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#118 1963 Italian Grand Prix

2021-09-15 00:00

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#118 1963 Italian Grand Prix

During the first day of practices for the International Mediterranean Grand Prix for Formula 1 cars, Bandini (B.R.M.), Siffert (B.R.M. Lotus) and Surt

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During the first day of practices for the International Mediterranean Grand Prix for Formula 1 cars, Bandini (B.R.M.), Siffert (B.R.M. Lotus) and Surtees (Ferrari) beat the lap time record set last year by Bandini in Baghetti. The best performance on the circuit of Lake Pergusa (4,807 kilometres) - on which Sunday, August 18, 1963 the race will take place - is obtained by Bandini on B.R.M., which sets a lap time of 1'18"6. John Surtees, who goes on track after Bandini, is three tenths slower than him. Behind them, the Swiss driver Siffert also gets a great lap time. Bonnier on Cooper and the British car of the Brabham team also get a good result. At the Mediterranean Grand Prix only fifteen competitors will be admitted, that is those who will obtain the best lap times in the official practices, which continue also on Saturday, August 17, 1963. The fight for the final success should be between five drivers, namely Bandini, Surtees, Siffert, Bonnier and Brabham, who, in addition to having the most powerful cars, have also proven to be without any doubt the best racing drivers. Before the Formula 1 cars race, the Enna Grand Prix will be held, an event reserved for Gran Turismo, valid for the World Championship for Makes G.T. up to 1000 cc. On Sunday, August 18, 1963 the British driver John Surtees wins in Enna driving a Ferrari equipped with a V6 engine, in the Mediterranean Grand Prix, also establishing the new race record at the average of 221.824 Km/h. Surtees takes the lead of the race from the start. For the first thirty laps, behind him, the fight for second place is between the British Taylor and Arundell; then, behind them, there is the Italian Bandini, who was delayed by a defective start.

 

At the end of the thirty-sixth lap, on the finish straight, there is a spectacular incident, which occurs before the eyes of over 50,000 spectators. The protagonist is the Englishman Taylor who, overtaken on the inside of a curve by Bandini, moved to the left of the track and ended up on the embankment. Taylor’s car crashed into the safety net near the box and bounced back into the track. The car, touching the ground, was set on fire and Taylor, thrown out of the cockpit, flew into the air and then fortunately fell down on track while the car was in flames. Taylor is rescued and the doctor finds grazes on his face, right shoulder, and right thigh. He was then transported to the hospital in Enna for x-ray examinations. The English driver, who immediately after the accident recovered from the great fear, will declare that it was Bandini who didn’t give him the space on the left while the Italian driver, at the end of the race, will say that Taylor was probably betrayed by the wind. Had it not been for the safety net, the Pergusa Grand Prix would have had a tragic conclusion. It was an exciting race, run by the main protagonists on the 220 km/h line. With Taylor out of the race, Arundell is in the slipstream of Surtees followed in turn by Bandini, which despite the commitment and skill has failed to improve his position. Behind Surtees, Arundell and Bandini, there is almost a void: the only Taylor, unlucky protagonist of the first part of the race, can be said to be worthy of being among the best in the race. Fifteen competitors start the second Mediterranean Grand Prix, and twelve finish it. The former world champion of motor racing Juan Manuel Fangio goes as every year from 1952 to Marina di Massa. The Argentine driver speaks at length about the current moment of motorsport, also hinting at the prospects opened by Ferrari’s successes at the Nurburgring and later in the Mediterranean Grand Prix.

 

"The victory of the Maranello team has certainly given new hope to Italian motorsport. I am sure, in this regard, that in Monza we will soon see important news".

 

And what does he think of young drivers?

 

"First of all we must remember that in a race the chances of victory are entrusted for seventy-five percent to the car and for the rest to the driver. Then it must be said that today there are young drivers who are very good: they have better cars than those we drove and they run with heart and excellent technique. In Italy there is Bandini who is doing very well".

 

Does Fangio believe that Ferraris can reduce or close the gap between them and the British cars?

 

"There is not much difference at the moment between the British cars and the Italian ones. In the last ones there is continuous progress and I believe that soon the Italian cars will fight at the same level with the best in every race".

 

Does he feel nostalgia for his sporting exploits that everyone still remembers?

 

"No; no nostalgia. Basically all my friends from the time I was racing passed away. Only Stirling Moss remains. I am sixty-two years old: I would still like to race, of course; but it is one thing to participate in a competition, another is to win".

 

Juan Manuel Fangio works in the Argentine industry: he imports the Vespa to Argentina and is interested in some large automobile industries. In mentioning this activity, his face darkens:

 

"This is an unsustainable situation. A Vespa costs more than 600.000 lire in Argentina, a Fiat 600 almost 2.000.000 lire, a Fiat 1100 reaches 3.000.000 lire. The new government will have to review economic policy".

 

Then he goes back to talk about racing and the speech focuses on Alberto Ascari. Fangio tells an episode of the long friendship with the Italian ace: he talks about when, in the 1953 German Grand Prix, the car of Ascari that preceded him lost the right front tyre but still managed to reach the pits more than three kilometres away.

 

"He was a great champion, no motor enthusiast can forget him".

 

One last question: rumours say that from his book My life at 300 kmh, a film will be made. Is it true?

 

"Yes, and if the negotiations end happily the interpreters will be me and Stirling Moss".

 

We will then see the two axes of a recent past, albeit in cinematic fiction, going at 200 km/h in the curves of Indianapolis and Monza, and flying along the immense Argentine roads. We will see again the Fangio winner of 58 Grand Prix, five world championships and dozens of other races at the wheel.

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On Sunday, August 25, 1963 John Surtees test at the Modena circuit the new Ferrari, with 8-cylinder V-engine, in the presence of Enzo Ferrari, the sports director Eugenio Dragoni, engineer Forghieri, head of the design department, and engineer Bussi, Head of engine testing. The tests are satisfactory: Surtees does several laps with lap times under a minute. The tests, which began shortly after 8:00 a.m., ended around 10:00 a.m. due to a failure of the starter motor, which remains geared. The experimental prototype measures 2.38 metres of wheelbase, 1.36 metres of front track and 1.34 metres of rear track; the weight is 464 kilograms and is lightened by about 40 kilograms compared to the previous model. The car has completely new features: the frame is of a supporting type, the body is elongated compared to previous models; the engine is powered by high pressure injection; the tyres are made of light alloy; the side tanks are made of plastic. There are also new suspensions, gearbox and axle. Other technical data are not provided, but it can be assumed that the power delivered by the new V8 engine is not less than 215 horsepower. Enzo Ferrari denies the fact that the new model can be driven at Monza, given the lack of time to complete the setup. In the Italian Grand Prix, which will be held on Sunday, September 8, 1963, the colours of the Maranello team will therefore be defended by cars equipped with V6 engines, now arrived at a more than satisfactory level of performance, as the great success of Surtees in the German Grand Prix on Sunday, August 5, 1963 has amply demonstrated. The new Ferrari, however, will take part in the world championship races that will be held after Monza: the Mexican, United States and South Africa Grand Prix.

 

The 34th Italian Grand Prix, the last great race of the European season, is just around the corner and will take place on Sunday, September 8, 1963 at 3:30 p.m.. All teams are looking for a win. Some, however, have doubts about safety since the Automobile Club of Milan has planned to use the entire circuit of Monza for about ten kilometres in total including 5,750 kilometres of the road track and 4,250 kilometres of the high-speed track. This would be the first time since 1961 that Formula 1 returns to racing on the entire Monza circuit. The cars of the current Formula 1 (1500 cc) have in fact competed on the complete circuit of Monza only in the 1961 edition, with the victory of the Ferrari of Phil Hill at the average speed of 200.331 km/h, and the fastest lap of Baghetti, always on Ferrari, to 213.716 km/h of average. After the failures at the Nürburgring, some of the teams are wondering how their light and fragile cars will withstand high-speed hammering and centrifugal forces. The race will be preceded by a parade of old motor racing glories, or the most famous drivers of the past, starting with Salamano, who in 1923 won the Italian Grand Prix on Fiat covering the 800 kilometres of the race at the average - which back then was stunning - of 146.502 km/h. In particular, there will be, among others, Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, Giuseppe Farina, Piero Taruffi, Luigi Villoresi, Giovanni Bracco and Louis Chiron.

 

The Automobile Club of Milan assures that many works have been carried out, in compliance with the new ministerial regulations regarding the accessibility of the automobile circuits, especially to guarantee the safety standards to the public and to improve the services in the various sectors. The race will be preceded in the morning by the 14th Inter-Europe Cup, for Gran Turismo cars of the classes up to 2000 and over 2000 cc, which will compete in three hours and in which are entered forty drivers, including Roy Salvadori and Lucien Bianchi (both on Aston Martin DB4) for the class over 3000 cc. The highest Italian car event falls at a crucial moment in the technical confrontation in which British constructors are engaged on the one hand and Ferrari on the other. Reviewing in summary the events of the races valid for the 1963 title, we remember the initial victory of World Champion Graham Hill and his B.R.M. in the Monaco Grand Prix; then four consecutive victories of Jim Clark’s Lotus (which is obviously in the lead of the overall standings); finally, a little over a month ago, the big surprise of the Nürburgring, with the victory of Surtees for Ferrari, which reported suddenly the prices of the Modena single-seater at the level of the golden times. Nothing is decided today. The standings for the drivers' world title currently sees Clark in the lead with 42 points, followed by Surtees with 22, Ginther with 18, Graham Hill with 17, Gurney with 12. The Scotsman seems unreachable, but the rules of the championship grant Surtees the theoretical chance to become champion, as long as he wins the remaining four races, starting with that of Monza.

 

Free practices will begin only on Friday, September 6, 1963. However, already a few days before, there was a lot of activity on track, especially of the B.R.M. team and Scuderia Ferrari, in particular, who took advantage of it to carry out extensive tests. With Willy Mairesse still recovering, after the incident during the German Grand Prix, Ferrari relies on Lorenzo Bandini to drive alongside John Surtees. As a result, the Centre-South team will have to race without its top driver. And its red B.R.M. will be driven by Maurice Trintignant. Lotus also has problems with its second driver, as Taylor is still not quite in shape, and since Arundell, the third driver of the team, is registered for a Junior race in Albi, the second of the Lotus Junior Team drivers, Michael Spence will be Clark’s number two on Sunday. The B.R.M. team of Graham Hill and Ginther appears rather fit, as do the ATS of Phil Hill and Baghetti, Cooper with McLaren and Maggs, Brabham with Brabham and Gurney, the BRP team with Ireland and Hall, and the Scirocco-Powell team with Settember and Burgess. Reg Parnell entered Amon and Hailwood, Tim Parnell entered Masten Gregory, while de Beaufort entered himself and Mitter on his old Porsches, and Walker entered Bonnier. The Center-South has entered Cabral to replace Bandini to which will go the new Cooper-Climax V8 and Brambilla with an old Cooper-Maserati. Then, other private drivers were entered, such as Siffert, Anderson, Raby, Pilette, Lippi, Abbot, Starrabba and Seiffert, for a total of 33 members.

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Of these, only the fastest 30 will take part in the race. Practice times will decide the starting grid on Sunday, provided that the fastest thirty are within ten percent of the second fastest time. With this method, the Automobile Club Milano is committed to ensuring that the overall quality of the starting grid is high, while leaving room for all those who deserve it, and at the same time ensuring a good dose of entertainment. Before the start of practices, the drivers who do not know the banked track do some laps at predetermined speeds to find the right feeling with the car, learn the circuit and get used to driving at high speeds, similar to those that will develop in the race. Some drivers have complained about this consolidated practice, which they considered superfluous, but which in the past has prevented even fatal accidents; on the other hand, even drivers of the calibre of Fangio and Moss had to abide by it. The combined road and track circuit opens Friday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. for official practice and almost immediately Graham Hill runs at very high speed with his 1963 B.R.M. that has a supporting frame, now equipped with external water and oil pipes positioned between the engine and the radiators, while the electrical components previously mounted between the driver’s knees, are now in the bulkhead behind his head. Ginther runs fast even with the older car, with the 1963 gearbox, and goes very fast especially on banked curves, as well as Bandini with the latest version of the Ferrari V6 of 1962/3 with which Surtees raced at the Nürburgring, that is, with bolted tyres instead of the old ones with knock-off system. The new 6-cylinder car is not ready yet, and Surtees is driving with one of the oldest.

 

Gradually most drivers started to practice, Ireland with the BRP single-seater that has a supporting frame, Clark with the new Lotus 25 that had raced at Zeltweg, Spence instead missed his practice laps. Phil Hill is currently at the wheel of the ATS in Baghetti, as his car has not yet arrived. The cars of Bologna are taking on a much neater look, clearly the design is settling in and the different components are starting to be the definitive ones. The ATS team still uses carburetors, although they have experimented with Lucas injection systems, and the universal rubber rings in the drive shafts have been replaced by normal Hardy Spicer joints. Bonnier is driving Walker’s 1963 Cooper, and as he finds his pace on banked curves, Ireland passes him. The Cooper of Bruce McLaren is equipped with new experimental rear uprights, but in a short time one of the bearings breaks and causes some moments of apprehension as he completes his laps around the banked curves. Ireland and Gregory discover that the front ends of their cars are not stable because of the rocker arm, which is not able to counteract the shocks to which the suspensions are subjected; in fact, the floor of the car touches on the irregularities of the banked curve and in the long run the transverse arms of the Lotus suspensions give way bending and causing precisely a displacement. Some drivers complain of having to run on such a bumpy elevated track. However, Ferrari and B.R.M. are getting on with the job and they are doing very well too. Graham Hill and John Surtees, right now, seem to have the two fastest cars. Then Anderson is the victim of a dangerous spin due to the rear tyre that suddenly comes off the hub while he is on the south curve of the banked curve. The car, after having hit the guardrail, makes a series of spin, stopping at the confluence with the parabolic curve of the road track.

 

This spin leaves him shaken but surprisingly unharmed, enough to make him admit that this is the safest incident he could ever have wished for, because of the guardrail on the top of the banked curve that kept him in the right trajectory and while the speed dissipated it makes him slide along the banked curve, down to the soft area below. These incidents are stirring up excitement among the drivers and, Bonnier himself, secretary of the Drivers’ Association, also stopped due to a failure in the suspension of his Cooper, mobilises to collect the signatures of all colleagues to sign a complaint to be submitted to the organisers in which they ask for the exclusion of the high-speed track from the race. This leads the organisers to request the intervention of the provincial supervisory commission. Practices are suspended while the track is inspected. The committee finds that part of the protective fence in the section of the banked curves has not been completed. Only the so-called road circuit will be used. It is not clear why the commission did not check the safety barriers before the start of practices, but the Automobile Club of Milan apologises and declares that the race will take place only on the road circuit. The measure, more than legitimate, will certainly have a great impact on the entire appearance of the race. The drivers almost unanimously agree with the decision of the Automobile Club of Milan. In addition to the safety for spectators, the high-speed track would have presented additional challenges. On the two banked curves slight structural failures of the surface were found that at 340 km/h can cause authentic take-off of the cars and above all a serious fatigue of the most delicate organs, such as the suspensions and the steering wheel.

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Under these conditions, the race would have aroused a lot of concern. Friday’s practices on the entire track are therefore of little use. It is likely that the maximum speed of the Ferraris, slightly higher than that of the British cars, could have benefited them if the race had also taken place on the track with banked curves. However, speed remains a fundamental characteristic for a circuit like the one in Milan, where, although deprived of the high-speed track, the average is over 205 km/h. Free practices starts all over again, this time only on the road circuit, but there is not much time left, so the afternoon session will hardly provide enough information. However, the protagonists to be taken as a reference are always the same: John Surtees, Jim Clark and Graham Hill who all run in 1'39"0 and a fraction. Timekeepers normally record readings at the tenth of a second, but when two riders make equal times they analyse their results more closely and get to two decimal places. As a result, Surtees with the Ferrari V6 of 1962/3 records a lap time of 1'39"58 seconds, Clark with his usual Lotus-Climax V8 sets one in 1'39"68, while Graham Hill with the B.R.M. of 1963 runs in 1'39"75, and Lorenzo Bandini is not far from the best lap times, standing at 1'40"1. Spence does not practise because, while Clark runs with the new Lotus, suddenly the gearbox breaks, precisely the box of Hewland and fragments enter the spokes of a bearing. The Coopers mount long, thin suspension arms from the top of the rear wheel holders to the chassis close to the cockpit and test them in unofficial sessions, only to remove them before the start of official testing. The Scirocco team has to run with one car, as the Burgess engine has not yet been built from scratch. BRP still lacks the new engine for Hall’s car, after the breakdown at Zeltweg the previous week.

 

Overall this practice session is a bit chaotic when it comes to free practice, except that the three fastest riders have better lap times than last year’s free practice, when none had gone faster than 1'40"0. Darkness and torrential rain mark the end of Friday’s practice. The next morning it continues to rain, but at lunchtime the sun peeks out and dries the circuit very quickly. After the disastrous practice day of the previous day, the Saturday session starts an hour earlier than expected, at 2:30 p.m., and runs until 6:30 p.m. This second day of practice is the ideal opportunity for John Surtees to try the brand new Ferrari equipped with a 6-cylinder engine and a supporting frame, while Bandini is driving one of the previous cars. Of the thirty-three single-seaters registered, all but five are there on Saturday afternoon. The absent are Burgess, still without engine for his Scirocco-B.R.M., Mitter, Seifert, Abate and Starrabba; but now that for the race will be used exclusively the road circuit, the starting grid is reduced from thirty to twenty, so the drivers who usually occupy the last positions will have to work hard to qualify. Meanwhile, Spence is driving the old Lotus 25 with the carburetor engine, Bonnier has brought out from the garage both Rob Walker’s Cooper in front of the new pits, and Graham Hill comes out of the pits with his car of 1962/3, to have a reference before leaving with the new B.R.M.. Although not completely finished, the new pits are in use, having been rebuilt in concrete, about six metres behind the track than before, separated by a concrete wall, a long and gradual passage from the south bend to the pit area, and a sharp exit controlled by a traffic light. Overall a sensible and reasonable layout.

 

Settember arrives at the pits with the transistor box of his overheated Scirocco-B.R.M. and the firemen immediately check the car, but everything is normal, while the new Ferrari is moved away to make a set-up change after having turned in 1'42"0, not a great time if you consider that Jim Clark sets a lap time of 1'40"2 and Graham Hill improves his times by running in 1'39"8 with the old forklift B.R.M.. Mike Spence starts his first Grand Prix in the major category very well, running in 1'44"4, a time that Phil Hill equals with the ATS. It’s almost an hour before Gurney shows up with the latest Brabham Climax V8 monoplane and Hewland-VW gearbox. Shortly after, John Surtees starts again with the new Ferrari and Graham Hill starts to practise with the new B.R.M.. Lorenzo Bandini sets a lap time of 1'40"6, and almost immediately Surtees drops even below the limit of 1'40"0, followed by Graham Hill. Meanwhile, Jim Clark’s car is being worked on because the engine does not reach maximum rpm and lacks speed on the straights. Graham Hill completes another lap on his B.R.M. in 1'39"0, to which Surtees responds with a sensational lap time of 1'38"5, while a heat that makes the air unbreathable rages. Phil Hill goes on track with his ATS and sets a lap time of 1'42"7, equal to the best lap time of Jack Brabham, the Australian who is driving the previous car he used at Zeltweg, with the Colotti 6-speed gearbox. Meanwhile, Spence made remarkable progress with the old Lotus and set a lap time of 1'41"8, standing far ahead of both the official Cooper and the BRP cars. Just before 4:00 p.m. Chris Amon starts to run with the fragile Lola-Climax V8 of the Parnell team, when he loses control in the second corner of Lesmo and ends up spinning, overturning the car, apparently seriously injuring himself and destroying the single-seater.

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Amon is immediately rescued and transported to the civil hospital of Monza and from the first results a simple crack of a rib is suspected. In the meantime, Graham Hill, Brabham and Ginther run a short distance away. Jim Clark’s car then goes back to the pits to repair the engine. The debut day is certainly to be forgotten for Clark and Lotus, as the Scotsman has not yet managed to break the limit of 1'40"0. Ginther managedìs instead to run in a time of 1'39"19 exploiting the slipstream of his teammate. Graham Hill continues the practice alone and manages to run first in 1'38"7, and then in 1'38"6, alarming John Surtees. Jack Brabham, meanwhile, sets a lap time of 1'40"4, and also Jim Clark does his best but it seems that the car can not develop speed; for now the best lap time of the Scottish driver is 1'39"5. The Climax V8 does not yet develop maximum power because it cannot release the maximum number of laps on the straights. At 4:30 p.m. the pole position seems to be contested between John Surtees, Graham Hill, Richie Ginther and Jim Clark, but Dan Gurney approaches this group with a lap time of less than 1'40"0. While the fastest are fighting for the first row of the grid, the private drivers push their cars to the maximum to conquer the last rows and, the faster the leaders go, the more they are forced to run fast too, to stay within a speed of ten percent from the qualified second. Phil Hill manages to make his ATS go well when compared to other professional teams such as BRP and Parnell, but Baghetti is far behind and it seems that he is not able to qualify. Meanwhile, Masten Gregory is running Parnell’s Lotus-B.R.M. V8 like never before, and Hailwood is also going fast, like Jim Hall, while Ireland manages to set a lap time of 1'41"6, but Spence goes even faster and sets an admirable 1'40"9 with the old Lotus test-car.

 

After 5:00 p.m. the coolness of the evening begins to be felt and Graham Hill, Bruce McLaren, Jim Clark, Tony Maggs and John Surtees are all back out of the pits and running fast along the circuit. Surtees marks a lap time of 1'38"0, greeted by the thundering applause of the audience present in the main grandstand, which is crowded, then turned into screams of wild joy when the British driver run in 1'37"3, a time that no one seems to hope to approach. The improvement achieved by Surtees is therefore of three seconds net, which gives the measure of the enormous progress achieved by Ferrari with its new chassis driven not by the new V8 engine, but by the now proven and reliable 6-cylinder engine. Enzo Ferrari, who never attends the races, but does not miss to attend the Monza qualifying, has a radiant face. Graham Hill runs on his B.R.M. in 1'38"5, but it seems at most to be destined for the second position on the grid, and all the mechanics of the B.R.M. look a bit sideways at Surtees and the new Ferrari V6, especially because they know that the Maranello team still has 8 and 12 cylinder engines to mount on the same chassis. Clark is not able to improve: it seems that the Coventry-Climax V8 is not up to the B.R.M. or Ferrari engines for pure power. The Scottish driver does not miss the opportunity to slip behind Graham Hill, to take advantage of the slipstream, but the B.R.M. driver decides to immediately enter the pits, leaving Clark alone on track. Dan Gurney joins the leaders with a brilliant lap time of 1'39"9, followed by a time of 1'39"2, but Jim Clark manages in extremis to set a time of 1'39"0. Then the starting grid order will see John Surtees, Graham Hill, Jim Clark, Richie Ginther and Dan Gurney. Just to prove that he can do it, John Surtees, confident, goes down one last time on track and completes another lap in 1'38"0; not a good time like his best but still faster than anyone else. Lotus does not give up and uses the help of engineer Hassan of Coventry-Climax, who helps them solve the problem with the engine of Jim Clark.

 

The Scottish driver goes in and out of the box continuously, until the end of qualifying, but in the end he has to settle for the third best time, almost two seconds slower than Surtees with Ferrari, an incredible gap for today’s races. With Graham Hill over a second slower than Surtees, it is obvious that Ferrari has worked well on its new car. The twentieth place on the grid would now go to Trintignant with a time of 1'44"4 with the B.R.M. V8 of the Scuderia Centro-Sud, but with Amon still in hospital an extra place is available on the grid that is assigned to the Portuguese driver Mario Araujo de Cabral who run in 1'44"8, being the minimum qualifying time attested to 1'47"2. Last year the minimum was 1'50"0, which gives an idea of the progress made in racing in general and in Grand Prix racing, in particular. In the Lotus garage there is great activity, since the cause of the lack of power in the Clark engine seems not to be found. The mechanics of Lotus are even willing to stay up late to understand the origin of the problem, but in the meantime they decide to mount a new engine in the car. B.R.M. is quite satisfied with its new car, Scuderia Ferrari is very pleased with its car and Brabham is not particularly unhappy with Gurney’s performance. The timekeepers had to take into account and double check the times of Ginther and Gurney up to the tenth of a second and finally determined that Ginther will be fourth with a lap time of 1'39"19 and Gurney fifth with 1'39"25, but because Ginther made his time taking advantage of the slipstream of a competitor, Gurney is quite satisfied with his fifth position on the grid. Sunday morning will be occupied by two GT races in three hours, the first starting at 7:00 a.m. in the presence of the large audience at the Autodrome, no doubt encouraged by the performance of John Surtees during qualifying. It is estimated that there will be about 500,000 people and the circuit will be crowded by noon. The crowd witnesses a defeat of Ferrari in the important GT race; Salvadori, in fact, disputes a formidable race driving an official Aston Martin DB4GT and ending up beating Parkes in a Ferrari GTO, after a gruelling wheel to wheel that lasts for almost the last hour and a half of the race.

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At 7:00 a.m., in front of the park gates, there is already a two kilometres row of cars waiting to get in. At the opening there is the assault on the best seats: in the grandstands, at the curve of Lesmo and the Parabolic. The cars invade the fields, some spectators even raise their tents to have some comfort during the camp, which would have lasted a whole day. At 7:00 a.m., the start of the first race. Interesting, too; but, of course, fans are looking forward to the Grand Prix. The fields, the infernal avenues of the Park, are full of people, here and there stand out the street vendors of straw hats, drinks, sandwiches. Hat sellers do little business because the sky is cloudy. After a short wait, the circuit begins to come alive due to the imminence of the most important race. This new phase of liveliness opens the parade of all the flags, then the axes of the old times: Fangio, Farina, Taruffi, Villoresi, Cortese, Bracco, Sagomano and others run a publicity lap of the track on spider cars. The pits, left free just before by the mechanics of the previous competitors, are occupied by those of the Grand Prix. The cars come, very low and long. The engines begin to roar. The air brings up to the stands the acrid and exciting smell of burnt castor oil; at the gates, people press to break through, trying to see the cars and drivers up close. Graham Hill is the first to arrive. The British driver, quiet and slow, opens a bag and takes out the driving loafers, the visor, the helmet; he starts to clean each object carefully, and prepares the wax pads for the ears. Siffert compliments his wife who he married a week ago. She caresses him:

 

"Be careful, be careful".

 

It is all she says. Perhaps she would have liked to tell him: be careful, drive slowly, but she does not dare to conclude the sentence, that would be out of place. At 3:00 p.m. the engines begin to roar, ready to participate in the Grand Prix. Five minutes before the start, the race director gathers around him the drivers on the finish line. He draws their attention to the main rules of the regulations and at the end, with paternal tone, exclaims:

 

"Above all, I want to repeat: do not risk. Have fun".


The start of the Italian Grand Prix is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 8, 1963 on the road circuit of Monza, 5,750 kilometres long, for 86 laps equal to a total distance of 494,500 kilometres. This means that many teams fill up the tanks until the last drop and some teams even manage to insert some additional tanks on single-seaters. The twenty starters are lined up in pairs behind the starting line. The acclaimed John Surtees is in pole position with the new Ferrari V6, with Graham Hill at his side in the new B.R.M. The last place on the grid is given not to Cabral, as expected at the end of qualifying, but to Giancarlo Baghetti with the second ATS. It is rumoured that a pact has been made and that Cabral (twenty-first best time with 1'44"8), Raby (twenty-second with a time of 1'45"1), Settember (twenty-third in 1'45"9) and de Beaufort (twenty-fourth with 1'46"4) were all encouraged to give up their place on the grid in favour of Giancarlo Baghetti, who with a time of 1'46"8 had the twenty-fifth best time behind de Beaufort, so that he could take the twentieth position and thus defend the honour of the Italian drivers in the Italian Grand Prix. During the morning, Colin Chapman still works at full speed on Jim Clark’s car, and decides to fit a slightly higher windscreen instead of the usual air-stream. Almost all the engines are started at the 3-minute signal, so that the last seconds before the lowering of the flag seem to never end, and John Surtees starts gesturing towards the starter. As a result, when the start is given he is taken slightly by surprise and makes a hesitant start.

 

In the second row, Jim Clark is really excited because he knows that if he can not get behind the Ferrari or the B.R.M. he will remain behind: therefore, the slight hesitation of Surtees is just what it takes, and the green Lotus - with an s-manoeuvre - overtakes the British driver’s Ferrari and finds himself side by side with the B.R.M. of Graham Hill. John Surtees soon regains control of the vehicle after the wheels slip and the three cars move towards the Curva Grande forming a compact group, followed by the rest of the competitors. It is the new B.R.M. of Graham Hill to be in the lead at the end of the first lap, with all the other competitors in the following, forming a group. On the second lap, Surtees takes the new Ferrari in the lead for a moment, at the Lesmo curve, but goes down to second position at the end of the lap, even if only for a matter of centimetres. On the third lap, the B.R.M. and the Ferrari are side by side, with the green car leading by a few centimetres, followed by Clark (Lotus), Gurney (Brabham) and Bandini (Ferrari), all one after the other. On the next lap Clark is in second place and on the fifth lap the Lotus of the Scottish driver gets so close to the rear of the Ferrari of John Surtees that he almost touches it. This is the only real chance for Jim Clark to get away from the rest of the group, because Surtees has a decent advantage but, involuntarily, with the slipstream he drags behind the Scottish driver’s Lotus. Dan Gurney and Graham Hill are side by side and Richie Ginther overtakes Lorenzo Bandini. Then there are Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren and Jo Bonnier, followed by Innes Ireland who is catching up after a slow start. Tony Maggs in the second Cooper follows. Masten Gregory on Reg Parnell’s Lotus-B.R.M. is leading the rest of the group. Mike Hailwood is in last place, complaining of multiple difficulties.

 

Surtees uses all his old biker tricks to try to get rid of the tenacious Clark, diverting from one side to the other along the straights, but all the time the green Lotus is right in his slipstream. As much as he tries, the British driver can’t get rid of the Scotsman, because at every slight deviation from the natural trajectory by the Ferrari, the Lotus follows the British driver. The first two gradually distanced Graham Hill and Dan Gurney; however, any of the four would now be able to lead the race. Meanwhile, Richie Ginther is still ahead of Lorenzo Bandini who follows him all the time. Innes Ireland runs a great race with his BRP-B.R.M., and after overtaking the trio Brabham, McLaren and Bonnier with relative ease, tries to reach Ginther and Bandini. From time to time Jim Clark goes side by side with the British driver’s Ferrari, but despite his efforts he can’t get past it, all while Surtees continually tries to get rid of the Scottish driver. For the first sixteen laps the battle is fast and furious and turns out to be tight and without exclusions of overtaking attempts, with Surtees who can count on all the encouragement of the huge crowd consisting mainly of Ferrari fans. Mike Hailwood, Giancarlo Baghetti and Bob Anderson have already been lapped by the lead quartet. During the sixteenth lap, Jim Clark emerges first from the south corner alone, while the people in the grandstands hold their breath because John Surtees' Ferrari stops before their eyes. Graham Hill and Dan Gurney pass the main straight, while the Ferrari returns to the pits, wrapped in a blanket of white steam from the exhaust, caused by a broken valve and a punctured piston.

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There is no need to check the car at the Ferrari box; the car is simply taken away, and John Surtees has to sit down, being forced to watch the rest of the race from the pits. His only consolation is that he did his best to oppose an overtaking by Clark and that he put on a show. This leaves the Scottish driver, driving his Lotus, in the lead with two seconds of advantage but, without the slipstream of Surtees’ Ferrari, he begins to lose ground. So much so that Graham Hill and Dan Gurney only need five laps to reach him. The three then run at a close distance. Meanwhile, Ireland manages to bring his pale green car between Ginther’s B.R.M. and Bandini’s Ferrari. The three soon engage in a battle as close as that of the trio of cars in the lead, with rapid changes to be in the lead. Returning to the lead trio, Graham Hill has no intention of leaving Jim Clark the opportunity to run as he would like and Dan Gurney is competing against anyone who has the opportunity. During the 21st lap, Maurice Trintignant is just ahead of Jim Hall (Lotus), Phil Hill (ATS) and Jo Siffert (Lotus). At first, the four are in the lead in the straights, then the leading trio laps them, and suddenly there are cars all over the width of the track that overtake from all sides, and in the confusion, almost silently, Dan Gurney takes the lead of the race and Maurice Trintignant moves away from the rest of his group. Graham Hill is leading the next lap, with Dan Gurney and Jim Clark right next to him, followed by Richie Ginther, followed by Ireland and Bandini, who in turn have Brabham, McLaren and Bonnier behind them. Apart from Surtees’ retirement from the race, until now there has not been a driver who has made a pit stop. During the twenty-sixth lap, Baghetti decides to turn the situation around by bringing his ATS to the pits, perhaps more to attract attention than not for actual necessity. Phil Hill, with the other ATS, equipped with disc wheels in the vain attempt to improve the aerodynamic line, successfully overtakes Siffert and Jim Hall, but now begins to lose ground against them and Hailwood is lapped again by the leaders who continue to run consistently in 1'40"0.

 

At first Gurney is in the lead, then Hill is in the lead, then Gurney again, then Hill again, and once or twice Clark also finds himself in the lead, but at any moment any of the three cars can be in the lead, and most of the time they are wheel to wheel. No driver seems to have a clear advantage over the other, so it really is a battle of cars on equal terms, and the result will certainly be decided in relation to the mechanical reliability of the cars. Ferrari has already collapsed and now it is a question of whether it will be B.R.M., Brabham-Climax or Lotus-Climax. The drivers did not show any sign of failure and from the twenty-first lap to the forty-second lap this fight continues non-stop with the same tight pace. The battle for fourth place is even fiercer, because Jack Brabham, freed of the two Cooper, joined Ginther, Ireland and Bandini. Sometimes they are in a row behind each other, then wheel to wheel; sometimes Ginther is in the lead, sometimes Bandini, and we continue with this trend, with the two Cooper McLaren and Bonnier always behind them. Ireland suddenly loses ground during the 36th lap, when the gearbox of his BRP starts to cause problems, but somehow manages to stay with the central group. Two laps later, the gearbox of Lorenzo Bandini’s Ferrari breaks, and the Italian driver returns to the pits to retire. It is difficult to accept for the Ferrari team that the two components with which you normally have no problems have disappointed them in this race, where the expectations of the public are high. Surtees is driving with the normally reliable V6 engine and Bandini with the old proven design of the 6-speed gearbox that has never given problems. Halfway through the race, on lap 43, Clark leads, followed by Gurney and Hill, who are followed by Ginther, Brabham, Ireland, McLaren and Bonnier.

 

Mike Spence is one lap behind, but the British driver defends himself well for being at his first race in Formula 1, ahead of Maggs. Further back follows Maurice Trintignant with the B.R.M. of the Scuderia Centro-Sud, ahead of Hall in his Lotus BRP. The rest of the group is lapped two or more times, and Phil Hill ends up in the back because of a pit stop in which the Italian team made a refuelling during which much of the fuel fell into the cockpit. The ATS has an internal tank, connected to the side ones, and the filler neck is located on the back of the inner tank, under the plexiglass windscreen; in the detachable windscreen panel there is access to the filler. The other ATS has been in the pits for some time due to electrical problems, but at least both are still on, while the Scuderia Ferrari cars are both stopped in the box. A lap later Dan Gurney is once again leading the race, while Graham Hill loses contact with the two leading drivers; it seems that the B.R.M. of the British driver is in trouble. Subsequently, Graham Hill loses even more ground due to the slipping clutch. The British driver struggles strenuously for a few more laps, but things gradually worsens and during the fiftieth lap he is forced to return to the pits to see if there is anything to be done to continue the race, abandoning now any hope of victory. Meanwhile, the fight gets even tighter between Clark and Gurney: first the Scottish driver is in the lead, then the American driver. The two continue surprisingly to run in 1'40"0. With the reliable Ferrari out of the race, and the competitive B.R.M. in difficulty, what we are witnessing is a real mechanical endurance race. In the group behind, Ginther is now second, but not for long, because Brabham is behind him and Ireland, Bonnier and McLaren are still a short distance away. The two leaders are about to lap this group and for a lap or two the audience enjoys a high quality show, especially when Ireland manages to slip its pale green BRP behind the Brabham of Gurney and uses the slipstream. Thus, he approaches Brabham and overtakes him leaving the two Coopers behind.

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Graham Hill is back in the race after his mechanics spray carbon tetrachloride on the clutch but, not solving much, the British driver only manages to make a few more laps with a squeal of clutch discs and in the end has to retire. Jim Clark is starting to maintain the lead consistently, but Gurney is behind him. In the end, they also lap Ginther and Brabham on the sixtieth lap, lapping the entire grid, but Ginther does his best to keep in their slipstream and finally manages to overtake the tenacious Jack Brabham. For Clark everything seems easy now, and on the sixtieth lap the Scottish driver makes the fastest lap of the day, setting the new circuit record in 1'38"9, at 209.302 km/h of average speed. During the sixty-second lap, Clark crosses the finish line alone, and it is a long time before Gurney appears; after another lap, running at relatively slow speed, the Brabham-Climax of the American driver heads to the pits. The problem seems to be concerning the fuel supply. Although Gurney manages to complete two more laps in the meantime, the problem cannot be solved and the American driver has to retire, leaving Clark and the Lotus 25 with a full lap ahead of the rest of the drivers. The initial battle between Lotus, Ferrari, B.R.M. and Brabham seems to have ended in Lotus' favour, thanks to its reliability, although there is still some way to go before reaching the chequered flag. Clark can now afford to slow down slightly and his lap times are between 1'42"0 and 1'43"0. Richie Ginther follows the Scottish driver closely, with Jack Brabham slightly behind. During the seventieth lap, Ireland laps Spence and Maggs, who are still very close, and the new driver of the Lotus team cleverly takes the slipstream of the BRP car, thus moving away from the second Cooper driver. But only three laps later, the engine oil pressure starts to drop, becoming insufficient, and Spence wisely decides to turn off and stop his Lotus before compromising the engine. During the seventy-sixth lap, the engine of Bonnier’s Cooper begins to lose power and, thinking of being short of fuel, returns to the pits to refuel, thus losing a fifth place that seemed certain.

 

Suddenly Jack Brabham’s engine shuts down and switches to fuel reserve mode, but the system does not activate properly and the engine shuts down again, prompting the Australian driver to return to the pits to refuel, losing a third place that seemed now assured. Meanwhile Jim Clark leads the race with confidence, happy to let Richie Ginther pass, and with the forced stop of Jack Brabham, Innes Ireland gets third place, a position for which he fought and worked hard; the British driver is followed by Bruce McLaren, with Jack Brabham who, surprisingly, is back in the race behind the Cooper of the New Zealand driver. At the end of the race, Jo Bonnier relaxes, thinking that Maurice Trintignant is one lap behind, but according to most of the people present at the race is on equal laps with the Cooper of Rob Walker’s team, and on the eighty third lap he overtakes him. Clark and Ginther are now one lap ahead of Ireland, McLaren and Brabham, and when the Scottish driver, at the wheel of his Lotus-Climax, finishes his eighty-sixth lap winning the Italian Grand Prix, Ireland is on the straight towards the end of his eighty-fifth lap, very close to the chequered flag. The British driver seems to be moving to a deserved third place, when his engine stops and his car stops suddenly. This way, behind Richie Ginther finishing in second place, Bruce McLaren takes an unexpected third place. Ireland finishes in fourth place, followed by Jack Brabham and Tony Maggs. No one is more satisfied with this victory than the Lotus team for the reliability and quality of driving expressed by Jim Clark, and thanks to the work of Colin Chapman and his mechanics. Victories at Zandvoort, Spa, Reims, Silverstone and Monza crowned Lotus' Scottish driver as the undisputed champion of the constructors' title, and Jim Clark as the undisputed champion of the drivers' title with three races to go. Quite positive notes also for ATS, which managed to finish the Italian Grand Prix with Phil Hill. The Bolognese car, after overcoming the initial difficulties, is slowly growing, and next season should be on the line of the most experienced rival cars.

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If the five wins are added to his second place in Indianapolis and the first place in Milwaukee, you can not ignore a driver-car combination that deserves to be the winner regardless of the points system. Some say that had it not been for the reliability problem of the Ferrari of Surtees, Clark would not have become World Champion today. No one, of course, can say how the Italian Grand Prix would have ended if Surtees and Graham Hill had stayed in the race, but to accuse the winner of luck would be in bad taste, denying the true values of racing, that perfect fusion of talent, human values and technique that Jim Clark demonstrated on the Monza asphalt, crowning an almost perfect season, as good as Fangio, after the debugging of the season opening in Monaco. In fact, from that seventeenth lap the Scottish driver did not hold back, resting on a record that seemed to be threatened by no one else, and even after the retirement of the outgoing champion Graham Hill, he continued to improve his average speed, making his fastest lap on lap 60, breaking the record of Graham Hill, almost to show that his victory did not depend only on the misfortunes of others but is based on his unquestionable talent combined with human values and the high technical and technological level to which Colin Chapman’s Lotus has accustomed us. In motorsport, the technical characteristics of the cars are ultimately the only ones that make the difference with the same talent of the driver and all the other factors. The title won three races in advance confirms the superiority of the Scottish driver and the British car. However, Ferrari does not leave the Monza circuit by defeat: it is clear the huge progress concerning the speed developed in the straight, which was a weak point of the Lotus in qualifying and that is hopeful. The car with a supporting frame promises well and, already in the next race, when it will be fitted with an 8-cylinder engine, the gap with the British cars should be reduced.

 

Another evidence that Jim Clark won the title deservedly is also the sportsmanship with which the fans, mostly Ferrari fans after the retirement of Surtees and Bandini, began to cheer for the Scottish driver. A title that if you also look at the statistics can not be said undeserved. He was the most talented, the most consistent and the most solid driver. Clark has accustomed us in this season to make every race look easy, even this, especially after the departure of Surtees and Graham Hill; certainly a very unique walk at 205 km/h average. The Scotsman can make what is difficult and complex seem easy, with the style, composure, tranquillity and cool that distinguish him. From practices it was clear that Lotus was not favoured by this circuit, where Clark struggled to get below the time of 1'40"0, compared to Surtees. Clark, after having crossed the finish line, is overwhelmed by the crowd, who manages to reach the track and runs towards the car of the Scottish driver; struggling, Jim Clark manages to wear the laurel wreath and Colin Chapman, the constructor of Lotus, can sit on the engine hood to make the lap of honour. On their way back, the winner is literally forced to leave to save himself from the onslaught of fans, taking refuge in the car park behind the pits. But even here the crowd manages to reach the Scottish driver. Jim Clark, with his car and some mechanics, enters a garage and bar the door. The siege lasts about twenty minutes. About two hundred young boys, armed with photocameras, cameras, pieces of paper and fountain pens, begin to spell the name of the winner then, increasingly in the grip of fanaticism, they start to beat punches and kicks against the iron door. Clark, holed up inside, fears danger. Finally, after some time, the police rush to rescue him, which manages to reduce the fans. Jim Clark finally manages to get out and find the calm he needs to answer questions from journalists.

 

"It was a very hard win. I knew before the start that Surtees' car would stand in my way. And in fact I immediately saw in the early laps that I was not able to overtake him. I put myself behind him. It was a race to be won with consistency: I had to make it until the end and before the end someone could give in".

 

The grey day for the Italians' failure to win ends with a slow displacement of the circuit until exasperation. The thousands of cars that had entered the Park took two and a half to three hours to reach Monza. The following day, Monday, September 9, 1963 Jim Clark does not show up during the morning at the court in Monza, where he was summoned by Dr Renato Improta, who leads the investigation on the disaster of two years ago, when the German rider Wolfgang von Trips and fourteen spectators died on the Lombard track. On Sunday afternoon, at the end of the race, Dr. Enrico Setaiolo, head of the police station of P. S. of Monza, had notified the British champion a subpoena for 9:00 a.m.. Clark, in the ongoing investigation, is accused of the offences provided for by Articles 589 and 434 of the Italian Penal Code, concerning the multiple manslaughter and the disaster respectively. In the subpoena handed to the driver, Clark is accused of dangerous manoeuvre, contrary to sports regulations. On Monday morning, at 9:00 a.m. Judge Improta is in his office, but awaits in vain the arrival of Jim Clark until 12:00 a.m., when he discovers that the driver left the Hotel de la Ville in Monza at 7:30 a.m. and left to return to Great Britain.

 

Margherita Corrias

 

Translated by Monica Bessi

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