|1976||Parnelli, Team Lotus||15||15||1||3||7||1||1||2||1||1||0||22||6|
|First race||Italian Grand Prix||Monza||September 8, 1968||Race results|
|Last race||Caesars Palace Grand Prix||Caesar's Palace||September 25, 1982||Race results|
Mario Andretti was a rarity, an American who not only moved to Europe but one of only two to have done so and won a world title. Unlike the other, Phil Hill, Andretti enjoyed considerable success on both sides of the Atlantic in a career which spanned more than three decades.
An immigrant from Italy who arrived in the USA at the age of 15, Andretti was already interested in racing and with his elder brother, Aldo, he started racing at local dirt ovals. By the early 1960s he was racing with success in sprint and stockcar events, and he graduated to IndyCars in 1964.
In his first full season - 1965 - he made headlines by finishing third on his Indianapolis 500 debut and showed it was no one-off by winning the season's title. A second followed in 1966 and a third in 1969 (winning the Indianapolis 500 for the only time) but by then he had already dabbled in Formula One, making his debut for Lotus at the end of 1968, qualifying on pole for the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen.
Between 1969 and 1974 Andretti continued to impress in Formula One but did not commit to it full-time, endlessly commuting across the Atlantic. At the 1970s Monaco Grand Prix he was barred from entering after flying back to the USA after practice at Monte Carlo to compete in a race there and immediately returning to Europe in time for the race. He need not have bothered as officials invoked a regulation barring drivers from racing in a nother event within 24 hours of a grand prix.
In 1971 he won the South Africa Grand Prix on his debut for Ferrari, but it was not until 1975 he decided to give F1 a real shot. His first season with Parnelli was moderate, and when it folded he returned to Lotus, at the time down on its luck. But Colin Chapman rebuilt it so much so by the end of the season Andretti won the rain-blighted Japanese Grand Prix.
That success continued in 1977 with four more victories, but despite that he only finished third in the drivers' championship at the outstanding Lotus 78 was dogged by reliability issues. A year later, and with the 78's issues ironed out, he won six grands prix at the title, although his moment of glory was completely overshadowed by the death of team-mate Ronnie Peterson at Monza.
Andretti remained at Lotus in 1979 and 1980 but the team was again on the slide and he managed only one podium. In 1981 he switched to Alfa Romeo with little success, and he bowed out the following year with a couple of outings for Ferrari following the death of Gilles Villeneuve, taking pole and then third place at the Italian Grand Prix.
In 1982 he was already back in IndyCars, and underlined his brilliance with a fourth IndyCar title in 1984 and continued racing Indycars for another decade, finally retiring in 1994 at the age of 54. A year earlier he won his 52nd and last IndyCar race, and became the only man to record wins in four decades.
Even then the lure of the track remained, and in 1995 he finished second at the Le Mans 24 Hours, with his final outing there in 2000. As late as 2003 he was still sneaking an occasional drive, and driving for son Michael's team in practice for the 500 he escaped a spectacular crash.
Both his sons were successful racers, and the torch subsequently passed to his grandson who finished second at the 2006 Indy 500.
Strengths and weaknesses
Given his success, his adaptability remains one of his greatest attributes
In terms of Formula One, securing the world title in 1978, but then returning after a decade to land his fourth IndyCar crown at the age of 44 takes some beating.
There were remarkably few for a driver who raced for so long.
" The first time I fired up a car, felt the engine shudder and the wheel come to life in my hands, I was hooked. It was a feeling I can't describe. I still get it every time I get into a race car."
"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough."
Andretti is the only driver to win the Daytona 500, Indy 500 and Formula One world title, and also the last American to win the US Grand Prix (1977)
Andretti only became a US citizen in 1964, nine years after he arrived in the country
In the animated film Cars, he did the voice of a 1967 Ford Fairlane, the car he won the Daytona 500 in