Even the most cautious critics are now convinced that Jim Clark is a champion in the full meaning of the term, one of those great racing drivers who occasionally appear in the troubled world of racing and suddenly overshadow the albeit admirable skill of his opponents. These are rather rare occurrences, which is why the sporting chronicles speak of phenomena: a term that isn't gratuitous, because it implies exceptionality. In the history of sport, it is precisely the exceptional ones that are strung together, while the other characters fade quickly, they remain mere names to which it is difficult to link facts and glories. Those who follow competitive motor racing, even if they are young or unfamiliar with its fascinating events, have heard of Lancia, Nazzaro, Bordino, Campari, Ascari father and son, Nuvolari, Varzi, Caracciola, Rosemeyer, Wimille, Farina, Fangio, Moss, just to name a few of the greatest drivers who have appeared since the turn of the century; but of the vast majority of the others, the name means nothing. Only the judgement of history is definitive, that of contemporaries may be fallacious. But then, it will be said, how is it possible to say today that Clark is a racer worthy of the few greats of the past? The fact is that the public's intuition, its sensibility, is rarely wrong; let's go back to the past, let's browse through the chronicles of twenty, thirty or sixty years ago: we read about the red devil Vincenzo Lancia, the king of racing Felice Nazzaro, the flying Mantuan Tazio Nuvolari, the champion Manuel Fangio... they are images full of rhetoric, all right, sometimes cloying suggestions born of the enthusiasm of fans, but which often capture the immediate aspect of certain human factors. Now it is difficult to compare Clark with, say, Bordino or Alberto Ascari, in the impossibility of immediate comparisons, and above all without disregarding those mechanical elements that in motor sport have at least as much importance as the class of the driver: it has happened more than once that the superiority of one car over the others was so marked as to make the task of its driver almost easy.
To answer the first reservation, one has only to rely on figures, on the albeit sometimes questionable response of statistics. Remaining with the last fifteen years, i.e. since the World Drivers' Championship was instituted, we find that Fangio boasts 24 victories in Grands Prix that count for the title, but in eight years, i.e. from 1950 to 1957, and driving four different cars (the relief is important): Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Mercedes and Ferrari; Stirling Moss won 16 races in seven years, at the wheel of the Maserati, Vanwall, Mercedes, Porsche, Cooper and Lotus; Alberto Ascari asserted himself in 13 Grands Prix, again in the Ferrari. As for Clark, with the one last Sunday at Zandvoort he had 19 victories, exclusively in the Lotus and only from 1961 to 1965. The strongest champions are contested by the car manufacturers, so they can choose the most reliable car from year to year; those who remain loyal to a marque follow its ups and downs, so the more conclusive is the totality of their victorious results, especially in a short period of time, as in the case of the Scottish driver. These are the concrete elements on which it is possible to attempt an objective evaluation of Jim Clark's class, the judgement is completed with many other direct, technical and human considerations. For example, Clark's driving style, so natural that each of his manoeuvres, each bend, each overtaking move seems so easy; then the fact that Jim belongs to the genre of instinctive drivers, not to the reasoning ones, meticulous in his preparation, never content with the mechanical means: in a race Clark seems to drive with joy, to enjoy himself as in a happy walk. At Indianapolis he stunned the Americans by the simplicity with which he won on that speedway that legend wanted denied to European drivers. And yet he doesn't adopt superman attitudes, we would say that he even lacks the physique duróle of the great champion. Perhaps he has retained - he who is used to living on the farm, in his native Scotland - the solid good sense of country people; behind the wheel of an ungainly tractor or the slim agile Lotus he is always a happy man.
Recognised by all experts as the most complete motor racing circuit in the world, the Nurburgring also has the reputation of being the toughest test track for cars and drivers. Built between 27 September 1925 and 18 June 1927, it covers 22.810 kilometres in an endless series of ups and downs and turns that suddenly open up to the left and right. On this track the German Grand Prix, the seventh round of the Formula 1 World Championship, will take place on Sunday, 1 August 1965. By tradition, the Nurburgring circuit is favourable to Italian cars, and first and foremost to Ferrari, which last year with Surtees and Bandini managed to defeat the strong English coalition, setting the stage for the title. Surtees triumphed imposing, with his excellent eight-cylinder, a very high rhythm to the race. Now, unfortunately, the situation has changed. Not so much in the sense that Surtees is cut out of the fight with Clark on Sunday, but in the fact that the Scot has now acquired such an advantage in points in the World Championship standings that he is practically unreachable. Jim only needs a second place to win the prestigious title, theoretically he could even have the luxury of competing in just one race and, once he finished second, to sit back and tend his farm in Berwickshire, Scotland. At the Nurburgring, John Surtees and Lorenzo Bandini will almost certainly have at their disposal two single-seaters with twelve-cylinder engines specially tuned to perform to the maximum according to the characteristics of the track. Therefore, power distributed at low and medium revs and limited in the highs, given that on the winding circuit, full of corners, the top speed factor isn't decisive.
The Scot will rely on the Lotus with a 16-valve engine, which is better suited for power distribution at the Nurburgring. Jim has never managed to win on the German track, sometimes being forced to retire, on other occasions finishing the race with the car in poor condition. On Sunday he might finally get his first positive result in a German Grand Prix. For him, the most dangerous opponent will be Graham Hill, at least as far as the World Championship is concerned, as the B.R.M. racer is now the only one who has a theoretical chance of taking the title away from Clark. It will be interesting to watch the performance of the year's revelation, Jackie Stewart, on his debut in the classic German competition. The Hondas of Ginther and Bucknum and the Brabhams of Gurney and Brabham himself could enter the fight; the Japanese with less likelihood, given that the single-seaters of the Rising Sun possess plenty of power but lack grip, the most important endowment at the Nurburgring. The Australian's cars, which don't really lack grip, have a better chance, especially if they are fitted with Climax engines. On this terrible track, the start is at the highest point, at 820 metres, while the lowest section is at the height of the village of Breidscheid, between the tenth and eleventh kilometres. The climbs reach gradients of seventeen per cent, the descents eleven per cent, there are 86 right-hand bends, 88 left-hand bends; one, called the Karussel (it is famous among drivers) has a radius of 33 metres. On the other hand, there is a one-kilometre straight, where cars are pushed over 300 km/h. These summaries can give an idea of the difficulties that will confront the racers on Sunday.
Jim Clark is crowned champion after taking his sixth win in a row; B.R.M.'s Graham Hill and Brabham's Dan Gurney fill out the podium positions. The AutomobilClub von Deutschland organise the German Grand Prix on the hilly and tortuous 22.81-kilometre Nürburgring in the Eifel mountains and at the last moment they reduce the number of practice sessions from four to three, although two of the sessions are of two hours duration and the third is for one and a half hours. The difficulty at the Nürburgring is that if a car breaks down on the circuit, it is more than likely to be on an inaccessible part, only arrived at by going round the circuit with a transporter, and one or two drivers miss a whole practice session because of this. The entry list is a very complete one including nearly everyone who normally competes in Formula One races, the Nürburgring being long enough to accommodate 23 cars with ease. Both Lotus and Brabham field three-car teams, all six cars using Coventry-Climax V8 engines, but only Clark has the latest 32-valve unit, the Brabham 32-valve engine still not being repaired after its Silverstone disaster. Clark’s car is R11, and Spence has R9, with a short stroke flat-crank engine, and the German driver Gerhard Mitter has old R6, with a long-stroke engine. All three cars are to Lotus 33 specification as regards 13in wheels, knock-off hubs, steering and suspension. The three Brabhams of Jack Brabham himself, Gurney and Hulme are all using 90 crankshaft Climax engines, with cross-over high-level exhaust systems. Ferrari enters Surtees and Bandini, the World Champion having the original flat-12-cylinder car, chassis number 0007, and also a brand new one to the same specification with a similar 12-cylinder engine, this being chassis number 0008. Bandini has a V8 Ferrari, chassis 0006, the second of the 8-cylinder cars.
The B.R.M. team of Graham Hill and Stewart has the same three cars as at Zandvoort, the 1965 cars to race and the 1964/65 car as a practice car for Hill, while McLaren and Rindt have three works Cooper-Climax V8 cars, the spare one having the Hewland gearbox. The Honda team should have completed the list of factory entries, but they decide to give the Nürburgring a miss and the whole racing team returns to Japan to sort out various problems and prepare for a really serious attack at Monza on September 12th. The regular private teams are all in attendance, Bonnier and Siffert with RRC Walker’scars, Amon and Attwood with Parnell’s cars, Anderson and Hawkins entered by DW Racing Enterprises, Frank Gardner with the Willment Brabham-B.R.M. V8 and Masten Gregory and Roberto Businello with the CentroSud B.R.M.s, the latter replacing Lucien Bianchi at the last moment. The final entry is Raby’s Brabham-B.R.M. V8 which should be driven by Amon but as Ireland cannot be present, Amon moves into the Parnell team and Raby drives his own car. For the practice on Friday morning Lotus only runs Clark and Spence, but neither of them go very fast as the cars are grounding in some of the dips and have to be taken away for modifications. Surtees only uses the first of the 12-cylinder Ferraris, the new car being left in the paddock, but everyone else is circulating. Since last year, when Surtees recorded 8'38"4 in practice and 8'39"0 in the race, a long section of the circuit has been smoothed out and resurfaced, and with the improvements in road-holding and power units it is no surprise that the existing record lap time has soon been improved upon. The surprise is that it is Stewart who has improved upon it the most, with the B.R.M., leading Surtees, Hill and Gurney, all of whom beat the existing lap record. Siffert and Bonnier both go very quickly in this first practice, but Raby has trouble on his first lap and is stuck out on the circuit until lunch time, while Attwood bends the rear suspension of his Parnell Lotus-B.R.M. and is also unretrievable.
There is much talk and speculation during the lunch break over Stewart making fastest practice time and lapping nearly nine seconds quicker than the existing lap record, for while it was anticipated that times would improve, it was not expected that such a big improvement would be made. The phenomenon that is Jackie Stewart has not been reckoned with, many people feel. However, during the afternoon session of practice a sense of proportion is brought to the meeting by Jim Clark, for getting the Lotus 33 set up properly he goes out and has a bit of a go to put in a fast lap. The 1964 record by Surtees is 8'39"0, Stewart has done 8'30"6 during the morning, but now Clark goes round in 8'22"7, which puts paid to any nonsense about who can drive fast on the Nürburgring. Stewart is all for having a go to improve on his morning time, but an electrical wire is shorting intermittently and cutting his ignition dead, and he stops out on the circuit. Luckily he is at a point where his mechanics can get at hint and though they do not discover the short until after practice the B.R.M. works again intermittently, but it prevents Stewart from putting in a faster lap. Graham Hill, Surtees and Gurney all get below 8min 30sec but Clark’s fantastic lap with the 32-valve Climax-engined Lotus completely overshadows their performances, of which Gurney’s is particularly outstanding as he has a very low-powered Climax engine compared with the new 32-valve one. Of the private owners Bonnier puts in a very creditable best time of 8'37"9, well below the old record, and his Brabham-Climax V8 is not only performing well but he is in good form and enjoying the Nürburgring. Siffert is also going well, being within a fraction of the lap record, but Anderson is in trouble, for he goes out with the express purpose of making a fast lap and on the downhill section in the forest just after the start he overdoes things and spins off into the trees. His Brabham-Climax V8 is very badly bent but he is lucky to escape uninjured, apart from damaged pride.
On Saturday, at lunch time, there is a final two-hour practice session and though Clark is circulating there is no need for him to try and improve on his time as he is some four seconds faster than the nearest rival. Surtees tries both 12-cylinder Ferraris and likes the handling of one and the engine of the other, which is what often happens when a driver is allowed two cars. The B.R.M. mechanics finding the short circuit on Stewart’s car he is able to do some inure serious laps and he gets down to 8'26"1, a fraction faster than Graham Hill, but not really in sight of Clark. It gets Clark on the front row of the start alongside Hill and Surtees, with Clark in pole position. None of the other fast drivers improve on their times but Rindt, Bandini, McLaren and Spence all make improvements. The Coventry-Climax engineers are all well pleased with the performance of Clark’s 32-valve engine, its Zandvoort oiling problems being overcome, so that Clark is happy to use the new engine and Mitter is able to start with the spare Lotus. La prima giornata di prove per il Gran Premio di Germania registra una straordinaria prestazione di Jim Clark che, al volante della Lotus di Colin Chapman, realizza sul giro la fantastica media di 163 km/h, la più alta velocità mai prima d'ora raggiunta sul difficilissimo percorso tedesco. Il precedente primato di 158.200 Km/h apparteneva all'attuale Campione del Mondo in carica, l'inglese John Surtees, ed era stato stabilito l'anno scorso in gara. Surtees aveva poi vinto con la sua Ferrari alla media complessiva di 155.100 km/h. Tempi altrettanto eccezionali sono stati raggiunti da Graham Hill, su B.R.M., dallo stesso Surtees, sempre su Ferrari, dall’americano Dan Gurney, su Brabham e dal giovane pilota scozzese Jackie Stewart su B.R.M. Gli altri conduttori iscritti si sono limitati a conoscere il tracciato senza impegnarsi a fondo.
With the German Grand Prix the Formula One Drivers' World Championship is in its seventh episode, i.e. two-thirds of its season-long affair; the Italian, US and Mexican Grands Prix will still remain on the calendar, but the 1965 title will probably already be awarded on Sunday evening. Taking into account the regulations and the current ranking, it would be necessary for Graham Hill to win at the Nurburgring and Jim Clark to finish second to postpone the decision: any other solution would simply sanction Jim Clark's good right to boast of motor racing's greatest title. If the formidable Scottish driver were to win again on Sunday - and in the light of his exploits in practice, this is becoming increasingly likely - the investiture as the year's strongest racer would be in triumphant form. On a sporting, human level, this is the most exciting element of the German Grand Prix. But perhaps even greater is the anticipation for the technical questions that the race proposes. Leaving aside Clark's enormous class, the mechanicals that have so far given life to the races have almost always appeared on a level playing field, albeit with the differences in performance that from time to time the different characteristics of the circuits have highlighted. All almost identical in general structure, type of suspension, shape, this year's Formula 1 single-seaters entrust the engines with the exaltation of their respective possibilities. The Coventry-Climax 8-cylinder (16- or 32-valve) mounted on the Lotus and Brabham, the B.R.M. (V8) of the car of the same name, the 8- and 12-cylinder of the Ferrari, and even the V12 of the Japanese Honda are almost on the same level in terms of maximum power.
The differences lie in the power delivered at mid-range speeds, and above all in the utilisation of that power. Now, the Nurburgring circuit possesses such characteristics, planimetric and altimetric, as to make it a unique race course in the world, a track where the strengths and weaknesses of the cars really come to the fore, a sort of definitive and inappellable test. If, on Sunday, a single-seater other than the Lotus were to emerge clearly, nullifying Clark's own superiority, the technical situation would perhaps have to be reviewed. Something like this happened last year at the Nurburgring, when Surtees and Ferrari with a splendid victory laid the foundations for the title. Practice days have been warm and dry and race day has turned out to be the same, the start for the 15-lap Grand Prix being due at 2:00 p.m. the morning being occupied by a pedal-cycle race and some amateur car racing. While the cars are being assembled on the grid there is a very small shower of rain, just to get everyone worried, but it does not develop nor does it wet the track. The front now of the grid comprised Clark with the Lotus and 32-valve Coventry-Climax engine, the two works B.R.M.s of Stewart and Hill, and Surtees with what is basically the latest 12-cylinder Ferrari, chassis 0008. Anderson has gone home to sort out his bent Brabham and Businello and Raby are non-starters due to not going fast enough in practice. The 19 starters move forward from the dummy-grid and make a perfect start, Clark taking to the concrete or the pit area to gain more traction while the rest of the front row is on tarmac.
During the last lap the right-hand exhaust megaphone breaks off Clark’s car, but apart from that he has had a remarkably trouble-free run, everything working perfectly. Out of six World Championship Grand Prix races entered this year, by Clark and Team Lotus, they have won all six, which must make Jim Clark undisputed Grand Prix champion driver and Lotus and Coventry-Climax undisputed Champion manufacturers of Grand Prix cars and engines. Jim Clark is World Champion. He won the German Grand Prix, and with three races to go in the championship - the Italian, US and Mexican Grands Prix - he is already mathematically safe. He drove his Lotus ahead of Graham Hill's B.R.M. and Gurney's Brabham, he finally added the German Grand Prix to his impressive roster, he proved that even on the winding Nurburgring circuit he is the strongest driver, his fiercest rivals, Graham Hill in a B.R.M. and Dan Gurney in a Brabham, finished second and third, 16 and 21 seconds behind him respectively. This 27th German Grand Prix is the sixth title race that Clark has won consecutively. This year he has won them all: only in Munich didn't he win but his justification is exceptional, he wasn't in the race because he was busy winning the Indy 500. As is his style, the Scottish farmer led the race from top to bottom. At the end of the first lap he had already set the new official circuit record, demolishing the limit that John Surtees had set last year. The Ferrari Englishman hoped - even though the flying Scottish driver was the big favourite - to triumph at the Nurburgring for the third year running. But at the end of the first lap he was already in the pits, and by the time his new twelve-cylinder Ferrari returned to the track it was too late.
Towards the end of the race Surtees retired. The other Ferrari driver, Lorenzo Bandini, finished honourably in sixth place. For the second time in his driving career, Jim Clark won the Formula 1 World Drivers' Championship, the most important and spectacular event in motor sport. An important goal, therefore, that Clark had already achieved in 1963, again in the Lotus, after having come close in 1962. Clark was born 29 years ago in Scotland, where he owns a 1200-acre farm where he also raises a huge flock of sheep. His phone book reads: James Clark Junior, farmer. A farmer, then, but a farmer who likes to race and who drives by instinct, doing with ease and naturalness what others struggle with. Jim took the wheel for the first time when he was nine years old, racing his father's car on the roads of the family property. In 1956, at the age of twenty, the first race, a year later the first victory on a provincial circuit. In Formula One he made his debut at Zandvoort, in a Dutch Grand Prix, losing after a long duel with the already established Graham Hill. Then, little by little, the young Scot's name appeared more and more frequently on the Grand Prix roll of honour. In five years Clark won nineteen, surpassed in number only by Manuel Fangio (24 successes in eight years). In England he has become a star, his popularity greater than that of any actor or politician. They call him the Flying Scotsman, and after his triumph at Indianapolis last June he became the champion of two worlds. Jim, however, has remained a quiet guy, one who does not forget that he is a farmer before being a pilot; he even bought himself a small touring plane at the same time and took out his flying licence in order to return home more quickly after the races. He is a bachelor, but pointed out:
"The day I decide to start a family I will stop racing and go back to my farm to stay there forever. At most I will go to some Grand Prix as a spectator".
This moment doesn't seem too far away. For some months now, a young blond woman has been affectionately following the Scottish ace. Perhaps marriage is on the horizon, perhaps Clark will soon - and happily - enter the fascinating legend of motor racing after his victory, an ace worthy of the greats of the past. With his victory in the German Grand Prix, Jim Clark secured the title of World Champion driver that had already been his two years ago. Since this competition was instituted in 1950, successive winners, from Giuseppe Farina to Juan Manuel Fangio, from Alberto Ascari to Mike Hawthorn, from Jack Brabham to Phil Hill, from Graham Hill to John Surtees, almost always had to fight hard until the last round of the championship to succeed; only poor Ascari in the Ferrari in 1952 and 1953, and Fangio in 1954 and 1955 had reached the title with relative ease; the Milanese, indeed, through a consecutive series of victories very similar to the one that brought Clark the title this year. But, objectively, at that time, against Ferrari there were no cars that could stand in the way of the great driver that was Alberto Ascari. Today, in a very different technical situation, Clark's six consecutive victories (seven with Indianapolis) represent a sensational achievement, an exploit that unreservedly consigns the name of the Scottish racer to motorsport history. In recent weeks, faced with the monotonous repetition of the Grand Prix rankings, many have wondered whether Clark's prowess doesn't have its main source of inspiration in the superiority of the mechanical means at his disposal, the Lotus-Climax that is, in more ways than one, the comparative car of today's Formula 1 single-seaters. It isn't easy to answer: in motor sport, the machine and the man have equal weight, even if sometimes the efficiency of one seems to enhance the talents of the other, or vice versa.
It can only be said that the judgement on a racing car must almost always be limited to a few races or a season; in the case of drivers, however, it is the continuity of results and behaviour that counts, since over the course of a few years it is no longer possible to make mistakes. Clark, since he began competing in Formula 1, has won 20 Grands Prix valid for the World Championship, about as many races, also in Formula 1, and the Indy 500, two months ago: it is difficult to argue that much of the merit is to be attributed to the albeit excellent Lotuses of various types that the Scot has piloted in little more than four seasons. Even less is the reasoning valid this year, all the engineers agreeing on a perceptible balance of performance between the Lotus itself, our Ferrari, B.R.M. and Brabham. This is demonstrated by the times that the strongest drivers of the various official teams manage to achieve in practice for each Grand Prix: the best performances are always those of Clark, of Surtees, of Graham Hill, of Gurney, of Stewart, and with infinitesimal differences. Because in practice, it is less difficult for drivers to express the best of themselves for a lap or two than in the race, and thus the possibilities of the cars. Everything that can be said has already been written about the human figure of Jim Clark; big popular characters are turned inside out, sometimes ruthlessly. Clark is singular even in this, for it has struck the imagination that he lives and wants to continue living in the country, on his farm in Berwickshire, tending fields and cattle. His gaze has a light of goodness about it, but he is by no means shy; he is a World Champion, a champion without superiority complexes: perhaps the public would prefer it if of the character he represents, Clark also had the physique du ròle that he lacks. But it is preferable that way.