The former Formula One driver Chris Amon has died after a battle with cancer aged 73. His family confirmed this morning that he died in Rotorua Hospital on Wednesday.
His family said in a statement: “Chris battled cancer in recent years but retained not only a close interest in Formula 1 – and his very wide range of favourite topics – but also his wonderful sense of humour complete with infectious chuckle.”
Amon made his debut for the Parnell team in 1963 at the Monaco Grand Prix and it was a difficult season for the New Zealander wo suffered a crash at Monza where he broke ribs but managed to score points at Zanvoort. While Formula One was difficult Amon gained wins for McLaren at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans.
This paved his way to Ferrari the following season where he delivered podiums but his achievement was overshadowed by the death of teammate Lorenzo Bandini at Monaco. Amon showed he could deliver good laps by taking a few pole’s but never managing to convert them to wins.
McLaren Chairman Ron Dennis led the tributes in a statement he Said “It was with profound sadness that I heard the news this morning that Chris Amon had passed away. it is safe to say that he was the greatest racing driver never to have won a race at the very highest level.
“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.
“I 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”
After terrible reliability problems, Amon felt his future would be better set elsewhere. But spells at March, Matra, Tyrrell and even his own team in 1974 failed to give him the win that so eluded him.
His final season was in 1976 with Ensign where he had bad luck and was stacked by the team after refusing to race following Niki Lauda’s crash at the Nurburgring.
He went back to New Zealand where he helped run his family farm. Amon however retained links to racing through TV and drove alongside Murray Walker in rallying in 2003.