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#138 1965 German Grand Prix

2022-05-09 00:00

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#1965, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Alessia Andreoli,

#138 1965 German Grand Prix

Even the most cautious critics are now convinced that Jim Clark is a champion in the broader sense of the term, one of those great racing drivers who

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Even the most cautious critics are now convinced that Jim Clark is a champion in the broader sense of the term, one of those great racing drivers who occasionally appear in the troubled world of racing and suddenly overshadow the skill of all their opponents, albeit they are admirable. These are rather rare occurrences, which is why the sporting chronicles talk of phenomena: this term is not used in an unfounded way, because it implies exceptionality. In the sport history, the exceptional ones are somehow tied together, while the other ones fade quickly, remaining mere names to which it is difficult to associate facts and successes. The competitive motor racing fans, even if they are young or unfamiliar with its fascinating events, have heard of Lancia, Nazzaro, Bordino, Campari, Ascari (both father and son), Nuvolari, Varzi, Caracciola, Rosemeyer, Wimille, Farina, Fangio, Moss, just to name a few of the greatest drivers who have raced from the beginning of the century; but, as for the vast majority of the others, the names mean nothing. Only the judgement of history is definitive, the one of the 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 great drivers 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 from twenty, thirty or sixty years ago: we can read about the red devil Vincenzo Lancia, the racing king Felice Nazzaro, the flying Mantuan Tazio Nuvolari, the champion Manuel Fangio... this is all full of rhetoric, right, sometimes cloying suggestions born from the enthusiasm of fans, but often they manage to perfectly get certain human factors. Now it is difficult to compare Clark with, let’s say, Bordino or Alberto Ascari. Indeed, it is impossible to make immediate comparisons: above all, we cannot disregard those mechanical elements that in motorsport are at least as important as the driver’s skill. It has happened more than once that one car was so superior to the others that the driver’s task was almost easy. About the first kind of reservation, one can rely on figures, on statistics, although sometimes they provide rather questionable answers. Considering the last fifteen years, i.e. since the World Drivers' Championship was instituted, we find that Fangio has 24 victories in Grands Prix valid 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, driving for Maserati, Vanwall, Mercedes, Porsche, Cooper and Lotus; Alberto Ascari won 13 Grands Prix, again driving a Ferrari. As for Clark, he has 19 victories, if we consider the one he achieved last Sunday at Zandvoort, only with the Lotus team and only from 1961 to 1965. The cars manufacturers are always competing for hiring the strongest champions, so these can choose the most reliable car from year to year; those who remain loyal to a given team follow its ups and downs, so the more conclusive is the total amount of their victories, especially in a short period of time, as is the case of the Scottish driver. Basing on these elements, it is possible to attempt an objective evaluation of Jim Clark's class, with many other direct, technical and human considerations to make the judgement complete. For example, there is Clark's driving style, so natural that each of his manoeuvres, each turn, each overtaking seems so easy; then the fact that Jim belongs to the category of the instinctive drivers, and not to the most rational one, meticulous in his preparation, though, never content with the mechanical means. During the races, Clark seems to drive with joy, to enjoy himself as in a happy walk. At Indianapolis, he amazed the American fans by winning on the circuit that until now was hostile to European drivers, as in a legend, in a way that seemed so natural. And yet, he doesn't have any superman attitude, we would say that he even lacks the physique duróle of the great champion. Perhaps he has retained - he who is used to living in a farm in his native land, Scotland - the solid good sense of country people; at the wheel of an ungainly tractor or of 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 Nürburgring also has the reputation of being the toughest test track for cars and drivers. Built between September 27th, 1925 and June 18th, 1927, it covers 22.810 kilometres in an endless series of ups and downs and turns that suddenly open up to the left or to the right. On this track, the German Grand Prix, the seventh round of the Formula 1 World Championship, will take place on Sunday, August 1st, 1965. By tradition, the Nürburgring 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 fight for the title. Surtees triumphed setting a furious pace to the race with his excellent eight-cylinder engine. 

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Now, unfortunately, the situation has changed. Not so much because Surtees is cut out of the fight with Clark on Sunday, but because the Scot has now such a massive advantage in the World Championship standings that he is practically out of reach. Jim only needs to finish P2 so as to win the prestigious title: theoretically, he could even compete in just one race and, once he finishes second, he could sit back and tend his farm in Berwickshire, Scotland. At Nürburgring, John Surtees and Lorenzo Bandini will almost certainly have at their disposal two single-seaters equipped with twelve-cylinder engines specially tuned to perform to the maximum according to the characteristics of the track. Therefore, power is 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 16-valve engined Lotus, which is better suited for the Nürburgring as far as the power distribution is concerned. Jim has never managed to win on the German track, sometimes because he was forced to withdraw, sometimes because he finished the race with the car in poor conditions. On Sunday he might finally get his first positive result in a German Grand Prix. For him, the most fearsome opponent will be Graham Hill, at least as far as the World Championship fight is concerned, because the B.R.M. driver is now the only one who has a theoretical chance of taking the title away from Clark. The performance of the year's revelation, Jackie Stewart, will also be interesting 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 team has less chance, given that their single-seaters are powerful but they lack grip, which is the most important endowment at Nürburgring. 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 same height as the village of Breidscheid, between km 10 and km 11. The gradient reaches 17%, the downhill reaches 11%, there are 86 right-hand bends, 88 left-hand bends; one of them, called the Karussel (it is famous among drivers) has a 33 m radius. On the other hand, there is a 1 km long straight, where cars are pushed at over 300 km/h. 

 

This summary gives an idea of the difficulties that the drivers will face 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 complete the podium. The Automobil Club von Deutschland organise the German Grand Prix on the hilly and tortuous 22.81-km Nürburgring in the Eifel mountains. At the last moment, they have reduced the number of practice sessions from four to three, although two of the sessions are two hours long and the third is one and a half hours long. The difficulty at the Nürburgring is that, if a car breaks down out 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 missed 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 the R9, with a shortstroke flat-crank engine. The German driver Gerhard Mitter has the 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 had 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 decided 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

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The regular private teams are all in attendance, Bonnier and Siffert with RRC Walker’s cars, Amon and Attwood with Parnell’s cars, Anderson and Hawkins entered by DW Racing Enterprises, Frank Gardner with the Willment Brabham-BRM 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 have been 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 goes 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 been soon improved upon. The surprise is that it is Stewart, with B.R.M. who improves upon it the most, 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-BRM 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 will 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 having got 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 was 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 starts 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 him 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, Jonh Surtees and Dan Gurney all get below 8'30"0 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 to the new 32-valve one. Amongst the private owners, Bonnier puts in a very creditable best time of 8'37"9, well below the old record. 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. Anderson, on the other hand, is in trouble, for he went out with the express purpose of making a fast lap, and on the downhill section in the forest just after the start he overdid things and spun 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, July 31st, 1965, at lunch time, there is a final two-hour practice session. Even 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 the 12-cylinder Ferraris, preferring the handling of one but the engine of the other one, which is what often happens when a driver is allowed two cars. The B.R.M. mechanics having found 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 is Clark on the front row of the start, in pole position, alongside Hill and Surtees. None of the other fast drivers improve on their times, but Rindt, Bandini, McLaren and Spence all make improvements. The Coventry-Climax engineers are well pleased with the performance of Clark’s 32-valve engine, its Zandvoort oiling problems seeming overcome, so that Clark is happy to use the new engine and Mitter is able to start with the spare Lotus. In the first day of practice of the German Grand Prix, we witness an extraordinary performance by Jim Clark, who, driving Colin Chapman's Lotus, achieves a fantastic lap average speed of 163 km/h, the highest speed ever achieved on the extremely difficult German track. 

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The previous record (158.200 km/h) belonged to the reigning World Champion, Englishman John Surtees, and was set last year in the race. Surtees had then won in his Ferrari, achieving an overall average speed of 155.100 km/h. Similarly outstanding times were achieved by Graham Hill (B.R.M.), by Surtees himself (also Ferrari), by American Dan Gurney (Brabham), and by young Scottish driver Jackie Stewart (B.R.M.) The other drivers merely got to know the track without putting in much effort. The German Grand Prix is the Formula One Drivers' World Championship seventh round, i.e. we are at two-thirds of the season; 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. Considering the regulations and the current ranking, Graham Hill shall win at Nürburgring and Jim Clark shall finish second in order to postpone the win: any other outcome would simply rightfully entitle Jim Clark to claim the motor racing history's greatest title. If the formidable Scottish driver were to win again on Sunday - and in the light of his exploit in practice, this is more and more likely - the investiture as the year's strongest racer would be triumphant. Both on a sporting and a 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 huge class, the mechanics 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 characteristics of the circuits have highlighted. Being almost identical in general structure, type of suspension, and shape, this year's Formula 1 single-seaters entrust the engines with the enhancing of their respective possibilities. The Coventry-Climax 8-cylinder (16- or 32-valve) mounted on Lotus and Brabham, the B.R.M. (V8) of the car with the same name, the 8- and 12-cylinder Ferrari, and even the V12 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 usage of that power. Now, the Nürburgring circuit has such planimetric and altimetric characteristics that it is a unique race track in the world, a track where the strengths and weaknesses of the cars really come to the fore, a sort of definitive and unappealable test. If, on Sunday, any single-seater other than the Lotus were to emerge clearly, Clark's own superiority, the technical situation would perhaps have to be reviewed. 

 

Something like this happened last year at the Nürburgring, when Surtees and Ferrari, with a splendid victory, laid the foundations for the title. Practice days have been warm and dry and race day turns out to be the same, the start for the 15-lap Grand Prix being due at 2:00 p.m., and the morning been 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 row of the grid comprises 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 was 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 having gone 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 are on tarmac. Halfway along the pit length Clark has a lead of a few yards and this enables him to get into the South turn first, and then he is away. In the midst of all this, Surtees is accelerating hard and changing up through the gears when the gear-selectors goes wrong and he almost comes to a standstill, so that everyone goes past him. Up the straight behind the pits, leading to the North curve and the descent down through the twists and turns towards Adenau, Clark is in front, followed by Hill, Gurney and Stewart. Nevertheless, Surtees trails slowly along at the back with no high gears and is forced to drive a whole lap before he can get assistance from his mechanics. German television has some 17 cameras around the track and with a television set in the Brabham pit the progress of the leader can be followed, and Colin Chapman is timing the gap between Clark and Hill at various points around the long circuit. On his standing lap, Clark sets up a new lap record with a time of 8'36"1 and has a comfortable three seconds lead over Graham Hill, who is working hard to keep the Lotus in sight. Stewart and Gurney are close behind and then there is a gap before Bandini and Spence. Surtees eventually arrives and stops at the pits to have the gear-selectors attended to, and Attwood also comes into the pits, the B.R.M. engine in his Lotus running erratically. It is found that the pick-up wires from the flywheel contacts for the ignition system are on the wrong way round and he goes away sounding much healthier. 

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Gardner never appears at all, the step-up gears in his Hewland gearbox breaking on the opening lap. On the second lap Clark goes round in 8'27"7, another new record, and Hill is still keeping him in sight, but Gurney is now third and some way back. Stewart has run onto the grass at Wippermann ess-bend and struck a solid object and bent the left-hand top front rockerarm suspension member, as well as gathering a lot of grass and earth along the side of the car and on the back suspension. He drives back to the pits, but there is no question of continuing, the car is wheeled away and all hopes for another Scottish Double are gone. Fighting now for fourth place are a whole gaggle of drivers, nose to tail, side by side, and three abreast at times. They are Bandini (Ferrari), McLaren (Cooper), Spence (Lotus), Rindt (Cooper), Siffert (Brabham), Bonnier (Brabham), Brabham (Brabham) and Hulme (Brabham), with Mitter (Lotus) just behind them. Amon stops out on the circuit with electrical trouble, and very soon after Hawkins joins him with a bad oil leak from the distributor drive seal on his Climax engine. As Amon suspects that his transistor box has given up, he sets about borrowing the one off Hawkins’ car. Graham Hill is keeping up with Clark magnificently, and on the third lap they jointly set a new lap record in 8'27"4. During this time, Surtees rejoins the race with all his five gears, to appreciative and sympathetic applause from the large crowd. Gurney is a steady third and Spence is just in fourth place, for he had a howling mob snapping at his rear wheels and in this bunch Rindt and Bandini are doing some pretty dicey pushing and shoving. While Clark can keep up the terrific pressure, Graham Hill begins to weaken slightly and after four laps Clark has a six-second lead, and the two of them have left Gurney well behind. The dice for fourth place brakes up a bit when Bandini gets into a full-lock slide and Rindt bumps the Ferrari and helps it on its way to a full spin, which drops Bandini way back behind Mitten. About this time Amon reappears after a long absence and stops at his pit to tell them what he has been doing, before setting off on another lap. During the fifth lap Hulme suddenly finds his Brabham is handling in a peculiar fashion, drops out of the fight for fourth place and calls at his pit to have the steering looked at. There does not seem to be anything wrong, but then he notices petrol leaking from the righthand pannier tank. Over the bumps and twists of the Nürburgring the seat has slid forward and rubbed a hole in the aluminium tank. 

 

This means the end of Hulme’s race and he realises that the funny handling is probably due to the leaking petrol getting on his rear tyres. By now Clark has a nine seconds’ lead over Graham Hill and Gurney is another eleven seconds further back, but Spence is still warding off the attacks of McLaren, Bonnier, Siffert and Rindt, though Brabham has dropped back a bit and is just ahead of Mitter. There are only three other cars left in the race, these being Bandini’s Ferrari, Gregory’s B.R.M and Surtees in the 12-cylinder Ferrari being two and a half laps behind, with no hope of getting anywhere. Clark’s lead over Hill keeps on getting bigger by about three seconds a lap and he is obviously driving a smooth and unhurried race, complete master of the Nürburgring and all his rivals. On lap seven, which is nearly half-distance, the dice for fourth place has another upset, for McLaren is in trouble with his gear lever linkage and Bonnier suddenly goes sideways on a fast downhill section and frightens himself. McLaren comes into the pits to withdraw and Bonnier comes in to make sure nothing has come adrift on his Brabham, for he shouldn’t have got sideways-on at that part of the circuit. There is nothing obviously wrong, so he rejoins the race, but he is now right out of the running. On the following lap, Spence comes to rest out on the circuit with a broken rubber coupling on a drive shaft and this lets Siffert into fourth place, followed by Rindt and Brabham. Then there is a moment of worry in the Lotus box, for Mitter stops in a cloud of steam, due to a Jubilee clip on a water pipe under the Lotus having been scraping on the ground in some of the clips on the circuit, until it wore right through and let the rubber pipe come off. Attwood stops for the same reason, and it is wondered whether Clark’s car is bottoming that badly when the suspension is compressed by G forces. As if to give assurance that all is well, Clark does his tenth lap in 8'24"1, an all-time record, and a speed of 162.9 km/h (over 101mph) and is now some 25 seconds ahead of Hill. Surtees has been lapping around 8'28"0 and when he comes by, his box indicates to him that Clark has set a record some four seconds quicker, in the hope that he tries and does something about it. He does an 8'27"0, but then comes in and withdraws, the gearbox showing signs of going wrong again, so this is the end of the World Champion’s rather abortive race. 

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The unfortunate Siffert has blown up his B.R.M. engine when his gearbox jumped out of gear over a hump, which loses him a certain fourth place, and it lets Rindt up into the position with the second of the works Coopers. The field is now very thin, with only eight cars left running, for Amon has finally stopped out at the Karussel. He had borrowed a second transistor box from Spence’s abandoned Lotus, but there is obviously something seriously wrong in the electrics that is causing the transistors to burn out. Clark laps Masten Gregory on lap 12, and can now take things easy, as he can keep an eye on Hill’s B.R.M. as they pass in opposite directions on the way to and from the South Curve. However, Hill is not having an easy time, as Gurney has been gradually creeping up on him during the second ballot of the race. Although he is not catching up quickly enough to pass Hill, this means that the B.R.M. driver cannot relax. As they start their 15th and final round, Clark has a 23-seconds lead, and the Climax engine sounds very healthy. Hill has only a nine seconds lead over Gurney, which the American whittles down to five and a half by the time they get the chequered flag. Clark comes home to win his first German Grand Prix and to win his first Nürburgring race in typical Clark fashion, leading from start to finish. A long way back come Rindt and Brabham, then Bandini, who never made up any ground after his spin, Bonnier, who is kicking himself for having thrown away fourth place, and finally Gregory. During the last lap, the right-hand exhaust megaphone brakes off Clark’s car, but apart from that he has a remarkably trouble-free run, everything having worked 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 the World Champion. He won the German Grand Prix, and with three races to go in the championship - the Italian, the US and the Mexican Grands Prix - he is already mathematically safe. He drove his Lotus ahead of Graham Hill's B.R.M. and Gurney's Brabham and he finally adds the German Grand Prix to his impressive raw of wins. He proved that even on the winding Nürburgring circuit he is the strongest driver. His fiercest rivals, Graham Hill (B.R.M.) and Dan Gurney (Brabham), finished second and third, 16 and 21 seconds behind him respectively. 

 

This 27th German Grand Prix is the sixth win in a row for Clark in races valid for the title. This year he has won them all: only in Munich he did not 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 the beginning to the end. At the end of lap 1, he had already set the new official circuit record, demolishing the one that John Surtees had set the previous year. The Ferrari Englishman hoped to win at Nürburgring for the third year running, even though the flying Scotsman was the tipped to win. At the end of the first lap, Surtees was already in the box, and by the time his new twelve-cylinder Ferrari was back on track it was too late. Towards the end of the race Surtees withdrew. 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 getting close to it in 1962. Clark was born in 1936, he is 29 years old now, 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, and manages to do with ease and naturalness those things that other drivers struggle with. Jim took the wheel for the first time when he was nine years old, driving his father's car on the roads of the family property. In 1956, at the age of twenty, he had his first race, and a year later he got his first victory on a provincial circuit. He made his debut In Formula One at Zandvoort, in the Dutch Grand Prix, finally losing a long duel with the experienced 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 races, only Manuel Fangio did better than that (24 wins 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, is always a quiet guy, who does not forget that he is a farmer before being a driver; 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:

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"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 greatest of the past. With his victory in the German Grand Prix, Jim Clark secured the World Championship for drivers’ title, that he had already won his two years ago. Since this competition was instituted in 1950, all the 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 (Ferrari) in 1952 and 1953, and Fangio in 1954 and 1955 had won the title with relative ease. The Milanese driver, indeed, won through a consecutive raw of victories very similar to the one that brought Clark the title this year. But, objectively, at that time, there were no cars that could fight Ferrari and stand in the way of a great driver such 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 writes the name of the Scottish racer into motorsport history. In recent weeks, faced with the monotonous repetition of the Grand Prix rankings, many have wondered whether Clark's prowess does really depend on the superiority of the car at his disposal. The Lotus-Climax is, indeed, in more ways than one, the reference car for today's Formula 1 single-seaters. The answer is not that obvious: in motor sport, the car and the driver are just as important, even if sometimes the efficiency of one seems to enhance the talent of the other, or vice versa.

 

It can only be said that the judgement on the car must almost always be limited to a few races or to a single season, while in the case of the drivers, it is the continuity of results and behaviour that counts, since over few years it is not possible to make mistakes. Clark, since he began racing 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 different Lotus models that the Scot has driven in something more than four seasons. There are even less doubts this year, all the engineers agreeing on the fact that there is a great balance of performance between the Lotus itself, Ferrari, B.R.M. and Brabham. This is demonstrated by the times scored in practice for each Grand Prix by the strongest drivers of each official team. The best performers are always Clark, Surtees, Graham Hill, Gurney and Stewart, the difference being negligible. Indeed, in practice, it is easier for drivers to give their best for a lap or two than all over the race, and thus the possibilities of the cars. Everything has already been written about the human side of Jim Clark; popular people are often turned inside out, sometimes ruthlessly. Clark is singular even in this aspect, for he made clear that he lives and intends to keep living in the country, in his farm in Berwickshire, tending fields and cattle, and this captured people. His gaze looks gentile, but he is by no means shy. He is a World Champion, a champion with no superiority complex: perhaps the public would prefer if Clark also had the physique du ròle that he actually lacks, because of the kind of character he represents. But it is preferable this way.


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