Jochen Mass was affectionately nicknamed ‘Hermann the German’ by the McLaren team in general and his team-mate James Hunt in particular. Imbued with a sunny disposition and equable temperament, the tousle-haired Jochen was a one-time able seaman who started competing in sprints and hill climbs in an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint.
He gained international prominence behind the wheel of Ford Capris in the European Touring Car Championship in the early 1970s, but gained promotion to F1 on the strength of some strong showings in F2 single-seaters. His GP debut came for Surtees at Silverstone in 1973, the race in which Jody Scheckter catapulted McLaren into the headlines for all the wrong reasons when he triggered the multiple pile-up which caused the race to be stopped in chaos.
Jochen switched to McLaren towards the end of 1974, taking over the Yardley M23 previously driven by Mike Hailwood and David Hobbs. In 1975 he was promoted to the ‘main’ squad as team-mate to Emerson Fittipaldi, winning the famous ‘half points’ Spanish GP at Barcelona’s wild and woolly Montjuich Park circuit, an event which was flagged to a premature halt after Rolf Stommelen’s Hill GH1 crashed over the trackside barrier, killing four onlookers.
After Hunt’s arrival at McLaren as Fittipaldi’s successor, Mass gradually found himself slipping into a subordinate role alongside his new British colleague. His inability quite to match Hunt’s sheer speed seemed to wear him down. He was replaced by Patrick Tambay in the McLaren line-up for 1978, switching instead to the ATS team for a disastrous season which ended with a broken leg. Two years driving for Arrows followed, then a dreadful year with the RAM March squad after which he turned his back on F1 and enjoyed considerable success with the Porsche sports car racing team.