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#128 1964 Austrian Grand Prix

2021-08-13 00:00

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#1964,

#128 1964 Austrian Grand Prix

Nel 1964, il Campionato Mondiale fa tappa per la prima volta in Austria, sul circuito di Zeltweg, 200 km a sud di Vienna. È un percorso di gara lungo

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In 1964, the World Championship makes for the first time a stop in Austria, in Zeltweg, 200 km south of Wien. It is a race course 3200 km long, obtained by the runways of an old military airport now disused, which makes its bottom not the best: the cement blocks are rough and the junction points do not match in a good way. A lot of traits has unevenness of some centimeters that will put a strain on the cars’ suspension.


In Zeltweg an important confrontation is expected, among the Ferrari drivers and the English coalition. Two cars of Maranello departed for Austria and for Surtees, winner of the Germany Gran Prix on the difficult circuit of Nurburgring, there is the possibility to win the Manifacturers World Championship title. Also among the Italian fans there is hope to win the Formula 1 world title, thanks to the clear progress in the single-seaters of the tenacious modenese constructor. Surtees’ 8-cylinder, which already demonstrated its excellent skills on the corners of the German circuit, has been tested again with satisfying outcome, on the track of Modena, in view of the Gran Prix. Practice also for the 6-cylinder, which will be assigned to Lorenzo Bandini.

 

Now, in the ranking of the Drivers’ World Championship there is the English Ferrari driver in third place with 19 points, against the 30 of Graham Hill and the 36 of Clark. It is essential, for the victory of the title, that the Italian Company should participate to the other races, as the Italian Grand Prix and the United States Grand Prix, which are held on fast circuits suitable for the Italian cars’ settings. But the enthusiasm is likely to burn out at the hand of Enzo Ferrari, if he will not desist from the decision to desert the race of Monza, in program 6 September, because of some contrasts arisen with the racetrack’s directors. The dissension originated from on the eve of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, when Ferrari did not have the possibility to try his cars on the track of Monza.

 

The Italian cars’ participation is waited with a lot of interest also by the British constructors, because the Austrian circuit has settings which seems to favor the overseas vehicles. The principal opponents of Surtees will still be Clark (Lotus) and Siffert (Brabham), who the last Sunday won in the race of Pergusa. It is very possible the absence, at the Austrian race, of Graham Hill, who fractured a vertebra in the accident of eight days ago in Snetterton, while he was testing a B.R.M. Ireland will be present: in Pergusa he has demonstrated to be able to keep up with the world champion. It is important to underline that in Sicily Jim Clark tried on his vehicle a new type of suspension and drive shafts.

 

Meanwhile, there is an important news for the Lotus team and it arrives from Italy: the Deputy Public Prosecutor asked not to prosecute against Jim Clark for the tragedy that on September 10 1961 broke out over the XXXII Italian Gran Prix. On the second lap, near to the south corner, the Scottishman’s Lotus collided with Wolfgang Von Trips’ Ferrari, which went out of track hitting the safety net, behind which were crowded tens of spectators. The German driver died together with sixteen spectators, while other twenty people got hurt. Clark, who was early in his career, came out unharmed from the accident, but remained deeply upset.

 

During the formal investigation procedure, opened by the judiciary, to shed light on the causes of the tragic event and to identify the possible responsibilities, the Scottishman was indicted together with the engineer Previti (who was technical component of the Provincial Commission of Supervision that authorized the conduct of the race). The conclusion to which the representative of the Republic came suggest that the magistrate did not found any improprieties in Clark’s behaviour, with regard to the moments that preceded the fatal collision. The PM has rejected the thesis of those who believed that Clark was responsible for the accident, for refusing to give ground to Von Trips at the approach of the corner, as would have been his duty according to the rules of the race. This constitutes for the Scottish driver also a rehabilitation on an ethical-sporty level, that will be completed in the examining magistrate’s sentence, who has decisions in this regard. In addition, the PM did not acknowledged the existence of liability born of the engineer Previti, whose task was to see that the works in protection of the audience, already authorized and considered sufficient for Monza circuit, would still be intact and efficient.

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For the first time, Austria has an event ranking as a round in the World Championship calendar. The enthusiasm and the organization made progress, but the circuit, being a temporary one, situated on track and on the airfield’s perimeter hardly progressed at all, in fact, the circuit has deteriorated into rough and bumpy concrete. Zeltweg is a little town almost in the middle of Austria. The majority of the drivers, and other people previously involved in a Gran Prix, fly to Austria, and use rental cars to reach the circuit, but some of them arrive with their private car, including Surtees who left Modena with his Ferrari 330GT, while the ever resourceful Brabham arrives in Austria with his private jet.

 

As in previous years, the paddock is composed in a vast hangar, which is fine until someone turns on a racing engine, while the boxes are in the middle of the track, between the higher part of the path and the lower part, so that before the practice starts on Friday afternoon there is a little Gran Prix for conveyors and private cars, from the paddock to the boxes, through the circuit. With a lap length of only 3.2 kilometres and a time of about 1'10"0, the two hours of practice provided on the first-afternoon are sufficient to allow the drivers to adapt to the circuit and the cars to adapt to the asphalt conditions.

 

The Lotus team carries along four cars, the latest Type 33, number R9, for Clark, the Solitude-winning Type 33 for Spence, Clark’s old modified Type 25 as a spare and the other Type 25, previously driven by Arundell, now on loan to the Parnell Team, Clark’s car was fitted with new drive-shafts made from 220S Mercedes-Benz shafts, and the spare car also had them on, as it had come directly from Enna, where Clark had driven it and tried the new shafts for the first time. The B.R.M. team is not so happy, still having only two cars, because Graham Hill crashed one while testing at Snetterton and his Solitude-crashed car had to be hurriedly rebuilt for the Austrian race, this being the latest of the 1964 cars. Ginther has his usual 1964 car, and both vehicles use the old-pattern gearboxes as they were going to need low first gears for the hairpin. Some new rear wheels will be tried with half-inch wider rims, in an effort to flatten the Dunlops even more across the tread.

 

Brabham drives his new Brabham; this, through the same as previous cars, was tidied up in details, in particular, the mess of small tubes just behind the cockpit was arranged, the pannier tanks are slimmer and no longer form the cockpit sides, being fibreglass panels covering the tanks, and the panelling around the engine is much cleaner. Coventry-Climax V8 engine and 5-speed Hewland gearbox are used as before, but new tubular drive-shafts are fitted, with Hardy Spicer joints outboard and flexible Layrub joints inboard, there being no sliding joint; Gurney has the same car that he used during all season.

 

The Ferrari team has the same material used in Nürburgring, with two V8 cars for Surtees to choose from, and a V6 for Bandini. All three vehicles are fitted with aluminium air scoops to the front brakes. McLaren and Phil Hill will have the two 1964 Coopers, with an old 1963 car as a spare, while the Walker team has a new addition, having bought the Brabham chassis. On this vehicle, the Walker team unmounts the engine and the gearbox that Brabham used during the season, and installs the V8 Climax engine and Colotti 6-speed gearbox from the 1963 Cooper that Bonnier has driven on some occasions. This new concoction will be granted to Bonnier, as he could not get on too well with the high-revving B.R.M. V8 engine in the new Brabham chassis that Walker bought earlier in the season. The Brabham-B.R.M. V8, also with 6-speed Colotti gearbox, of the Walker team was on loan to the Formula 2 driver Jochen Rindt, this being his local Grand Prix.

 

The British Racing Partnership takes in Austria - for Ireland and Taylor - two monocoque cars, with B.R.M. V8 engines and B.R.M. gearboxes. But the Parnell team is rather disorganised. In Sicily Hailwood has put his car into the lake on the inside of the circuit; this has gone back to England to be dried out, so Parnell is forced to borrow the fourth Team Lotus Type 25 car, with Climax engine and ZF gearbox, and hurriedly paints it dark blue/green, the Parnell team’s colors. Amon will use this car, while a Type 25, with B.R.M. engine and Hewland gearbox, will be driven by Hailwood. The Centro-Sud B.R.M. V8 cars are driven by Baghetti and Maggs; Siffert, fresh from his win at Enna, and Anderson, with their private Brabhams, complete the field. the only absent in Zeltweg is Trintignant with his B.R.M. V8. Originally only 18 out of the list of 21 were to be allowed to start, but this is changed later and all 20 runners are now permitted to start. 

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A series of accidents upsets the Friday practice. Phil Hill’s Cooper hit the straw bales, turns upside down, breaking part of its right-hand front suspension and bending the rest. Fortunately the driver manages to jump out of the car, completely burst into flames, without reporting damage. Bandini is bothered by an oil leak in front of the engine that could not be repaired at the box. Ginther loses a wheel and hurts a boy. Clark breaks the steering wheel during the first two laps and a lot of drivers breaks the suspension due to the rough. Surtees juggles about with the two V8 Ferraris, and Graham Hill suffers from a stiff neck after his Snetterton accident and is wearing a chin support, while Gurney is in fine form and seems to delight in chasing Suttees whenever he could.

 

Clark’s Lotus 33 remains behind the pits having a repair made to its throttle cable spring; to do this, the Lotus’ mechanics use the BRM team’s welding plant. Meanwhile, on Ginther’s BRM the mechanics change the front anti-roll bar. The ribbed wash-board concrete surface gives the cars and the drivers high-frequency bumps and vibrations, especially at the hairpin, but Surtees, Gurney, Ginther and Graham Hill are indulging in a close battle amongst themselves for a time. Besides the fact that the circuit is completely flat and almost boring, the undulations do not make anyone happy, and melancholy continues to go down first when Clarks breaks the left arm of the steering wheel and then Ginther loses the front left wheel, which comes off near to the holes of the studs.

 

The wide open spaces of the airfield encourages the drivers to go over the limit and be untidy in a sloppy manner, so a few indulge in harmless spins, some deliberately to find the limit, others by accident. Graham Hill is the author of a great number of laps and to him was credited the fastest time, but as the electronic beam timer is not working, and hand-operated watches are being used, the organisers can not guarantee the times given. Graham Hill, despite the stiff neck caused by the accident in Snetterton, is the fastest, followed less than 0.3 seconds by Surtees and 0.037 seconds by Clark. The front row is completed by Gurney, while behind there are Ginther, Bandini and Brabham.

 

During the practice are made some mistakes by the time-keepers, so, to avoid creating grounds for complaint, all the twenty drivers subscribed are admitted to the race. All the cars are repaired by Sunday lunchtime, day of the race, while panic arises in the Ferrari camp when it was found that an injector nozzle had broken off in the cylinder block on the V8 that Surtees had decided to drive. While the car is being fixed, the other V8 is ready, but Surtees is not happy as this has poor brakes; at the end, in any case, both the cars are taken on the starting grid.

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Before the next practice session, which are held in the afternoon of Saturday August 22, 1964, there will be a lot of work for the mechanics and a lot of parts will be studied in detail to see if there are signs of cracks. While the Lotus mounts new steering arms on Clark’s car and new drive shafts on Spence’s car, the Cooper team fixes its old 1963 car for Phil Hill. After the race from the paddock to the box area, it follows a little stop; while the mechanics are still organizing, Bandini is the first to go followed by all the drivers, so the first four minutes of practice are a pandemonium, with the entire circuit full of cars. Clark is circulating slowly, running in a new gearbox, and keeping out of the ideal way. The activity on track is incredible: it seems that no-one is going to stop, until a few spots of rain begin to fall on the circuit. One by one the cars go to the boxes, except for the two Coopers, but then the rain stops and everyone come out again.

 

Surtees puts in a great number of laps on both V8 Ferraris and Bandini is competitive on his 6-cylinder car, while Graham Hill is as fast as ever. Clark finishes bedding in his new gearbox and begin to increase the rhythm, but he has not done many fast laps before the steering feels peculiar, forcing the Scottishman to stops at the boxes. Another steering arm has broken, in the same way as before, on the piece that is actually inside the hub-carrier. Gurney is also beginning to have a go, when the left-hand front suspension upright breaks in two and the Brabham subsides on to the side of the track. Meanwhile, the B.R.M.s are standing up well to the rough conditions of the circuit and no matter how hard Graham Hill is trying. Also Amon’s car has a steering arm break, as in Clark’s car, while Bonnier is making good use of the new combination of parts that Team Walker put together, driving the Brabham-Climax quite hard.

 

As practice finishes the rain come down on the circuit. During the evening, the mechanics will be busy doing a lot of reparations, because the Lotus teams has no more steering arms to use to substitute the broken ones, new Brabham parts are on the way from England and all the mechanics inspect their cars to find looseness or cracks. Team Lotus repairs their two cars, using parts from the spare car and parts from the old Lotus 24 that BRP had with them as a spare, so that Clark’s Lotus 33 has a mixture of Lotus 24 and 25, having used front end and steering, while on Spence’s Lotus 33 is mounted a strong 1963 steering arm on the left and a lighter 1964 arm on the right. Both cars maintain the new drive-shafts. Amon’s borrowed car is fitted with the uprights and steering arms off Revson’s Lotus 24, that the Parnell team has with them.

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On Sunday August 25, 1964, is given the green to the Austrian Gran Prix. All the cars are repaired during the night and by lunchtime. Panic arises among the Ferrari’s mechanics when it is found that an injector nozzle has broken off in the cylinder block on the V8 that Surtees decided to drive. While long, thin pliers, magnets and skinny fingers work down amongst the Bosch fuel-injection mechanism on the damaged car, the other V8 is ready, but Surtees is not happy as the second car has poor brakes. Meanwhile, Phil Hill still has the 1963 Cooper and everyone else has the same car used in practice. Lotus fits overload fuel tanks as the race is over 105 laps of the 3.2-kilometre circuit. Few minutes from the start, rain is been threatening, but it held off and about 1:00 pm there is the usual rush of transporters, private cars and racing cars from the paddock to the boxes.

 

Fortunately, the best V8 Ferrari is repaired, but just in case, both cars are taken out to the starting grid; there is some chaos caused by the racing cars having to go straight to the dummy grid instead of the usual practice of going to the boxes first, while drivers collect helmets and goggles and mechanics fiddle about with last-minute jobs. On the starting grid, on Trevor Taylor’s BRP the alternator stops charging due to a slipping belt-drive (but a fire extinguisher’s water solves the slipping problem), and Ireland’s car produces a puddle of water underneath, suffering from being over-full.

 

With one minute to go all the engines were running and the twenty cars move up on to the proper grid. At the start, the two Ferraris of Surtees and Bandini and Gurney’s Brabham are the fastest, while Graham Hill gets wheelspin and sits still while others go by. Clark, due to a delay, is nestled among the competitors: he could not get into first gear as the flag was raised, so has tried to use second gear. and when the start was given he was about to put his hand in the air to warn other drivers, when he tried second gear. Gurney passes in the end at the first passage, with Surtees behind. Meanwhile, the majority of the competitors has started, so Clark decides to give a boot-full and to take off in second gear. Gurney and Surtees are in the head, followed by Bandini’s Ferrari V6, in third place.

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At the end of the lap Graham Hill is in eleventh place, and Clark in twelfth place, but in a worse situation is Jack Brabham, whose new car is having fuel feed trouble and he stops at the boxes at the end of lap one, while Baghetti has a problem on the plugs of his red BRM; he will wait four laps before stopping for new plugs. Surtees takes the lead on lap two, and though Gurney started on brand new tyres with the resolve to not push hard immediately, during these first minutes of race he changes his mind and decides to stay alongside to the British driver. In a short time, the two of them begin to draw away from the rest of the field, with the exception of Clark, who passes Graham Hill on lap two, Phil Hill on lap three, Siffert on lap four, and caught up with a bunch of the runners on lap five, made up by Ginther, McLaren, Bonnier and Ireland. The four of them are having a great battle, but Clark goes through them with ease, passing Ireland on lap six and the others on the two following laps.

 

Meanwhile, Chris Amon is finding the handling of his borrowed Lotus-Climax V8 a bit odd, and has an excursion on to the grass at the hairpin; during lap seven, his car’s engine breaks up, forcing him to stop on the circuit. Also Graham Hill has his BRM engine cut out on him down the back straight on lap five; he is forced to pit again and it is found that the distributor drive has sheared. The retires are not finished: on lap eight, as Surtees is braking for the hairpin there is a cloud of dust and a shower of sparks as the rear suspension collapses and the Ferrari scrapes its underside along the concrete. This leaves Gurney comfortably in the lead and determined to go gently, to not break the Brabham. But Clark is now third and on the next lap he passes Bandini and takes second place. Now the Scottishman is some 13 seconds behind the leading Brabham.

 

McLaren gets his Cooper away from the group he was dicing with, leaving Bonnier, Ginther and Ireland still in very close company. Behind them comes Siffert, but he is soon passed by Spence, while at the back of the field there is a little hunch comprising Rindt (Brabham-B.R.M. V8), Phil Hill (Cooper-Climax V8), Millwood (Lotus-B.R.M. V8), Anderson (Brabham-Climax V8) and Maggs (B.R.M. V8), while Taylor (BRP-B.R.M. V8) is bringing up the rear. Then, Anderson slows down and loses some positions, and a few laps later Hailwood goes by Phil Hill at the end of the main straight. The two arrive together to the right hairpin at the end of the straight line, while Hailwood spins right round and carries on, Hill has to take avoiding action and this puts him off on to the grass; when the American driver gets going again, he will be at the end of the runners, along with Anderson. Up in the lead Gurney is keeping an eye on Clark as they pass each other in opposite directions on the runway. On the next laps, the Lotus is gaining on the Brabham until the gap is down to 10 seconds on lap 23.

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Gurney is about to lap Taylor, but the BRP breaks a lower rear-wishbone mounting bolt on the chassis and the suspension collapses. Taylor gets off unharmed. The curious fact is that this happens when he had moved over and waved Gurney through, which made the leader think it a strange method of moving out of the main way, to get lapped. A little before, also Siffert stopped on the course, because his brakes played-up and he spun and hit a straw bale, damaging a front suspension and brake disc. Even if the circuit is difficult for the cars, Clark still continues to reduce Gurney’s lead, taking the gap to 8.5 seconds on lap 27. In third and fourth places are Bandini (Ferrari V6) and McLaren (Cooper-Climax V8), but fifth place is still in dispute between Ginther, Spence, Bonnier and Ireland, the rest of the runners having now been lapped.

 

The roughness and the effort make sure that the transmission of Clark’s Lotus breaks off. He pits again losing piaces along the circuit and retires on lap 41. On lap 34 Clark was worried about something so he had slowed down. After a few laps, the same thing happens to Gurney, who leans forward peering at his front suspension and on the next lap he look at the other side of the car, going slow, and during lap 46 he pits again for a closer look. But the mechanics do not find anything and the American driver rejoins the race. He will not complete the lap because a lower-front radius-arm is pulling away from its chassis mounting.

 

Also Ireland’s B.R.M. engine has gone off-song; so, the British driver loses contact with Ginther, Spence and Bonnier. After that, Spence starts to race slowly, because it seems that on the back of his car something is going to break down. The British driver turns the hairpin, but a big bang forces him to stop on the grass verge during lap 41, also with a broken drive-shaft. At the same time, McLaren pits because his engine is losing power during lap 43, and after doing one more slow lap he retires before the engine damages itself.

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All of a sudden, on lap 48, the order is completely changed, with Bandini leading from Ginther, Bonnier and Ireland, but the BRP is sick and Ireland stops at his pit to see if anything can be done. Although the trouble is a broken tappet. He decides to go on, hoping to collect points at the end of the race. Also Brabham is still circulating, and Baghetti is also still running but a long way back, while Rindt rejoins the race, having been at the pits for a long while for attention to the brakes. Surtees walks back to the pits after his Ferrari collapsed, and after collecting a jack, some spanners and spares, repairs the damage. Halfway, there are only eight left in the running, with Bandini, Ginther and Bonnier on the same lap, and Ireland. Hailwood, Anderson, Phil Hill and Maggs a lap behind; Brabham, Rindt and Baghetti are many laps astray.

 

Ginther is 15 seconds behind Bandini, and it looks as though the B.R.M. can catch the Ferrari, Bandini speeds up and the gap hovers around 12 and 13 seconds. Ireland is slowing and Hailwood goes past him and takes fourth place. Then Anderson goes by to take fifth place, while Brabham goes well after his earlier spin. Phil Hill has struggling along in seventh place with the old Cooper, until on lap 59 it gets out of hand and hits the wall of straw bales. The rear suspension collapses and fire breaks out in the engine compartment, while the driver gets out very quickly and the car goes up in a sheet of flame and clouds of smoke.

 

Now it is Hailwood’s turn for trouble and after a slow lap trying to see what is wrong with the rear suspension, he makes a pit stop to have a radius arm re-fixed: this drops him well back behind the remaining runners. At lap 60 Anderson is lapped by Bandini and Ginther, and while Bonnier comes up to lap him, Rob Walker’s car is beginning to misfire and Bonnier limits himself to lower maximum rpm. At lap 84 Bonnier’s engine goes really sick and Anderson passes him racing a complete lap. Bonnier goes slower and slower and, by the end of the race, Maggs and Ireland both pass him.

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At the front of the field the position remained unchanged, Ginther can do nothing about catching Bandini, with the gap between the two cars sitting at around 12; this and the good conditions of the Ferrari gives hope to the Italian driver. In fact, when Ginther recovers some seconds, Bandini immediately restores the distance, gives proof to be in control of the situation.  The race has no more history, so Bandini with his V6 flies to the finish line, ending his race of 336 km at the average of 159.650 km/h. It is the second Championship victory in a row for Ferrari, with Bandini overturning every prediction and improving the race record established the year before by the Australian Brabham. The Ferrari’s victory, after that in Germany, shows the high level of Maranello’s cars.

 

The brilliant success of the Ferrari driver, after the third place conquered on the Nurburgring in August 2, 1964, is welcomed with great enthusiasm by the 50.000 spectators and a lot of Italians, also because it is the first victory after three years, of an Italian driver in a Formula 1 World Championship. Anderson gain the third place; an excellent result, if we think that the his car’s driveshafts cracked and the rub joint broke. Tony Maggs is fouth with his B.R.M., followed by Innes Ireland and Jo Bonnier, who ends in sixth place and conquers the last available point. Definitely this was surely a particular race which did not satisfied a lot of drivers. Nobody had favourable opinion on this circuit, different from any other European one.

 

Nobody is favourable about the surface that breaks the cars’ body, and this kind of things had disappeared from all European races many years ago. The battle for the title still has Graham Hill and Jim Clark in the first places of the ranking, with 30 and 32 points, because both retired from the race. It follows John Surtees with 19, also retired, the Ginther with 17 and Bandini, who with this victory is up to 15 points. It is more open the battle for the Constructors’ Championship, where BRM rules the ranking with 36 points, followed by Lotus, 34 points, and Ferrari with 28 points.

 

Nicoletta Zuppardo

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