races, 2 points, 18th overall|
|1979||Formula 1, ATS Cosworth D2 / D3, 12 races, 2 points, 20th overall|
|1980||24 Hours of Le Mans, BMW Motorsport M1, 5th in IMSA Class with H. Bürger & D. Lacaud|
|Macau Guia Race, BMW 32i Turbo, 1st overall|
|1983||Macau Guia Race, BMW 635 CSi, 1st overall|
|1985||World Endurance Championship, Rothmans Porsche 962C, 1st overall with D. Bell|
|1985||24 Hours of Le Mans, Rothmans Porsche 962C, 3rd overall with D. Bell|
|1986||12 Hours of Sebring, Bob Akin Porsche 962C, 1st overall with B. Akin & J. Gartner|
|24 Hours of Le Mans, Rothmans Porsche 962C, 1st overall with D. Bell & A. Holbert|
|1987||24 Hours of Le Mans, Rothmans Porsche 962C, 1st overall with D. Bell & A. Holbert|
|1988||12 Hours of Sebring, Bayside Disposal Racing Porsche 962C, 1st overall with K. Ludwig|
|24 Hours of Le Mans, Porsche AG 962C, 2nd overall with D. Bell & K. Ludwig|
|1989||24 Hours of Le Mans, Joest Racing Porsche 962C, 3rd overall with B. Wollek|
|1990||DTM, Audi Sport A4 Quattro, 1st overall|
|24 Hours of Le Mans, Joest Racing Porsche 962C, 4th overall with D. Bell & F. Jelinski|
|1992||24 Hours of Nürburgring, Porsche 911 Carrera 2, 3rd overall with F. Biela, O. Marithey & W. Rohrl|
|1994||24 Hours of Le Mans, Joest Racing Dauer 962 GT1, 3rd overall with T. Boutsen & D. Sullivan|
|1995||24 Hours of Le Mans, Porsche Kremer Racing K8 Spyder, 2nd in WSC Class with T. Boutsen & C. Bouchut|
|1996||24 Hours of Le Mans, Porsche AG 911 GT1, 2nd overall (1st in Class) with T. Boutsen & B. Wollek|
|1998||24 Hours of Nürburgring, BMW Motorsport 320d, 1st overall|
|2004||24 Hours of Nürburgring, BMW Motorsport M3 GTR, 1st overall|
|2005||24 Hours of Nürburgring, BMW Motorsport M3 GTR, 2nd overall|
As the son of the great Auto Union driver, motorsport obviously runs deep in the Stuck family’s blood. Did you always harbour ambitions of making it to Formula 1?
I learned to drive at the age of 9 years, and it was the beginning of a wish to become a race car driver. This included all kinds of race cars up to Formula 1.
You have an affinity with the Nürburgring: your father taught you to drive there, and you started your first race at the Nordschleife in 1969, at just 18 years of age. You took your first race win the following year in the 24 Hours Race driving a BMW 2002TI, and won again in 1998 and 2004. What are your memories of your first motor race?
This is something I will never forget. Believe it or not we had no seatbelts and I was racing in shirt and jeans without gloves! On top of that I had to stop seven times to reconnect a throttle linkage from the carburettor and still finished 3rd place.
Growing up, did you have any motorsport idols?
Of course my dad was not just my driving teacher. He was also my biggest idol apart from that the legendary Ronnie Peterson, who gave me a lot of input for my career.
You climbed through the motorsport ranks with many successes in the Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft Championship and Formula 2. You won the 1972 Spa 24 Hours, co-driving with Jochen Mass. As the son of an ex-Formula 1 driver, did having the Stuck surname make your path to Formula 1 easier or more difficult?
Without the name Stuck I would probably not have made it into Formula 1. Nevertheless, the expectations were high and I could not always fulfil them.
Your debut F1 appearance came at the 1974 Argentine GP in the works March Ford, where you qualified 23rd and retired with a clutch failure. How did the drive come about, and what were your first impressions of the team and the March 741? Were you offered any advice from any notable figures in the pit lane that weekend?
In December 1973, Jean-Pierre Jarier left the March Team to move to Shadow. March’s Team Principal Max Mosley came to visit us and offered me a drive in 1974.
I went down to Argentina and had never set foot in a Formula 1 car before. Within the first couple of laps I felt pretty good, until all of a sudden Niki Lauda passed me on the outside of a fourth gear corner! I thought “This is it!”. Later I went to see Carlos Reutemann and asked him if he could show me around the track, which he did in his private car. This was a big help for me.
Two races later and you scored your points with a fifth placed finish in South Africa, and followed this up at the next race in Spain with a fourth place. Did you feel like you’d arrived in Formula 1?
I did not feel like I’d arrived in Formula 1, because after that the results were not as expected. I learned how difficult it was to perform in this category.
You drove in the second-half of the 1975 season, but it was a difficult year with the March 751. 1976 was a better season for you, with three points’ finishes. You were paired with the great Ronnie Peterson – what was your relationship like with him?
Ronnie was a cool guy. We worked together very well and I learned a lot from him. We also drove Touring cars together for BMW.
Statistically, your best F1 season came in 1977 driving for Brabham. How did Brabham differ after your time with March and Theodore? What was Bernie Ecclestone like as a team boss?
Brabham (with Gordon Murray designing the cars) was one of the best teams in those days and I learned how a professional team worked. Bernie Ecclestone was one of the very few ‘bosses’ I had and I had and have a lot of respect for him. He is tough and if you don’t follow his rules you’re in trouble!
With the flat 12-cylinder Alfa Romeo engine, you achieved five points’ finishes and back-to-back podiums in Germany and Austria. What was it like to stand on the F1 podium in front of your home crowd?
To be on a Formula 1 podium in my homeland was one of the best moments in my racing career.
Perhaps your greatest (and worst) moment in F1 came at that year’s United States GP at Watkins Glen. You qualified on the front row for the first time and rocketed into the lead on the rain-soaked track, only to crash out. Looking back to over 30 years ago, is the disappointment any easier to cope with?
Not winning this race changed everything for me in Formula 1.
Bernie offered me a seat for 1978 if I won the Watkins Glen race, which obviously did not work!
Nevertheless I have no regrets.
After seasons with Shadow and ATS that yielded little success, F1 left you behind. What options were there for you in 1980?
There were no options in Formula 1 in 1980, that’s why I decided to return to Touring cars and I had a contract with a car manufacturer for a very long time.
You’ve competed in the 24 Hours Le Mans on many occasions, representing the likes of Ford, BMW and Porsche along the way. You took three class wins and two overall wins (1986 and 1987) at Le Mans. How did endurance racing compare with the comparative “sprint” that is a Grand Prix race?
Long distance racing was always my stuff. I liked the teamwork with other drivers and the tactics over the distances.
You’ve achieved great success in a range of disciplines after F1, and on top of your Le Mans victories, you won the World Sportscar Championship with Derek Bell in 1985 (pictured above), the German Touring Car Championship in 1990 and you’re a two-time Macau winner. How much has this success meant to you? Are there motor racing disciplines you would like to have tried your hand at?
It is a blessing to be able to win so many races in different categories. The only one I am really missing from my CV is the 24 hours of Daytona. There was a certain time I wished to do some rallying but due to my contracts with the different companies it did not work out.
You made a return to the F1 paddock with BMW and had an involvement with the BMW Sauber team when BMW bought into the outfit. What was it like to return to the paddock in a different capacity?
As I had worked for several years with Premiere Television in Formula 1 before I started with BMW Sauber, it was almost like a homecoming. I still knew many members of the teams and also found drivers (for example, David Coulthard, who I raced against in Le Mans).
You reunited with many of your F1 contemporaries during the short-lived Grand Prix Masters championship, driving alongside the likes of You finished 6th at the opening race in Kyalami and an excellent 4th in the rain-hit race at Silverstone. What was it like to race against these drivers once again?
From my point of view GP Masters was the invention of the century. It was unbelievable to see the reaction of the fans when we old guys appeared again. None of us had lost our enthusiasm for racing and it was a very enjoyable time we spent together.
You are now a motorsport representative for the Volkswagen group. What are your responsibilities? Will we see VW or Audi in Formula 1 any time soon?
My responsibility at the Volkswagen group is to organise the motorsport activities between the different Volkswagen-owned brands and planning their future in motorsport. In the moment we are not considering Formula 1 for any of our brands.
What would you say were your best and worst moments of your motorsport career?
The best moment in motorsport was winning the DTM Championship for Audi in 1990. The worst was losing Ronnie Peterson after his Monza crash.
What is your favourite racing circuit in the world?
Without any doubt, the Nürburgring.
Do you still follow F1 today? If so, what is your opinion on the current state of F1?
I still follow the Formula 1 with lots of interest. I think that, with small and slow steps, they are moving in the right direction. I can just hope that we very soon get the standardised engine.
Images via Corbis Images, The Cahier Archive, Motorsport.com, Phombo