On the back of the astounding Senna documentary and Ron Howard’s soon-to-be-released biopic of the 1976 F1 season Rush, it appears Jackie Stewart is assisting (Brokeback Mountain and Tree of Life producer) Bill Pohland in the pre-production stages of a film focused on Stewarts relationship with his late team-mate Francois Cevert at Tyrell during 1971-’73.
Just over a week before his death, Cevert had confided to Stewart that he was entertaining an offer from Ferrari as he was sure of never gaining number 1 status at Tyrell so long as Jackie was still around. Stewart himself was considering retiring but had kept the matter private from all parties up until the fateful weekend at Watkins Glen. He had asked Cevert to wait a few days until making his decision.
In a decade already tainted by many driver deaths, Stewart was positive that Francois was mature enough to take over the reigns as #1 at Tyrell. Oddly enough however, was his own summation of the Frenchman’s accident; that Cevert took the cambered corner in a lower gear than desired – making the car unnecessarily unstable. Such nuances may be used to paint an existential feeling of dread simmering just below the surface.
If tackled in the right way, the subject matter should make a riveting film in a way that the introspective Bobby Deerfield (adapted from Erich Maria Remarque’s novel Heaven Has no Favorites) arguably failed to do. In the Sidney Pollack-directed ‘Deerfield, Al Pacino plays a 1970’s Formula One driver grappling with the death of colleagues and entering into a nihilistic relationship with a terminally-ill woman. Trouble is, the anxiety one feels for the protagonists is burnt up in the first few reels of the movie. With any luck the Stewart/Cervert story-line will avoid this pratfall as well as celebrating a time where friendships were just as vehement as the competition on track.