#106 1962 French Grand Prix

2021-09-04 00:00

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#1962, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Carola Buzio,

#106 1962 French Grand Prix

Saturday, 23 June 1962 at 4:00 pm will see the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the great automobile race that has endured undaunted since 1923, desp


On Saturday 23rd June 1962 at 4:00 p.m. we will see the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the great race that endures since 1923, despite the crisis that seemed on the point of making it disappear from the calendar after the terrifying disaster of 1955, in which more than a hundred people lost their lives in the most shocking accident in the history of the sport. The popularity of the French race has managed to remain unchanged, both among manufacturers and drivers and for the audience, that flocks the almost fourteen kilometers of the famous circuit every year. It's hard to believe that it involves only motorsport fans: it's closer to the truth when we say that people go to Le Mans as if they were going for a picnic, perhaps a little uncomfortable but where they can find all sorts of amusements to spend a night and a day without getting bored. In reality, there’s a huge fair around and inside the circuit in these days where you are spoiled for choice due to the dozens of restaurants, bars, dances and souvenir stalls. This is the 24 Hours of Le Mans, half fair and half serious. Very serious indeed, for the three or four hundred people most directly involved in the events of the race: the drivers, first and foremost, then the technicians of the manufacturers and the teams, the mechanics, the race stewards. The rules of the 24 Hours are very strict and are applied without mercy. The same strictness applies to the the race: the slightest misconduct results in immediate exclusion from the race. Until last year, the 24 Hours of Le Mans was valid for the Constructors’ World Championship; from this season, as we know, the championship is reserved only for grand touring cars and is divided into three titles; respectively for cars up to 1000, 1600 and over 1600 cubic centimeters. The race will count for these three titles, but from this point of view it’s not so interesting, since the technical and competitive elements proposed by the 24 Hours are quite different, starting with the presence of new large displacement sports cars, which will compete for the overall victory. While in Formula 1, up until now, Italian cars had to suffer the British superiority, the situation is very different in the sport category, where Ferrari has dominated in all the tests run so far. Even at Le Mans, the red cars from Modena are the favorites, but they will find extraordinary opponents in the new four-liter cars (with 350 and more horsepower) from Aston Martin and above all Maserati. 


However, in the official practice sessions held on Thursday 21st June 1962, the Ferrari driven by Phil Hill-Gendebien (the duo who won last year's 24 Hours) beat by far the absolute lap record set in 1957 by the late Mike Hawthorn, who was driving a Ferrari. The time set on the 13.461-meter circuit is of 3'55"1, followed by two other Ferrari: those of Parkes-Bandini in 4'00"9, and the brothers Pedro and Ricardo Rodríguez in 4'03"2, and in fourth place the Maserati of McLaren and Hansgen in 4'05"5. After stringent scrutineering, which led to the exclusion of Lotus’ cars due to two construction details that didn’t comply with the race's strict regulations, the fifty-five crews admitted will continue testing on Friday, with an extra time at night, both to get the drivers used to driving with headlights and for further testing of the cars' lighting systems. At the start, at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, in front of more than 230.000 spectators, the fifty-six cars launched into an indescribable chaos, and it was Graham Hill (Aston Martin) who took the lead of the group, though he was soon overtaken by the Ferrari initially driven by Gendebien. The English car resisted in second position for about twenty laps. The Rodríguez brothers, exploiting the first refueling of the duo Phil Hill and Gendebien (whose car had to stop approximately every 20/22 laps) at the beginning of the third hour were in the lead. But the situation is restored at dusk when the highest general speed average of the race is recorded; with 194.651 km/h is the number 1 Ferrari crew. During the night, the threat of Aston Martin and Maserati disappeared for good; the average speed dropped slightly (190 km/h) and it was Pedro and Ricardo Rodríguez who stood out in terms of combativeness, often taking the lead. At midnight, sixteen drivers had retired and then twenty-two retired at four in the morning, after twelve hours of racing. Immediately afterwards, the Rodríguez crew dropped out and Baghetti-Scarfiotti duo moved into second place. But the Italian crew will be forced to retire as well. At this point, the duo of Hill-Gendebien had no choice but to slow down, having a minimum advantage of five cars over everyone else. During the race there were only two accidents, fortunately more spectacular than serious in their consequences: after four hours, the Ferrari driven by the Belgian Darville went off road: the driver suffered slight injuries on his chin. Then, around midnight, on the turn following the grandstands' straight, the Panhard of the French driver Lelong overturns and catches fire, but he manages to leave the driver seat before being caught in flames. So, Ferrari has once again won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a convincing manner. 


The overall winner is a pair of drivers who can truly be considered the kings of the 24 Hours: the world champion Phil Hill and the Belgian Olivier Gendebien. Together, they are on their third victory in this race (and Gendebien has won it four times). The two, at the wheel of an experimental Ferrari with a 12- cylinder, 4.000 cubic centimeter engine, covered more than 451 kilometers at an average speed of 185.468 km/h between 4 p.m. on Saturday and 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. Phil Hill improved the lap record that has been resisting for five years, covering the 13.161 meters of the circuit at an average speed of 204.213 km/h. These figures are highly indicative, especially if we consider the selection which, helped by a torrid heat, put out of action almost 68% of the cars: such a carnage had never been seen at Le Mans. With three triumphant Ferrari, only the car driven by Phil Hill-Gendebien belongs to the official team of the manufacturer from Modena, which had three crews eliminated, two of which - the Rodríguez brothers (who even led the race for a few hours) and Baghetti-Scarfiotti who always remained in the very first positions. For Bandini-Parkes the race is practically over on the first lap, when their twelve-cylinder car (then driven by the American) misses a turn and ends up in the middle of the sand: after a lot of efforts Parkes manages to get the car back on track, but the radiator is damaged, and after a few hours the car can no longer continue. However, from a technical point of view it was the second place of the French Noblet- Guichet (who were third last year) that was the most interesting result, because it was obtained with the Ferrari three-liter gran turismo that owes such a brilliant placement to its well-known endurance qualities, with which the Italian brand is definitively declared World Champion for the class over two thousand gran turismo. As for Ferrari’s rivals, the discussion is over very quickly, since only in the first quarter of the race did they show ambition. The Aston Martin driven by Graham Hill-Ginther held the second position for less than two hours, then had to retire due to a burnt head gasket; the new Maserati four thousand had a promising start, but they complained of the overall lack of preparation and inexplicable tire problems (tread separation). On Sunday 1st July 1962, Reims was dramatically affected by a serious accident during the opening race, which took place in the morning.


On the fifth lap of the first elimination, the cars driven by the Canadian Peter Ryan and the English Bill Moss (who isn’t related to the chamoion Stirling Moss, who is currently recovering from the terrible accident occured two months ago on the track in Silverstone) collided and overturned, throwing the drivers off their seats. Immediately rescued and transported to the hospital in Reims, while Bill Moss only had superficial bruises and abrasions, Peter Ryan's condition was very serious. In addition to a fractured leg, he suffered internal injuries that were confirmed by the first X-rays. The unlucky driver immediately underwent surgery. In the afternoon it was learned that an initial emergency surgical exploration revealed that the Canadian had been seriously injured in the pelvic area. The doctors' prognosis is guarded. In the meantime, the final Junior race is won by Michael Spence with a Lola at the average speed of 184.130 km/h, ahead of Attwood driving Cooper and Rosinski with Cooper. The Reims Grand Prix is held in the afternoon, which this year is not valid for the Drivers' World Championship, but only for the Constructors' Cup. The interest in the race, apart from that, is greatly diminished by the absence of the Ferrari, which apparently don’t even take part in the French Grand Prix on Sunday 8th July 1962 at the circuit in Rouen-Les Essarts. The very fast race attended by over 40.000 spectators repeatedly saw the lap record, which was set in 1961 by Stirling Moss in a Lotus at an average speed of 198.712 km/h, being broken. The former World Champion Jack Brabham started the race with a time of 2'25"0 (206.112 km/h) in the first laps; then McLaren (on lap 44) goes down to 2'24"8 (206.371 km/h) and finally Graham Hill on lap 48 takes it to 2'24"0, corresponding to a speed of 207.543 km/h. At the start Jim Clark (Lotus) takes the lead and immediately afterwards Surtees in Lola, who manages to gain about one second per lap over Clark, Brabham, McLaren and Graham Hill, who’s engaged in an unrelenting fight. The favorite Jim Clark, who was the fastest during the practice session, had to stop on the fifth lap due to mechanical problems. On the tenth lap, Surtees leads with a gap of twelve seconds over Brabham, thirteen over McLaren, fourteen over Graham Hill and sixteen over Ireland (Lotus). But the furious battle for the second place resulted in a shortening of the distance with Surtees, who on lap 27 is forced to stop at the pits due to ignition problems. Immediately afterwards, also the Italian Carlo Mario Abate in a four-cylinder Lotus, who finds himself in the middle of the group, abandons the race. 


After Surtees' stop (who, after an attempt to recover, retires definitively), McLaren takes the lead, and is then replaced by Graham Hill (on lap 32) and by Brabham (on lap 34). On the thirty-eighth lap, however, the New Zealander is back in the lead, while the fight between the three continues tight and exciting. With two laps to go, Brabham's Lotus suddenly breaks down. The Reims Grand Prix, won by New Zealander Bruce McLaren in a Cooper-Climax, is the most exciting race among those held this year. And it's a pity that the race isn’t valid for the Drivers' World Championship because such a balance of values - especially mechanical - rarely has been seen in the past. In addition to the now well-known qualities of Lotus, Cooper and B.R.M., there is the Lola-Climax, which didn’t shine particularly until now. In France this interesting English car, driven by John Surtees, was forced to retire a little over halfway through the race, but up until that moment it showed that it could easily hold off the rival cars which are much more prestigious. As it’s well known, Ferrari didn’t take part in the race and it seems that they will not be able to present their cars in Rouen next Sunday either, due to the strikes that have slowed down the preparation of the cars. This has taken away a lot of interest from the Grand Prix of the Automobile Club of Champagne, just as it will take it away - if the surrender is confirmed - from Sunday jeopardizing, perhaps irreparably, Phll Hill’s chances to defend the world title. The second important fact of the race is the big step forward in terms of the overall speed and lap records. The reference, however, is limited to current Formula 1 cars with 1500 cubic centimeter engines, since the old records for cars with 2500 cubic centimeters engines have obviously remained unbeaten. Between the average speed reached last year by the winner Giancarlo Baghetti driving a Ferrari and that of McLaren, there is a difference of about eleven and a half kilometers, and of almost nine kilometers between the lap speed of 1961 (Moss in a Lotus). These figures give a precise idea of the progress made by Formula 1 cars which, with less than 200 horsepower, reach average speeds clearly higher than those of ten years ago which had the same displacement but, thanks to the implementation of the supercharger - which is now forbidden - developed almost double the power. 


The lack of comparison with Ferrari in Reims has prevented us from seeing if the Italian cars have improved compared to their last race; but it is certain that the English constructors can count on formidable cars, against which it will be difficult succeed, unless the new engines that are being prepared in Maranello have exceptional qualities. After a three-week break from the Belgian Grand Prix and a week after the Reims Grand Prix, Formula 1 season resumed in France, at the circuit in Rouen-Essarts, on 8th July 1962. Rouen hasn’t been included in the Formula 1 World Championship since 1957, as the agreements with the circuit in Reims allowed it to host a Grand Prix valid for the championship every five years. The track didn’t change much, except for a short section where the track has been covered with concrete slabs that could cause damage to the suspensions. While the British teams worry about breaking the suspension, Ferrari deal with a much more complex issue: the strike of their metalworkers. As it previously happened in 1952 and 1957, every five years the French Grand Prix leaves the circuit in Reims to be held at Rouen-Les-Essarts. The circuit in Rouen doesn’t have the facilities or the atmosphere of Reims, but the circuit is still considered one of the best in Europe both for the drivers and their audience. Among the teams present in Rouen are all the British teams that competed in Reims the previous week and, in addition, Porsche, that turned up with their 8-cylinder cars. On the other hand, among the absents is Scuderia Ferrari, whose mechanics were prevented from preparing the cars due to an industrial strike in Italy. Porsche underwent many modifications during their development work on the 8-cylinder cars at the Nürburgring: radius rods were moved from the front top wishbones back to the chassis frame and the gear-change mechanism has been completely redesigned. In addition, the team arranged the disposal of catch tanks for the engine breathers and, on Bonnier’s car, they filled the top rear wishbones in with fiberglass to provide more stiffness; both cars have redesigned the body structure around the cockpit as well as the seating position, which has been lowered, in order to guarantee as much space as possible to remove the steering wheel quickly. Moreover, anti-roll bars have been fitted internally on the rear suspensions. 


The 8-cylinder engines are currently using Weber carburetors, with a wire gauze that covers the fiberglass cooling fan. B.R.M. has replaced the damaged Colotti gearbox on Ginther’s car with one of their own 5-speed gearboxes, which has already been used by Graham Hill but, overall, the cars remain the same used in Reims. Engineer Rudd came back to Bourne with a V8 engine on his Hillman Minx; Lotus have also been busy since they introduced a brand-new Type 25 monocoque in time for first practice, in order to have Taylor driving the prototype monocoque, while the Type 24 is kept as a spare. All three cars have Coventry-Climax V8 engines, while the Type 24 with B.R.M. V8 engine is given to the Swiss Joseph Siffert. Lotus has developed further with UDT-Laystall and their second transporter came out with a brand-new Type 24 with V8 Climax engine and 5-speed Colotti gearbox. The second UDT car, which has a B.R.M. V8 engine, was fixed after its performance in Reims. The Bowmaker-sponsored Lola hoped to get a new car ready for Surtees, but having such a short amount of time, they decided to employ again the cars used in Reims. For McLaren, Cooper brought their Monaco winning car, while Maggs received the car that won in Reims, both of them being unchanged, but using 13-in front wheels. Private owners are lucky to have one new car for a season, let alone any spares ones, so their goal is to race and be careful. The track record, set by Luigi Musso in 1957 with a time of 2'22"4, is immediately broken as the new cars are able to cover the track in less than 2'20"0. At 7:00 a.m., the circuit is still closed in order to give the Juniors 1.5 hours to practice. At 8:30 a.m. Grand Prix cars take over. Lotus’ pit is full of cars: there are the two Type25 models, the Climax 24 and the B.R.M. 24; Clark starts immediately to choose them. He first tries the old Type 24 and then changes to the brand new one, both running without tail fairings; when Lotus are sure that the B.R.M.-engine car isn’t going to be used by Clark, they give it to Siffert. The young Swiss is naturally overjoyed, but after half a lap the hydraulic control between the pedal and the clutch breaks, stranding him out on the circuit. While UDT mechanics are still finishing off the brand-new Lotus, the Irish driver decides to go out on track with the old one and then with the new one, complaining shortly after that the car wouldn’t turn right. 


In fact, the steering rack was broken and stuck. There is no real time for practice laps; since the last Grand Prix held on the circuit in 1957, five years ago, when Luigi Musso set a lap record of 2'22"0 on a V8 Lancia/Ferrari, times have changed since then, and 2’15"0 doesn’t seem to be an unreasonable ultimate target. While most drivers begin running at 2'28"0, Surtees and Clark go under 2'20"0, respectively 2'16"0 for the old Lotus 25 and 2'16"3 for the Lola. In Lotus, Gurney is in good shape, immediately showing that the car has improved by lowering the time to 2’17”0, while Bonnier is complaining of not being able to improve his time of 2'21"0; he is soon left to stand and watch Gurney’s car getting fixed. Clark gets out on track with the new Lotus 25 but, as soon as he enters a corner, he locks and the steering rack blocks, forcing him to touch the grass, luckily with no damage, allowing him to go back to the pits to complain. Meanwhile, B.R.M aren’t shining as usual: Graham Hill is quite sure that the current engines give less power in each circuit, or the hills got steeper. The attention that Porsche were giving to Gurney’s car allowed him to set a lap of 2'16"0, before Graham Hill’s 2'15"0. As practice finishes, the sun comes out and the atmosphere gets warmer; Gurney and Bonnier change cars with the Swede leading the way and they run around 2'23"0, with Gurney agreeing that his car has better carburation when not tackling sharp corners. On Friday morning, the Juniors go again on track from very early morning. At 8:50 a.m., the Grand Prix practice begins. Lotus don’t take part to the session, though Siffert goes on track with the repaired B.R.M.-engine car; moreover, only McLaren’s Cooper-Climax V8 is running, after several issues yesterday, which caused him to set such poor lap times. However, he now soon goes below 2'19"0. Meanwhile, Salvadori breaks the Climax V8 engine on his Lola, and Gurney has a slight bumping incident as a front brake locks. Bonnier’s car is currently running better than yesterday. At 9:15 a.m., Clark joins with his new monocoque Lotus, back on 15in front wheels, having tried 13in during the previous practice session. Brabham runs very quickly in his bright green Lotus-Climax V8, setting a time of 2'16"0, but then he goes off track and comes back with the radiator full of buttercups and daisies and a fair amount of dirt. On the other hand, B.R.M. drivers are still not happy: Graham Hill is having troubles with his gear-change mechanism, while Ginther’s car broke its throttle cable, which had to be disassembled in order to fit a new one.


McLaren goes down to 2'15"0, but shortly after Hill improves to 2'15"0, once his gear-change issue has been sorted out; however, Lotus are also in trouble with gear selection, and adjustments are still being made on Clark’s car. Once it’s fixed, he runs in 2'14"0, which puts him in front of the whole grid. Both UDT cars are going well, while Maggs can’t practice, and Taylor only completes one lap with Clark’s car before the end of the practice session. The film company who has been following Grand Prix racing all this season, filming in front of the pits while teams are working, is now trying to take some fake shots with a camera on the back of Cooper’s 4-cylinder car, which in the end blows up half-way through the lap. As it all finishes at 10:15 a.m. on Friday morning and the race is due to start at 3:15 p.m. on Sunday, there is a lot of time for pre-race preparation, maybe too much time. At the end of the practice session, the same film company that already followed the drivers on the track appeared at the French circuit to film a small part of the race, with a camera put on the back of a four-cylinder Cooper. However, the camera explodes halfway through the lap and the company leaves the circuit in a hurry, to the delight of both the drivers and the mechanics. At 10:15 a.m. all the drivers returned to the pits, giving the teams two days to make changes and improve their cars, as the race wouldn’t take place until 3:00 p.m. on Sunday. On Sunday, it’s sunny and warm; there are two Formula Junior Heats and a bicycle race scheduled for the day, for which a very large crowd (almost 80.000 people) tries to get to the circuit, despite the inadequate road system compared with Reims or Le Mans. In spite of the hot weather and the track’s conditions not being perfect for such a big crowd, everyone seems to be enthusiastic. Around 3:00 p.m., cars are allowed to go on track to do some sighting laps, as a wise precaution considering Junior races that already took place. The two B.R.M. wait on the grid since they completed their lap while others went to the pits for a spark plug change or a fuel refill. The two B.R.M. aren’t using anti-roll bars on the rear; Clark has the new monocoque model and Taylor is driving the original one, Siffert drives the Lotus-B.R.M. bought from Lotus, Ireland with the new UDT, Salvadori the Lola spare engine car and McLaren and Maggs have the two Cooper-Climax V8 cars, both on 13in front wheels. Clark finishes his sighting laps: spark plugs have been changed and the engine refused to fire on all 8 cylinders. 


Everything has been checked, plugs removed, jets removed, fuel pipes looked at and, by the time muddled plug leads are discovered, everyone else is already lined up on the grid. Jim Clark managed well the situation and remained calm during those difficult moments. When the signal is given, all engines are started except Ginther’s: he immediately tries to push the start button, but the engine isn’t working. Helplessly in the middle of the field of roaring cars, the driver raises his arms to say to the drivers behind him to avoid his car, therefore Taylor, Maggs and others start planning their movements with each other to avoid Ginther’s B.R.M. The mechanics who were forced to leave the grid now realize that the Gendarmes were still standing on the grid and in front of the straw bales, risking getting run over by Trintignant and the others at the back of the grid. They immediately try to get them to climb over the bales, but when the race Director realizes what is happening, he starts waving them to go to the other side of the track; right after that, a group of Gendarmes begins running between the cars that were waiting far too long with their engines running. Meanwhile, the whole front row can’t see much of this drama; Clark, Hill and McLaren are anxiously looking into their mirrors, so it’s no surprise that the three of them made poor starts when the flag finally falls. Lotus, B.R.M. and Cooper start running with wildly spinning rear wheels, covered in a cloud of rubber smoke and disappear down the Hill. The whole field is still quite bunched at this point; most of the cars get in each other’s way and finish on the grass. The field begins to split at the hairpin, at the far end of the circuit, but as Ireland spins, Bonnier has to go on the curb to avoid him, damaging his gear-change mechanism. Meanwhile, Graham Hill, Surtees, Clark, McLaren, Brabham, Gurney and Gregory all storm past the pits during the opening lap and the rest follows, while Ireland is still stuck a long way back due to a puncture on his rear tire, discovered as soon as he got to the bottom of the hill. After the field left the starting line, Ginther brings his B.R.M. to the pits, so his mechanics discover a broken electrical lead, which detached during the sighting laps, causing the car to stall on the grid at the start. With a mechanic holding the starter motor terminal, Ginther gets the engine running easily and sets off finishing the opening lap behind Ireland. On lap two, Graham Hill sets a new record of 2'21"0, but Surtees gets right on his tail and on lap three the two cross the line side-by-side.


The starting order hasn’t changed much; someone is left behind, while Clark isn’t completely happy with the handling of his new Lotus. By lap four, the race seems to have sorted itself out. Graham Hill and Surtees are fighting for the lead, followed by Clark, McLaren, Brabham, Gurney, Gregory - who dropped back quite a lot. Then come Bonnier on his Porsche, leading on Maggs and Trintignant, who’s increasing his gap from Lewis, Salvadori, de Beaufort and Siffert, who are all close to each other. Far behind we find Taylor, tagging along behind, and Ginther, who’s already been lapped by the leading duo. On the next lap, Siffert is forced to retire due to a clutch issue. This 48th French Grand Prix can’t be defined as an exciting race, but it was early and anything could still happen. By lap 10, Graham Hill can enjoy a lead of 1 second over Surtees, who is patiently watching him from behind, while having a gap of 8.5 seconds on Clark; Gurney is in fourth place and there is a huge gap between him and Gregory. In the back of the grid, both Salvadori and Taylor have woken up, but didn’t catch Trintignant yet, who is eighth behind Maggs. Ginther is still a long way back, while McLaren and Brabham come slowly into the pits, with the Lotus forced to stay there while the Cooper goes back racing. McLaren’s car has been jumping out of gear for a while and, as the driver is trying to take care of the issue, he loses control of the car and spins on the uphill, running over the kerb. Since he doesn’t have any clear damage, he keeps on racing but stops again during the next lap as the car isn’t feeling right. After that, it’s clear to his mechanics that a rear wishbone is bent, but little do they know that the chassis too is broken (they will find it out after the end of the race). Despite all, McLaren wants to continue to race, so he goes back on track. On the other hand, Brabham has no choice, as the right rear spring broke from its top mounting and the Lotus was dragging its bottom on the tarmac. On lap 12, most of the grid begins gesticulating in all directions. Surtees is waving to his pit wall, Clark points at the front of his car and Gurney gives Porsche an OK signal. Meanwhile, Hill runs a lap in 2'19"0, setting a new track record. Surtees goes to the pits, as the Lola-Climax V8 is letting him down again. 


Mechanics suspect a fuel starvation, but the driver goes immediately back on track in eighth place. In the meantime, Graham Hill sets another lap in 2'19"0. He is now 17 seconds ahead of an unhappy Clark on his Lotus 25, and 35 seconds ahead of a hard-working Gurney with his Porsche 8-cylinder, who is firmly keeping his third position. Gregory’s Lotus-B.R.M. suddenly breaks down on the far side of the circuit and the driver abandons it and walks back to the pits. McLaren is now last, further behind Ginther. Apart from Salvadori stopping three times at the pits and finally retiring from the race due to low oil pressure, nothing much happens until lap 20. In the 8-cylinder Porsche, Bonnier laps de Beaufort on his 4-cylinder Porsche. After the time lost at the start, Ginther is beginning to make an impression from the back of the grid, though he is still losing ground to his teammate who’s in the lead. By lap 22, Surtees catches and overtakes Trintignant, Maggs and Bonnier, taking the fourth place. At this point, Bonnier stops at the pits to see if anything can be done about his gear-change, as his engine is suffering from over-revving due to the missed gear-changes. On the same lap, Clark sets a new record in 2'18"0. On the next lap, Trintignant stops at the pit since there’s an issue with the gear selectors of his Colotti gearbox. Meanwhile, Taylor stops at the Noveau Monde hairpin with a stuck throttle. He then manages to set off again and get to the pits to have a new throttle spring fitted. On lap 27, the order of the three leaders is still unchanged: Graham Hill is out on his own, Clark following in second position and Gurney third with Surtees fourth, almost a lap behind. Already a lap behind are Maggs and Lewis, and then come Ginther, de Beaufort, Bonnier (who is stuck at the pits again), McLaren, Trintignant and Taylor. Although the leader appears to be having a dull time, he is still running at around 2'18"0, not far off Clark’s record lap. On lap 30, Clark is first, with Hill quite a long way behind him; after lapping Lewis in his Cooper, Hill brakes for a corner only to be struck up the tail by the Cooper which suddenly lost all its brakes. The B.R.M. loses its right-hand tail pipe and spins, losing the lead of the race to Clark; fortunately, the B.R.M. starts again before Gurney comes, while Lewis has to walk back to the pits. On lap 31, Clark is 6 seconds ahead of Hill, but on lap 32 the B.R.M. runs in 2'16"0 and sets a new lap record, catching the Lotus. Clark isn’t enjoying the lead as his car keeps steering badly; after being caught so easily, he realizes there really is something wrong with the car and goes back to the pits. 


This leaves Hill’s B.R.M. 30 seconds ahead of Gurney’s Porsche, which is currently running as strong as ever, while Surtees is stuck in third position, a lap behind. In fourth place now comes Maggs, who is driving a very consistent race, and fifth is Ginther ahead of de Beaufort. Behind the Dutchman come all those who had troubles throughout the race: Bonnier with a broken engine, McLaren with a broken chassis, Trintignant with his repaired gear-change and Taylor, who stopped again to have the engine cover fitted from Clark’s car, which had to withdraw due to a faulty steering ball joint on the left top wishbone. Once more, it all seems to be over, but on lap 42 Graham Hill stops at the bottom of the hairpin with his injection mixture control stopped and blocked due to a stop that broke down. Thanks to this opportunity, Gurney takes the lead, both the driver and his car look fit and healthy as well. At the end of lap 42, Surtees goes into the pits due to a gearbox issue, and Maggs finds himself in second place, a lap behind the leader. Lola’s mechanics engage the Colotti gearbox into third gear and Surtees pulls away to try to finish the race, still holding fourth place behind Ginther, both of them two laps behind Gurney. Porsche’s pit begs the American driver to try take it easy, which he does, and while he is on lap 47 Graham Hill arrives slowly at the pits without his engine cover and the V8 with a tick-over. Nothing can be done to fix the situation, so the driver goes on track again, trying to collect his engine cover and try not to be excluded as regulations forbid to compete without a bonnet. As Ginther leaves the hairpin on his 49th lap, his throttle cable breaks down so he pulls off the outer casing and winding the inner Bowden cable round his fist he continues to drive on a hand throttle, passing the pits showing his right fist clenched though nobody could understand why. Surtees starts going slower and slower on his one-gear Lola and, as Gurney completes his 54th lap, McLaren overtakes the Lola and takes fourth place, even though he’s 3 laps behind the winner. 


A very happy Gurney in a very competitive Porsche wins the 48th French Grand Prix, followed by Maggs in the Cooper-Climax V8 and Ginther in third place. McLaren crosses the finish line in fourth place and Surtees in fifth, followed by Trintignant and Taylor. But, as soon as the Lola tries to stop at the pits, it’s prevented from doing so by a group of Gendarmes; Trintignant swerves to the left in order to avoid it but turns right into the path of Trevor Taylor who was coming over the finishing line at 120mph or more. Both cars are demolished by the impact and, miraculously, nobody is injured. Of all the people who are involved in the incident, Trevor Taylor is proven completely innocent, as his calm, quick thinking averted an accident of much greater proportions. However, the 48th Grand Prix of the Automobile Club of France lacked something in spite of a great and unexpected success: the presence of the celebrated Ferrari. Competitively the race, which is valid for the Drivers' World Championship, was interesting but the absence of the great Italian manufacturer left a void that couldn’t be filled. As for the fight for the title of World Champion, nothing was lost for Phil Hill and Ferrari, since the British driver retired on lap 44, and the top of the ranking remained unchanged. However, Bruce McLaren came dangerously close to the top two with his fourth place, just four points behind Graham Hill. On the other hand, the race for constructors' title seems to be compromised for Ferrari, which is six points from the top, where B.R.M. lead the ranking with 20 points, followed by the British Cooper and Lotus, with 17 and 15 points respectively. And now, with the arrival of Porsche, victorious in France and with twelve points in the ranking, the chase for a position of honor seems to become difficult. Above all, the metalworkers’ strikes that are blocking the entire Italian nation.


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