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#117 1963 German Grand Prix

2021-09-16 00:00

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#117 1963 German Grand Prix

After four consecutive victories, Jim Clark leads the championship by a wide margin, but with no mathematical certainty of winning the title, there is

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After four consecutive victories, Jim Clark leads the championship by a wide margin, but with no mathematical certainty of winning the title, there is no time for him to relax. In fact, the world championship isn't mathematically decided this weekend, but Clark, the new racing star, has the best chance of taking the title long before the racing season ends. In fact, with five races already completed - Monaco, Holland, Belgium, France and Great Britain - there are still five more on the calendar. At the Grands Prix in Germany, Italy, Mexico, the United States and South Africa, we could see the British hopeful crowned World Champion, or experience some real twists and turns. The FIA rules stipulate that each driver's points score is calculated over a total of ten races, considering the six best placings of the season. Doing a quick arithmetic calculation, Clark - having won five consecutive races - could win the German Grand Prix and take the world title. However, this scenario can only be possible if his rival Graham Hill does not win the last four races on the calendar and if the Scottish driver does not finish second at least twice. Beyond the comparison between the two drivers, there is an undeniable difference in performance between Clark's Lotus and Hill's B.R.M., which has yet to reach its full potential.

 

Unpredictability is one of the elements that make motor racing one of the most exciting sports in the world: at this point in the championship, however, even if we assume that the mechanical means of the two rivals may be brought closer together, the most plausible hypothesis remains that of Jim Clark on the top step of the world ranking. At this point in the competition, it is good practice to consider all the possible scenarios and their twists and turns. There is another driver who, although with a much more remote possibility, could make a comeback and become World Champion in 1963. We are talking about John Surtees, a Ferrari driver, who could make this dream come true only by arriving five times in first position, with as many retirements by Clark. This hypothesis - although extremely remote - cannot be ruled out at all because, especially in the last race at Silverstone, Surtees showed all his qualities as a driver worthy of a Ferrari, finally highlighting the excellent performance of the Maranello single-seater. Moreover, on Sunday the Scuderia Ferrari will finally have back on track its second official driver, Willy Mairesse, ready to return to action after a month and a half from the serious accident at Le Mans. Despite Clark's high chances of being proclaimed the new World Champion of the 1963 season, the interest of fans and spectators is kept alive by the possible twists and turns of the remaining races. With this in mind, the Nurburgring track is the perfect place to keep the curiosity alive, as it is completely different from the circuits that have already been raced on this year.

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The intrinsic characteristics of this weekend's track seem to be an element of great uncertainty for Lotus, who may not have an easy time in this race. The German Grand Prix will finally be the right occasion for the ATS to field the two single-seaters driven by Phil Hill and Giancarlo Baghetti. The Bolognese single-seater, after a long period of fine tuning, is finally ready to take to the track and show its qualities and possible limits. The sun is shining on the Eifel mountains at the opening of the 25th German Grand Prix, an excellent start for a race in which the weather variable can have a significant impact, almost to the point of being decisive. In fact, the Nurburgring circuit has an important difference in height of hundreds of metres between the starting grid and the Breidscheid area, which makes weather conditions a determining factor. The cold weather that hit Germany last winter caused a lot of damage to the circuit, which fortunately did not cause any serious repercussions, allowing May to run the 1000 Kilometre race with GT cars. However, Formula 1 single-seaters are not like GT cars: the slightest change or natural deformation of the asphalt can be a serious obstacle in terms of performance and reliability. Eighteen entries have been accepted for this race weekend, split between official teams, private teams and private owners. Eleven extra entries are reserved for teams that have not yet been verified, so there is no guarantee that they will be on track at the start.

 

The eighteen drivers officially entered for the German Grand Prix include: the official B.R.M. team, Team Lotus, the official Cooper team, Scuderia Ferrari, Team Brabham, Team ATS, Ireland in the BRP car, Bandini in the B.R.M., Bonnier in Walker's Cooper-Climax V8, De Beaufort in his Porsche, Joseph Siffert in his Lotus-BRM V8 and Masten Gregory in Tim Parnell's Lotus-B.R.M. V8. The B.R.M. team surprisingly presents itself with a new car for Graham Hill, his first car will therefore be used as a reserve while Ginther will remain at the wheel of his 1962/3. However, the 1963 single-seater had some improvements: in particular, the team worked on a stiffening of the front lower transverse arms, obtained by welding a second tube along the whole length of the existing one. Modifications have also been made to the oil cooler, which has been repositioned from the set-up of previous races. The top of the car features a rudimentary anti-crash bar, which obviously does not yet comply with FIA regulations. The air intakes, originally present in the engine hatch, have been moved to either side to bring air to the fuel injection horns. Ginther's car features various stiffening reinforcements welded into the chassis and different suspension at the front, all fitted with the aim of achieving greater rigidity. What the single-seaters of the two B.R.M. drivers have in common is the gearbox, both featuring a 6-speed B.R.M. 

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The Bourne team is one of the first to arrive at the circuit, taking advantage of this advance to carry out numerous pre-race tests. Team Lotus started directly from Stuttgart, where it raced last weekend: while Clark kept the same car used to make his series of record laps, Taylor returned to the Lotus 25 with Colotti gearbox, with both cars equipped with air-stream windscreen. The Cooper team appears as it did at Silverstone, with McLaren and Maggs. In Germany John Cooper will be absent: therefore Ken Tyrrell will drive the team. The Scuderia Ferrari returns from this weekend at full strength with Surtees and Mairesse. The two cars with V6 engine didn't present substantial changes, with the exception of the wheels on the single-seater driven by Surtees, which was equipped with two new bolt-on wheels instead of the usual knock-off hubs, mounted instead on the car driven by Mairesse. These are still the classic Ferrari pin drive wheels, but what changes and represents an innovation is the fixing method, finally in line with the trend set by Lotus and Cooper many years ago. Among the various innovations developed by the Maranello team, worthy of note are the great efforts made to keep the air temperature at the intake trumpets low, wrapping the six air intakes with an aluminium shield to keep out the heat from the engine, and the provision of inboard rear brake guards to divert the heat generated downwards. The engine hatch, on the other hand, has a one- piece metal gauze cover over the intake trumpets, which visually results in a lower tail line.

 

After the victory at Solitude, Brabham's mechanics removed the Coventry-Climax V8 engine and now, having arrived in Germany and met the rest of the team with a new chassis and VW-Hewland gearbox, they decided to keep those elements, reinstalling also the engine used at Solitude. Gurney's car is the same as the one used in the Silverstone Grand Prix, except for the engine, a Coventry-Climax injection, the only part still usable. More bad luck for the ATS team: this time the van went off the road while crossing Austria and the cars were badly damaged. What is basically surprising is that sooner or later all teams suffer this kind of misfortune, caused by different factors such as delay or fatigue on the part of the mechanics. The news came early to Nurburgring and the paddock became aware of how many variables can disrupt a race, factors that often go beyond the individual driver or the money invested in engineering development. The BRP team will rely on Innes Ireland to drive the same car as at Solitude. Despite Ireland's high spirits, he believes there is a kind of curse attached to this circuit, as it has never been the scene of great success for the BRP team. B.R.M.'s mechanics immediately appear to be busy taking care of the last details of Bandini's single-seater, back from the great success of Solitude. Rob Walker's team, during this weekend, seems extraordinarily organized, showing a great example of strength and professionalism after the mechanical misfortunes of Solitude and the explosion of Silverstone.

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Also present at Nurburgring were Godin de Beaufort and Jo Siffert, the great Dutch driver with his 4-cylinder Porsche and the Swiss with the Lotus-B.R.M. The young Swiss driver and his mechanics did a monumental job, and in fact until the last moment their participation was not taken for granted following the engine explosion at Solitude. Following this story, the great work carried out by the mechanics is certainly worthy of attention. They flew to England to repair the engine, then to Modena to overhaul the Colotti box, then to Stuttgart to clean and check the chassis, and finally to find themselves after a few days in the paddock of the Nurburgring circuit ready for the free practice of the German Grand Prix. One thing is certain: Siffert and his team are a great example of tenacity, dedication and professionalism. The last official entry is reserved for Masten Gregory, who was supposed to drive a borrowed car, but this is unusable and the entry has been cancelled. As for the eleven unofficial entries, following Gregory's retirement, it was decided to select the seven fastest during free practice. Competing for these seven grid positions will be Jim Hall in a Lotus-B.R.M., although his performances, although stable this season, have not shown very serious improvements; Chris Amon with the Lola-Climax of Parnell (the driver has undoubtedly a good potential but the reliability of the car is not exceptional); Mario Cabral, a relatively inexperienced Portuguese driver, although now at the wheel of a new Cooper-Climax of 1962, the former third official car of last season never used; the Scirocco-Powell team with two single-seaters Scirocco-B.R.M. driven by Settember and Burgess respectively, still to be verified both in terms of speed and reliability; Gerhard Mitter driving De Beaufort's second Porsche; Kuhnke with his unknown Lotus- Borgward; Pilette and Tim Parnell with the old Lotus-Climax, and Collomb with his Lotus-Climax.

 

On Friday, 2nd August 1963 the day started with an hour and a half of free practice, a period of time that on a circuit like Nürburgring, 22.8 kilometres long, cannot be considered satisfactory for a complete evaluation of the single-seater performance and endurance. Jim Clark was the first to enter the track in the same Lotus used at Solitude, in spite of the fact that in the paddock a completely new engine was waiting for him. The Scottish champion was followed by Ireland, who during his first lap made a mistake that led him off the track and into the undergrowth, causing a bad dent on the right side of the chassis-body unit and bending some parts of the suspension. Luckily, stopped at the pits, BRP had a spare Lotus-B.R.M. at its disposal, which allowed the British driver to complete the practice. Graham Hill started this free practice session at the wheel of the 1963 B.R.M., but after a few laps he chose to go back to the pits to replace it with the older car, decision that brought a slight discontent inside the British team. In the meantime Chris Amon, waiting for his engine coming from Coventry, decided to enter the track in the Lola that Hailwood had driven last weekend at Solitude: unfortunately, however, after few laps a high-end bearing was damaged and forced the driver to go back to pits. Free practice sessions were rather anomalous in this Formula One weekend; most of drivers chose to make many but short attempts on the track, actually creating a continuous in and out of pits, with the exception of Mitter and Bandini. The former maintained a constant and regular rhythm while the latter showed once again great speed and excellent mastery of his skills.

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In this first practice session only Surtees and Bandini are able to go down under 9 minutes for a lap: the Ferrari driver tries to make the most of this circuit where driving, experience and adaptation to the various changes of weather conditions can make the difference. Having great experience of the circuit, Surtees does a great job with the Ferrari team, focusing on the work done on the suspension and shock absorbers, to try to keep the car as close to the ground as possible. The overall lap record was set at Nurburgring in 1961 by Phil Hill, in a Ferrari, with a time of 8'57"8. This performance was bettered by Gurney last year in the free practice session, driving a Porsche, with a time of 8'47"2. However, weather conditions, which had characterized last year's race, made it impossible to make any kind of attempt to set a new record: it was a pity, as all drivers on the first row would have been able to run a time remarkably lower than 9 minutes. Immediately after lunch the second practice session started, also this one lasting an hour and a half, in which all drivers were ready to give the best of themselves; both to be up to Surtees' standards, who has been setting the pace since the beginning of the weekend, and to gain ground on Bandini, who seemed to be able to bother even the best champions on the track. In the meantime, the sky seemed to open up and the clouds, with accompanying downpours, moved towards the mountains. Graham Hill went on testing at the wheel of his B.R.M., but he was obliged to go back to pits because of anomalies concerning the oil pressure, a problem caused by some dirt under the pressure limiting valve, found out by mechanics after a careful investigation of the vehicle. Not easy tests also for the Lotus driven by Clark, who started showing signs of tiredness, probably due to the ten lightning laps recorded at Solitude, which probably stressed the engine too much.

 

The Scottish driver was therefore forced to use 6.00 x 15 inch tyres on the rear to bring the single- seater up to maximum revs. The clouds, although now in the opposite direction to the circuit, left behind them several areas of the track extremely humid, causing a general discouragement among the drivers, who were no longer inclined to record laps. It was a difficult weekend not only because of the rain: for some drivers there were several factors that contributed to the unfortunate day. For example, McLaren's Cooper engine sounded less than encouraging throughout practice, and by the time the exhaust pipes were removed a valve head had failed. The ATS team was unable to get to the circuit in time for practice, while the Scirocco team, although present in the paddock, is still in a total preparation phase. The lap times were greatly affected by the rain, which caused the times to rise by at least a minute even in the performance of the fastest drivers, Clark was once again the best but with a time of 9'44"0, followed by Surtees with 9'46"6. At the end of the first day of practice there was a great turmoil in the paddock: in fact, in Ferrari they worked till late at night to mount another engine on Surtees' single-seater. Clark, in his turn, asked his team to mount a new Climax V8 on his Lotus, accompanied by a new ZF gearbox from which the reverse gear was omitted to avoid any possible problem with the selectors: this because the reverse gear selectors were hooked to the same shaft as the selectors of the upper gear, and could cause serious problems of reliability. On the contrary, in Cooper's house they worked hard to mount another engine on McLaren's car in time and finally, once the gearbox was fixed on Cabral's car, the Scirocco could finally be defined ready to compete.

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On Saturday 3rd August 1963 the paddock woke up with the sunlight and the asphalt seemed to be totally dry again, ready to make the most of the last practice session. The ATS finally arrived in the paddock with both single-seaters but the mechanics' attention and work seemed to be concentrated on the car driven by Phil Hill, to assure the champion a good qualification. The front suspensions have been redesigned: the principle basically remains the same, but the production in terms of stability seems much more permanent and safer. Once again, however, the great work made at ATS house wasn't repaid, as because of brake problems Hill couldn't enter the track in time to finish the practice and qualify. During practice it was immediately evident the extreme speed of Surtees, Clark, Bandini, McLaren and Graham Hill in comparison with the rest of the competitors, who were undoubtedly the fastest on the track. McLaren didn't seem to be able to set noteworthy times and very soon the cause of the poor performance came to light: it was the breakage of the front swinging arm, on the lower right side, because of which the driver was obliged to go back to pits. Surtees, during the tests, reported the presence of an inclination in the chassis, a luckier fate for Clark as the new engine and gearbox seemed to work perfectly. On the contrary, Taylor finds himself living a bad time once again, as the second car of the Lotus Team reports serious problems with the Colotti gearbox. Clark set the fastest lap time of 8:45:8, followed by Surtees who, even though he didn't improve on the time of the first free practice session, qualified second.

 

Third position for Bandini, gained thanks to a fantastic lap in 8'54"3, ahead of the official B.R.M. drivers. There was also a mention of merit for Siffert, who did an excellent job among the official drivers, recording a time of 9'11"1. At the end of qualifying sessions the drivers went back to pits and at 12:30 a.m. a phase of hard work began for all mechanics of the different teams. In Ferrari they work to remove the engine from Surtees' car, with the aim of welding the chassis just behind the cockpit. In Lotus the mechanics were asked to remove the Colotti gearbox from Taylor's car and to mount a ZF in its place; at the same time BRP worked to mount another engine on Ireland's single-seater, damaged after the accident occurred during practice. On Sunday, 4 August 1963, the paddock is buzzing from the morning onwards and the crowds of fans are mainly concentrated on the most scenic spots on the circuit, especially in and around Adenau. The day opens with races for the GT cars, from 1.000 cc to 2.500 cc, followed by a parade of past winners, including Fangio, Moss, Brooks, Chiron, Graham Hill and Bonnier, accompanied by three famous team-managers, Neubauer, Ugolini and von Hanstein. The parade is led by Carl Joens, who at the age of 88 is still driving a marvellous 1913 Opel Grand Prix car. The weather conditions are diametrically opposed to those of the previous days, the sun warms the asphalt making it completely dry.

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The twenty-two drivers in the race are ready in the pits and the tension of the pre-start begins to be felt, while on the grid the cars are positioned following the classic four-three-four grid. The flag signals the start of the German Grand Prix and the drivers are ready to run the fifteen laps that separate them from the finishing line. However, Brabham had a difficult start, because of an engine anomaly he was stuck on the grid causing general chaos on a whole side of the track. Same destiny for Burgess in the Scirocco, while the remaining twenty drivers sped away with Bandini and Surtees on the first row. Clark, more competitive than ever, gained the first position at few laps from the start and seemed ready to impose his dominion for the remaining 14 laps. To the most attentive people it was immediately noticed the great recovery of Ginther and Maggs with respect to Lotus: a signal that, without taking anything away from both drivers, seemed to be the consequence of reliability problems on the single-seater of the Scottish driver. Once arrived at Adenau a real brawl started among Clark, Ginther and Surtees, from which the Scottish driver was defeated, now finding himself in the third position. There was also a heated fight between Bandini and Ireland, who arrived together on the wide right hairpin bend leading to Karussel: the Italian driver overtook his rival on braking, but as he couldn't control the single-seater he ended by spinning off. Ireland tried in every way to avoid it but he made a wrong trajectory and the two cars ended the race in a collision, fortunately without serious consequences.

 

Bandini's single-seater is abandoned on the roadside while Ireland tries to return to the pits, at low speed, with the rear suspension bent. In the meantime, the drivers at the head of the group finished the first lap, at the end of which Brabham started to gain a considerable gap. Behind Brabham a group of Ginther, Surtees, Clark, McLaren and Graham Hill was immediately formed, ready to give a show. At the back we found Maggs, Mairesse, Bonnier, Taylor, Amon and Siffert, with the others following. The first surprise was Gurney's return to the pits, due to problems with his Brabham, unfortunately followed by Ireland who, after the accident with Bandini, was no longer able to recover the rhythm - probably due to damages to the single-seater. On the second lap Surtees and Clark broke away from the rest of the group. While overtaking the Flugplatz hump, Mairesse made a mistake that sent him flying off the track, destroying his car. Promptly rescued by the track marshals, the driver was immediately taken to hospital with obvious injuries to his arm. Unlucky race also for Amon, who - a few hundred meters ahead - due to the steering wheel failure spun off at very high speed, bounced off the protective hedges and stopped under a rain of dust and bushes, with a painful knee and the single-seater destroyed. During the same lap Hill also had reliability problems, forced to stop on the side of the road just behind the north bend with a broken gearbox.

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The situation is now very clear: Surtees and Clark are very close to each other, even if the Ferrari driver, at the top of his form, seems to have more competitiveness. But the Scottish driver does not seem to want to let Surtees go and several times he tries to engage in a bitter battle. Indeed, on the fourth lap, Clark even managed to cross the finish line ahead of the Ferrari driver. However, this lead didn't last long and Surtees was soon back in the lead at the German Grand Prix. Halfway through the fourth lap came the most shocking twist of the race; McLaren, in third position, suffered a vital part of the chassis breakage and while driving through the left-hand bend leading to Aremberg, went off the road, crashing heavily and losing consciousness. Even if for a cause far from pleasant, Ginther found himself in third position followed by Maggs, but very far from the leading couple. Siffert overtook Bonnier, but after witnessing two rather violent accidents the Swedish driver proceeded very cautiously, however keeping behind the two orange Porsches driven by De Beaufort and Mitter. At the end of the group we found Taylor, who returned to the pits to try to make slight changes to the car and increase its power and reliability; finally, Burgess slipped into the last positions after a disastrous start. The Brabham team was living perhaps its darkest moment from the beginning of the World Championship, as Jack Brabham found himself a whole lap behind, while Gurney was constantly going in and out of the pits because of an engine that was giving fluctuating performances.

 

In the meantime Surtees and Clark cross the finish line, starting the fifth lap of the fifteen scheduled for the German Grand Prix. The Ferrari seemed to be unbeatable and Surtees was ready to give his all in order not to miss the opportunity to get on the highest step of the podium. On the other hand, Clark used every weapon at his disposal, pushing his Lotus to the allowed limits, but the result didn't seem to repay the efforts and the risks taken by the Scottish driver. Not only was Clark unable to keep up with the Ferrari, but at this point he risked not being able to cross the finish line with a Lotus that was at the end of its mechanical rope. In Germany the Grand Prix was dominated by accidents, as also Settember became - during the sixth lap - the protagonist of a terrible mistake that took him off the road, up to crossing the protection fence but fortunately without hurting anybody. On the seventh lap Clark's engine started to lose power and forced the driver to move back considerably, losing a good five seconds from Surtees. Among retirements and accidents, Siffert gained the fourth place, while Mitter succeeded in overtaking De Beaufort and Bonnier, placing himself fifth with his old Porsche. The new lap record was set by Surtees, crowning a weekend managed in an extraordinary way. The Scottish driver therefore decided to ease up on the pace and adopt a more conservative driving style to make sure the Lotus engine would hold out until the end of the race.

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Now nothing could stop the Ferrari, and Surtees proved to be completely up to the situation. As a matter of fact, the gap between him and Clark widened slowly but surely, while Ginther remained firmly anchored in the third place. An unlucky end of the race for Siffert, who saw a good fourth place slipping out from under his hands because of a mechanical failure. The Swiss driver stopped during the tenth lap, due to a transmission malfunction. Meantime Bonnier overtook Mitter, placing fourth and fifth respectively, while De Beaufort, worried by the tendency of his car to get out of hand on the trajectory of right-hand bends, went back to pits to ask for assistance to his mechanic, with whom they hypothesized a hub breakage. At the end of the thirteenth lap Surtees had as much as twenty seconds' lead over Clark and the Lotus was now starting to emit strange rumbles and screeching noises from the rear axle, probably due to gearbox problems, which forced him to slow down the pace even more. More than two minutes behind Surtees followed Ginther, forced to drive with one hand and hold the gearbox lever in position with the other, which was not only harmful to the engine, but also to the driver, especially on a circuit like Nurburgring. On lap 14 Surtees had a 36.5-second lead over Clark and had the opportunity to slow down the pace and make sure the car would last the last lap. During the fifteenth and last lap a light rain started to fall on the Nurburgring circuit, so a wet but happy John Surtees, passed the checkered flag, won the 25th German Grand Prix.

 

The Ferrari driver concludes an excellent race, after recording almost all record laps, with an average speed of 154.2 km/h. The Ferrari team explodes with enthusiasm and seems almost ready to invade the track to celebrate the highest step of the podium. Jim Clark placed second, with a good 1'17"5 delay over Surtees, but Lotus Team was anyway satisfied with the second place, hard earned by the Scottish driver. Richie Ginther managed to defend and keep his third place, with blisters on his left hand and a very tired right arm, but grateful that the race was over. Gerhard Mitter crossed the finishing line very calmly, showing himself almost embarrassed by this fourth place gained at the wheel of his old Porsche, after running a very good race and keeping up with drivers with single-seaters much more advanced from the engineering point of view. Afterwards the lapped drivers crossed the finishing line, Jim Hall followed by Jo Bonnier, who managed to manage the broken Cooper for a whole lap, keeping even Jack Brabham and Trevor Taylor behind. John Surtees took the top step of the podium, overturning all predictions and demonstrating the superiority of the Maranello cars on dynamic and demanding circuits like the German one. Surtees not only shattered the race record by covering the total 342 kilometres in 2 hours 13'04"8 at an average speed of 154.2 km/h, he also set a new lap record, covering 22.8 kilometres in 8'47"0 at an average speed of 155.8 km/h. Despite the defeat, Jim Clark has words of admiration for the winner: "His race was superb; John is a great driver".

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However, some drivers are not only champions on the track. Still on the subject of Ferrari, Mairesse was once again the victim of an accident: his car went off the road, giving him a fractured arm. Of the twenty-two drivers on the grid, only ten were able to cross the finish line. Among the retirees, surprisingly, were Lorenzo Bandini and World Champion Graham Hill. In fact, the German Grand Prix was marked by multiple accidents, with Mairesse and McLaren involved in almost similar incidents. On the first lap, Mairesse's Ferrari skidded off the road, overturning; unfortunately, the Belgian's car ran over a young nurse, who was rushed to Adenau hospital in serious condition. On the fourth lap, McLaren's Cooper also skidded and ended up off the road: the New Zealander suffered minor injuries and, as far as we know, will be released from hospital within a few hours. In addition to these two main incidents, which were extremely serious in terms of physical injuries, there were also a number of incidents of a mechanical nature. The first to open the series was Jack Brabham, whose car of the same name stopped twice in the early stages of the race, jeopardising any chance the Australian driver had of competing for the top positions.

 

Next came Lorenzo Bandini, whose B.R.M. suffered engine problems from the very first lap, sending the Italian driver to the end of the race even before it began. Finally, former World Champion Graham Hill was forced to give up midway through the fourth lap due to an electrical system failure. After the race, Jim Clark declared that the engine of his Lotus had put him in difficulty for practically the entire race, due to the failure of one of the cylinders. A brief summary of the drivers' standings shows Clark still in the lead with 42 points, followed by Surtees with 22 points, Ginther with 18 and Graham Hill with 17 points. At last something new from the motor racing news: Jim Clark was beaten, and what's more important, beaten by John Surtees and his Ferrari in the German Grand Prix, the sixth round of the Formula 1 World Championship. To say that the event was in the air would be exaggerated, but today, thinking back to the hopes aroused by Surtees' excellent performance in the British Grand Prix a fortnight ago, and also to what happened last Sunday in the Stuttgart Grand Prix at Solitude, one is tempted to say that some premonitory signs could have been picked up, and precisely: first of all, the silent rise of Ferrari; and secondly, luck may have tired of giving a hand to the flying Scot.

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It is a fact that Surtees, who had reached the peak of his form, had in his hands at the Nurburgring, on what is called the circuit of truth, a perfectly efficient Ferrari, finally sheltered from all those uncertainties that until now had prevented the Modenese single-seater from fully revealing its authentic resources. The enormous gap given by Surtees to Clark at the end of the race, the new records for the overall and lap averages, unequivocally reflect the new situation. It should be remembered, incidentally, that Ferrari had not won a World Championship Grand Prix since 1961, so much so that by then everyone had resigned themselves to the supremacy of the Formula 1 cars from across the Channel. Now it would be dangerous to believe in a resounding reversal of the balance of power. Clark, after the arrival of the German Grand Prix, said that he had been complaining about ignition problems for the whole duration of the race, and actually one minute and 21 seconds were a lot, even if Surtees was acknowledged to have a first-class class (and at Nurburgring only great champions win), and his Ferrari an exceptional performance. However, even if the Lotus Climax engine was actually below its normal possibilities, the official tests had already clearly indicated the progress of the Italian car and Surtees' form, so it is fair to assume that in any case Jim Clark would not have been able to exercise the dictatorship he seemed used to.

 

Clark retains the best chance of winning the World Championship title this year, but it is conceivable that the four remaining rounds of the title race will bring interest back to a high level. A hope that didn't seem possible after the incredible sequence of four consecutive victories of the Clark-Lotus duo. In a month's time, at Monza, there will be the Italian Grand Prix, first of the final series of races valid for the 1963 World Championship: the organizers couldn't have hoped for a more exciting premise. Returning to the Nurburgring race, Ferrari's satisfaction at the great victory was tempered by the new accident to its second driver Willy Mairesse, who had just recovered from injuries sustained a month and a half ago during the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Belgian is a driver of rare generosity, one of those who put their heart on their bonnet, as the racers say. But when courage is identified with recklessness, a car racer can hardly achieve the results that are the very purpose of his risky activity. Not to mention that the repeated accidents end up having a profound effect on the drivers' morale, as well as their physique. Thus Ferrari found itself once again with only one official driver available, and with one of its precious single- seaters out of action, at the very moment when it was engaged in the great effort to stop the English superiority. For Monza, Enzo Ferrari might call Lorenzo Bandirli back into the team, who in the German Grand Prix, at the wheel of the Scuderia Centro-Sud's B.R.M., was taken out of the race due to mechanical problems right from the first kilometres, while in practice he had been so brilliant as to set the third best time overall.

 

Barbara Otgianu

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