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Archive for the category “F1”

From Runway 1 to Turn 13

Couldn’t make it to the Hungarian GP?  Here’s a taste of what you might have seen had you been lucky enough to have had that boarding pass..

Click on the first image to open the gallery

The British GP celebrations – as they really happened in 1965

My colleague, Peter Darley, was quickly in touch last week after we posted the summary of Jim Clark’s stunning 1965 British GP victory. I’m indebted to him for the gallery below. As the official photographer to Team Lotus in the 1960s, Peter was invited onto the British GP podium “float” in 1965. He clicked away as, first, the winning Lotus 33B was wheeled up onto the flat-top and then as Jim donned Jim Endruweit’s pullover before receiving the garland and trophy. “Actually, I was holding Jim’s favourite cardigan,” recalls Peter, but Jim Endruweit offered him his sweater while I was busy taking photos. When Colin saw the cardigan in my hand he said ‘Good.  I’ll have that. It’s a bit chilly up here…’ – which is why you see Colin wearing Jim’s cardigan and Jim Clark the baggy Endruweit sweater. Jim E sat at the front, looking a bit cold…” PD000

Here’s Peter at the head of the victory group, recording history. (Peter has already published two superb books that no serious enthusiast should be without – Jim Clark – Life at Team Lotus and 1965: Jim Clark & Team Lotus: the UK races.  And he has a new book due out shortly, juicily entitled Pit and Paddock.)

To enter the gallery, click on the first image – but please note that all the photographs are the copyright of Peter Darley and cannot be reproduced without his written permission.

 

No time to relax…

July 11, 1965. Rouen Grand Prix (F2) Incredibly, Jim had little or no time to enjoy the Silverstone win. He was due to race the following day (Sunday) at Rouen in another F2 event, again in the Ron Harris Lotus 35-Cosworth. Jim had always been very quick at the fast, demanding, sweeping, uphill-downhill Rouen circuit but to date had never won there: he had led both the 1962 and 1964 French GPs at Rouen before having to retire. Now he was returning with a nimble F2 car against the usual, formidable, opposition. Rouen was nothing less than a complete drivers’ circuit and Jim, his Silverstone victory still ringing in his ears, was as hungry as ever.

The logistics, with the passing of time, seem incredible: Jim (together with the other F1 drivers) practised at Rouen on the Wednesday before flying that night to Silverstone. They all then returned to Rouen a few hours after the British GP to be practising again at Rouen on Sunday morning for a race that afternoon. In the midst of all that, Jim’s Cosworth engine was flown from Rouen to Northampton on Wednesday night, completely rebuilt, and sent back to France on Saturday night.

Jim qualified on the pole but it was Jochen Rindt who led into the first, fast, downhill right-hander. Jim slipped past on the ultra-quick uphill section after the famous Nouveau Monde hairpin – then it was Rindt again, slipstreaming back into the lead before the final hairpin.1965 Rouen F2

Again it was Clark versus the Winkelmann team, for Alan Rees was quickly up there too. The two Brabhams burst past the pits – then Jim drew gasps from the crowd as he darted out of the tow and dived for the inside for the flat-out right-hander. And so it went on – with Jack Brabham and Graham Hill joining the fight. The racing was spellbinding. It was slipstreaming…but on very fast, sweeping corners…

Jim’s concentration, given recent events, was astounding. Inch by inch, braking area by exit, his monotonous perfection began to give him some space. Jochen and Graham became enmeshed in a battle; Rees retired with a broken drive-shaft.

Suddenly Jim found himself on top. It was one of the best bits of driving he’d produced all year.

And yet…and yet…

In an eerie re-run of Silverstone, his Cosworth engine suddenly lost its edge with but two laps of the race to go. Graham Hill, in John Coombs’ Brabham-BRM, was catching him quickly. Colin Chapman jumped from the pit wall in disbelief. In the cockpit, Jim again nursed the engine, winding down the revs and saving it on downshifts. More than ever, he focused on massaging the dynamic weights, eliminating the lumps.1965 Rouen 2

And he did it. He crossed the line to win a relatively minor F2 race in about the time it takes to win a Grand Prix today – 1hr 48min. In this amazing of seasons, it was win No 26. Images: LAT Photographic

Thanks to my colleague, Richard Wiseman, we can see a little of the action from Rouen in this short AP Archive newsreel. There’s no sound but there are some nice shots of Jim, Graham Hill and the Winkelmann Brabhams. It’s a huge field, too, that rushes down to the first corner. Note, at the end, Jim asking Graham Hill to join him on the podium. A nice touch in the days when three-driver podia were rare. http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/view/bcffc7a67072bdb29e559f55e7e19ca4?subClipIn=00:00:00&subClipOut=00:01:56

A classic victory at home

July 10, 1965. RAC British GP, Silverstone  Jim Clark strolled onto the grid for the British GP wearing his fawn Sally Swart cardigan over his blue Dunlop overalls. As with all the drivers on all the cars that day, his name was big on the side of the car: “Clark”. In the red-upholstered seat of the 33B (now R11 again, with the four-valve Climax) sat his dark blue Bell Magnum with its crisp, white peak. For this race he chose tan kangaroo skin “Jim Clark” driving gloves (from a range that also included red and black). No-one in the Silverstone crowd denied they were about to see an absolute master again at work. It wouldn’t matter if the race was another Jim Clark walkover: that was as it should be. The home crowd accepted Clark for what he was – a quiet genius who was also a sheep farmer from the Borders. There were no complaints back then about the “lack of overtaking” or the “one or two place-changes” that would invariably characterise the race; in 1965, when the Beatles had yet to grow their hair long and Mini Coopers were genuinely mini – like the Mary Quant skirts – and the girls wore headscarves when they rode in open-topped MG Midgets, life was there to be touched, not consumed in ever-larger spoonfuls.

1965 Sil panJim qualified on the pole but only 0.2sec away from Graham Hill’s BRM. Richie Ginther was third in the much-improved Honda, fractionally quicker than Jackie Stewart in the other BRM. Richie was quickly away from the line in a nice demonstration of Honda power but Jim was soon in front.1965 British Grand Prix.1965 British Grand Prix.

And for much of the distance the race indeed belonged to Clark and the Team Lotus 33B. Graham Hill, in the BRM – absolutely a part of the BRM, with his graceful opposite-lock slides and his London Rowing Club Everoak helmet looking as though they were the two key fixtures around which Tony Rudd had designed the car – pushed Jim hardest; Grahamby three-quarter distance, however, the race seemed clearly to be another one for Clark. By lap 64, with 16 to run, Hill, in brake trouble, was some 35 seconds away in second place.Graham

Then Jim’s Climax V8 began to lose oil pressure – first at Stowe, momentarily, and then at Club and Woodcote. On the straights the needle would flicker back to centre. With every passing lap, the plunges grew worse; a blow-up – a rare blow-up in this final year for Coventry Climax in Formula One – seemed inevitable. What to do? What to do?

Jim had no help from the pit wall other than the usual updates about the diminishing gap. With no radio communication, Colin Chapman was oblivious to the problem. They could hear reports of what seemed to be a mis-fire but on the pit straight the Climax engine sounded strong. Jim needed to think it out for himself – think it out with all his brainpower and with the experience of his days as a part-time mechanic in the Jock McBain garage, and the time spent in many a track- and roadside moment, mending broken cars. Even in 1965 Jim could often be seen helping with wheel changes or plug checks or obscure mis-fire diagnoses at major races throughout the world.1965 Sil slide

And so he decided on a cure: he decided to kill the engine through all the fast corners, thus minimising the piston or main bearing damage when the surge was at its greatest and the lubricant at its thinnest.

He would think it through and then he would do it: he would approach Stowe in top, brake and change down to fourth – and then find neutral at probably 130 mph before switching off the engine. He would have no throttle to help him balance a slide; he would not be able to apply any power until the 33B was straight. Instead, Jim realized that he was going to have to attempt an even earlier-than-normal approach to the corner – an approach based around exactly the right moment and speed at which to rotate the car; and then, when it was more or less straight, he was going to have to declutch it back to life. All this without losing the race to a fast-approaching Graham Hill. Prior to the problem, Jim had been lapping comfortably in the mid-1min 33s/34s. Now, in switch-off mode, his lap times were up in the 1min 35/36s.

Stowe, Club, Woodcote…Jim focussed his de-clutching remedy on these three (long, fast) corners. At Copse and at Becketts he kept the engine running but again tried extending the straights as much as possible. Sometimes he fought oversteer (left); other is was understeer (below). Only the year before, when he had been giving Colin Chapman a ride around Silverstone in a Cortina-Lotus, had his boss been surprised by what he perceived to be Jim’s “very early” approach to the corners. Jim had replied that this was the way he always drove, regardless of whether he was in the F1 car, the Lotus 30, the Cortina or the F2 Lotus 35.

Now, in these excruciatingly long and dramatic closing minutes, he was turning in to all the corners even earlier. He could hear the Dunlop tyres scrubbing off speed in the bland silence of the cut engine, mid-Stowe – but only in the distance, as if he was vaguely aware of aircraft flying overhead. His mind, his concentration, was a tunnel. Feel the moment. Apply the steering lock…now…engage third…de-clutch…now.1965 British Grand Prix.

Pit signalThose pit signals narrated a story he didn’t want to read. Once before – at the ’62 International Trophy – Graham had passed him on the line at Silverstone. Literally on the line. (Bruce McLaren had also pipped him the same way in a Mini race – but that was another story.) Today it was different. Today it was Jim Clark versus the failing engine. It was the Lotus 33B, with all its grip and balance and driveability, suddenly racing within itself. And he was the man in the middle.

Three laps to go. Two. He had consistently managed to keep his lap times about two and a half seconds adrift of par. Once or twice the engine had sputtered before screaming back to life. He could see Graham in his mirrors as he reached top gear on Hangar Straight. Concentrate. One more time around Stowe. Once more around Club. The crowd, in his peripheral vision, was a waving sea of arms. Graham was with him now, catching him assuredly. Jim re-lit the Climax one more time. Third. Fourth. Abbey Curve. Fifth. Down to Woodcote. Fourth. Extend the straight. Delay the lateral load. Power on.

Chequered Flag. Last lap: 1min 36.8sec. Enough to win by 3.2 sec – a whole half-a-second more than the Clark-Hill margin in the 1964 British GP!Bruce takes the glory

Cooper’s Bruce McLaren, whose British GP was dogged by a problem with fourth gear, was almost lapped for the third time as Jim took the chequered flag.  He quipped later in his Autosport column: “At least I’m the only driver this year who can claim to have been in a photo finish with Jim Clark!”

In the style of the day, the newspapers would report on Sunday that “Jim Clark was forced to nurse his engine in the closing laps due to a mechancial problem”, with emphasis on Graham’s fighting finish. Nothing more. Easy reading. Something about which to talk – a little. No-one suggested – as is clear now – that not a single other driver in the history of our sport, with the possible exception of Stirling Moss – could have won that race, that day, in the way that Jim Clark won at Silverstone.

Afterwards, the 33B was pushed up onto a flat-top. Everyone clambered aboard – Colin, with his children, Sarah, Jane and Clive; Mike Spence, who had pushed John Surtees hard on the way to finishing an excellent fourth; all the Team Lotus mechanics; and Sally, of course. A Lotus Elan split the crowds ahead. The tractor chugged forwards. Jim, remarkably fresh, shivered as a late Saturday breeze feathered in from the north. He looked around for the cardigan that wasn’t there. Instantly, Jim Endruweit removed the (fawn) pullover he’d been wearing on the pit wall throughout the race. It was a perfect fit. Win No 25 (appropriately!)1965 Sil podiumJC - Sil 65 trophy

F2 interlude in champagne country

Rheims programmeJuly 3, 1965. Reims GP (F2) As tempting as it was to remain in France for a short break, Jim stuck to plan and returned to England with Colin after the French GP. Next on the schedule: the second French F2 race of the year, this time in the champagne region of Reims. Jim had raced regularly at the ultra-fast and dangerous triangle-in-the-fields circuit since 1960 – and in 1963, with his engine down-on-power, had scored that momentous victory in the French GP.

This year’s race was very different, however. For one thing, the 37-lap F2 event was but a support race for the big Reims 12 Hour sports car event (won by the Ferrari 365P2 of Pedro Rodriguez and Jean Guichet). In other words, drivers like Clark, Jochen Rindt, Jack Brabham and Jackie Stewart were in France merely to play secondary roles…

It’s also important to put races like this into context. Jim had by this stage of the year won three F1 championship races plus the Indy 500; and the following week he would be the star attraction at Silverstone for the British GP. Yet here he was, taking a relatively minor role in a 1-litre F2 car on a circuit comprising largely of straight lines. There was no question of not racing at Reims – any more than there was of not racing at Mosport four days after Indy. It was just what Jim Clark did. He raced for Team Lotus. Seen with today’s perspective, however, the scope of Jim’s race programme was extraordinary.

Jim raced his usual Ron Harris Lotus 35-Cosworth, qualifying third (without the aid of a tow from team-mate Mike Spence). The race immediately exploded into a six-car slipstreamer, with Jim endlessly swapping places with Rindt, Brabham, Alan Rees, Frank Gardner and Stewart. A couple of times Jim managed to out-brake the pack, and also to find quicker exits from the slow corners, but the Winkelmann Brabham teamwork (Rindt-Rees) ultimately proved unbeatable. Jochen eventually won from the ebullient Gardner (Lola-BRM) with Jim in third place.1077_34 1965ReimsF2

Shock? Horror? Jim Clark finishes only third? Not a bit of it. Jim was never afraid of being beaten. It was the competition that intrigued him – that and the cars themselves. Getting the best from the cars. Driving them on the limit. He knew that his Lotus wasn’t quite as quick through the air as the Brabhams or even the Lola; the critical thing was that he gave the F2 race everything he had; that was what mattered.

(The Reims F3 race, incidentally, was won by a new French coming man – a certain Jean-Pierre Beltoise, from Piers Courage and the very quick John Fenning.) Images: LAT Photographic

Clark in an orbit of his own

Note: with the exception of the Month of May at Indy, all of Jim Clark’s 1965 season – from East London, South Africa through to the Belgian GP at Spa – can be read on one post (entitled “Jim Clark’s epic 1965 season”). The four weeks at Indy have all been posted separately – and we will be doing so for the remainder of this year. All can be found under the category “Jim Clark’s 1965 season”. We take up the story as Jim prepares for the French Grand Prix…

Clermont-Ferrand, June 27, 1965. French GP (Grand Prix de l’ACF) After Spa, Jim was finally able to spend a week in Scotland. The changes were dramatic. On the back of Jim’s Indy win – and of his most recent success in the F1 car – the Border regions seemed to have gone motor sport-centric. And with Roger Clark – no relation! – also winning the Scottish Rally over the same weekend as Spa, the two Clarks were in much demand. Jim allowed TV cameras on the farm; Edington Mainsentertained the famous Indy commentator, Tom Carnegie, together with his American film cameras and cameramen; added a postscript with Graham Gauld to Jim Clark at the Wheel; and welcomed Colin up in the Borders, reminding him, as he always did, to look for the “red roofs” on the farm barns when lining up the grass runway near Edington. There was also an approach from Hollywood: with John Frankheimer well advanced with pre-production for MGM’s upcoming movie, Grand Prix, starring James Garner, Jim was approached by Warner Bros and Brookdale Films about lending his name to a rival F1 film starring Steve McQueen. Day of The Champion was to shot primarily at the 1966 German GP and possibly after that at Oulton Park. Jim agreed to the proposal.

Racing-wise, there were other details to finalise. There was talk about running the Indy Lotus at Reims, ostensibly as a demonstration but also in an attempt to break the lap record there; thankfully that fell through due to a lack of starting money. Then came an idea to run the 38 at Silverstone, before the British GP. Jim quite liked this idea but again it came to nought: Ford, the new legal owners of the car, decided it would be of more use at the New York World’s Fair. Eventually Chapman signed a relatively lucrative deal to run a 38 in two Swiss hill-climbs at the end of August. Jim liked the sound of that. He’d last competed up a hill at Rest-and-be-Thankful back in 1958.

Too soon, it was back down the A1 – to London in the Lotus Cortina – first to Cheshunt, to go through the accounts with Andrew (now more complicated than ever due to the Indy win), and then to nearby Panshangar Airport to fly with Colin, Sally and Mike Spence to Clermont Ferrand. The glorious mountain circuit – home of Michelin – had never before staged the French GP. Now it was to play its role in F1 history as the “mini-Nuburgring”.

Upon arrival at the low-key Clermont airport, Jim and Colin were drawn to a crowd outside in the car park. Cameraman and newspaper journalists were in abundance, all focused on one man.

And, for once, it was not Jim Clark.

“That’s Yuri Gagarin!” said Colin, fascinated. “Come on. Let’s go and say hello…”

The Russian cosmonaut, at that stage on a USSR-sponsored world tour in honour of his 1961 orbit of the earth and other exploits, quickly appreciated the stature of Clark and Chapman. He invited them, indeed, to a reception being held that night in Clermont’s civic centre. Colin and Jim looked at one another, worked out that they could easily drive to their hotel in Charade later than night, and agreed to attend.yuri-gagarin-timeS1420011

The evening sparkled. Jim and Yuri spoke through interpreters and quickly formed a bond: Jim was as fascinated by the space programme as Yuri was by the Lotus racing cars.

Then, later, the group of four set off in their rented Peugeot for the race hotel. Colin drove, with Sally him and Mike and Jim in the back.

Suddenly, in the middle of a slow, innocuous corner, the Peugeot swerved and lurched down a bank. “Is everyone all right?” gasped Colin as the car came to rest, windscreen shattered. “I think I’ve strained my thumb…”

Jim, uncoiling himself in the middle of the front seat, where he’d landed, replied in the affirmative. As did Mike, who had squashed up against the back of Colin’s seat.

“Sally?”

“I’m ok but I think I’ve cut my head or something,” she said, looking at the blood on her blouse and hands.

Jim looked across and began swaying from side to side. Then he fainted at the sight of the blood.

Eventually the Peugeot was pushed back onto the French road. The hotel was found; Sally was treated by a doctor in the dead of night; and Colin promised the medic a pit pass for the weekend in return for keeping the incident away from the media.

Despite a few light-hearted jibes from Jim about his suit being ruined, Sally recovered well enough to perform regular timing duties in the pits at Clermont. Colin’s thumb, however, remained a race weekend talking-point…

Jim showed no signs of the incident when practice began on Friday. Of far more import was the failure of his 32-valve Climax engine out on the circuit: Jim hitched a ride back to the pits, straddling the engine cover of John Surtees’ V8 Ferrari. As a result, Chapman decided to concentrate on the 1962-built R6 two-valve chassis (still in Lotus 25 form) rather than the 1964-built Lotus 33B R11.

29578 1965FrenchGP Jim qualified the old car on the pole, his 3min 18.3sec lap shading Jackie Stewart’s best for BRM by a mere half-second. Ferrari qualified three and four, with Lorenzo Bandini again controversially racing the faster flat-12 car and leaving the V8 for Surtees; and Denny Hulme, who had subbed for Dan Gurney in the International Trophy and at Monaco, celebrated his second Championship GP start by qualifying an excellent sixth for Brabham (and quickest on Friday). His compatriot, Chris Amon, would dominate (until a puncture intervened) the 1972 French GP at Clermont with the Matra V12, but gave clear indication seven years earlier of what was to come by qualifying a brilliant eighth in the evergreen Reg Parnell Lotus 25-BRM.

As he had done on several occasions since 1964, Jim wore a white handkerchief over his face for this race: stones and rubble lay trackside. The Dunlops and Goodyears of the time were stiff enough and strong enough not to be hugely puncture-prone but there was a real risk of being injured by the local flint. Best place to be, of course, was out in front….

A brass band and a shower of Michelin balloons lit up the grid as heavy clouds assembled on the horizon. Morning rain gave everyone déjà-vu but then out came the sun over the Auvergne as the 2:00pm start time appraoched. Jim anticipated the Toto Roche twitch but Lorenzo nearly lost the Ferrari as he floored the flat-12 in first. With clear air behind him, Jim Clark thus set off for the first of 40, daunting Clermont laps – a potential race time, in the dry, of some 2hrs 10min.

29579 1965FrenchGPJim’s lead over Lorenzo at the end of his opening lap was 3.5 sec; by lap two, with Jackie now in second place, he was ahead by six seconds. And so it went on. Perfect poetry in motion. Twin high-level chrome exhausts (rather than the 33B’s low, wide-spaced exhausts) distinguished Jim’s car on this occasion; otherwise, it was 1965 at its Jim Clark best: by half-distance, with Jackie still second, Jim was leading by 14 sec; by the end, heading another one-two for the Scots, Jim’s winning margin was nearly half a minute. John Surtees finished third after a quick pit stop (and after Lorenzo shunted in the closing laps!), and the brilliant Hulme was fourth after dropping as low as 14th on lap one. Overall, though, it was another consummate Clark performance. Pole position. Led from start to finish. Fastest lap.

And with not the hint of a whisper about what had transpired on the Thursday…Win No24; images: LAT Archives

Here are two short videos from the race, courtesy of British Pathe and British Movietone News. Apologies for the way the Pathe video has obviously been speeded-up. That’s also Jochen Rindt shunting the works Cooper-Climax (not Lorenzo in the Ferrari); and you can see Chris Amon briefly in the Parnell Lotus 25 after being lapped by Jackie Stewart’s BRM. The second video, the Movietone News film, has only recently been uploaded to YouTube and contains some excellent footage from the race

29705 1965FrenchGP

 

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