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#137 1965 Dutch Grand Prix

2022-05-10 01:00

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#1965, Fulvio Conti, Ludovica Dell'Aquila,

#137 1965 Dutch Grand Prix

While the Constructors World Championship and the International Prototypes Cup are living an interesting season thanks to the technical-sporting compe

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While the Constructors' World Championship and the World Sportscar Championship are living an exciting season thanks to the technical and sporting competition between Ferrari and Ford, the Formula One Drivers' World Championship already seems destined to a rather monotonous finale. The fault, or rather the credit, obviously belongs to the Clark-Lotus duo, the real protagonists of all the Grands Prix of the 1965 season, except for Monaco: they did not participate, because they had committed to take part in the Indianapolis race. Clark, driving the car prepared by Colin Chapman, has won in South Africa, Belgium, France and finally England, on his home circuit of Silverstone. All of these successes have been really overwhelming, and Clark always achieved them with the very same style and race conduct. He takes the lead immediately or almost immediately. Then, lap after lap, he increases his lead: at the end of the second lap in the French Grand Prix, the Scot already had a few seconds' lead over Stewart. Finally, he outdistances everyone else; and he keeps fighting his rivals even when the race is over. With all due reservation that indirect comparisons entail, only one driver could be compared to Clark in the last decade, which is, Manuel Fangio. At least, what they have in common is an astonishing consistency in victories. The Dutch Grand Prix is the sixth round of the World Championship, to be held on Sunday, July 18th, 1965, and it is the last chance for the rivals of the Flying Scot to try and take the championship away from him. Shall Graham Hill, John Surtees, the year's young revelation Jackie Stewart, Jack Brabham, Dan Gurney or Lorenzo Bandini fail to win even this time, Clark will practically have the title in the bag. The two B.R.M. drivers, Hill and Stewart, together with Surtees (Ferrari) and Gurney (Brabham), seem to be the most fearsome rivals. On a slightly lower level is Jack Brabham, one of the elderly drivers, who by now is better as a constructor and trainer than as a driver. Nevertheless, he can still be dangerous at Zandvoort, where he had his best performances ever. The Australian has recently started a dispute about Jim Clark's value, accusing him of being just very, very lucky. Incidentally, luck has never shown such constant love for the same person, especially when it comes to racing, where success depends on so many different factors, above all mechanical ones. 

 

At Zandvoort, Brabham will try to prove he has a point. The performance of American driver Richie Ginther and Ronnie Bucknum, who will officially drive the Hondas on the Dutch circuit for the first time, is also awaited with great curiosity. Two years ago, in 1963, a large group of Japanese engineers had settled in Zandvoort, where they conducted a long series of tests on the first prototypes. At Silverstone, the only Honda which had entered had performed very well in practice and in the first part of the race. However, it was forced to withdraw on lap 60 due to serious engine problems. The Japanese, however, did not lose heart and continued to improve the set-up of their cars with admirable tenacity. Surtees seems to be more discouraged: for the British driver, the 1965 season, after the magnificent successes of the previous year, has started rather badly. At Monte Carlo, on a circuit he does not like, the first driver for Scuderia Ferrari tried to fight Clark, although quite poorly; at Francorchamps he was unlucky, but also in Silverstone his performance in the 12-cylinder car was quite disappointing. Lastly, the well-known controversy with the Maranello team certainly did not help to boost the driver’s morale. Surtees is fourth in the ranking with 17 points, 19 points behind Clark, who holds firmly his third place with 36 points. A secure position, which seems now very difficult to change, unless there is some uninspected exceptional performance. Things do not go much better for Graham Hill, who may even be suffering from a bit of an inferiority complex towards Jim Clark. His B.R.M. is theoretically better equipped than the Lotus, but Hill has a gap of more than a second per lap in the race, while in practice the difference is now reduced to one to two tenths of a second approximately. At Silverstone, in spite of the fact that Clark was forced to slow down in the finale because of the injection malfunction, afterwards he started pushing incredibly hard, repeatedly breaking the lap record. Hill seems to find hard to face a direct fight, wheel to wheel, with the Lotus driver. For Graham Hill, Surtees and all the other drivers on Sunday there will be very little to be cheerful about: Jim Clark and his Lotus are about to break other records in Zandvoort. The track is 4103 metres long; it stretches along the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean, among dunes often disrupted by an annoying side wind that carries the sand onto the track, which is full of twist and turns in a continuous up and down.

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The expected distance is eighty laps, equal to 335.440 kilometers: just over two hours of racing. The Dutch Grand Prix is usually held in May and has been the first or second event in the World Drivers’ Championship for several seasons, but this year it was moved to July, to become sixth in the 1965 series. The policy of the organisers now appears to be to try a different date each year, presumably to find which date attracts most spectators. They are hoping for an August date next year, but due to a clash with the German Grand Prix, they are having difficulty in settling on a date, and the FIA still have not decided on which dates these races will be held in 1966. Zandvoort is a seaside resort on the North Sea coast between Haarlem and The Hague and very close to major cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam, as well as Brussels in Belgium, so that races at this circuit usually attract good crowds. With the Grand Prix taking place in the holiday season the organisers hoped to attract many casual spectators, and their claimed figure of 60.000 does not seem too optimistic. The large number of holiday-makers is making things difficult for the teams, who have found their favourite hotels fully booked or unwilling to eater for the peculiar meal-times that drivers, and especially mechanics, have to keep. The KNAC, who is running the race together with the NAV (equivalent to the RAC and the BRDC), decided to have no truck with qualification and invited 16 drivers to take part, these 10 comprising the six works teams plus two cars each from the Rob Walker and John Willment teams. However, Honda once again decided to enter only one car, and so did also the Willment team. The organisers then invited the Parnell team to bring two cars and Bob Anderson to bring his Brabham, putting the total up to 17. Coming only a week after the British GP, the teams have not had time to make significant updates, so there is little of technical novelty to be seen, and they also had very little time to fix the damages suffered the previous week. Despite this, team Lotus is bringing three cars, two with flat-crank Coventry-Climax engines and one with the usual 4-valve per cylinder V8 unit repaired after its Silverstone oil-pressure troubles. The owners of the other 4-valve Climax engine, the Brabham team, unfortunately (or possibly fortunately) had to do without their 4-valver as it was rather badly damaged on its warm-up lap at Silverstone. 

 

A valve head broke on one side of the engine, was somehow ejected up one of the fuel injection intake pipes, hit the wire cage which prevents stones falling into the pipes, and then dropped down another pipe on the opposite cylinder bank. This caused tremendous havoc in the cylinder head, which was not repairable in the short time available. Although Brabham have three chassis available, they were reduced to two normal 2-valve engines, so these were prepared for Gurney and HuIme, Jack Brabham stepping down in favour of the New Zealander. B.R.M. brought three cars, to normal specification, for Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart to choose from. Hill’s braking trouble at Silverstone has been traced to a faulty brake cylinder and this was then replaced. The Honda team, racing at their home circuit, for their garage is in Amsterdam, came with two cars for Richie Ginther to choose from. These remained much as before, except that an air collector box has been fitted over the injection intake trumpets. Although it has not been confirmed officially it appears that Honda will run only one car for Richie Ginther in remaining races. Scuderia Ferrari once again entrusted their flat-12 to John Surtees, leaving Lorenzo Bandini with two V8s to choose from. A modified version of the flat-12 is nearing final development at Modena and will make its debut at Monza or even the German GP if testing goes well. The Cooper team took its three cars directly from Silverstone to Zandvoort, two of which with the Cooper gearbox and one spare with the Hewland gearbox. The private entries have to be content with their usual cars, having few facilities for making modifications, although Bob Anderson is trying large exhaust megaphones on his Climax engine. The weekend starts as usual with the free practice on Friday, July 16th, 1965, in bitterly cold weather with the threat of rain in the air. Although drivers are ready to start at the appointed time, workmen are still laying fresh tarmac in front of the box, and there is a delay of 30 minutes before practice can begin. Once practice begins, Richie Ginther sets the early pace, as he has been doing a great deal of testing at Zandvoort in recent months, and he is soon approaching the best practice lap of 1964 set up by Dan Gurney in 1’31"2. He eventually equals this, but Jim Clark gets round in 1’31"0. Dan Gurney is not able to equal his 1964 time and laps in 1’31"7. 

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Like Honda, B.R.M. have recently been testing at Zandvoort, but neither Hill nor Stewart could get near Hill’s unofficial record 1’28"3. Stewart laps in 1'31"6 and Hill, who is suffering from a cold, in 1'31"8. Practice is interrupted for a while when Innes Ireland spins at the Hunze Rug and ends up in one of the sand dunes. This thraws the officials into a panic and they hang out the white flag, indicating that an ambulance is on the course, although in fact it is just the race director onto the track in his BMW 1800. The car is extricated and Ireland soon begins circulating again. The officials decide to black-flag him but unfortunately show Bob Anderson’s number, which peeves the Brabham driver somewhat as he is running in a rebuilt engine after piston ring breakages at Silverstone. Rain begins to pour down during lunch, so the afternoon session takes place in an almost continuous downpour, with the result that most drivers have to try hard to beat 2min. The B.R.M. team are more zealous than most, trying all the permutations on their Dunlop tyres. This results in Hill making fastest lap in the afternoon session, in 1’52"0. On Saturday, July 17th, the weather improves immensely. The sun shines from a cloudless sky, although the typical Zandvoort breeze is still much in evidence. The track is used in the morning for practice by two lots of saloon cars and Formula Vee single-seaters, so in the afternoon the track is quite slippery. Two of the Formula Vee cars collide after the Hunze Rug and disappear down Innes Ireland’s sand dunes: it’s Richie Ginther and Jochen Rindt. There is a bit of confusion: the start-line marshal holds out the white flag, the marshal on the approach to the corner holds out the yellow flag, while the marshal on the apex holds out the oil blue flag. It is then decided to suspend practice and the start-line marshal holds out the red flag, but the drivers are confused because of the different flags. The marshals practically have to throw themselves onto the track to stop the cars, with a great risk for their own safety. Meanwhile, both cars are off the track and the drivers are out of the carts unhurt. Although most of the Formula One drivers have had the opportunity to practise hard, they are a long time in reducing their lap times. The only driver to get below 1'31"0 is Graham Hill, who gets the B.R.M. round in 1'30"7. Jim Clark, on the other hand, is losing a lot of oil from his engine. 

 

After the leak is repaired, the engine almost sounds off-colour, so the Scottish driver decides to use the 2-valve-engine equipped car in the race. Clark’s troubles with the 4-valve engined car prevent him from improving on his first day’s time but he still takes the second place on the grid next to Hill with his 1'31"0, although Richie Ginther in the Honda and John Surtees in the flat-12 Ferrari equal this time on Saturday. Lorenzo Bandini has engine trouble with his V8 Ferrari, but he is able to switch to the spare car for the race. Race day, Sunday, July 18th, 1965, looks as if it will be as warm and sunny as the previous day. Nevertheless, after two supporting races for saloons the sky clouds over and a cool breeze springs up. Although it seems unlikely that rain will fall, few drivers have troubles deciding which tyres to use. John Surtees chooses Dunlop R7 all round, while his teammate in the other Ferrari, Bandini, has R6 all round. Both Graham Hill and Innes Ireland have R6 at the front and R7 at the rear. The works Lotuses stick to R6 all round, as do the Cooper and Rob Walker teams. The Honda, the two Brabhams and Gardner’s Willment Brabham are all on their all weather Goodyear tyres. The start is made from a dummy grid, which for once goes smoothly, everyone starting on cue and moving up to the main grid smoothly. A minor diversion is provided by Cohn Chapman who becomes involved in a punch-up with the Dutch police, which leads to his arrest after the race. As the flag drops, Richie Ginther makes another fierce start from the front row. The American driver passes Graham Hill on the left, taking the outside of the racing line and overtaking the British at the Tarzan hairpin. In the same lap Graham Hill gets advantage from the slipstream and so do behind him Jim Clark, Dan Gurney, Jackie Stewart and Mike Spence. At the end of the first lap Ginther is still in the lead, but Hill and Clark are now extremely close, while Gurney and Stewart are a bit more far behind, followed by Spence, Surtees, Hulme, Bandini, McLaren, Rindt, Ireland, Gardner, Siffert, Attwood, Bonnier and Anderson. Somehow Ginther manages to stay ahead for a second lap, but then on lap 3 Graham Hill gets past at Tarzan while Clark takes two more laps before he slips past at the same place. The stage looks set for a long Hill versus Clark battle, but Clark overtakes Graham Hill on lap 6 and immediately begins opening up an imperceptibly widening gap. Ginther has begun, instead, his downward march, as first Gurney relegates him to fourth and then Jackie Stewart pushes him down to fifth.

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Jonh Surtees gets past Spence into sixth place, while Jochen Rindt get past Bruce McLaren, founder of the team which brings his name, for ninth place. Attwood’s Lotus-B.R.M. is sounding rough at the tail of the field, while Bob Anderson in his Brabham is forced to withdraw due to overheating during lap 11. Jo Bonnier soon joins him, his Brabham-Climax having oil leak problems. In addition, the driver has a painful foot due to a swollen toe. Jim Clark has pulled out a 1.5sec lead on Graham Hill by lap 10, while Dan Gurney is beginning to press the B.R.M. driver hard, although Jackie Stewart was beginning to close the gap on Hill and Gurney. Over time, Denis Hulme is beginning to get his Brabham going well, overtaking both Spence and Surtees in quick succession. The British Scuderia Ferrari driver is in trouble with his car, which seems to be wearing its tyres out very unevenly and rapidly. As the laps go by, Stewart is closing the gap on Graham Hill and Dan Gurney and the Brabham driver responds by going round the outside of Hill’s B.R.M. at Tarzan corner, completing the overtake accelerating at the Hunze Rug turn, earning the second position. Further back Ginther loses another place, this time to Denny Hulme, and then he spins at the Hunze Rug, dropping him a further place, this time behind Jonh Surtees. Meanwhile, Jo Siffert has been going well in his Brabham, but misfiring sets in and he stops out on the circuit; a swift kick gets it going again, but the fuel pressure is low. Despite this, Siffert continues his race. After chasing for a few laps, Jackie Stewart manages to overtake both Graham Hill and Dan Gurney in a surprisingly easy way, finishing in P2 behind Jim Clark, with a 6.5sec deficit to makeup. He even stars to gain ground to the Scottish driver. The Lotus team mechanics are keeping Clark well informed, and the Scottish driver begins opening out again after a few laps. More spins occur at Hunze Rug to keep the crowd on their toes, first Innes Ireland doing it all wrong and then Mike Spence spins while braking. This drops both drivers back, the Lotus into a group consisting of Bandini, McLaren and Rindt. McLaren withdraws on lap 36 with a broken crown-wheel and pinion, then Bandini joins the ranks of the Hunze Rug spinners and drops back a few positions. Meanwhile, Jim Clark opens out his lead surely but steadily. Jakie Stewart is leaving Dan Gurney behind, who in his turn is well clear of Graham Hill, whose B.R.M. had broken its rev-counter early in the race. 

 

In fifth place at half-distance comes Denny Hulme, while Jonh Surtees in sixth is being caught by Richie Ginther, now recovering from a second spin. The second works Cooper withdrawals soon afterwards, on lap 48, as Jochen Rindt has noticed the oil pressure drop. The order among the leaders remains settled for the rest of the race, but Ginther eventually overwhelms Surtees for sixth place while Bandini gets in front of Spence for eighth. Denis Hulme runs into trouble with only a few laps to go when his engine begins sounding terribly flat. The New Zealander is forced to rush into the pits for a quick examination, to find that the exhaust manifold on one bank of cylinders has cracked. He goes off again without losing a place, although Ginther and Surtees are getting very close to him as the last few laps are reeling off. Jim Clark eventually crosses the finish line after 80 laps, setting a new record in 2h3'59"1, with an average speed of 162.326 Km/h, to win his fifth Championship race in a row in the 1965 season. A huge demonstration of his skills in his Lotus, recalling how he won five races out of six this year. The Scotsman shares the podium with fellow Scot Jackie Stewart, who finishes the race just 8 seconds behind the leader, while Dan Gurney gets third place, 13 seconds behind. Graham Hill gets P4, followed by Denny Hulme in P5 and Richie Ginther in P6. John Surtees follows in P7, behind him comes Mike Spence, P8, as the British driver overtook Lorenzo Bandini during the penultimate lap, also due to his gearbox jammed in second gear. As his incredible raw of victories continues, Jim Clark showed his talent again in the Netherlands Grand Prix, sixth race of the Formula One 1965 World Championship. The Scottish driver took part in five races and won all of them. The drivers ranking now sees Clark with 45 points, Hill with 26, Stewart with 25, and then Surtees, the reigning World Champion, but now pretty out of the fight, with only 17 points. It’s hard to find the words to describe the class and the skills of the Scottish driver. We had not seen any other driver so special, able to impose himself in every circuit, since the time of legend Nuvolari, Fangio and Ascari. Before every race, there is discussion about the power of the upright engines of the participating cars, theories about stability, tires and chassis, it is said that, after all, Lotus is not at all better than B.R.M., Ferrari, Honda, and therefore the end of Clark’s myth is getting closer. Then the drivers get on track, Clark goes off on his own, and the ones who criticise him have to wait until the next time. 

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The quiet Lotus driver is about to win his second world title, from the top of an almost disconcerting superiority. According to the championship regulations, the best positions of each driver in the 50% plus one of the tests valid for the title are considered. A total of ten are scheduled this year (eleven if the Austrian Grand Prix will be considered), so the placement in six tests counts. In order to mathematically win the World Championship, Clark would still have to win one of the four remaining races in the calendar. But it would also be enough for the Scottish driver if Graham Hill (who won in Monaco) did not win the next Grand Prix, the German Grand Prix held at Nürburgring, which will take place on Sunday, August 1st, since the following races would not be enough to outscore the points that Clark already has. Therefore, the Flying Scot can be considered the 1965 World Champion already: there is no doubt that he is the strongest, and if his Lotus is really not superior to the rival cars, he is to be credited even more for it. Another British driver, Jackie Stewart, who is also from Scotland, is surprising this year. Stewart is very young, but in his first season in Formula 1 he is already demonstrating confidence and authority that leave everyone astonished. Hired by B.R.M. as Graham Hill's teammate, the boy is already brighter (and in any case more consistent) than his team leader; in Zandvoort he finished behind Clark for eight seconds only, and he is third in the world ranking. It is said that next year Clark will retire from racing: perhaps the one who will take his place, both in skills and popularity, is ready. Another disappointing performance, on the other hand, from the Ferrari drivers; not from the Ferraris, because the Maranello cars seem to be perfectly able to compete with the English ones (in the tests, Surtees achieves almost the same performance as Clark). The fact is that the outgoing World Champion rarely gives the feeling of wanting to fight, and the unfortunate circumstances that sometimes have opposed him are not enough to explain this behaviour. In the case of Lorenzo Bandini, his limit is class, which he manages to hide with great will and an undoubted skill in knowing how to preserve the mechanical parts. Do the Ferrari fans really have to give up and wait for next year to see the Ferrari cars winning again?


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