He rapidly ascended to the ranks of Formula One after moving to Britain in 1970. His Formula 1 debut occurred at the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen in 1972 with McLaren, where he ran as high as third place before spinning and finishing ninth. Immediately becoming a name to watch, he continued his development the following year, winning the 1973 SCCA L&M Championship and racing five times in F1. In France, he almost won in only his third start in F1 before crashing into Emerson Fittipaldi, the reigning World Champion, who said after the crash about Scheckter: "This madman is a menace to himself and everybody else and does not belong in Formula 1. " In his next start, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Scheckter's spin triggered a major accident which took nearly a dozen cars out of the race. The Grand Prix Drivers Association demanded his immediate banishment, which was only put off when McLaren agreed to rest their driver for four races. Scheckter's McLaren M23 bore the number zero during the Canadian and American Grands Prix of 1973. Scheckter is one of only two F1 drivers to compete under this number, the other being Damon Hill. During the practice for the American event at the Watkins Glen circuit, Frenchman François Cevert, who was due to be Scheckter's Tyrrell teammate for 1974, was killed in an appalling accident at the fast uphill Esses corners. Scheckter was behind Cevert when he crashed, and he stopped his McLaren, got out of his car and attempted to help Cevert out of his destroyed Tyrrell, but the 29-year-old Frenchman had been cut in half by the circuit's poorly installed Armco barriers and was already dead. Witnessing Cevert's dreadful accident left an indelible mark on the South African and caused him to abandon his reckless ways, becoming a more mature and calculating driver as a result.