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#112 1963 Monaco Grand Prix

2021-09-21 11:43

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#1963,

#112 1963 Monaco Grand Prix

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The European Grand Prix, scheduled in Monaco on Sunday 26 May 1963, opens the series of tests reserved for Formula 1 drivers to win the world title. Motor racing enters the season in full swing, starting with the series of tests that will see the Formula 1 driver and car become World Champions for 1963. Formula 1 and its championship are in fact the highest expression of competitive motor racing, the pinnacle of technical possibilities, the synthesis of the efforts, experience and skills of specialists, particularly active in these years in Italy and England. The regulations, or Formula, currently in force, came into force in 1961 and will last until the end of 1965. The main prescriptions were: engine with a maximum displacement of 1500 cubic centimetres, without a compressor; starting with on-board equipment; running on commercial petrol; minimum dry weight of 450 kilograms; requirement for wheels outside the bodywork; protective bar behind the driver's head.

 

In the first two years of application of this Formula, important technical results were achieved, especially in terms of power (reaching values in the order of 200 horsepower, meaning more than 130 horsepower per litre of displacement), suspension and transmissions. This is demonstrated by the results - the times and averages - achieved on all the circuits, from the fastest to the most tormented, always almost equal to and sometimes superior to the performance obtained by the cars of the previous Formula 1, which had a maximum displacement of 2500 cubic centimetres.

 

Moreover, in their quest for ever greater speed, the manufacturers of today's single-seaters have come up with solutions that can't fail to raise a number of safety concerns, not to mention the fact that they have little or no bearing on the needs of the general technical progress of the car, which racing should precede and promote. For example, in order to limit the frontal section of the cars as much as possible. Their resistance to advancing, very thin, low and narrow bodies have been built, within which the drivers drive semi-recumbent, acting on a steering wheel with a very small diameter, and literally encapsulated, with no possibility of jumping out in the event of an accident.

 

For the 1963 season the brands that were protagonists last year will still be in front: the English Lotus, BRM, Cooper, Brabham and the Italian Ferrari. Porsche, on the contrary, seems to have abandoned the competitive activity, but the German House will be replaced by the new Bolognese brand ATS. Then there will be other artisan cars, less committed and with little chance of disturbing the big ones, such as the English Lola and the Italian De Tomaso. Only Ferrari, B.R.M. and the Italian ATS were powered by engines built by the manufacturers ; Lotus, Cooper and Brabham, on the other hand, used engines supplied by Coventry-Climax or B.R.M.

 

This is, roughly speaking, the situation on the eve of the start of the 1963 world championship, that with the European Grand Prix on the classic, winding circuit drawn on the boulevards of Monte Carlo will live its first episode, giving the fans some indication of the possibilities and probabilities of supremacy of the various brands. Last year the English dominated, with their cars and drivers; we will see if Ferrari, which has made some very promising new single-seaters, and later on ATS, will be able to bring back to Italy the record that for many years had never left Italy.

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On Thursday 23rd May 1963, during the first day of practice, the event's organising committent officially announced that the ATS had withdrawn from the race. This reduced the number of qualified drivers to four (Graham Hill, Brabham, McLaren and Trintignant), as American Phil Hill, the former world champion driver, was due to race in an ATS. As has become tradition, only sixteen drivers are allowed to participate in the Grand Prix. This year, there is some discontent because no driver has been guaranteed to the car manufacturers; instead, only five drivers are officially invited, regardless of the cars they will be driving. These five are World Champion Graham Hill, Phil Hill, Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren and Maurice Trintignant, driving a B.R.M., an ATS, a Brabham-Climax, a Cooper-Climax and a Lola-Climax respectively. Initially, this invitation arrangement means that five teams are guaranteed a start, thus excluding the Lotus-Climax and Ferrari teams, who will have to take their place on the grid during practice.

 

Altogether twenty-four drivers were admitted to practice, but at the first session on Thursday afternoon this number was drastically reduced by the withdrawal of Phil Hill and Baghetti, who should have run with the ATS cars, not yet ready, Settember and Burgess with the Sirocco-BRM V8 cars for similar reasons, Campbell-Jones with the Lotus-BRM V8 of Parnell that had broken the gearbox at the Rome Grand Prix the week before, the 8-cylinder of de Tomaso that had suffered in Rome too, Bandini with a BRM of the Centro-Sud team, and de Beaufort who retired his Porsche because he was convinced that he wouldn't have been able to qualify. In his place the French driver Collomb with his Lotus-Climax V8 was allowed to take part in the practices, so in total there would only be seventeen cars, of which Collomb would obviously have been left out of the sixteen starters for Sunday's race. As a result there will be no need for pre-qualifying, but all the drivers' efforts will be directed at gaining positions on the grid.

 

The Brabham Racing Organisation entered its own founder with the car used at Silverstone and Gurney with a new one, virtually the same mechanically but with more space in the cockpit and the fuel tanks next to the cockpit forming the sides of the bodywork, as on the official Coopers. On this new car the gear rods run along the top of the chassis with a long rod diagonally above the VW gearbox and a lever to the right in the cockpit, while the original car has a lever to the left with the rods running under the side of the Coventry-Climax V8 engine. Both cars feature the latest short-stroke fuel-injected engines, with Australian-made exhaust tips and megaphones. Finished in dark green with a gold stripe, the cars look very smooth and well maintained.

 

Drivers B.R.M. Hill and Ginther use the 1962 cars with the new engines. Both cars are equipped with lighter bolt-on front wheels. The team also brings a third car as a reserve, and exactly the single-seater that Bandini had driven at Silverstone, as it is not available again for the Centre-South team until B.R.M. has built the new cars. McLaren and Maggs run with the Coopers already used at Silverstone. These mount protection bars around the rear of the gearbox, as the oil pump is quite vulnerable and the pipes protrude from the rear. In Monaco Ken Tyrrell takes the role of team principal replacing John Cooper, still convalescing from his accident in the Twinny-Minny.

 

Team Lotus brings in a completely new Lotus 25 for Jim Clark, while Trevor Taylor takes over the car the driver used at Silverstone. Both cars are fitted with Coventry-Climax fuel-injected V8 engines, while the 1962-engined Type 25 with Weber fuel-injected carburettors comes in handy for spares. Clark's car is fitted with the latest version of the short-stroke Coventry-Climax engine with an improved power curve, giving a slightly wider rev range. At Monte-Carlo Bonnier will drive Team Walker's 1962 Cooper, purchased from the factory, equipped with a 1963 Climax V8, while the Ken Gregory/Pa Moss British Racing Partnership team will bring its two Lotus 24s, both with B.R.M. V8 engines. Ireland's car is fitted with a five-speed Colotti gearbox, while Jim Hall's is fitted with a six-speed Colotti gearbox. Both cars have bumper bars in front of the radiators, under the nose fairings. The Reg Parnell Racing team brings two Lolas, both with 1962 Coventry-Climax engines and Weber carburettors.

 

Chris Amon will drive the last one built, with fabricated front suspension struts, while Trintignant will have to race in one of the earlier cars, fitted with an engine similar to the one used by Amon. Both cars have Colotti gearboxes, the first six-speed and the second five-speed. Ferrari brings only two cars to Monaco, identical to those seen at Silverstone. Both cars are fitted with alternative, short, bevelled fairings, and both long and short megaphone exhaust manifolds (the long ones, however, will give the best results). The drivers are Surtees and Mairesse, and a full complement of engineers and technicians are present for this important first outing.

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The first practice sessions take place on Thursday afternoon in warm sunshine. Most teams spend their time setting their cars, so the lap times aren't exceptional. Only Clark sets an exceptional time of 1'35"3, which allows him to improve on his best practice lap of 1'35"4 in 1962 and his last record set in last year's race of 1'35"5. Not happy with that time, Clark also came out of the pits in his spare Lotus, which was fitted with last year's engine, and posted a time of 1'36"7, which was the second best in the afternoon's classification. The best anyone could do was 1'37", and it was Graham Hill and Ginther who set it.

 

Considering that this was the first big race of the season, at the pits there were many mechanical problems, among them the Climax engine of Brabham on which a valve broke. The Climax engine of McLaren had problems with the Lucas injection system, Surtees was forced to wait for the repair for a water leakage, and the B.R.M. V8 of Ginther that seemed to show the classic symptoms that occur when a valve is broken or problems with the tappet. It would later be discovered that the engine didn't actually have structural problems, but rather an inadequate relationship between the internal temperature and the spark plugs used.

 

It is worth noting that since last year the timing arrangements have been changed, because in order to avoid any repetition of the multiple incident at the hairpin after the start, the grid has been moved to the inner side of the pit island, a little further down from the Royal Box, and the timing line has been located behind the starting grid, not far from the exit of the Gasworks hairpin. Previously the timekeepers' line was right next to the braking point for the hairpin, so in practice an astute driver could get an extra fast time by braking late, then taking the run-off area. Under the new arrangement cars are timed as they accelerate away from the hairpin, so that lap times can be more consistent and genuine.

 

On Friday morning, before 7:30, as the sun rises but the air is still cold, all the drivers return to the track. All except Brabham, who is preparing to take his wrecked engine back to England for the necessary repairs. Both Ferraris and both B.R.M.'s seem competitive; to prove it, Mairesse manages to set a time of 1'36"0. It is curious to note that while Graham Hill runs smoothly around the station hairpin, the Ferraris are forced to run wide, because the weight transfer causes a violent understeer that doesn't allow them to open the throttle immediately; however, the Italian cars behave well in the faster corners, giving Surtees the opportunity to start setting excellent times.

 

This spurs Clark into action. The Lotus 25 suffers from weight transfer - like the Ferrari - on downhill hairpins, but in addition it locks the right front wheel under braking. Nevertheless, this didn't seem to bother Clark. On the opposite, it is the traffic that worries the young Scottish driver, who even though he tries with all his might is forced to stop without improving the time set by Surtees. In the meantime, the Ferrari driver returned to the track with different rear tyres, but as a damaged wheel had been mounted by mistake, the British driver was forced to stop at the pits to put on another one.

 

Few minutes before the end of practice, Clark, Surtees, Graham Hill, Ginther, Ireland, Gurney and McLaren went on track to try to set better times. However, Jim Clark prevailed, first setting a time of 1'35"2 and equalling Surtees' fastest time, then improving it and taking the limit to 1'34"3. It is interesting to note that while all the cars were fitted with five- or six-speed gearboxes, most of the drivers were oriented towards the use of only four speeds; Bonnier, for example, only used the lower four gears, as using all six gears on the slow and winding Monte-Carlo circuit would mean spending too much time on gear changes, and every fraction of a second spent changing gears was a fraction of a second subtracted from acceleration.

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The final practice session takes place on Saturday afternoon at 2pm, for an hour and a quarter. While the drivers were taking to the track for the last practice, Phil Hill was sitting in the pits with nothing to do, which was a pity, especially considering that both Lotus and B.R.M. had a reserve car that could have been given to the American driver. Clark, being satisfied with the time set the previous day, decides to test his car with the fuel tanks full. In the meantime Gurney began to gain confidence with his Brabham and set an excellent time of 1'35"8, before on his engine, because of a valve, a piston was destroyed, while Surtees arrived too fast at the chicane and bounced against the barriers, bending the front lower right wishbone and the chassis, and ending the practice session prematurely.

 

Before starting practice, McLaren had another engine installed in his Cooper, therefore he took advantage of the available time to make all necessary adjustments, while Hill and Ginther tried to improve their positions on the starting grid by experimenting different springs of suspensions. The search for both drivers led to success, as Hill set a time of 1'35"0 and Ginther 1'35"2. Just for fun, Clark decided to enter the track in the Lotus 25, equipped with a carburettor engine, and set a time of 1'35"2.

 

Jim Clark, in a Lotus, and World Champion Graham Hill, in a B.R.M., will start from the front row in the European Grand Prix. The two British drivers set the best lap times in official practice, with 1'34"3 and 1'35"0 respectively. Clark lapped at an average speed of over 120 kilometres per hour: the highest speed ever achieved on this winding Monte-Carlo circuit. Surtees' Ferrari will start from the second row, flanked by Ginther's B.R.M., which matched the British driver's time on Friday.

 

They are followed in the third row by Ireland, in Lotus-BRM, and Gurney, in Brabham. The other Ferrari driver, Mairesse, will be behind the first six drivers, beside last year's winner, Bruce McLaren. Of the sixteen starters, from one of these eight names should come out the winner of the Grand Prix, perhaps adding to the favourites Brabham (who will run at the wheel of a car of his own construction), who didn't try because of an engine failure, and who will line up in the last row. Not even an Italian driver at the start: after the ATS forfait, Baghetti was absent and Bandini didn't go on the track for practice, because the English B.R.M. preferred to keep the single-seater in reserve that, as said, should have been driven by the Milanese driver.

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On Sunday, 26 May 1963, at 13:00 the cars start to be fired up, in preparation for the start of the Grand Prix which is scheduled for 14:45. In the meantime Brabham, who had returned to Monaco with his engine repaired, hearing about the problem with Gurney's engine, decided that he would have to leave his place to his teammate. However, spurred on by the organisers, Chapman is persuaded to lend Brabham the spare Lotus 25. Thus, the fifteen drivers gathered in the pits, and around 2:30 p.m. the cars were lined up on the grid in staggered pairs, with Clark and Hill on the front row, and Brabham alone on the back row.

 

The Prince Ranieri of Monaco officially opens the event, taking the lap of honour in a Porsche Super 90 with his head down, while the drivers receive their final instructions from Louis Chiron, who acts as race director in his usual excited manner. With a minute to go the engines are started, and when the flag is lowered all fifteen cars take off amidst a surprising amount of rubber smoke. The two B.R.M.'s run fast up the hill to the casino, and are still leading the race at the end of the opening lap. The first nine cars are very close to each other: Clark immediately tries to overtake Ginther, but the B.R.M. continues to overtake the Lotus in the corners. Only during the fifth lap the Scottish driver managed to overtake his rival and gain the second place. In the meantime, during the third lap Siffert was forced to retire because a connecting rod came out of one side of his B.R.M. engine, which consequently flooded the Gasworks hairpin bend with oil.

 

Despite new tyres and full tanks, the pace is very fast. After passing in second position, Clark tries desperately to overtake Hill. On the seventh lap the Lotus of the Scottish driver managed to pass the B.R.M. on the inside of the Gasworks hairpin, but Hill was the author of a better trajectory and won the duel under acceleration. In spite of this furious battle for the lead, most of drivers managed to keep up with the first ones: Ginther, Surtees, McLaren, Ireland, Gurney, Maggs and Mairesse were all one behind the other, as if they were tied together. Clark, after losing the second position, was soon back in pursuit of Hill, and on lap 10 he was once again alongside the British driver at the entrance of the Gasworks hairpin bend. The B.R.M. driver managed to keep the lead even after leaving the hairpin. Hill made a wide left-hand manoeuvre before closing for the right-hand hairpin, so that he had a chance to exit in the middle of the road, accelerating hard from the apex.

 

For this reason the British driver gives way to Clark, who punctually comes alongside on the entry, cutting tight through the apex and coming out on the outside or on the left side of the road, and consequently can't open the throttle as the B.R.M. driver can. Hill always manages to have the best and fastest line around the bend, but he needs a lot of willpower to keep left as Clark passes on the inside, because if a third man had followed the Lotus on the inside, Hill would have found his way blocked at the moment of acceleration. But fortunately his teammate, Ginther, is third, so this situation doesn't happen.

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Brabham encountered gearbox problems on his borrowed Lotus 25, and Bonnier returned to the pits too on lap 14 to explain that he felt the gearbox gears were jumping, with the engine revs suddenly increasing as a result. But since the engine had already passed 11,000 rpm without bursting, his mechanic sent him back to the race. On lap 17 Hall stopped briefly to report a noise in the transmission and continued again, but not for long, because on lap 20 a gear in the axle transmission sheared off.

 

On lap seventeen Clark was once again close to Hill at Gasworks corner, but this time he managed to stay alongside the British driver as he raced close to the pits, and going up the road towards the Casino he managed to get ahead of his rival. However, Hill did not give up so easily and the two cars would again be side by side all the way along the harbour front, with the Lotus driver managing to maintain a precarious lead as they both finished the lap. The whole group of leading cars arrived in the laps following Brabham's lapping, who kept well away from the ideal trajectory so as not to hinder his colleagues' race, and starting from lap 21 Clark began to move away, recording a lap in 1'37"0, while keeping an anxious eye on the rear-view mirror, to see where the B.R.M. of the British driver was.

 

Surtees now started attacking Ginther, followed by McLaren, while Gurney entered the pits on lap 25 to retire with a broken wheel and pinion. On lap 28 Surtees overtook Ginther and was about to approach Hill. At this stage McLaren remained close to Ginther, while maintaining fifth place. During the 34th lap Trintignant, who in the meantime had been lapped, was obliged to retire because on his Lola his Climax engine broke down. Only eleven cars remained on the race track.

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Surtees is now at a few meters from Hill, but he lives a bad moment because the engine of the B.R.M. leaks oil, which covers the face and the glasses of the Ferrari driver. Also the problem of Bonnier's car worsens, so the Swedish driver is forced to stop once again at the pits. Here it is discovered that the driver has pressed so hard on the clutch pedal that the catch for the clutch actuation lever has been bent, so the clutch doesn't return to its original position. A temporary repair is carried out to rectify the damage, and the Swedish driver sets off again, although he returns to the track far behind all the other competitors.

 

After thirty-seven laps Mairesse came into the pits to retire, due to a broken sprocket in the transmission. At the same time Taylor passed Maggs and moved up to seventh place. Ireland was running alone, in sixth place, but was having gearbox problems. So, on lap 40, as he braked downhill to enter the waterfront right-hander in the lowest gear, the Colotti box suddenly broke, and losing the braking effect of the engine, the car stopped decelerating at the wrong time, leading Ireland to hit the sea wall. There is no respite between the top five drivers, and as the fuel loads drop the lap times drop. Nevertheless, Clark increases his precarious lead to seven seconds, and as Surtees tries to pass Hill's B.R.M., the McLaren tries to pass Ginther's B.R.M., but both cars prove superior in low-speed acceleration and have excellent pick-up and the right gear ratios to get away from the hairpins.

 

On lap 48 Clark set a new record with 1'35"8 and at mid-race, that is 50 laps, he enjoyed an 8.5 second lead over the B.R.M. driven by Hill, followed by Surtees. For a few laps it seemed that the positions were stabilizing, because Surtees seemed unable to overtake the B.R.M. and McLaren was happy with the position just behind Ginther. On lap 57 Clark set a time of 1'35"5sec, equalling his 1962 lap record, and at the same time Surtees and Hill were side by side after the pits, with the Ferrari on the left, thus better positioned to make the right turn at St Devote, in order to overtake the rival going up the hill to the Casino.

 

The crowd seems to be particularly happy to see the Italian car move into second place, but having oil-covered glasses, Surtees realises that following the blurred shape of the B.R.M. was bad enough, but being in front with only an opaque view through his glasses and no shape to follow was impossible. So, after five laps he allowed Hill to get back in front again, before slowing down to remove his oil-covered goggles and put on his spare pair.

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In the meantime Taylor stops at the pits because he thinks there are problems with the gearbox, but his mechanics quickly send him back to the race. On lap 69 Clark sets a new lap record of 1'34"9. With his glasses clean and the B.R.M. now a little ahead of him, Surtees is more in trouble because his oil pressure has dropped from 6 kg/cmq to 2 kg/cmq, due to the high temperature, so he is forced to slow down, favoring the return of Ginther and McLaren.

 

At three quarters of the race Clark has seventeen seconds ahead of Hill, who in turn has ten seconds ahead of the third man, who at this point is Ginther because the race director has in the meantime stopped on the road, demanding that Surtees let the B.R.M. pass, much to the disgust of the crowd who boo this action. But problems continued to plague the British driver's car. In fact, fearing that the oil pressure could drop completely, destroying the engine, Surtees lets McLaren pass on the seventy-ninth lap. In the same lap, while Clark arrives on the port side from the chicane and is preparing to change trajectory to turn towards the tobacconist's corner, the gearbox of the Lotus jams and the Scottish driver runs along the corner struggling desperately to fix the gears. Throughout the following stretch, up to the Gasworks hairpin, Clark tries to bring the gearshift to coincide with the selectors, but the damage is irreparable.

 

However, having enough of an advantage over Hill, Clark begins to lower his pace and instead of swinging the shift lever from notch to notch, he begins to gently ease it off. This will, absurdly, be his undoing, because the movements of the selector and spring piston in the ZF gearbox are very small and rely on a certain amount of their own inertia to engage properly. Sliding the shifter lever briskly will accomplish this, but having it gently move from notch to notch doesn’t impart the inertia necessary to ensure full engagement; on the fateful gear change made on the port side, the selector is snapped back the wrong way.

 

On lap 78 Graham Hill takes the lead in the race. Ginther is in second, with the other B.R.M. and McLaren following not far behind. Surtees, in fourth place, is still anxiously focused on the oil pressure level. Still in the race, but quite far away, are Maggs, Taylor, Bonnier and Brabham. In the last ten laps McLaren decides to settle for third place and pulls away from Ginther. But at the same time Surtees decides to make one last attempt, as the oil pressure seems to remain at a minimum. In this way, the last laps become very exciting: Surtees sets a new lap record of 1'34"6 on the ninety-seventh lap, and then improves it on the hundredth lap, setting a time of 1'34"5. This, however, doesn’t allow him to overtake McLaren, who knows he is safe in third place.

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Once again a twist towards the end of the race determined the outcome. The World Champion Graham Hill in a B.R.M. won the Monaco and European Grand Prix for Formula 1 cars, after his compatriot Jim Clark had dominated for almost four-fifths of the race, with an almost constant superiority. The pivotal moment occurred on the seventy-eighth of the scheduled one hundred laps. Clark and his Lotus had swaggered into the lead from the eighteenth lap, after overtaking Hill who, having taken the lead at the start, managed in the first half hour to contain the attacks of his rivals.

 

Then Clark literally took off, repeatedly improving his lap record and reaching a maximum advantage of about fifteen seconds over Hill. And here comes the drama: just after crossing the finishing line on the 78th lap, Clark is seen frantically operating the gearshift, arriving at an excessive speed on the gasometer curve, spinning and finally stopping a few centimeters from the protective straw bales: his gearbox has jammed, and the Scottish has had to make do with the brakes alone. From the immense public of the stands located near the finish line and on the curve, a scream of fear rises, but luckily Clark jumps out of the narrow cockpit of his Lotus and walks towards the pits. A mockery of fate, not new where man needs gears, wheels and mechanisms to emerge, has deprived the most deserving of the prize that none of those who have experienced this Grand Prix from the stands or the pits would have denied to Jim Clark, the strongest car driver of the last two years.

 

And yet, it would be unfair to consider the victory of the mustachioed Graham Hill as a gift of luck. The World Champion fought splendidly, first reacting with his very fine driving style to Clark's overbearing attack, then never losing sight of the wheels, and towards the middle of the race repelling the attacks of an inconstant Surtees, now all aimed at conquering second place, now as if he were detached from the events of the race, and finally again launched in pursuit of Hill, so much so as to achieve, on the very last lap, the new lap record of the circuit at an average speed of almost 120 km/h.

 

Very good then, Graham Hill: the English driver drives in a charming way, without taking risks, always giving the impression of doing things with the utmost simplicity. In the meantime he conquered the first precious nine points for the 1963 world championship: it shouldn’t be easy even for Clark to snatch the title from him. Surtees' behavior shifted the discourse on the cars: excellent under every aspect the B.R.M. (first and second place with Hill and Ginther); very fast Lotus (at least the one driven by Clark), but revealing their weak point in the transmission parts; the Ferraris were up to the level of the English single-seaters - even if Mairesse had to abandon the race because of the broken clutch - as Surtees' record lap showed, when the mechanics of all the cars were severely tested, and as it became clear in the moments of the driver's commitment, towards the middle of the race and in the final stages, when, overtaken by Ginther and then by McLaren, he tried - too late - to overtake the latter.

 

The European Grand Prix, apart from these moments of struggle and especially the first twenty laps, with seven cars grouped in the space of about ten seconds, didn’t have any particularly lively phases. The course of the race was regular, with no incidents whatsoever (however, it was thanks to Clark's skill that something serious didn’t happen in the incident described). This year's innovation was a good one: the start after the gasometer curve, which avoided the usual frightening traffic jam on the curve itself, and the protective installations for the drivers were much improved.

 

Graham Hill's overall average speed - 116.555 km/h - is almost three kilometers higher than Moss' previous record, set two years earlier; while Surtees' lap record (1'34"5) subtracts exactly one second from the time obtained in 1962 by Clark. On a circuit such as this, these are remarkable results, demonstrating the great technical progress of mechanical means that have been extraordinarily advanced in constructive solutions that are unfortunately far from being transferred to normal automotive technology, but are equally fascinating for those who love beautiful mechanics.

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Many fans of the Monaco and European Grand Prix have attributed to mere luck the affirmation of the Englishman Graham Hill, who saw his way to victory opened wide by the gearbox jamming of Jim Clark's Lotus when there were little more than twenty laps to go. But, if from a human, sporting point of view, the disappointment of those who see car racing as a simple comparison of drivers can be understood, objectivity demands that it be specified that the World Champion was not at all humiliated by the Lotus ace, remaining no more than 13-15 seconds behind, without ever losing sight of Clark's agile single-seater. There is a substantial difference in style and technical behavior between the two British racers, at the wheel of these difficult, bizarre mechanical means that are the Formula 1 cars. Clark is impetuous, swaggering, even reckless in his way of facing the track; and this style is reflected in the system of exploitation of the mechanical means, to which he asks everything, without saving. He is reminiscent in all this of Stirling Moss, except for that extra bit of class that made the unfortunate Moss rank among the greatest racers who ever lived. Clark isn’t yet at that level, to reach which he will have to smooth out the corners of his hot temper, and have a little more mercy for the car.

 

Graham Hill has a completely different style: he is thoughtful, imperturbable in good times and bad, an excellent connoisseur of what happens under the hood and in the surroundings. Hill drives in a delightful way, composed at the wheel like few great drivers of the past; he always gives the impression of going for a walk, not of being in the bedlam of the track, and this is a sure sign of class. And on a passionate level, we can remember that - if he had any luck at all - Graham Hill was simply given back what he had been denied a year ago, on the same circuit: like Clark, a mechanical failure had robbed him of victory just seven laps from the end of the race.

 

So the English cars still won: the B.R.M. in the first two places (Richie Ginther's race was not particularly outstanding, but its regularity was rewarded) and McLaren, on the Cooper, third. Then the order of arrival gives to the fourth place a Ferrari, the one piloted by John Surtees. It's the same old story: Ferrari is no longer able to beat the English Formula 1 cars. But it will be good not to make hasty judgments. The single-seater from Modena, renewed but not yet the definitive 1963 model (which will have an 8-cylinder engine, instead of the current 6-cylinder, much improved thanks to the injection system), was almost up to the green single-seaters from across the Channel.

 

First of all it arrived at the finish line only fourteen seconds from the winner, but above all it could have reached an even better result than the fourth final place. So the Ferrari is there, and it compensates a slightly higher weight compared to the English cars with some more horsepower in the engine. On fast tracks he should be able to put himself in evidence, provided that Surtees and Mairesse (the Belgian, after a promising start, complained of a clutch failure and abandoned) are up to the situation. The World Championship is run on a series of circuits with different characteristics or almost always different: it is necessary, that not only the cars ,but also the drivers adapt to the various circumstances that arise. In the past, the title has always ended up in the hands of the driver who, during the course of the season, has shown greater consistency and regularity of performance. And this, for Ferrari, isn’t a problem born today.

 

Simone Pietro Zazza

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