On Saturday 15th June 1963, in the afternoon, the 24 Hours of Le Mans will start: a classic and difficult race, which, with its traditional characteristics, has managed to survive the horror of the 1955 tragedy, in which many people lost their lives, killed by the Mercedes of the driver Levegh, which crashed into the stands. Today, the French race of speed and endurance may no longer have the importance and interest it once had, but apart from what the 24 Hours expresses in terms of technical and competitive aspects, a certain popular aspect remains unchanged, like an after-work festival, which attracts many spectators from the French provinces to the Le Mans circuit between Saturday and Sunday.
It's hard to believe that it's only driving enthusiasts; Perhaps it's closer to the truth when we say that people go to Le Mans for a traditional picnic, a picnic perhaps a little uncomfortable (the privileged ones sleep for a few hours in a caravan or under a tent, but for the majority there's only the grass of the meadows, or at the most an uncomfortable outdoor coffee chair), but where you can find all sorts of entertainment to spend a night and a day without getting bored, because every year, in mid-June, an immense ephemeral fair rises around and inside the circuit, where you'll be spoilt for choice among the dozens of restaurants, bars, dance halls and shops, whose deafening calls even manage to overwhelm the noise of the engines of the racing cars.
At Le Mans there are also cars taking part in the race, with drivers who challenge all risks in the interminable chase, frenetic in the first hours, then gradually relaxed in a monotonous, but always very fast, circle on the thirteen and a half kilometres of the circuit. This is the 24 Hours of Le Mans, an event balanced between fair and sport, between folklore and the tremendous reality of high speed. From 4:00 p.m. on Saturday to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, drivers, mechanics, and car manufacturer executives will live in extreme tension, in dramatic contrast to the indifferent tingling of the public in the entertainment village. Victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours is always a big deal, for the prestige that comes with it as well as for its technical aspects; and this has been the case since the race was first run back in 1923.
In the 1963 edition, Ferrari - which has won the 24 Hours six times, the last three of them consecutively, and which holds both the overall distance record (4476.6 kilometres covered, averaging 180.534 km/h) and the lap record (Phil Hill, at 204. 312km/h) - are the favourites: the rear-engined 12-cylinder model, which triumphed this year in the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 1000 Kilometres of the Nürburgring, has such power and endurance qualities that it can be relied on. However, testing has revealed very threatening opponents in the Maserati and the British Aston Martin. The latter, a new model, seemed even more capable than the former of challenging the drivers of the Modenese team, made with John Surtees, Mairesse, Scarfiotti, Parkes and Pedro Rodriguez (the pairings would only be decided on Friday 14 June 1963). The British, who are still dominating in Formula 1 races, seem intent to go on the offensive even in sports car races, and Aston Martin, after all, has already won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the past.
An interesting confrontation between Ferrari-Maserati-Aston Martin is not unlikely for the forthcoming race, one of the latter driven by former World Champion Phil Hill, twice winner at Le Mans and holder of the two records (distance and lap), who has more than one reason to try to succeed against the colours defended until 1962. The turbine-powered Rover-B.R.M., admitted out of the competition (there is still no formula for combining piston and turbine engines), has its own chapter, and wouldn't be able to compete with the more powerful traditional cars: in the tests, his driver Graham Hill lapped in one minute more than the Ferraris. And race within race the small displacement cars will compete, essentially committed to securing victory in the special performance index classification, which takes into account the distance covered in 24 hours according to the engine capacity.
Forty-nine cars of all sizes will be at the start. The race, one of the most important in the world, will be valid for the World Prototype and Grand Touring Championship, but it isn't to this circumstance that the French event owes its popularity, which makes hundreds of thousands of spectators flock to the Sarthe circuit, all more or less interested in the events of the race. All of them are more or less interested in the events of the race, but all of them, without exception, are scrupulously committed to making the most of this traditional weekend, which is half sporting and half popular entertainment in the immense park full of cafés, restaurants, dance floors, kiosks selling all kinds of souvenirs and orchestras.
The ephemeral, thunderous village of Le Mans is for two days: the organisers and shopkeepers do excellent business, the public has fun, those who really follow the race perhaps a little less so (twenty-four hours of chasing cars, afternoon night and morning, become a monotonous spectacle, and if you can't follow the race lap by lap, at least the race of the first ones, you quickly lose your bearings); but it is the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and its name is enough to perpetuate a myth. Of course, there is also the serious, terribly serious part of the event. There is the patrol of drivers who race at two hundred hours on the smooth asphalt of the racetrack, in a chase that seems never-ending, which in the night, illuminated by the lights of the cars, takes on fantastic, almost hallucinatory aspects. It is a spectacle that is repeated for the thirty-first time, rarely - as mentioned - accompanied by dramatic and sometimes tragic episodes: eight years later, no one has forgotten the absurd tragedy of the 1955 24-hour race.
And yet, the race has continued to be run, average lap speeds have increased, and manufacturers of racing cars and accessories have been working hard to achieve a success that seems to be more important at Le Mans than at any other motor race. Forty-nine cars will be at the start of the race, with a number of cars having dropped out in recent days, including the Italian A.S.A., with ninety-eight drivers taking turns at the wheel in pairs. Everyone's hopes of a victory (and there will be glory for many, since in addition to the overall classification and the classification by engine size, there will be special rankings to reward particular technical qualities of the cars) will change for some into disappointment, but who cares? A local newspaper today published an interview with a French racer of modest fame:
"For those who love and practise this sport, starting at Le Mans would be the highest of aspirations; how it turns out is of little importance".
During the night of Friday 13th to Saturday 14th June 1963, rain fell on the Le Mans circuit, and the next morning a leaden sky hung over the region, heralding more rain. But this isn't enough to make people give up this traditional weekend. On Saturday 14th June 1963, the trains continue to unload many spectators and the streets of the town are jammed with cars. The immense Luna-Park in the temporary village, which almost suffocates the track, is in full swing from the early hours of the morning, and it is hard to get around, while in the narrow clearings that are still free, caravans and tents are set up.
In the meantime, the drivers are getting ready for the huge effort, and the mechanics are sticking their heads into the cars' bonnets for the very last checks. In a short while, the still-silent cars will be pushed to the left side of the track, next to the pit lane, waiting for the introductory ceremonies and the last tense minutes before the scream of the sirens that, at 4:00 p.m., will start the race. The drivers, they said. Their concern at the moment is based on the weather. They're scanning the sky, preparing goggles and spare visors. Someone, McLaren from New Zealand in the Aston Martin, for example, is hoping for rain, says he's very happy with it, and that on a wet track the Ferraris will have to worry. Because Ferraris are still the favourites for the 24 Hours, more so than ever, after the results of the official tests over the past few days, which saw Pedro Rodriguez (the young Mexican who in previous years raced the 24 Hours in tandem with his brother Ricardo, who died a few months ago at the wheel of a single-seater), Scarfiotti and Parkes, and Surtees in fifth place, between Simon (Maserati) and Phil Hill (Aston Martin).
The Maranello cars, of which three are the official ones, are of the new model with a three-litre, twelve-cylinder rear-mounted engine, and as well as being the fastest they can count on a granite resistance to effort. It all depends on how things will turn out in the first six hours of the race, which will be decisive in terms of settling positions, although surprises, failures and twists and turns may occur right up to the last minute. However, confidence reigns supreme in the Ferrari environment. Sporting Director Eugenio Dragoni has drawn up a meticulous timetable for the three crews under his command (Surtess-Mairesse, Scarfiotti-Bandlni and Maglioli-Parkes) for the period of the race until midnight. Then we'll see, depending on the circumstances.
Carlo Maria Abate is hoping to run a good race too. The driver from Turin, who will be flanked by Manchetto driver Tavanno, a veteran of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has a Ferrari berlinetta from the Serenissima team. The tension is very strong. You can hear it in the words caught between the pits, in the nervous faces of the drivers, in the nervousness of the mechanics. In the end, everyone is waiting for the start as a liberation. But especially in the first two or three hours of the race, when many drivers let themselves be carried away by their impetus, as if everything would end in the afternoon, like in a Grand Prix, and the cars intact with their energy make the most of it, they will experience moments of heated passion for the frenetic rhythm of the race.
The excitement of the race, however, is in danger of being swept away by a fatal accident, the first to occur at Le Mans since the 1955 tragedy, which disrupts the start of the 24 Hour race. Shortly after 9:00 p.m. a small car, the Alpine driven by Christian Heins, collides with Salvadori's Jaguar, Manzon's Fabre and Franc's (Jacques Dewez) Aston Martin. From the ensuing tangle of cars, the last three drivers manage to get out of the cockpit almost unharmed (Salvadori and Manzon will be taken to hospital for a clinical examination, but will be discharged shortly afterwards), while the unfortunate Heins remains trapped in the burning car, and useless will be the attempts of the rushes to tame the fire. The cause of the accident isn't yet known.
The race information office is silent, and the speakers continue to play music and advertisements as if nothing had happened. It seems that the multiple collision was caused by an oil slick left by McLaren's Aston Martin, whose engine had blown out. Christian Heins enjoyed great popularity in Brazil. As well as being a skilled driver, he was well known in motoring circles as he managed the production of cars built in Brazil under licence from a French company. He had arrived at Le Mans a few days earlier, just in time to take part in the tests. On Thursday, as he was about to take to the track, he said he was sure he would have a good race. This fatal accident casts a pall of gloom over the competition, which had begun at 4:00 p.m. in the usual atmosphere of lively interest in the great race.
A few hours earlier, the start of the Le Mans 24 Hours was given with perfect timing at 4:00 p.m., after the usual ceremonies and parades. Along the thirteen and a half kilometres of the circuit, on both sides, but well protected, there is an immense crowd of over 200,000 people. A tumultuous but smooth and incident-free start, with sprints by Phil Hill (Aston Martin), Pedro Rodriguez (Ferrari) and McLaren (Aston Martin). The turbine-powered Rover-B.R.M. got off to a slow start, initially driven by World Champion Graham Hill, who was competing outside the classification. Immediately afterwards Simon took the lead in the 5-litre Maserati (it was the most powerful car present), followed by three Ferraris and the Aston Martin: the initial average speed was around 195 km/h. After about twenty minutes with the positions unchanged, while the small displacement cars are already starting to be lapped, there is an accident that keeps the public worried for a while.
The small Bonnet driven by French driver Masson overturned at the exit of the narrow Mulsanne bend, obstructing part of the track, but the driver got out of the cockpit without suffering serious consequences. A few meters later, preparing to overtake, there was the Aston Martin driven by Phil Hill who, faced with a sudden obstacle, swerved at lightning speed to the outside hitting the protective sand wall. The American managed to get back on the track, but with the front end of the car damaged: he stopped at the pits, started running again with much delay and finally abandoned. At the end of the third hour the Ferraris driven by Parkes-Maglioli and Surtees-Mairesse were running side by side; at one lap other five cars made in Maranello, with the Aston Martin driven by McLaren-Ireland in seventh position. The turbine-powered Rover-B.R.M. was six laps behind, but it was very quiet amidst all the noise. Nine retirements, out of 49 starts, up to now: a relatively modest percentage.
At this point it is clear that the Ferraris are dominating. The situation became clear after less than three hours of race, when the only Maserati in the race, driven by Simon and Cassener, stopped at the pits because of the differential failure. Up until that point, the car had done well to counter the march of the Ferraris, remaining in first position throughout the first hour and returning to it at times during the second. The classification, of course, is still far from final; there may be more surprises before the arc of this exciting race is settled at 4:00 on Sunday, but at the moment Scuderia Ferrari seems set for a clear success.
It should be added that the average is very high, higher than last year: 198.5 km/h in the first hour, 199.5 km/h in the third. Pedro Rodriguez even breaks the official lap record, averaging 204.990 km/h. At the sixth hour of the race, the speed of the competitors is still very high. Surtees-Mairesse (Ferrari) lead at 197.800km/h average, followed by Parkes-Maglioli, Rodriguez-Penske, Guichet-Noblet and Abate-Tavano, all in Ferraris. At 1:00 a.m. the Ferrari of Surtees-Mairesse is still in first place, ahead of Scarfiotti-Bandini (very brilliant in this phase of the race). Abate and Tavano were forced to retire after having climbed up to third place overall. Also Rodriguez-Penske retired, whose car went off the road without consequences.
At the end of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Ferrari has won its fourth consecutive triumph. The term triumph isn't usurped: six cars from the Modenese marque at the top of the overall standings is a result that neither allows reservations nor can limit the significance of the victory, a very rare result in the history of motor racing; all the more so when adding to the Scuderia Ferrari's victorious day the new distance (over 190 km/h average) and lap (207.714 km/h) records, as well as first place in the special performance index classification, which relates the kilometres covered to the engine capacity. In the eyes and hearts of sportsmen and women, this year's Le Mans 24 Hours takes on special significance because at the top of the list is the name of two Italian drivers: Ludovico Scarfiotti and Lorenzo Bandini, two modest but talented young men who were consecrated true champions by the extremely tough, revealing race.
Never on this circuit, where the race has been run since 1923, had there been an all-Italian victory, although first Alfa Romeo and then Ferrari had previously placed one of their cars in first place ten times, but always with foreign crews or, at most, mixed crews. Scarfiotti and Bandini built their success little by little with regular, judicious behaviour, without taking unnecessary risks, while around them the relentless selection of men and vehicles thinned out the platoon of 49 cars that had started the gruelling chase.
Fifth in the second hour, fourth in the third, third in the fifth, then always second behind the unstoppable Surtees and Mairesse, until, just before 11:00 a.m., at the end of the nineteenth hour, Mairesse goes off the road and catches fire and the Ferrari #23, after having dominated up to this moment, goes out of the scene. From this moment on, the fate of the race is and will remain firmly in the hands of Scarfiotti and Bandini, who drive one of Ferrari's three prototype spiders with a three-litre twelve-cylinder rear engine. In the overall classification they were followed by the Belgians Beurlys and Langlois in a gran turismo, Parkes and Maglioli (who were second overall an hour from the end, but were delayed by a longer than expected pit stop), the French Eldé-Dumay, the English Spars-Salmon and the Americans Gregory-Piper, all in Ferraris. The first of the non-Italian cars classified was the Anglo-American A.C. Cobra (Ford engine), seventh at 29 laps from the winners.
The threat of the English Aston Martin cars was exhausted even before Saturday night, even though the car driven by Kimberley-Schlesser had managed to climb up to third position for some time (tenth hour), only to abandon exhausted by the effort. The exploit of the only Maserati in the race - Simon-Cassner - in the lead at the third hour, then betrayed by the transmission, was also meteoric. Moreover, this 31st edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans was ruthlessly selected: only twelve cars (in addition to the Rover-B.R.M. which competed outside the classification) completed the race, i.e. 25% of those that started it. And there were many dramatic accidents. After the one involving Heins, the MG driven by the South African Bob Olthoff went off the road at the Maison Bianche bend. The rider managed to get out of the car, but was soon knocked unconscious. He was immediately transported to the hospital in Le Mans, where he suffered a number of serious injuries and fractures. Unfortunately, the emotions weren't over yet.
Around one o'clock in the morning, Carlo Maria Abate crashed his Ferrari too into the earth and bundles of debris on the same corner of Maison Bianche, irreparably damaging the front end of the car, but without making a single scratch. At the time, Abate and Tavano, his co-driver, were third overall. Shortly before 11:00 a.m. Finally, on Sunday, Mairesse - who together with Surtees was in the lead of the race with two laps' lead over Scarfiotti-Bandini - on the fast Terre Rouge bend, immediately after the pit straight, complained of the beginning of a fire on his Ferrari: the Belgian was however so skilful as to stop inside the bend itself and to jump out before being completely surrounded by flames, however reporting burns on face, hands and left leg: hospitalized, the prognosis was 60 days.
Ludovico Scarfiotti and Lorenzo Bandini, at the end of the race are radiant with joy, forgetting the fatigue and the tension of twenty-four hours. Scarfiotti was the last to take the wheel: his teammate waited lap after lap in a corner of the pit lane, nervously burning one cigarette after another, for the race to end. At last, while the last lap was ending, Bandini came out and ran two hundred meters after the finishing line to wait for the last passage of the Ferrari #21. Scarfiotti will come to a stop just a step away from the Milanese, who will jump into the spider. The two guys hug each other for a long time, laughing and crying, partly trying to pull themselves together. Scarfiotti, unable to get a word in edgewise, while the public is cheering, replies to the journalists who are pestering both him and Lorenzo:
"We have nothing to say. We tried our best and luck helped us. Will the commander be happy?"
The commendatore would be Enzo Ferrari, who once again got it right by entrusting one of his cars to two Italian drivers; no one would ever again reproach him for trusting only foreign drivers. And it is since 1960 that Ferrari has triumphed in the Le Mans 24 Hours. But never before had the Modenese marque been so successful as in this 31st edition of the classic French event, with six cars at the top of the overall standings, the distance record, the lap record and victory in the special performance index classification, which takes into account the distance covered in relation to the engine capacity, and which usually rewards the performance of small cars.
The demonstration of supremacy offered by Ferrari's 12-cylinder prototypes and grand tourers is so peremptory that it doesn't allow the slightest reserve. Having been challenged by the British in Formula 1 racing, Maranello is unbeatable in this sector. And it is satisfying that for the first time in the long history of the Le Mans 24 Hours, an Italian crew in an Italian car has won. Ludovico Scarfiotti and Lorenzo Bandini are two young men who needed a major international success to fully express their true worth. On this occasion, they owed nothing to luck, having always remained in the leading group, and from the sixth to the eighteenth hour in second position, behind team-mates Surtees and Mairesse, until the latter was forced to leave after his car caught fire.
In order to better understand the meaning of these figures, it should be added that this year, too, many drivers threw themselves into the fray like madmen from the very first kilometre, as if everything would end in a short ride; and that in the last two or three hours all the survivors, without distinction, marched at reduced speed, with frequent pit stops for precautionary checks. The mechanical parts that failed most were the engine distributions and transmissions, but there were problems with the brakes too and cooling system. Under this aspect, that of inexorable technical testing, the 24 Hours of Le Mans has no equal. The French call it the race of truth; and the truth, if it has to be, is what the Ferraris have revealed, a great authentic success of Italian construction technique in this highly specialised sector of motor racing.
It is no coincidence that the French newspapers sold on Monday morning are full of admiration for Ferrari's great success in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Even non-specialist newspapers are giving it plenty of coverage: the great race of speed and endurance is very popular in France, it is a national event, even though French cars haven't won there for a long time. In order to encourage at least partial success for French cars in the 24 Heures du Mans, a few years ago the organisers introduced a special classification - the performance rating - which relates the kilometres covered to the engine capacity, but which is designed in such a way as to inevitably favour the less powerful cars, a category in which a few small Parisian manufacturers are present every year.
But this time the numbers didn't add up either, as the Ferraris, with their low-displacement engines (2957 cc), also won the performance rating, having far exceeded the minimum distance theoretically imposed on three-litre cars. Obviously, it isn't this minor success that lends lustre to the triumph of the cars produced in Maranello, whose victory was predicted by all, but certainly not in the proportions in which it occurred. Never, in the 40-year history of the Le Mans 24 Hours, has a manufacturer achieved so much. Ferrari is well-deserving of retaining the title of World Champion marque. The only car from Maranello to receive praise is the turbine-powered Rover-B.R.M., which won a prize of three million francs for finishing the race at an average speed of 170 km/h.
This was the first time that a turbine-powered car had taken part in such a demanding test, and the technical result was very positive, even if it fell short of the performance achieved by the fastest cars powered by conventional piston engines. In the twenty-four hours of the race, the Rover-B.R.M. covered a distance of some 4173 kilometres, with an overall average speed of over 173 km/h. This is a remarkable result, achieved without the slightest mechanical inconvenience. The gas turbine - as has been demonstrated for many years in aviation technology - has exceptional strength, its parts, which are only rotating, being much less stressed by the crankshafts of internal combustion engines, which transform rectilinear reciprocating motion into continuous rotary motion by means of the pistons, connecting rods and crankshaft.
In addition, this type of thermal car, which has to run at very high speeds, is relatively slow to reach maximum power, i.e. it doesn't have the acceleration of traditional engines; it should be added that the car tested at Le Mans hasn't gearbox (not indispensable with the gas turbine because it behaves like a continuous gearbox), and that the turbine itself has no engine braking action, so its use in racing was quite difficult when it came to braking and accelerating. Finally, its consumption was one litre of fuel (kerosene with a low octane number) every two kilometres or so, compared to 3.3 kilometres per litre for the Ferraris with 12-cylinder 3000 cc engines, which won the race at an average of over 190.
The experience of Rover-B.R.M., together with the news that Chrysler is beginning to deliver (or rather distribute, since customers are chosen by the company and will have free use of the cars) the fifty units that make up the pre-series of its new turbine-powered car, has once again drawn the attention of the automotive world to this type of power generator, which about ten years ago - after the studies and experimental turbocharged cars built first by Rover itself, then by Austin, Ford, Fiat, General Motors and Renault - had raised so many hopes. Indeed, it seemed at one point that the old reciprocating engine, invented over a century ago by Eugenio Barsanti and Felice Matteucci, was on the verge of rapidly becoming a museum piece, just as the jet engine was about to be definitively or almost definitively supplanted in aviation.
On the other hand, certain practical difficulties with the gas turbine have dampened enthusiasm, and only now do manufacturers who - like Rover and Chrysler - have never stopped studying the problem, announce that they have satisfactorily overcome all or part of the difficulties which had delayed its success. These difficulties are essentially the very high consumption, the high temperature of the exhaust gases, the lack of connection between the brake-engine and the wheels (i.e. difficulty in decelerating the vehicle), the cost of the special materials needed for the turbine impellers through which the very hot gases pass, the need to run at high speeds in order to provide maximum power (and therefore with a very narrow utilisation curve).
The high consumption of the turbine is due to the low balance between the work developed and the amount of heat required to obtain it: in elementary terms, between the amount of fuel consumed and the power obtained. However, there is an economic trade-off in the fact that the turbine can burn poor quality fuels, such as kerosene, oil, even peanut oil. However, gas consumption and temperature would be problems now solved by a device, called a heat exchanger, whose function is to recover part of the heat dissipated through the exhaust gases, in order to preheat the air necessary for combustion. This system has been developed by both Chrysler and Rover. The near future will tell what the practical limits of the gas turbine for automotive use are, and whether its use will be restricted to special types of cars for special customers.
The winning team at Le Mans is therefore all Italian. As we have already said, Ludovico Scarfiotti and Lorenzo Bandini were considered nothing more than second-raters, perhaps not even outsiders. Now there is no doubt that without the Mairesse accident in the eighteenth hour of the race, the Belgian driver and Surtees would have won the race, but it is just as indisputable that the two boys built their success hour by hour, kilometre by kilometre, with magnificent regularity and decision, judiciously exploiting, without overdoing it, the enormous mechanical possibilities of their Ferrari prototype. The fact that they beat the record of the 24 Hours of Le Mans by a wide margin is enough to validate the great performance of Scarfiotti and Bandini. One of them - Scarfiotti - will replace the injured Willy Mairesse, one of the riders who paid dearly for this dramatic 24 Hours of Le Mans, in the Dutch Formula 1 Grand Prix (third round of the World Drivers' Championship).
In the days that followed, the echo of the great day at Le Mans and the exciting affirmation of the Scuderia Ferrari cars didn't die down, which was responsible for the rekindling of an enthusiasm that had seemed dormant as far as motor racing was concerned. A sensational reaction came from France, where the government seemed to have decided to support and coordinate a resumption by the motor industry of the production of racing cars capable of competing with those of England and Italy. However, the racing calendar now commits drivers and mechanics to the Dutch Grand Prix, which will be run on the Zandvoort circuit on Sunday, 23 June 1963. This race was different from the previous races. The race, which is valid for the World Drivers' Championship, will feature Formula 1 cars, quite different from those that gave life to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, reserved - as is well known - for prototypes and touring cars, in which the Italian superiority - that is, Ferrari - is absolute.
As far as Formula 1 is concerned, the English offensive, which had already been unleashed in 1962 with much success, is continuing this season. In the two races held so far, B.R.M. won at Monte-Carlo and Lotus at Francorchamps in the Belgian Grand Prix. But the situation isn't at all compromised for the Italian colours: Ferrari cars, even if they had some mechanical uncertainty in the injection system adopted on their six-cylinder engine, didn't appear so far from the performance of the English single-seaters as in the last season; we have also to give confidence to the new A.T.S., which took to the track at Francorchamps purely as an experiment, but undoubtedly improved in these last two weeks.
The circuit of Zandvoort, set on the undulating sand dunes facing the North Sea, can be considered as having characteristics intermediate between the city circuit of Monte-Carlo and the very fast Belgian track: in fact, on the 193 metres of its development, it allows average lap speeds around 160 km/h. Given that every racing car - apart from the drivers' skills - adapts itself more or less well to individual tracks, the Dutch Grand Prix is really the third test of the season: only after it has been run will it be possible to draw up an initial technical balance sheet with sufficiently valid elements of judgement. With two Grands Prix already held, the Dutch Grand Prix sees all the teams settle into their places and accepts two entries from each of the manufacturers and single entries from most of the private teams. The Dutch race is run over the distance of eighty laps of the circuit, equivalent to 335.500 kilometres. The record average was set by the late Von Trips in a Ferrari, averaging 154.828 km/h, while Bruce McLaren holds the lap record at 159.902 km/h average.
It was at Zandvoort last year that Colin Chapman first showed the Lotus 25; this model made all other grand prix car designs appear obsolete and outdated; the multi-tube chassis provided greater rigidity, lighter weight and ease of engine mounting. This year the Lotus team retained the Type 25 with few changes, and so far it has proved to be very successful, provided it is assembled correctly and driven by Team Lotus' number one driver, Jim Clark. The Type 25 has been retained for the exclusive use of the British team, apart from a brief loan of an old car to Brabham at Monte-Carlo.
With two races completed, the organisers of the Dutch Grand Prix accepted entries from each of the constructors for two drivers each, as well as individual entries from most of the private teams. The Scuderia Ferrari is missing Willy Mairesse, still in hospital after the accident at Le Mans, so he is replaced by Ludovico Scarfiotti, in his first appearance in a single-seater racing car, since all his previous experience was in sports cars and Grand Tourers. The Italian driver will support Surtees. The two Ferrari drivers will have at their disposal two single-seaters with a V6 engine, with Bosch direct injection, which is said to have more power at top speed, now reaching 10.600 rpm.
Team Lotus brings three Type 25 cars, all with Coventry-Climax V8 engines, one of which is the same car Clark won at Spa, still with a 5-speed ZF gearbox, and with the air-deflector windscreen, slightly modified to give a greater air flow. This car naturally has a fuel-injected engine like the second car, driven by Taylor, but car number two has a Colotti gearbox, a new 6-speed Type 34 Mark II. The backup car, the same car Taylor raced at Spa, has an old-style Climax V8 engine with Weber carburettors. The B.R.M. team brings three cars: the usual two cars from 1962/63 and a new one. The previous cars remain unchanged, except that Ginther's car is once again fitted with a new B.R.M. designed 6-speed gearbox, as had been tested at Spa, the slight imperfection that had appeared in Belgium having been corrected. The new car has a completely new design: the only similarity with the 1962 cars is the engine and the geometry of the rear suspension.
The Brabham team of Jack Brabham and Dan Gurney brings two cars: the Australian's single-seater is new and identical to Gurney's, with the Brabham-VW gearbox-axle arrangement, fuel tanks forming the sides of the bodywork, and the latest Coventry-Climax injection V8 engine. Gurney's car is the same as the one used at Spa and is fitted with new drive shafts, incorporating a universal sliding pot component, thus eliminating the sliding splines on the shaft itself. McLaren and Maggs will race in the two 1963 Coopers. Both cars feature a sleeker nose and high sides to the cockpit, but otherwise remain unchanged from the previous Grand Prix. The ATS team rearranged the bodywork of their cars after the Belgian Grand Prix, while the tubular structure above the engines was cut and joined with threaded joints that would have done credit to a plumber. Similar joints were incorporated into one of the crossbars above the gearbox/axle assembly. Phil Hill's car has four exhaust manifolds on each bank that flow into individual exhaust pipes, while on Baghetti's car separate pipes are fitted to each cylinder, terminating in small megaphones.
The unofficial participants are Chris Amon with Parnell's Lola-Climax V8, who has a Lotus 24 with a Climax engine as a reserve car, and both engines with Weber carburettors; Bonnier with a new Cooper from Rob Walker that appeared briefly at Spa, and a 1962 Cooper used as a practice car; Ireland with the modified BRP monocoque car from Spa, having a 6-speed Colotti, left-handed with a very clean layout, incorporating only a universal joint, and he has a Lotus 24 with a B.R.M. V8 injection engine as a training car. Swiss driver Jo Siffert and his mechanics did a huge amount of work on his car after the Belgian Grand Prix, so that he now has a Lucas injection system on the B.R.M. V8 engine, and new aluminium fuel tanks forming the body-side in the style of Cooper and Brabham. Fortunately his accident at Spa hadn't damaged the chassis, but had required a rebuild of the front suspension. Completing the entries for the Dutch Grand Prix were the two old Porsches of de Beaufort, and German driver Gerhard Mitter. Before the start of the practice there were negotiations between the BRP team and the organizers to enter Jim Hall, as he had not been accepted in the original list.
The big news is the presence of Ludovico Scarfiotti at the wheel of the second Ferrari, replacing the unfortunate Willy Mairesse, who was rather seriously injured at Le Mans. Scarfiotti has fully revealed his talent for success and, although he isn't an expert in Formula 1, his willingness, his physical, moral and technical preparation give him full confidence; the young man from the Marche region will be able to be at Zandvoort the very good sidekick of the ace John Surtees. One wonders if Ludovico Scarfiotti is still immature for driving such a demanding car as a Formula 1 single-seater in a Grand Prix, and consequently if it isn't a mistake to send him into the wild. It can be answered that it is one thing to drive a sports car, another to drive a light but powerful grand prix type car, and that the racing environment itself is different.
But after winning at Le Mans at an average speed of 190 km/h at the wheel of a car with more than 300 horsepower, capable of reaching 300 km/h in a straight line, there can be no doubt that the protagonist of such a feat has such extraordinary technical, physical and moral qualities that he can easily make the transition from Sport to Formula 1, which sooner or later must happen for a professional driver. It should be added that the racer from the Marche region (son of the honourable Luigi Scarfiotti who, living in Turin before the war, was an excellent gentleman-driver) is now almost thirty years old and has a fairly long racing experience: there isn't need to fear that he isn't fully aware of the tremendous task entrusted to him. The important thing isn't to expect too much from him, to let him settle in among geniuses who are not so subtle in racing, but who are also aware of the dangers of racing, and as such are correct and often even chivalrous.
The first practice sessions take place on Friday 21 June 1963, during the morning after a night of storm and wind that threatened to drive much of Holland back into the North Sea, from where the Dutch had reclaimed it. A delay in crossing the English Channel brought the Team Lotus transporter late, so that Clark and Taylor were forced to act as spectators during the morning. They weren't alone, however, because on Gurney's Brabham-Climax, during warm-up, suddenly the engine stopped working and refused to restart. Despite being thoroughly tested at Silverstone before being shipped to Holland, this unforeseen incident is one of those factors in racing cars that cannot be predicted. The mechanics discovered that the rear crankshaft bearing that runs along the V of the crankcase, from the timing gears to the injection distributor, had seized and the shaft rotated 180 degrees. With no spare shafts or engines, Gurney has to join the spectators and the delivery of another engine from Coventry is arranged.
In the meantime the new Brabham team car is tuned for the circuit, not having been used before arriving at Zandvoort. Innes Ireland is at a good point with the B.R.P. car: the British driver exploits all the power of the engine and all the track, thanks to a really energetic driving, to the great satisfaction of his mechanics and to the great displeasure of the other teams. After a spectacular spin, just in front of Graham Hill, while both were braking for the long hairpin turn at the end of the main straight, Ireland returned to the pits to suggest that perhaps the brakes weren't working evenly. Graham Hill starts practice with the new car, featuring the number T12, but doesn't get very far before stopping awkwardly with the brakes locked, due to a slight misadjustment in the master cylinder mechanism. Therefore, the British driver will carry out most of the tests in the old model. After waiting for a long time, Ireland is able to return to testing in his B.R.P Lotus 24. The British driver runs slightly faster than in the monocoque car, but this could be due to having a better engine in his Lotus.
The Scuderia Ferrari mechanics aren't at all happy: during the training Scarfiotti breaks the engine of his car, and the more they proceed with the tuning of Surtees' car, the more it seems to go slowly. Also the ATS team is busy solving problems, as on Baghetti's car a distributor breaks down and a brake pump failure develops, while Phil Hill isn't very fast. This, despite a strong wind blowing in his favour along the main straight. Being a permanent circuit, it remains unchanged every year, the only variation being the percentage of sand pruned by the wind from the surrounding dunes, while patches of moisture on the asphalt, in the stretch through the woods on the opposite side of the circuit, can slow down the competitors' lap times.
Last year the fastest practice lap was set by Surtees in a Lola-Climax V8 in 1'32"5, so it is understandable that he isn't too impressed by the 1'33"7 set in his Ferrari at the end of the first practice session. Graham Hill and Ireland are the fastest: both drivers set a time of 1'33"3, which is satisfactory for the BRP team. In the afternoon the cars of Lotus team arrived at Zandvoort too, but only two of them were ready to take part in the practice, being the same cars used at Spa, while the one with Colotti gearbox needed the completion of the assembly. Scarfiotti's Ferrari is unserviceable and for a moment it seems that Gurney's car is finally repaired, but it is Jack Brabham who tests on the circuit wearing Gurney's black helmet, as he has left his in town. Brabham's new car seems competitive, and when Jack takes his helmet he scores a time of 1'33"0.
The same couldn't be said of the new B.R.M., which obviously needed suspension development work. Graham Hill returned to his best times with the old model, and the pace started showing an improvement over 1962 when finally the British driver managed to set a time of 1'32"2. Both drivers of Team Lotus seem to suffer from a problem that could be defined with the term of gearbox syndrome, so that it takes some time before they can call themselves happy with the gear change on their ZF boxes, but in the meantime Ireland finds a trouble with the Colotti cambium box of the BRP car and stops at the pits with a real heat haze coming from the gearbox that has suddenly lost all the oil pressure, so once again he goes back to the Lotus-BRM V8 training car.
The Cooper of McLaren had problems with the transistor ignition, but the problem was soon solved, while Maggs was the author of excellent progress during practice. To set an official lap time and qualify for a start, Dan Gurney borrows the Brabham car for a few laps, and he doesn't find it as cramped as he would expect. Surtees scores a time of 1'33"6, but an idea of what's to come is shown by Jim Clark who scores a time of 1'33"0 just as practice closes. This represents his first serious attempt at a fast lap, after being in and out of the pits for most of the afternoon.
The afternoon of Saturday 22 June 1963 is still windy, but the sun is shining and the weather conditions are good. Lotus produces its Type 25 with the new Colotti 6-speed gearbox, the car bearing Taylor's number. Ireland has another gearbox fitted to the BRP car and is ready to try, Gurney is still without a car but a new engine is on its way. Scarfiotti returns to the track, Graham Hill tests the new B.R.M. and Bonnier has the same number on both Walker-Coopers, indicating a reluctance to decide which car is best. Brabham gets faster and faster: his car seems to work very well, and the Australian seems to be able to go back to being the driver we all knew. He goes down to 1'32"4 but is beaten by McLaren, who sets a time of 1'32"3, although the Cooper driver doesn't seem to be going so fast, not being the author of a regular drive.
While Ireland does a little run-in on the new gearbox, the B.R.M. engine breaks down, so once again he moves to the light green Lotus-B.R.M. and after setting his best time of all three practice periods the numbers change. Jim Hall gets some practice with the car, now that he can get on the track too. Both Team Lotus drivers try the car with the Colotti gearbox, but Clark prefers his normal car and starts to show his talent. After some very fast laps, the Scottish driver sets a time of 1'31"6 sec, which not only beats all the competitors, but demoralizes many of them too.
Chris Amon tries a few laps in Parnell's Lotus-Climax V8 but he isn't as fast as in the Lola, while Bonnier is slowed down by the engine of the new Cooper. The new B.R.M. slowly improves but isn't as fast as the old cars, and also Surtees seems to slowly adapt his Ferrari to the circuit, but none of them is at Clark's level. Just as the tests were drawing to a close, Ginther missed a gear change at top speed, which didn't bring any benefit to the engine, which had to be overhauled by his mechanics, while Brabham's mechanics were preparing to work hard following the arrival of a new Coventry-Climax V8 engine to be mounted on Gurney's car.
With the sun shining and the inevitable sandy wind blowing down the straight, the Zandvoort circuit is as beautiful as ever on Sunday, 23 June 1963, as the cars are prepared to take part in the Dutch Grand Prix. The start is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. and while the mechanics finish work on the cars in the pits, the drivers parade down the track in open sports cars, to be seen by the general public before disappearing under the cover of their helmets and high sides of the cockpit. From the pits, the drivers take a warm-up lap in their race cars and then gather on the grid in order of time. Clark on the right of the first row, in the Lotus 25 that he had used at Spa, with ZF gearbox and air-deflector windscreen; Graham Hill next to the Scottish driver, in the old B.R.M.; while on the left McLaren positioned himself inside his Cooper, but the New Zealander driver had problems with the control plate of the gear selector in the gearbox, because during the warm-up lap he went out of position and repaired the gearbox in fifth and sixth gears. The Cooper mechanics remove the gearbox cover and fix it while the drivers are on the start line, but they can't figure out the cause of the problem.
Surtees filled his pockets with orange slices in preparation, to quench his thirst during the race, while Walker's mechanics made last-minute modifications to Bonnier's 1962 Cooper engine. Ginther's car is still using the new 6-speed B.R.M. gearbox, while Graham Hill is using the old heavy 5-speed gearbox. Taylor drives the Lotus with the 6-speed Colotti gearbox and a fuel-injected Climax engine, while Gurney's car has some hasty modifications made to the fuel lines and exhaust pipe mounts, as the only engine available and granted by Coventry-Climax is one of the new single crankshaft designs, with separate bundles of exhaust manifolds and low-level exhaust pipes, one on each side of the gearbox. Brabham/Australian pot-type axles are fitted to the Brabham car, while Gurney uses normal Hardy-Spicer splined shafts.
Everyone behaves well as the final seconds tick by before the start, and with a perfect start all nineteen cars entered in the race leave their positions raising clouds of rubber smoke. The drag-race from the front row is one of the most beautiful seen in a long time, with Lotus-Climax V8, B.R.M. V8 and Cooper-Climax V8 absolutely on the same level as they accelerate up to the first corner. No one gives way and all three arrive at the braking point wheel to wheel. Clark tries to avoid being overtaken from the inside and keeps the Lotus well within the line of the long right-hand hairpin. There is nothing the other competitors can do but take an outside, and therefore longer, line. Thus Clark managed to get away, while poor Dan Gurney, who hadn't driven his Brabham at all during practice, shifted from first to fourth gear and from a bad grid position dropped to last place, while everybody was accelerating.
The first lap ended with Jim Clark ahead of Graham Hill and Bruce McLaren, but the Cooper driver let the Brabham pass him in third place, because the transmission shaft of the gearbox twisted again and the New Zealander driver ended up with only fifth and sixth gears available. McLaren pitted at the end of the second lap, and its mechanics dismantled the gearbox selection mechanism. On lap three Clark continued to lead the race, chased by Graham Hill and Brabham, but the B.R.M. engine ran at high water temperature. In fourth place followed Maggs with the second Cooper, and after a short break a very impressive crowd of cars involved in the race arrived at the finishing line. This includes Ginther (BRM), Surtees (Ferrari), Bonnier (Cooper), Amon (Lola), Phil Hill (ATS), Ireland (BRP), Taylor (Lotus), Scarfiotti (Ferrari) and Gurney (Brabham), while the rest of the racers are spaced out.
Gurney looks very determined and is obviously ready to win. One by one he breaks away from the cars in the small group, without losing any time or opportunity. His progress is fantastic and everyone in the Brabham pits is overjoyed as Jack overtakes Graham Hill and finds himself in a safe second place behind Clark, who has a five-second lead. Gurney disposes of the lesser members of the middle group of runners, and then battles with Ginther, Ireland and Bonnier. All four were doing battle, with young Chris Amon following close behind and assisting. Not only are they side by side, or nose to tail, but at times all four cars are side by side in some corners. For a few laps Ireland got a clear lead, but Gurney was very competitive and eventually got rid of Ginther and Bonnier, passed Ireland and got behind Surtees. This fantastic group overshadowed the rest of the competitors, including Jim Clark who drove with impeccable style and completely unchallenged. Graham Hill isn't content to stay behind Jack Brabham and attacks all the time, but the Brabham team cars show excellent form.
On lap 14 Maggs retired due to an internal water leak causing the engine to overheat, and if you think about McLaren's gearbox which was still under attention, you understand how sad a day this was for John Cooper, who was back with the team for the first time after his accident. On the same lap Taylor pits for an engine misfire that is traced to a faulty electric fuel pump, due to the Lucas injection system. In the meantime Baghetti retired with ignition problems on his ATS car and on lap 16 the second ATS was enveloped in a cloud of sand when Phil Hill went off the road due to a broken left rear axle hub.
On lap 19 Graham Hill overtakes Brabham, but the British driver isn't happy with the water temperature of the B.R.M. engine, because it is still too high. In the meantime Clark continued to lead with a twelve-second advantage: the Scot was the author of a masterly, fluid and fast race. These three competitors were followed by Surtees, in fourth place, but he was about to be joined by Dan Gurney who was the author of one of his best performances. After having passed from the last to the fourth place, the American driver leaves behind him many runners, while Bonnier and Ginther are still wheel to wheel: the Swede drives better than usual while the American drives below his standard level.
During the twenty-ninth lap, on Amon's car the water pump broke down. Thus the New Zealander was obliged to surrender, while from the pits Gurney's mechanics noticed that the American driver was dragging something under his Brabham, therefore they made a sign to enter the pits. This surprised Dan, who looked at the signal with a strange look, since the car seemed to be running perfectly. In fact, an anchorage has broken on a steel strip reinforcement strut that is stretched diagonally across the chassis, under the engine. This in itself is not serious, but due to the installation of the different type of Climax exhaust manifold, the fuel lines have been displaced and one of the pipes has been taped to this cross bracing strut.
This is the reason that prompts the mechanics to call Gurney to the pits, to fix both the rear pillar and the pipe, to avoid damage and send the American driver back to the race. However, this unforeseen event advantaged Surtees (Ferrari), Ireland (BRP), Ginther (B.R.M.) and Bonnier (Cooper), while Gurney was forced to restart once again behind them. At the back of the group Jim Hall and Siffert are involved in a hand-to-hand battle with their Lotus-B.R.M. V8 cars: his drivers - apparently - seem to have an equal chance to stay ahead of their rivals, and the battle will go on lap after lap. Meantime Scarfiotti was lapped by Clark, who now had fifteen seconds' lead over Graham Hill, while Bonnier stopped suddenly with a broken gearbox, but he restarted in third gear and slowly approached the pits where the mechanics of Team Walker came to life and disassembled the gearbox, extracted the gear of the second gear - broken - and mounted a new one.
After 40 laps, which was half the distance of the race, Jim Clark overtook Dan Gurney and Richie Ginther, so although the Brabham-Climax was competitive, it wasn't yet on a par with the Lotus-Climax of the fantastic Scottish driver. Nor is Graham Hill's B.R.M., which is now eighteen seconds behind. The British driver follows the Scottish driver in second place, and continues to have a good pace despite the temperature slowly but surely rising as time goes on. Jack Brabham experienced a critical moment due to the throttle valves that didn't close promptly when he lifted his foot from the accelerator pedal, and for this reason he lost twenty-five seconds compared to Graham Hill, but remained firmly in third place, ahead of Surtees and Ireland. During the next lap Ireland's BRP was the protagonist of a sudden spin in the middle of a turn; later on, while the British driver was trying to come back to the track, Gurney overtook him and gained the fifth place.
For ten laps the scene calms down, but then, while Clark prepares to overtake the Ferrari of Surtees and Graham Hill is overtaking Gurney, Jack Brabham passes in front of the pits leaving long black marks due to wheel lock-up. Then, in an attempt to stop in front of the Tarzan corner, the Australian driver approaches the braking point with too much speed as the valves remain open due to viscosity and one of the return springs breaks. Brabham completed the lap anyway, only to stop at the pits to have another spring fitted, but this dropped him from a safe third place down to eighth, behind Scarfiotti, two laps behind Clark, who by now had lapped Surtees. On the fifty-eighth lap Graham Hill passes the pits indicating that he will return at the end of the next lap as the water temperature has been too high for too long. When he stops, steam is already venting under the car, a sign that the overheating is more than serious and is probably caused by a water leak inside one of the engine cylinders.
This stop leaves Jim Clark completely alone, one lap ahead of all other competitors. More importantly, it allows Surtees and Gurney to move up to second and third place respectively. The mechanics pumped water into the B.R.M. engine again and Graham Hill re-entered the race in fourth place, but with little hope of holding on for another twenty laps. Surtees was now second, but Gurney approached mercilessly and in a vain attempt to keep the Brabham driver at arm's length, the British driver drove his Ferrari with all his skill. However, after only three laps Surtees exited the turn behind the pits a little too early, and was the victim of a spin. This allows Gurney and Graham Hill to pass, and Ireland and Ginther also approach quickly as the Ferrari restarts. This gives an idea of how close these two competitors are, all within a lap of the leader.
When Brabham pits in eighth place, just after a strong performance, his pit staff encourages him with a signal telling him that Gurney is in second place, which must cheer him up enormously. However, Graham Hill wasn't impressed by the situation to his detriment and tried to get back to second place, despite the thermometer continuously indicating the danger of overheating. But before he could catch up with the competitors ahead, the B.R.M. engine broke down and the World Champion ran into the sand and returned to the pits, watching Jim Clark continue to run smoothly and unhurriedly, now more than a lap ahead of Gurney, Surtees, Ireland and Ginther. The challenge between Siffert and Hall brought the BRP Lotus engine to overheating, to the point that inside the cockpit the Texan driver couldn't keep his foot on the brake pedal for more than a moment, favouring Siffert who won the contest. Only ten laps from the end Scarfiotti was victim of a sudden and inexplicable spin coming out of the Tarzan corner, but the car wasn't damaged and the Italian driver didn't lose any position.
Clark completed the remaining laps with his usual precision, so that a jubilant Colin Chapman and his team of mechanics cheered their number one driver on as the starter waved the chequered flag. With one lap remaining, Gurney, Surtees, Ireland and Ginther were all very close to each other, while the others were lagging behind, with Taylor and Bonnier far behind due to their long pit stops. As Clark makes his slow lap, Caltex personnel carry a portable podium with folding ramps, which they mount in front of the grandstand. When the Scottish driver's Lotus arrives at the finish line, it is pushed onto this particular construction so that everyone can see the car and driver receive their laurels and can take unobstructed photographs. This excellent idea is slightly marred by the presence of the Dutch police who insist on bringing their horses into the crowd at the foot of this portable podium, for reasons related to the mentality behind a uniform.
As at Spa, Clark led the race from the first corner to the chequered flag, and the Lotus-Climax V8 performed perfectly. Not as fast, but just as commendable was the performance of Dan Gurney, who started last, stopped in the pits, and arrived at the finish line in second place. The Classification of the Dutch Grand Prix sees Jim Clark - the flying Scot - in first place in his Lotus, with which he covered the eighty laps in 2 hours, 8'13"7, at an average speed of 156.157 km/h. In third position Surtees in his Ferrari, one lap behind as well. In fourth and fifth were Ireland in a BRP team B.R.M. and Ginther, in a B.R.M. too, followed in sixth position by rookie Ludovico Scarfiotti, in a Ferrari. The irresistible Jim Clark thus leaps to the lead of the World Championship, thanks to the second consecutive peremptory success at Zandvoort. There could be no more doubts: the Scottish driver was the strongest driver of the year, and he also had the good fortune to have the best prepared car: the Lotus that was Colin Chapman's masterpiece, which with its handling and grip (also thanks to the Coventry-Climax engine) seemed made on purpose for Jim Clark's style, impetuosity and continuity of action.
It is difficult (almost desperate) for the Lotus driver's rivals to make up the deficit in the rankings for motor racing's top title, given that the Scot is supported by a perfect car. With this race, it seems that the English have taken their revenge on the Italians, triumphant at Le Mans. Only the intervention of a diabolical bad luck, in fact, could - as things stand - oust Jim Clark from the top of the championship. The Lotus is probably faster than last year, but sometimes mechanical strength is lacking (and that's why Clark can't win the title). Colin Chapman is a man of extraordinary modesty. He is only thirty-four years old, but he thinks and acts with the wisdom of an old man and Clark's triumph at Zandvoort doesn't make him lose his sense of proportion.
"The season is long, there are many rounds of the world championship. B.R.M. will present its new model any day now. It won't be long before Ferrari launches theirs. Either of them could prove to be superior to mine. There is no certainty in motor racing. You're always at the beginning of something, never at the end".
However, Colin Chapman wasn't afraid of either the rival English or Italian teams. Perhaps it is the astounding ease with which he has imposed himself that instils confidence in him. Chapman is an optimist.
"It seems like only yesterday that I was leaving university, in 1951. I was 22 years old with a degree in chemical engineering. I worked for two years in a laboratory, thinking of nothing but my career as a scientist. But I had a hobby of engines. I enjoyed modifying cars in my free time, on holidays. But in 1953 I decided to make it my profession and bought a small workshop. I continued to work half days in the workshop, spending afternoons and nights with my machines. In 1954 I started producing the first Lotuses, those with M.G. or Ford engines, and then the Mark VI for competition".
That year, business was so good for Chapman that he bought a huge barn in Hornsey, turned it into a factory and, with twelve skilled workers, threw himself headlong into racing. Chapman focused his attention on the chassis rather than the engine.
"The Lotus Formula 1 is a fairly faithful reflection of my conception of the modern racing car; I chose the load-bearing chassis because I wanted to increase the rigidity of the structure and allow a large reduction in the front section, in other words to achieve the greatest possible aerodynamics. The chassis is made of hard aluminium sheets joined by steel crossbars, laterally boxed. The front suspension has double triangles with shock absorber-springs and is recessed into the bodywork".
Chapman's aim, by his own admission, is to give the Lotus as tubular a shape as possible.
"If the Lotus could one day look like a tube on wheels, I would be happy".
Moss said of Chapman that he is a genius, but one who always touches the limits of the impossible. For Moss, the Lotus is such a delicate car, precisely because of the slender balance on which it rests, that the slightest error in dosage on the part of the driver causes it to collapse.
"However, there is no other technician in the world who can get from a car what Chapman gets from it".
In the opponent's field, the B.R.M. didn't seem to possess the competitiveness and the grip of 1962; Cooper was regular but nothing more; on the contrary Brabham made progress (second with Gurney). There are still the Ferraris, that at Zandvoort once again went quite well, finishing the race in the third and sixth position (Surtees and Scarfiotti); not only that, but Surtees lost the second place, after the brilliant recovery he had been protagonist of, because of a spin. The Modenese single-seater therefore seems to be on the right track, but it still lacks the competitiveness that could bring it to the same level as the English cars. Or maybe it's only a question of drivers: John Surtees is very strong but he hasn't Clark's class, while Scarfiotti has made a more than honourable debut at the wheel of a Formula 1 car, but it would be neither right nor human to expect him to throw himself into the deep end for an uncertain result. And finally, Mairesse is injured (the Belgian driver's generosity leads him to take too many risks).
In other words, it would be necessary for the cars produced at Maranello to make such progress in the following weeks that they would put the Lotus cars in difficulty, in order for the positions to be reversed. This cannot be ruled out, given that the Ferraris are healthy cars, much better than last season. It would be in bad taste to overlook the accident that occurred to Phil Hill. Losing a wheel is a serious matter, but it happened to British cars too, and it's easy to find a solution. However, even without expecting to find the new single-seaters from Bologna at the top of the classification, many would like the hopes raised by this quantitative strengthening of the Italian positions to begin to translate into some flashes of competitiveness. However, since in this very difficult sector the primary virtues are perseverance and patience, we must let the A.T.S. technicians work calmly, without pressure from the media.