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Race of my life: When Stewart won a third F1 title with his finest drive

Today marks 50 years since Sir Jackie Stewart clinched his third and final Formula 1 world title at Monza with a recovery drive to fourth after an early puncture. To mark the occasion, here are Stewart's recollections of the 1973 Italian Grand Prix, his choice for the race of his life

Jackie Stewar, Tyrrell

Jackie Stewar, Tyrrell

Motorsport Images

Race: 1973 Italian Grand Prix, Monza

Car: Tyrrell 006

"We'd had a very good season at Tyrrell and I was leading the world championship going into Monza, which was the last grand prix in Europe. I knew I could secure the title before flying away, but then one of the rear tyres began to deflate during the race...

"Although I didn't win the race it meant something to me that was more than just winning because I came from so far back to finish fourth and I broke the lap record many times in that race. I think I had a good day!

"I always had my mirrors focused on the rear tyres because in those days we had a lot more punctures, so I saw it looking concave and I came in.

"It wasn't like today when they do a 2.6- or a 4.6-second pitstop, we were in there for ages changing the tyre. We started with one set of tyres and full tanks and we didn't have the equipment to do any type of fast stop.

"Because it was the beginning of the race it meant that we were hugely behind, and I mean properly behind. There was nobody in sight on the longest straight, it must have been about a 30-second pitstop and I lost time on the in-lap, although the tyre wasn't falling apart as I had caught it early.

Stewart doggedly fought back from an early puncture to clinch his final F1 crown at Monza

Stewart doggedly fought back from an early puncture to clinch his final F1 crown at Monza

Photo by: Motorsport Images

"I think Ken [Tyrrell] thought that from that point on I was going to lose interest. We knew we had a bit of speed and we were catching everybody and I started doing some very good lap times, but I think he thought I might start getting bored so he started giving me pit signals like '-45 Fangio!' It was all quite funny.

"I was picking people off lap-by-lap and breaking the lap record time after time, and I kept on passing people. The last person I passed was my team-mate Francois [Cevert] and I ended up in fourth. I even thought I might get on the podium.

PLUS: Autosport ranks Stewart's greatest races

"Everyone was jumping up and down when I came in but I wasn't sure if we had won the championship. I said three times 'are you sure?' Then the crowd came flowing in and because I wasn't on the podium they mobbed me.

"Although I didn't win the race it meant something to me that was more than just winning because I came from so far back to finish fourth and I broke the lap record many times in that race" Jackie Stewart

"I ended up going into a toilet with my wife Helen and everyone was thrashing at the door so we opened the window and climbed out and into the paddock, but they found us there, too.

"My first grand prix win had come at Monza in '65 so it was somewhere I got a huge amount of satisfaction from.The crowd are such aficionados and the PA system is good too, the place is so alive.

"The car felt good that day and so did I. It is possible to even win a race sometimes even if you haven't driven your very best and you know that you've made a few mistakes. Monza '73 was one of those days where I felt really satisfied with my own driving."

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