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#142 1966 Monaco Grand Prix

2021-12-22 00:00

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#142 1966 Monaco Grand Prix

Sabato 1° Gennaio 1966 si disputa il Gran Premio del Sudafrica, una prova non valida per il campionato mondiale di Formula 1. Mike Spence su Lotus-Cli

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On Saturday, January 1st, 1966, the South African Grand Prix is held. It is a race that will not count for the Formula 1 world championship. Mike Spence finishes first, ahead of the Swiss driver Jo Siffert and the Englishman Peter Arundell. At the Grand Prix there is only one car that meets the new Formula 1 regulations of 1966, Jack Brabham’s Repco-Brabham. However, after nine laps in the lead, the Australian driver has to retire due to a mechanical failure. The drivers that don’t take part at the Grand Prix are Jim Clark, who has decided to stay in London to be close to his sick father, John Surtees, who is still recovering from the crash in Canada, and Ferrari, which has not yet been developed sufficiently by the technicians. This is just the first of many events that will accompany the Grand Prix teams and car constructors. According to the FIA regulations for 1966, the Formula 2 cars must have an engine derived from series production with at least 500 units per year, a number unreachable for Ferrari which should thus have been excluded from the category. To get around it, the previous year Ferrari had given Fiat a 6-cylinder engine for the series Dino-Fiat coupé Bertone and spider Pininfarina, and the same engine - which is now recreated in a thousands of units - is back to Maranello ready to be fitted on a Formula 2 car. On Thursday, January 6, 1966, Enzo Ferrari starts the meeting announcing the Formula 2 programm, specifying that the car should be ready on time to be exhibited at the Sports Car Show in Turin on Saturday, February 26, 1966. They have to build the car in six weeks. The group protests: the task is impossible and the project unachievable because the design requires time, the work other time, as well as the assembly and all the rest. Ferrari threatens and swears at the managers of the technical office and the garage, who are astounded and keep on repeating that it is impossible. Even working day and night, the time is incompressible. At this point, Enzo Ferrari becomes calm and replies with a smile:

 

"Listen, my birthday is on February 20. Every year you give me a trophy, a plaque, a foolish thing with the dedication of your faithful attachment engraved: this year, if you want to make me happy, give me the Formula 2 car for that date".

 

In the end, this wish will come true. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, January 19, 1966, the former world champion John Surtees comes back to Modena to meet Enzo Ferrari and to reach an agreement in view of his comeback to racing. After the incident he was involved in in Mosport (Canada) on Sunday, September 25, 1965, John Surtees is still walking with his cane. The Englishman admits to be back in Maranello to test the new car for the first time and is already thinking about taking part in the first race of the championship. His medical conditions are getting better quickly and Surtees thinks to further accelerate his return to full efficiency with a stay in an English climatic health resort. Enzo Ferrari and John Surtees talk for a long time, but more in-depth agreements on his future will be defined two weeks later, when he will be back in Maranello to learn more about the 1966 Scuderia Ferrari models. At the same time, Mike Parkes, the British and blonde engineer, driver and test driver is the man of the moment in motorsport. Parkes has sparked the reporters' imagination and the driver is seen as Ferrari's new James Bond and Maranello's secret weapon.

 

Mike Parkes is a character that deserves attention and motorsport thrives on this kind of characters. His arrival to the Maranello team has caused a stir because he almost threw the young Italian drivers, such as Bandini, Scarponi, Vaccarella and Baghetti out and a heated controversy broke out. But Parkes should not be underestimated because for years he has been the key man in the experimentation of Maranello cars and has an engineering degree that allowed him to get a job with Stirling Moss. The idea of including him on the team in 1966 was suggested in part by the situation of John Surtees who had not yet left the hospital after the Canada incident, and despite the hopes of a quick recovery it is feared that the former World Champion does not immediately recover his physical condition. The degree obtained in 1955, the time spent in the Rootes factory, the great experience accumulated on the prototypes, added to an uncommon technical preparation, are enough to get him a promotion. Then, it will be the future results to determine if the British driver will be equally wild at the wheel of the three-litre cars and if Enzo Ferrari has been able to choose once again the right man to drive his cars. Even for the British driver himself the promotion was a surprise, and in an interview Stirling Moss states that before accepting the proposal Parkes discussed it with him:

 

"Listen Stirling, tell me the truth: do you believe that I could race with a Formula 1 car?"

 

The answer given to his British compatriot can only be guessed. And Moss, a great champion whose bad luck has caused him to abandon racing prematurely after denying him the World Champion title that he deserved for years, is certainly not a man who isn’t capable of judging the skills of a colleague. With these features, the World Championship for Makes and the World Sportscar Championship kick off on Saturday, February 5, 1966, in the United States, with the 24 Hours of Daytona race. Scuderia Ferrari doesn’t take part in the traditional American race, which in 1966 lasts for the first time a whole day instead of the usual twelve hours, but there are ten cars produced in Maranello belonging to private teams. However, the Ford and the Chaparral of Jim Hall and Hap Sharp, destined to displease the rivals of the previous year, take part in the race.

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Ferrari has to give up the Daytona race due to bad weather that has covered roads of the Apennines with snow and has stopped the final testing of the models prepared for the world championship. The 24 Hours of Daytona is too demanding a competition to be raced with untested cars. Thus, the debut of the Maranello team is delayed until the end of March, on the occasion of the 12 Hours of Sebring. In Daytona, Ford will try to make Ferrari’s predictions come true and will try to bring a trophy to the building where it has been working since 1963. In 1965 it gets the first result, imposing itself in the granturismo with the Cobras, but it did not succeed however in prevailing among the prototypes. 1966 regulations have changed from those of the previous years and some categories are called with a new name but the essence is the same and the fight continues. Ford races in Daytona with its latest four Mark II prototypes, which can reach 320 km/h, driven by Dan Gurney-Terry Grant, Lloyd Ruby- Ken Miles, Walt Hangsen-Mark Donohue and Bruce McLaren-Chris Amon. In the absence of the new Ferraris, two P2 Sports-prototypes will race, making their debut under the colours of the Francorchamps team (Bianchi and Langlois at the wheel) and the North American Racing Team (Mexican Pedro Rodriguez and Mario Andretti or Bob Bondurant, former Ford Cobra driver, at the wheel). Then there are eight 275 Le Mans models, driven by Innes Ireland-Mike Koenig, Victor Wilson-Denis Hulme; at the wheel of the South African team there are Jack Epstein-Paul Hawkins, for the Canadian David Greenback-Peter Lurch, and the Belgian duo Jackie Ickx-Léon Eldè, who could be replaced by Willy Mairesse.

 

The Chaparral is driven by the Swedish driver Jo Bonnier and former Formula 1 champion Phil Hill. Bonnier visited the Jim Hall and Hap Sharps factory in Texas, and he tried the car several times in his most recent aluminium version. His opinion has always been positive, the Swedish driver is convinced of his statements, they are not just positive opinions because it is not possible to pronounce others. Bonnier’s comments concern the road holding and the car handling. At first, the gearbox lack is disconcerting, but then the fatigue decreases and this allows the driver to focus more on the driving. While we are waiting for Dinos, Porsche goes on track with its Carrera 6, a two-seater racing berlinetta with a six-cylinder engine, placed before the rear end, capable of delivering 210 horsepower at 8000 rpm. Underneath the layered polyester bodywork there is the multitubular chassis used in 1965 by Porsche in the European Hill Climb Championship. An interesting debut and another reason to spice up a championship that already seems to be one of the most exciting in recent years. Meanwhile, in Maranello the latest creations of Ferrari - those that will debut at Sebring, so the new sports prototype 275 and the Dino-Ferrari, the first of the 50 planned - are presented. Enzo Ferrari declares:

 

"We don’t think of building cars chasing Americans in the assault on the high-powered engines. We remember the criticism they gave us when Gonzales and Trintignant won at Le Mans. We heard that we had raced with tank wagons. Furthermore, we believe that the prototypes must have a close connection with what will be the future granturismo cars, so we do not intend to exceed four litres".

 

Then, the Modenese constructor adds other considerations:

 

"It is intuitive that the American attack is massive, so much so that when they begin to impose themselves, we will have finished to win not only for that year, but for a couple of seasons".

 

The presented Dino is the first of fifty whose homologation will allow Scuderia Ferrari to take part in the Constructors' World Championship. It is a car derived from the model that in 1965 won the European Hill Climb Championship, the car is redesigned according to the new international regulations. The engine has four camshafts and the power supply uses three two barrel carburetors. The chassis was made with a mixed structure of steel and plastic; the suspensions, the braking system and the wheels, also benefiting from the tests carried out during the races of last season, have received many improvements. The sport prototype, the third model of the 330/P series, has also been designed and built according to the requirements of the sporting code. It is a completely new car; the engine, compared to the classic 12-cylinders Ferrari, has maintained only the basic bore and stroke dimensions of the cylinders, with the redesigned structure of the base.

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The supply system is introduced with indirect injection, the gearbox (with five gears plus reverse) is the type successfully tested in recent months on Formula 1 cars, the chassis is instead of a mixed type. The maximum speed of this model is 268 km/h, the suspensions are independent, the wheels are cast in light alloy and as fuel is used the Super gasoline at 98-100 octane. With this car, Scuderia Ferrari has to face the American Ford and Chaparral in the World Sportscar Championship, a difficult challenge for the small Maranello team. In order to see the new cars on track we have to wait until Sebring, meanwhile Ford prepares for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and his models are driven by John Whitmore, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, Jack Sears and Frank Gardner; the sixth driver has not yet been chosen. It is not excluded that Ford England, whose director is Alan Mann, can take part in the 1000 kilometres of the Nurburgring, the 12 Hours of Reims and the Grand Prix of Spa. In 1965, in the first race on American soil, a prototype of the GT 40 PT series won thanks to Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby who preceded in the 12 Hours of Daytona an AC Cobra granturismo, another car of the Ford family, while in tenth place came the GT 40 PT of Bondurant and Ginther. But on Sunday, February 6, 1966, Ford gets a real success in the 24 Hours of Daytona: Miles and Ruby win again, behind them at the wheel of the new Sport-Prototype Mark II there are Dan Gurney and Jerry Grant, followed in turn by Walt Hansgen and Mark Donohue both driving the Mark II prototypes.

 

Pedro Rodriguez and Mario Andretti’s Ferrari 365-P2 finishes fourth, followed by another Ford prototype driven by McLaren-Amon. A remarkable result that rewards the efforts of the American manufacturers, although we must remember the absence of the latest Ferrari models. The Maranello cars in the race were given to customers or teams such as the American Nart, the English Maranello Concessionaires and the Belgian Francorchamps; they are P2 cars, with an old chassis, equipped with a 4400 cc engine, with single camshaft distribution for each bank, able to develop 380/385 horsepower, which is not enough to oppose the new 7-litres engine Ford and their 450/460 horsepower. The real defeat, in this first round of the World Sportscar Championship and the World Championship for Makes, is the Chaparral Chevrolet of the two Texan partners Hall and Sharp. Jim and Hap followed the 24 Hours from the pits, letting Phil Hill and Joakim Bonnier drive their only car. The car was not able to keep up with the Fords' pace, and already on lap seven they stopped in the pits due to problems with the front suspension. Hill and Bonnier then went back on track in tenth place away from the Ford in the lead. They manage to break the lap record, but at the twelfth hour of the race they have to retire. After the race, Ford driver Ken Miles says:

 

"Yes, Daytona went well, but in Sebring it will be difficult: with the four-litres Ferraris in contention we’ll have to give everything".

 

It is going to be a difficult challenge for Enzo Ferrari, who has repeatedly stated that he does not want to increase the displacement of his engines, but the 330-P3s (400-410 horsepower) reach the speed of 310 km/h. The lower weight and the better agility of the car could however compensate for the superior speed and acceleration and deceleration qualities of the American Mark II cars, but most of the championship races take place on fast tracks, that seem to be more suitable for the qualities of Ford. In the 24 Hours of Daytona another test of strength is that of Porsche, the Carrera 6 which, at its debut in the race, finishes sixth behind the most powerful Ford and Ferrari; while the three 904 GTS finish in seventh, eighth and tenth place. In ninth place there is another Ford, a GT 40 PT. The Carrera 6, with its six-cylinder engine, 1991 cc displacement, 220 hp at 8000 rpm, has managed to keep a constant pace. The anti-Dino, as it was nicknamed by the Germans, started the championship well, giving hope to Porsche, which it is not yet over the defeat suffered in the European Hill Climb Championship. Ferrari is competing at Sebring on one side with Ford and Chaparral and on the other side with Porsche. Meanwhile, Ferrari must also think about the development of the new Formula 1 car. There is one month and a half left until the second round of the world championship in Sebring. Hall and Sharp, with their German mechanics and with the help of German technicians and General Motors experts, have to work harder if they want to fight for victories, without forgetting that the 330 P3 will also be there at Sebring. Chaparral, in order to enter the Sports-Prototypes category, had to undergo many changes, including weight gain that probably was not distributed in the most appropriate way. The track and the race are the main bench of experience to improve the cars; the confirmation is the Ford that is beginning to reap the fruits of its work, after it has left behind three years of competitions around the world.

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The new Ferrari that will take part in the Formula 1 World Championship is exhibited at the Automobile Museum during the first exhibition of racing cars which takes place in Turin from Saturday 26 February to Sunday 6 March 1966. The event hosts only Italian brands. The cars and the racing engines express the pinnacle of automotive technology, are a vanguard of progress and propose constructive solutions that, after the test of races, are transferred to the production of series cars. This function, although with some limitations, is technically one of the reasons for the existence of the sport of the steering wheel; however, the emotional drives that the speed races promote in the public remains in the foreground, and are also part of the commitment of specialised constructors. Undoubtedly this difficult and sometimes dramatic sport, born together with the car and characterised by ups and downs of popularity, has had in the 60s a strong revival, which is reflecting on the same world production. Never before have sports versions of regular models been as numerous as in 1966, and in the short-term programs of many major European and American constructors, this kind of cars are being studied. For example, the launch of the Fiat Dino, whose engine is the most directly derived from the sports technique. At the Turin exhibition, in the evocative environment of the Automobile Museum, in an effective combination between the past and the present, there are dozens of cars designed for racing. And if it is true that few shows are more exciting than competitions on circuits, there is no denying that the observation without heartbeat of the beautiful refined mechanics that these models can offer is for the enthusiast a reason of exceptional interest. It is not common to have so many cars of such high technical value together.

 

There are over sixty exhibitors including famous brands such as Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Fiat-Abarth, Iso, Lamborghini, Lancia, Maserati; other minor brands but known to fans such as Autodelta, Bizzarrini, Bosato, De Sanctis, De Tomaso, Facetti, Foglietti, Giannini, Moretti, Serenissima, Stanguellini. And still small constructors of formula 2, 3, 875 Monza' cars and karts, processors and trainers. Together with the single-seater with a 3000 cc 12-cylinder engine, capable of delivering at least 380 horsepower, Scuderia Ferrari presents the Dino Sport 2000 in the sports version that will go on track at Sebring. There is also the Fiat-Abarth OT 2000 with an engine of 8V of 2000 ccs, still in phase of set up and that will be climbed on a new chassis. Among the remarkable cars there are also the Serenissima coupe, the Lancia Fulvia HF coupe, the Fulvia Sport built by Faccetti; the Alfa Romeo Giulia versions, also in the special versions of Autodelta, Conrero and Bosato. The Maserati V12-cylinder transverse engine, the Formula 3 single-seaters of De Sanctis, Foglietti and Stanguellini. The exhibition is completed by the Libreria dell'Automobile [Automobile Bookshop, N.d.T.], where you can book all the technical and sports reading books, including the book Trent'anni di corse [30 years of racing, N.d.T.] by Severo Boschi, focused on the competitive period of Fiat. The exhibition was inaugurated by city authorities and representatives of the industrial and sports world. The exhibition also includes accessories, special boxes for the transformation of series engines, anatomically shaped seats, rev counters and aerodynamic mirrors.

 

During the first day of opening to the public there is a large number of visitors, mainly young people, but also technicians, dealers of cars and automotive materials and many women. Sports cars are an attraction for everyone, for direct interest or for simple curiosity. This is the first time in Italy that this type of event has been organised and a large group of cars, engines and parts has been able to gather; so, this is why it is attracting so many people. The accessories sector opens to fans a fascinating world with the amount of pieces to modify engines, gain horsepower, equip even the cars with accessories that give the illusion of driving a sports car. In this field prevail the special steering wheels made of wood or leather as they are used on single-seaters of Formula 1, large capacity oil cups, camshafts, carburetors, intake manifolds and exhaust pipes, anatomically shaped seats. Intake trumpets for carburetors, rev counters, aerodynamic rear-view mirrors, headlamps, complete boxes for the transformation of series engines and prepared cylinder heads. However, at the centre of the visitors' attention are the most powerful cars, starting from the Ferrari Formula 1 of 3000 cc and Dino Sport, the Fiat-Abarth derived 850 but with two-litre engine and modified chassis, the Lamborghini 350 GT, the Bizzarrini 5300 Strada, the De Tomaso-Ghia Sport. Enzo Ferrari visits the exhibition, too: the famous Modenese constructor wanted to observe his exhibited cars. However, Ferrari says that he has to withdraw his Formula 1 car from the exhibition to intensify the preparation for the upcoming start of the racing season. Nevertheless, it will be replaced with another new car, the 330/P3 Prototype, which will take part in the 1966 World Championship for Makes.

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The regulations of the 24 Hours of Le Mans limit to 55 the number of cars allowed to take part in the race. With applications approaching one hundred, the organisers have to make a selection. 1966 can be considered as the year of the great attack of the Ford because 86 applications of registration for cars of the great American brand have been recorded, including 4736 cc and 7010 cc. The organisers admitted seven of the American teams Shelby and Holman, and six belonging to Canadian, Swiss, French and British teams. At the wheel of the first ones are Dan Gurney, Hansgen, Bucknum, Foyt, Gardner and Umberto Maglioli, who races with the colours of the Holman team. Chaparral seems to have given up on seeking revenge in France for the 24 Hours of Daytona, in fact it enters only a car, driven as Daytona by Phil Hill and Bonnier. Le Mans promises a great duel between Ford and Ferrari. The Italian constructor has six official cars, four of 4390 cc and two Dinos with 2000 cc engine, as well as nine cars of different customers and teams from England, Belgium, the United States and France. Two Bizzarrini, four Alpha Romeo and one ASA are also entered. The list of participants is completed by six Porsche, five Alpine, three CD, two Moira Sport, two Austin Healey and one Marcos. There are 25 cars of over 3 litres (Ford, Chaparral, Bizzarrini and Ferrari), a 2985 cmc (Ferrari 250 GT entered by Tavano), 13 from 1600 to 2000 cc.

 

On the initiative of Maserati, Osca is studying a new type of engine. The company of the Maserati brothers is perhaps about to make its debut as a sports car factory. In fact, in the two years before 1966 the company was bought by Count Agusta, and from that moment  it has only presented some prototypes, but they did not have a production following. Many technicians have been moved to the Augusta factories and the final destiny of Osca is very uncertain. At a time when there is an attempt to give a new boost to Italian motorsport, it would be sad that a name like that of Osca disappeared from the scene. In the last eighteen years, Osca small-capacity cars have proven to have extraordinary qualities. So much so that the brilliance of the Maserati brothers is far from gone, Ernesto Maserati is designing his four-stroke Maer engine with precompression, which allows to supercharge the engine with an absolute pressure of 1.5 atmospheres and to obtain a much greater specific power compared to previous engines. This is a simple and efficient solution, which could give remarkable results and perhaps decide the destiny of the Emilian brand, which all sportsmen would like to see rising again. Also in 1966 Italian cars are invited to take part in the Golden Steering Wheel, an event of road education and knowledge of the Traffic Code.  In 1965, at this race - which reached its second edition - 23.000 competitors took part and in 1966 the number is exceeded. The Golden Steering Wheel awards 30.000.000 lire in the form of cars, air travels, stays abroad, televisions, turntables, car radios, cameras, boats, photocameras, household appliances, books, beauty products.

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Meanwhile, on Tuesday, March 15, 1966, John Surtees, after about seven months of inactivity due to the consequences of the incident on Saturday, September 24, 1965, during the official practice of the Canadian Grand Prix, is back on track in a racing car for the first time. On the track of the Modena circuit, the British driver begins a long test session on a single-seater Ferrari driven by a 2500 cc 6-cylinder engine. After a few laps to get familiar with the car, Surtees manages to achieve some remarkable lap times, driving first in 54''9 and then in 54''8, thus beating the record set the previous Friday by Lorenzo Bandini. At the end of practices, Surtees declares:

 

"I’m happy, I’ve got the proof that my physical condition is fine".

 

The preparation of John Surtees continues in the following weeks, in Modena. The former World Champion seems almost back in shape after the incident in which he could have lost his life. Now in Modena he managed to get back into the cockpit of the single-seater, he held the steering wheel and looked around almost lost. Ferrari thus finds its number one driver and the drivers’ world championship one of its protagonists of all time. Ferrari in 1966 has to face the debut of the new Formula 1 and the heavy attack of Ford and Chaparral in the constructors' championship, so it needed to get its top driver back. Enzo Ferrari has hoped for a long time in this recovery, he has had confidence in the physical possibilities of the Englishman. Although he is still not at his best and needs intense training to rehabilitate his body and reflexes, it is almost a miracle that Surtees managed to get back into shape in a relatively short period of time. In Mosport, Canada, many thought that his career was over because of that crash that saw him going off track under the carcass of his Lola 70. Surtees had suffered serious injuries to his spine and legs; it was feared that he might be paralyzed. Then this danger disappeared, he was carried to London, hospitalised and then began the convalescence period. His wife Pat has always been at his side, giving him courage and supporting him and helped him believing that despite everything he could go back racing. Surtees' goal is to get back on track for the Monaco Grand Prix and, despite he’s still limping a bit, the British driver says:

 

"In order to drive well and win, you don’t need to run on foot".

 

After the happy announcement of John Surtees’ comeback, Scuderia Ferrari has a less happy news: only two cars, the 330/P3 prototype and the Dino Sport, can take part in Sebring. Only two cars against Ford that could race with about twenty cars, Chaparral with at least two cars and Porsche with four or five cars. The difference is clear and this is not a decision limited to the American race; in fact, the Modena constructor would like to limit its participation in the World Sportscar Championship and the world championship to these two cars only. The previous month, it had been announced that at least four or five cars would take part, including three new four-litre prototypes. Initially, it was hoped to be able to set up the cars in time, but then technical and financial difficulties occurred and didn’t allow the full development of the cars.

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The 12 Hours of Sebring is held on Saturday, March 26, 1966, and is the second round of the constructors’ world championship and the World Sportscar Championship. After not taking part in the Daytona race, it seemed that Ferrari had to go on track with a large number of cars, but in Sebring there is just one Sport-Prototype, so also in the next races of the two sporting events of motorsport there will be only one Ferrari. Enzo Ferrari declares:

 

"There’s nothing left to do against the Americans. Now, a conjuncture of situations forces us to seize our races, and we know that sportsmen believe us when we say that the decision was painful".

 

The constructor says that it is no longer possible to build racing cars, train drivers, pre-order tactics, study strategies, achieve results, keep championships and titles. The reason for this is essentially financial. In fact, to build a 330 P3 you need about ten million dollars, moreover, while the old prototypes used good materials also for series granturismo cars, which are standalone cars. In addition, we must consider the travel costs - at the price of drivers and mechanics - of Formula 1, not forgetting that everything revolves around a factory of limited size. Enzo Ferrari says:

 

"We cannot defend a national prestige: a disproportionate task that we have been given and that for many years, without probably being aware of its onerousness, we can also have fulfilled. We cannot defend a prestige that today has also become European".

 

The situation is obvious and becomes even more so by looking at the list of cars entered in the 12 Hours of Sebring. Jim Hall and Hap Sharp put two of their cars on track. Carroll Shelby even enters twenty-one Fords, three new Mark II prototypes, one Roadster XT with automatic transmission, seventeen GT 40 PTs and Cobras. An imposing line-up that shows the power and the wealth of means of the American opponents of Ferrari. The 12 Hours had to be fought by Ford, Chaparral and Ferrari but it does not seem that Ferrari is able to oppose with a single car the deployment of the great rivals. Ferrari’s decision to limit its participation in the World Championship arouses controversy especially from those who fear that the Italian drivers will remain without a seat. Eugenio Dragoni, for example, cannot hide his disappointment, perhaps ignoring what the Modenese constructor thinks. The drivers are forced to take turns driving: Baghetti with Bandini, Biscaldi, Starnotti and Vaccarella. The three Ford prototypes are driven by Daytona winner Miles and Ruby, Gurney and Grant, and McLaren and Amon. The GT 40 MKI sees the British duo Graham Hill-Jackie Stewart at the wheel. Chaparral goes on track with its constructors Hap and Sharp and with the pair Bonnier-Phil Hill. Hap and Sharp have dedicated their attention to setting up the two cars, in Daytona the car has proved to have some problems, after a series of comebacks, followed by many failures. It seems that the cars are ready for this race, the problems in the suspension and exhaust system have disappeared thanks to some checks and tests carried out between one race and another.

 

The Chaparrals, lighter than the Fords, have an advantage in terms of the braking system being less stressed. In fact, on the Sebring circuit, which is 8.400 kilometres long, drivers have to slow down considerably nine times in each lap; this means that the driver who does a lap of the circuit in three minutes has to brake approximately every 20 seconds, or approximately 2000 times in 12 Hours. Ford does not have any problems with road holding. After the experiences of the previous years, the technicians of the Detroit team had the satisfaction, in Daytona, to see the Mark II of Miles, Gurney and Hansgen on the finish line one after another. Shelby, however, feared Sebring, because it meant a direct and more exhausting confrontation with Ferrari, but after the confirmation of the participation of only one car of Maranello the concerns of the American team have decreased. During practices, the Ferrari driven by Mike Parkes and Bob Bondurant beats the lap record in 2'58"6. Teodoro Zeccoli’s Alfa Romeo goes off track and the driver is injured and has to remain under observation in the hospital for 24 hours. In the category of smaller prototypes the Dino driven by Bandini and Scarfiotti collides with three Porsche Carrera 6 driven by Herrman-Linge, Vögele-Siffert and Mitter-Klass who have already achieved a good result in Daytona. The 12 Hours of Sebring kicks off on Sunday, March 26, 1966, at 10:00 a.m., in the classic Le Mans style, drivers must race to reach the car from the other side of the track.

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The hardness of the circuit causes many retirements in the first hours. At the third hour of the race the Canadian champion Bob McLean unfortunately is involved in a fatal accident. At the age of 30 he passes away at the wheel of his Ford GT 40 PT. The car goes off the track at a curve, perhaps after losing a tyre, crashes into an electricity pole and catches fire. The car still has tanks full of fuel and bursts. The race continues and the new Ferrari 330 P3, driven by Mike Parkes, which started in second place, is in the lead at the tenth lap, followed by the Ford Roadster X-1 of Miles and Lloyd Ruby and the Ferrari of Rodriguez and Andretti. Ten laps after Gurney, who started two minutes late, manages to recover and takes the lead of the race. Parkes and Bob Bondurant’s Ferrari has to retire due to a gearbox failure. Another tragedy takes place in Sebring, when the Porsche driven by Wester in a fight with Andretti’s Ferrari goes off track and involves four spectators in the accident: a man, his two sons and a woman. The drivers remain unharmed, while the Porsche is completely destroyed. The dramatic race that has seen five people lose their lives, sees the Ford Roadster of Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby winning, while the first Ferrari, that of Bandini and Scarfiotti, ends in fifth place. Just a week later, Saturday, April 2, 1966, at Le Mans during practices for the 24 Hours the Ford prototype Mark II of Walt Hansgen goes off track. The American driver suffers severe fractures to his arms, legs, chest and a serious head injury. The doctors at the American military hospital in Orléans say that his condition is critical. The crash happens at 10:55 a.m.: the track is wet, Hansgen has just completed the fastest lap, when at some point on the straight the Ford swerves for about 150 metres, then crashes into a protective barrier, gets into an escape route, hits a sandbar and then flips over and over again.

 

The first to rescue the driver are some police officers who are near the crash site and are likely to be affected in turn. But neither the officers, nor the firemen, nor the mechanics, who immediately intervened, can do anything immediately to extract Hansgen from the wreckage of the car. It takes 20 minutes to free the driver and carry him inside the ambulance. Hansgen, a very experienced driver, who came second in the 12 Hours of Sebring, has a certain familiarity with the Le Mans track because since 1955 he regularly takes part in the 24 Hours. It is difficult to understand how the crash happened, since an initial examination of the wreckage did not reveal mechanical failures such as to make Hansgen lose control of the car. Only the hypothesis of a skidding due to the wet track remains. Shortly after the Hangsen incident, Ken Miles' seven-litre Ford also slides onto wet asphalt and goes off the track into a sandbar; the driver remains unharmed while the car is heavily damaged at the front. The official Ferraris do not show up at the Le Mans circuit and it is feared that the absence, already known for two days, may be a prelude to a definitive retirement of the Maranello team from the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. Enzo Ferrari continues to state that Ferrari will not be present at Le Mans, but in Maranello they are continuing to work, leaving the development of the new Formula 1 cars aside. It also turns out that the cars already in order for the French competition are three. In addition, the Monza tests, in which Enzo Ferrari himself took part, are proof of his interest in developing these prototypes. Ferrari’s statements can be considered pretactical to confuse Shelby’s ideas, especially since it was discovered that at Le Mans it would like to take ten seven-litre prototypes on track.

 

Ferrari’s categorical statement could therefore refer to the fact that he personally will not go to the French circuit, even if Ferrari’s lack of competition would certainly not be new. Meanwhile, the Italians Umberto Maglioli and Giancarlo Baghetti signs with Ford, after the two drivers were left without a contract from Enzo Ferrari; not accepting the offer of the American company would mean their exclusion from racing; moreover, Enzo Ferrari has recently signed Bob Bondurant. In the meantime, in the most dangerous parts of the French track, it is thought to use some special nylon nets such as those used in military airports and aircraft carriers, which are able to stop an aircraft of 150 tons at 300 km/h in a few tens of metres. Traditional straw bales cannot do this, and sand piles are more dangerous than useful. Nets should be placed at the end of the pit straight, at the end of the return straight and at the Dunlop curve, where cars can reach a very high speed. The links of the singular barrier are of a special flexible nylon, which under stress can stretch and does not fear the effects of rain and sun. One of its prerogatives is to absorb the car without making it bounce violently: the return to the equilibrium position takes place at a speed below the kilometre per hour. This eliminates the risk of the car being thrown back into the middle of the track. In addition, the whole operation is carried out so gently that it does not damage - or it damages lightly - the car. In addition to these attempts to improve the safety of the circuit, it seems that many French organisers, in agreement with their British colleagues, are willing to propose a revision of the regulations. Among other things, it is suggested a limitation on the engine displacement and an increase of the minimum time between stops for refuelling.

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At the same time, the first entries for the 1000 kilometres of Monza, scheduled for Monday, April 25, 1966, begin. The seven-litre Fords did not take part in the competition, as one car was destroyed in the crash that caused Hansgen’s death and the other car was heavily damaged; moreover, the two new engines did not arrive from the United States. Therefore, in Monza the sports GT40s take part, an experienced and efficient model but much lower than the Ferrari 330 P3. The chicanes force the cars to slow down and this favours the cars of Maranello compared to the large American cars. The two deviations also prevent the Fords from fully developing their power on the high-speed circuit. Ferrari’s participation in this competition is massive even if there are only two official cars: a 330 P3 and a Dino. There are twelve other Ferrari cars, including P2, 250LM and four two-litre Dinos. Against the Ferraris are lined up eight Fords and seven Porsche Carrera 6. John Surtees is back on track, for more than a month in Italy after some time off in the Bahamas. The British driver drives the prototypes and the new Formula 1 car, proving that the Mosport incident is just a bad memory. The Fords GT40 are driven by Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, Chris Amon, Innes Ireland, Masten Gregory, Willy Mairesse, Herbert Mueller, Frank Gardner, John Whitmore and Peter Revson. Stewart and Hill, the two drivers of the B.R.M. in Monza in the 1965 World Championship of Formula 1 have established themselves in front of all, but the British and the Scottish have not had much luck in the World Championship for Makes so far.

 

As for the Ferrari-Ford duel, we are waiting for the tests of the Giulia TZ, of the Fiat-Abarth 1300 in the fight against Alpine, and those of the two-litre Matra-B.R.M., which is at its debut among the prototypes. The 1000 km of Monza, in which Ferrari and Ford will renew their duel, overshadows the Formula 3 race, which is valid for the Italian championship. Twenty cars take part in the race, which is a sort of revenge after the Imola race. The protagonists on paper should be Jonathan Williams and Giacomo Russo, nicknamed Geki. The latter has been the Italian champion of the category for four years and has recently switched to Wainer. Williams, after leaving the British team Lucas due to a series of disagreements, was hired by De Sanctis. In the tests of the 1000 kilometres to Monza the fastest car is the 330 P3 of Surtees, which runs in 2'58"1 at the average of 204.154 km/h. Stewart and Graham Hill are not at the official qualifying and therefore will not take part in the race. Without Ford, Ferrari seems destined to get the first success of the season, the American four litres in the tests were also slower than the Dinos. The injection Dino berlinetta, at its debut on track, was driven by Bandini and Scarfiotti that ran in 3'12"5, only two seconds more than the GT40 of Scott and Revson. In fourth place there is the Porsche Carrera 6 of Mitter and Colin Davis with 3'13"1.

 

The 1000 kilometres of Monza is held on Monday, April 25, 1966, and is the first major European car race of the 1966 season. Named after Prince Filippo Caracciolo, the race is valid for the World Sportscar Championship and for the World Championship for Makes, preceded by the two races in the United States: the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring, both won by Fords. The American brand is in the lead in the standings, but the situation is not compromised, especially if Ferrari manages to establish itself in the fourth round of the championship, the Targa Florio. On a technical level, the 1000 km of Monza offers an interesting comparison between the Dinos and the Porsche Carrera 6, being both cars of extraordinary efficiency that will eventually reach the top positions even in the absolute standings. Having said the importance of the challenge between the Italian team and the German House, one of the four Dinos, the one driven by Bondurant and Vaccarella, goes off the track during practices. The American driver, who this year drives for Ferrari after having raced for Ford, exiting 200 km/h from the big curve, after the grandstands straight, isn’t able to control the car, which crashes into the guard-rail protection. Unfortunately, it is not possible to repair the car during the night. This leaves three Dinos driven by Bandini and Scarfiotti, Biscaldi and Casoni, Attwood and Piper. The Porsches are driven by Herrmann and Glemser, Mitter and Davis, Vogele and Siffert, Wicky and Knorr. John Surtees still has some difficulty being on his feet for a long time, but:

 

"In the car you drive sitting down, I’m not even afraid of the 1000 kilometres".

 

Surtees' wife keeps faith with tradition, climbs the high chair reserved for timekeepers in the pits, holds a pen and a sheet to mark the passes and hangs a stopwatch around her neck, remaining like this for almost all the five hours of the competition. Before the start of the race a group of Ferrari fans asked her to put her signature next to that of her husband on a curious flag, half Italian and half Ferrari, a sign of affection and esteem. The race starts at 1:15 p.m. under the pouring rain. Surtees' Ferrari immediately takes the lead, and in a short time manages to detach the Fords by several seconds; Biscaldi is the first driver on a Dino, and for a while he manages to keep up with the Porsches. During the tenth lap (exactly 100 kilometres) Surtees' lead is 44 seconds ahead of Ireland and 1'44"0 ahead of Revson. After 250 kilometres Surtees goes into the pits to refuel and to give his seat to Parkes: the stop lasts fifty seconds, the Ford of Gregory, in second position, does not have time to overtake him. Ferrari’s supremacy becomes a monologue, with advantages that go up to four minutes. Behind, there is a fight between the pairs of Scott-Revson, Mitter-Herrmann and Muller-Mairesse.

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Biscaldi-Casoni’s Dino retires on lap 31 due to gearbox problems; instead, Facetti and Vaccarella drive the Ferrari Le Mans in sixth place. The Fords are running at a consistent pace, but they’re not fast enough to put pressure on Ferrari. During the course of the race there are a large number of crashes, fortunately all without any consequences for the drivers involved. Colin Davis skids and ends with his Porsche against a guardrail; Pessina goes off the track at the Lesmo curve; Lucien Bianchi loses the control of his car in one of the variants; Mauro Bianchi ends up against one of the elastic barriers, damaging his Alpine. A serious danger is avoided when at the exit from the southern elevated curve, Noblet’s Ferrari loses the entire rear fairing that ends in the middle of the track, but the marshals manage to avoid the worst by dragging away the obstacle. Parkes and Surtees' Ferrari won the 1000 km of Monza under heavy rain. Surtees and Parkes had to deal with the broken wiper, which broke after a few laps, and the two drivers adapted to turn without it. After the race the English pairing declares:

 

"We don’t even know how we did it...".

 

Ferrari’s victory confirms the high level of efficiency reached by the 330 P3 in view of future meetings with Ford. The Fords of Gregory and Whitmore and of Muller and Mairesse finish in second and third place respectively with a gap of one and two laps. Less powerful than the prototype Ferraris, however, the American cars have shown to have excellent consistency and endurance at a distance. Immediately behind finishes the Porsche Carrera of the couple Herrmann-Mitter (first of the class 2000), the duel with the Dinos of equal displacement was resolved in favour of the German cars. The Dinos suffered problems of various kinds, and the best of them driven by Bandini and Scarfiotti finished only eleventh due to a series of pit stops, starting already at the end of the first lap due to a wipers failure; it fitted a new external injection engine, which must surely be improved for future races. After the third round of the championship, Ferrari has 17 points in the World Championship for Makes, Ford remains first with 27 points, Porsche instead goes from six to ten points. The fight between Ferrari and Ford is still open, despite the Modenese constructor taking part in the world championship with only one official car, the four-litres 330 P3. The fight is open because the prototype of Surtees and Parkes showed in Monza to have reached a great level of efficiency. The team of Detroit, with a questionable tactical decision, wants to desert the Italian and German race, thus focusing all its energies on the races of Reims, Spa and Le Mans.

 

The 330/PS is the result of an advanced technique, inspired by aeronautics. The chassis has a trellis structure in steel tubes glued, through riveting and glueing, with plastic and sheet elements that have a partial shell function. The weight of the car is 720 kilos (twenty more than the minimum limit required by the regulation), the shape is very aerodynamic. The engine is a twelve-cylinder V of 60 degrees, of 3967 cc, which can deliver a power of 420 horsepower at 8000 rpm. It is placed in a rear-central position that allows the car to reach a speed of 310/320 Km/h. This speed has never been reached in the 1000 km because the asphalt of the track was slippery because of the rain and did not allow to exceed 210/250 km/h. A few days later, the new Formula 1 Ferrari makes its debut on Saturday, April 30, 1966, in the Syracuse Grand Prix. The race is a preview of the world championship that will begin at the end of May in Monaco. Jim Clark, Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart, whose new Lotus and B.R.M. will not be on track until the British Grand Prix on Saturday, July 16, 1966, are not there. The Sicilian race sees the fight between the 12-cylinder Ferrari of Surtees and the 6-cylinder Ferrari of Bandini, the Cooper-Maserati of Siffert and Ligier, the Brabham-Repco of Brabham and Denis Hulme. The Australian and the New Zealander have previously raced in the Tourist Trophy in England, finishing respectively nineteenth and first, so they could not get on track for the first round of practice.

 

In the second practice session, the Ferraris set the fastest times, with Surtees completing the fastest lap in 1'42''4, and Lorenzo Bandini running in 1'43''9. Then, the two Ferraris start from the front row, followed by Siffert’s Cooper-Maserati and Bonnier’s Brabham-B.R.M. 2000. The start of the Grand Prix of Syracuse is given with forty-five minutes of delay because of the people who, once passed the barriers, goes to the edges of the track in the most dangerous points and then also because the drivers have appealed in order not to make Baghetti start with his Lotus B.R.M. with the chassis damaged due to a collision occurred during the first day of testing. Everything is fixed and the start is finally given. On the first lap, Jack Brabham is missing from the lead group and arrives pushing his car to the pits. On the fourth lap, John Surtees puts himself in the lead followed by Lorenzo Bandini and slightly more behind there is Jo Siffert who stops in the pits on the tenth lap for an ignition problem and is then forced to retire on the thirtieth lap. Jo Bonnier also stops in the pits due to some problems, then manages to continue but is doubled by four laps. Halfway through the race John Surtees is still in the lead, followed by Lorenzo Bandini, Hobbs one lap behind, Wilson and Bonnier two laps behind and Ligier. John Surtees wins the XV Syracuse Grand Prix, ahead of Lorenzo Bandini who drove a 2400 cc 6-cylinder Ferrari, against the 3000 cc 12 cylinder of the British driver’s car.

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The double victory of Surtees in the 1000 kilometres and in the Syracuse Grand Prix seems to have convinced even the most sceptical that he is back in shape. The former British World Champion hopes to achieve the third consecutive victory of the year in the Targa Florio scheduled for May 8, 1966. In the middle, a sore note: Sunday, May 1st, 1966, the French driver Jacques Bernusset is involved in an accident in the French Formula 3 race. During the race at the Magny-Cours circuit, his Cooper goes off the track and turns upside down eight times before crashing into a tree and catching fire. The driver unfortunately isn’t able to get out of the car and loses his life. Targa Florio this year is fifty years old; on the streets of the Madonie circuit took place the most spectacular fights and duels. This race has always had a particular value on the technical and human level. For example, a team could not be satisfied with its own model if it had not won at least once the competition and a driver could not consider himself truly successful without having won in Cerda. The roads without asphalt, the thousand curves, the ups and downs of the Madonie circuit put a strain on the cars, subjected to the most abrupt stresses in all their parts, engaging drivers in a fight against time and fatigue. Also in 1966 the Targa Florio, although it has some characteristics that may seem outdated in comparison with the modern highway routes, is a test of great importance. Ettore Bugatti’s opinion is always valid, the great French constructor who won five consecutive editions of the race from 1925 to 1929:

 

"A team that regularly follows the Targa Florio can draw from it a whole series of lessons that it would be impossible to draw otherwise, even through tests on track or in the factory".

 

The official Fords are not there, while there are only a few GT40’s of private teams. Ferrari presents a 330 P3 and three Dinos. The pairs of drivers who will face the Targa Florio have not yet been chosen but the drivers are Surtees, Bandini, Scarfiotti, Vaccarella, Parkes, Biscaldi, Casoni and Guichet. There are also the Porsche Carrera 6 driven by Mitter, Herrmann, Colin Davis, Linger and Graham Hill, Bonnier and Umberto Maglioli. Or at least that is what everyone thinks on the eve of the race, because - surprisingly - John Surtees is excluded from the team for the Targa Florio. Scuderia Ferrari doesn’t give a particular explanation for this: it was simply decided not to tire the British driver who does not even love road racing. The pairs are then composed of Casoni-Biscaldi, Guichet-Baghetti and Parkes-Scarfiotti all at the wheel of the Dinos. Vaccarella and Bandini drive the 330 P3. The Porsches are driven by Bonnier-Colin Davis, Mitter-Herrmann and Graham-Maglioli. The cars of Stuttgart have so far prevailed over the Dinos in the World championship for Makes, and in Monza have also been advantaged by the problems suffered by Italian cars. But in Sicily it should not rain and the Dinos are more suited to dry track than the German rivals. In the Ferrari box, the mechanics are working to repair the car of Parkes and Scarfiotti after it ended up against a curb stone in practice. As for the main category, Porsche is determined to win the fifth edition of the Targa, the cars of the German team have travelled many times the 72 kilometres of the circuit, in order to study its characteristics. The Porsche Carrera 6 seems to have been designed for these uneven mountain roads, and seems to be stronger than the Dinos. The most dangerous rival for Porsche is Vaccarella and Bandini’s Ferrari 330 P3, the pair that dominated the race in 1965. Vaccarella was born in these mountains and knows the track better than any other driver, so much so that in the tests he records the fastest time in 39'07"1, while Bandini runs in 40'17"5, and Scarfiotti gets the third time running in 39'13"0.

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At the start of the race Vaccarella immediately takes the lead, followed by Mitter-Bonnier and Scarfiotti-Parkes. On the second lap the situation changes and the Porsche of Colin Davis-Klass takes the lead. During the third lap Vaccarella hands over to Bandini, who manages to get back to first place: Ferrari’s hopes of success, however, don’t last long. The attack of the cars from Stuttgart, in fact, makes the leaderboard change again. At the sixth lap the positions are as follows: Colin Davis with the Porsche is in the lead of the race, followed by the other Porsche of Mitter-Bonnier and the prototype Ferrari of Lorenzo Bandini, that is involved in an accident. Bandini tries to overtake on the straight, but the driver in front closes the trajectory and pushes him off the road, the Italian driver’s car flips upside down and crashes against a tree. The Dino of Scarfiotti and Parkes is also forced to retire due to mechanical issues. So the only Ferrari that remains in the race is the Dino of Guichet-Baghetti. After Klass and Colin’s Porsche failure, the other Porsche of Mairesse and Müller can win the race. The Dino of Guichet-Baghetti finds itself in second place, and the Porsche of Pucci-Arena follows in third. The leaderboard does not change during the penultimate and the last lap. At the beginning of the third lap there is a serious accident involving the Canadian driver Virgilio: his car goes off the track and the driver is seriously injured. Virgilio is carried by helicopter to the Villa Sofia hospital of Palermo, where he is diagnosed with a concussion and traumatic shock, but doctors judge his condition curable, except for complications. The Porsche of Mairesse and Müller wins the 50th edition of the Targa Florio, followed by the Dino of Guichet and Baghetti and the Porsche of Pucci and Arena. Only eleven out of seventy cars managed to complete the entire race distance: nineteen failed to qualify and the remaining forty stopped along the Madonie circuit due to mechanical failures or off-track exits.

 

Targa Florio saw Ford lose the fight with Porsche because of its absence, but it must be admitted that the House of Stuttgart is specialised in achieving successes in this type of competition. At the same time, some experts propose various explanation for the Ferrari defeat; first of all, they talk about bad luck, it is said that the prototype 330 P3 without the accident that occurred in Bandini could have overtaken the Carrera 6, but they don’t take into account that at that moment in the lead there were already two Porsches, the first with an advantage of more than two minutes and the second with twenty seconds. It is quite vain, however, to talk about what could have happened but Dinos’ performances were not good enough because they have suffered many irregularities and failures. For the Maranello team there is not much time to prepare for the next races, in fact, it has to face the first Grand Prix of the Formula 1 season and the 1000 km of the Nurburgring, where probably the seven-litre Ford and the Chaparral will also take part. On May 14, 1966, former World Champion Jack Brabham wins the Silverstone Grand Prix for Formula 1 cars, ahead of John Surtees by almost four hundred metres. The Australian driver races the homonymous car with three-litre Repco engine, derived from the eight-cylinder Ford engines. Brabham sets a new record at an average of 186,780 km/h, the previous one belonging to Graham Hill was 182,624 km/h. On the eve of the race, the victory seemed in contention between John Surtees, Jack Brabham and Jochen Rindt, but then the lead of the race was in contention between Surtees and Brabham. The Australian took the lead at the start, gradually increasing the gap. The Silverstone Grand Prix is traditionally considered a general test of the first race of the championship, however to the Grand Prix did not take part Jim Clark, Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart, who were all driving in the Indy 500 in the United States.

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Since the advent of Formula Grand Prix, where the not supercharged three-litre engines seems to be the only thing of interest, everyone is waiting for the 1966 Monaco Grand Prix because it is thought that this race will be the start of a new Grand Prix cycle. Since the beginning of the century, Formula 1 cars have had the purpose of promoting important technical progress: they have not always succeeded, sometimes in fact they have proved to be aberrations, but still continue to represent the pinnacle of automotive technology. Formula 1, which begins its new cycle in 1966, and whose rules will remain in force for at least four years, imposes a maximum displacement of 3000 cc without compressor or 1500 cc with compressor, and a minimum weight with water and oil but without fuel of 500 kg. The teams that built the new cars and engines had as their target date the Monaco race. The only new designs that failed to be ready in time for the planned date were the B.R.M. H16-cylindrical Lotus and the Gurney-Weslake American Eagle. For the Monaco Grand Prix Bruce McLaren enters himself and Chris Amon, both with new McLaren cars, but manages to complete only one car for himself; considering that it is a new team, bringing a car to the first Grand Prix of the season is already a very big effort. Jack Brabham has his three-litre Repco-Brabham, Ferrari has produced two 3-litre V12-cylinder cars, Cooper can count on two Cooper-Maserati V12 and two similar cars are driven by Jo Bonnier and Guy Ligier. B.R.M., instead, produces a new H16 cylinder car. The rest of the cars entered are modified 1965 cars, which serve as replacements until the new cars are developed. The modified 1965 cars will undoubtedly stand out thanks to the winding nature of the circuit and its low average speed, such as the two B.R.M. of the Tasmanian championship with two-litre V8 engines, the 1965 Lotus chassis, with a V8 Coventry-engineTwo-litre Climax, and the Dino 246 Ferrari 6.

 

In Monaco, therefore, the first comparison between the new Formula 1 cars takes place, with the usual brands, Ferrari, Lotus,  B.R.M., Cooper, Brabham, and the debut of new cars, such as the British McLaren and American Eagle. But since the change of technical regulation is inevitably a period of technical crisis, it is unthinkable that from the first races on the calendar mechanical means are already in full efficiency. In short, it is a kind of shakedown, and in favour of those better prepared that will immediately get valuable points for the 1966 title. From the two preliminary races of the season, in Syracuse and Silverstone, it is drawn the provisional conclusion that Ferrari and Brabham are the better prepared teams: the Maranello team, with its powerful 12 cylinders (which however last Saturday in England has had some problems with road holding), Jack Brabham with the car built in his factory that he also drives, powered by a Repco 8 V engine of American origin modified in Australia. And the Cooper seems also quite promising, with its Maserati 12-cylinder engine. The teams that are more behind in terms of development are the B.R.M. and Lotus; both have the same ambitious 16-cylinder engine arranged on four opposing horizontal groups (like two 8-cylinder engines with overlapping sole, just to give the idea). It seemed that the debut of the new power unit, developed by B.R.M. itself, had to be postponed; instead, in Monaco a sample of the two brands will race, or at least will take part in the official tests, according to which a decision will be made about the alignment of the new British cars in the Monaco Grand Prix. Little is known for now about the car built by the New Zealander McLaren, if not that its engine is derived from the Ford 8V type Indianapolis, and the Eagle, built by Gurney and Carrol Shelby in California. Sixteen drivers will take part in the race on Sunday. The great drivers of motorsport will all be there, starting with the 1965 World Champion Jim Clark (who immediately after the Monaco race will rush to Indianapolis to take part, on May 30, at the 500 Miglia) on the Lotus; John Surtees and Lorenzo Bandini on the Ferrari; Graham Hill (winner of the last three editions of this Grand Prix) and Stewart on the B.R.M.; Brabham and Hulme on the Brabham-Repco; Ginther and Rindt on the Coopei-Maserati; McLaren on the McLaren; Gurney on the Eagle. These are the drivers of the official teams, joined by Attwood (B.R.M.), Siffert (Cooper-Maserati) Anderson (Brabham), Bonnier (Cooper-Maserati) and Spence (Lotus).

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The first free practice session starts on Thursday, May 19, 1966. Bruce McLaren is among the first to go on track, since his car is new and has not yet been tested, the monocoque chassis with Ford V8 Indianapolis four-shaft camshaft engine, reduced to 3 litres looks very good and powerful. The engine carries a bit of a weight handicap and the car looks too big for road racing, but it has a good development path ahead and should be more suitable for the fastest circuits of the World Championship. The car is painted white with a silver and green stripe as a sop for Hollywood who is trying to make a film about the Grand Prix of the 1966 season and who does not want the grid full of green cars. Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart, who drive the 2-litres B.R.M., have a remarkable pace, while the mechanics of the B.R.M. prepare the new H16 cylinder car to let the British driver test it. The Lotus Team received the first 16-cylinder B.R.M. engine a few days before free practices and fitted it in its new chassis, but it has not yet been tested enough to be used in the race, so Jim Clark finds himself as the only driver to race for Lotus. The 2-litre V8 engine in his car is a 1965 Coventry-Climax short-stroke, with a new longer-stroke crankshaft to extract 500 cc of extra capacity from the engine. The increase in stroke is allowed by thick aluminium plates placed between the heads and the block, with the coatings placing these plates. The Cooper team has the same cars available that were used at Silverstone, with Richie Ginther driving the newest; overheating problems suffered during the British race were due to a badly made water filling neck, on which the pressure cap did not fit properly.

 

On this car, the oil filter is replaced next to the engine, thus eliminating the hoses and long pipes, as on the cars of Jo Bonnier and Guy Ligier. At the beginning of practices, a light rain begins to fall and the clouds remain low under the mountains, but the conditions do not worsen and the track dries. Jackie Stewart manages to score the same time as the track record in 1'31"7, and at the end of the session also manages to lower the time by 0.1 seconds. The Ferraris don’t go on track during the first session because, being a national holiday, the transporter was held up by heavy traffic. Also the Brabham team doesn’t get to Monte-Carlo in time. The private drivers that go on track are Mile Spence, with the Lotus-B.R.M. 2-litre V8 of Parnell, Jo Siffert with the Brabham-B.R.M. V8 2-litre of Rob Walker, waiting for their fixed V12 Maserati engine after its failure at Silverstone, Jo Bonnier with his red and white Cooper-Maserati V12 and Guy Ligier with his bright blue Cooper-Maserati VI2. The 16-cylinder B.R.M. seems not to be able to start from cold, but after more batteries are paired in the system it comes to life and the sound seems contained up to 7000 laps, after which it starts to bother. The team has no intention of racing with this car, they just want to make a first public test and a few laps with Graham Hill, who does his best lap in 1'40"9. The engine is fluid and runs at 10,500 laps without any effort, and to be able to count on a car so complete and functional at the beginning of the season was a great result from B.R.M.

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Among the cars that goes on track there is also the Lotus-Climax V8 11/2 litre repaired after the accident of Giancarlo Baghetti in Syracuse, driven by Phil Hill. On the front of the car there is a camera, the driver runs on track trying not to be an obstacle and takes pictures. Some members of the Gran Prix Drivers' Association try to complain but complaints are suppressed with money, although car owners do not seem to receive any compensation for putting their cars at risk. On Friday, May 20, 1966, another round of tests takes place from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., after the Formula 3 drivers woke up the whole city from 5:30 a.m. with the roar of their engines. Scuderia Ferrari, as well as the official Brabhams and Anderson with their Brabham-Climax 2.75 litres, finally arrives at the circuit. John Surtees is driving the Ferrari V12 that he also drove at Silverstone, while Lorenzo Bandini drives the Dino 246 Ferrari V6; Jack Brabham and Denny Hulme drive the same cars as Silverstone, but the first has a more powerful Repco V8 engine, while the second has its Coventry-Climax 4-cylinder 2.5-litre engine. The Coopers removed the detachable front of the nose fairings to get more cooling air to the radiators. Jo Siffert still drives the Brabham-B.R.M.; in fact, despite the arrival of his new Maserati engine there was not enough time to be able to set up the car correctly, Jim Clark’s Lotus is repaired after the gear wheel and pinion failed during the first session. The 3-litre Ferrari proved to be suitable for the tortuous city circuit of Monte-Carlo and John Surtees is among the fastest drivers. Graham Hill does a few laps with the 16-cylinder B.R.M. and Bruce McLaren continues to improve his car.

 

As the session gets to the end, Jim Clark manages to score a record lap in 1'30''8, thus becoming the only driver to be able to go below the limit of 1'31''0. Graham Hill and Lorenzo Bandini are not far from the time set by the British driver, while Jack Brabham runs in 1'31''8 with his 4-cylinders Brabham with Climax engine. The last test session takes place on Saturday, May 21, 1966, in perfect conditions, with the sun shining but not too hot. Ferrari has a new V12 car that Lorenzo Bandini has to test. During qualifying John Surtees and the sports director Eugenio Dragoni argue in front of the team, the journalists Lorenzo Pilogallo of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera and Mario Morganti of Tuttosport, and the public. John Surtees tells Eugenio Dragoni that he is incompetent and a dictator. And Dragoni reciprocates with adjectives such as rude and treacherous. Despite the excellent return to racing by the British driver, the misunderstanding of the English driver’s participation in the design of the Lola 70 that had upset Ferrari and Forghieri in June 1965 had never really been clarified, and in the factory and especially in the racing department close alliances were built. Mike Parkes, who also wants to race in Formula 1 as well as with prototypes, has long understood that the sport director Dragoni and Surtees don’t go along well, and has fueled the policy of suspicion. Meanwhile, B.R.M. has a 16-cylinder engine in the pits because Graham Hill is busy maintaining his starting position on the grid and cannot continue to test the new car. It is the last chance to start as far ahead as possible and no one can afford to start too far behind. The much-feared camera car is still spinning and Phil Hill is starting to wonder if he hasn’t gotten involved in something he can’t get out of. Jochen Rindt and Jack Brabham are the only ones who don’t improve their time, while the fastest drivers all run in one minute and thirty seconds.

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Jim Clark is convinced that he can run faster than a minute and a half and goes out to set the fastest lap, stopping the stopwatch at 1'29"9, at the exact moment when the chequered flag is waved. John Surtees almost manages to match the time of Clark and also Bandini, Stewart and Hill are not far from it. Bob Bondurant makes his first appearance on Team Chamaco-Collect’s 2-litre V8 B.R.M. and Jo Bonnier tests the Parnell team’s 4-cylinder Lotus-Climax to see if it is faster than his Cooper-Maserati V12. If Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, John Surtees and Lorenzo Bandini are among the favourites for the Monaco Grand Prix win, it is not thanks to their respective lap times, but because they are and will always be the strongest drivers of this season. It should be added that - given that with this race the new Formula 1 will start - (maximum displacement 3,000 cc, twice as that expired on 31 December 1965), most of the cars are either still being developed or are even the old single-seaters with larger displacement engines. Basically, on a purely technical level, there is not much to expect from this Monaco Grand Prix. But it is a thing of marginal importance for the fans, to whom will be in any way assured an exciting show, which only this circuit - surely anachronistic but unique in the world in its natural setting - can offer. The Monaco Grand Prix has always been the race of twists and surprises: in 1965, for example, the race leader changed six times, and in the end Graham Hill won thanks to the perfect set up of the car and its athletic shape.

 

The race kicks off on Sunday, May 22, 1966, at 3:00 p.m., after a parade of old racing cars driven by drivers of the past era, including a Fiat of 1899 and a Lancia of 1907. The cars, lined up in pairs on the fake grid, emit a sound that resonates between the buildings, and when everyone is ready there is the real grid. The sixteen cars move forward and at lights out given by Louis Chiron one by one they pass the car of Jim Clark. The car of the Lotus team remains stuck in first gear and when the Scottish driver manages to change and enter the second gear, the other fifteen drivers have already disappeared. John Surtees leads the group with his 3-litres Ferrari, but Jackie Stewart manages to stay attached and the two drivers manage to break away pretty quickly from the rest of the group that follows them, consisting of Graham Hill, Denny Hulme, Jochen Rindt, Bon Anderson, Lorenzo Bandini, Bruce McLaren, Mike Spence, Jo Siffert and Jack Brabham, with Jim Clark who is far behind but manages to catch up now that he no longer has to use the initial low gear of his ZF gearbox. Stewart pushes Surtees, the two are separated from the group and fight each other, the other drivers have already lost contact with the leaders of the race despite only five laps having passed. Clark spins at the same speed as the leaders and after ten laps he is already in seventh place. During the third lap, Bon Anderson retires due to an engine failure, while Jo Siffert stops in the pits and Bruce McLaren investigates an alleged oil leak coming from the front of the car; the New Zealand driver will retire during the ninth lap.

 

Jochen Rindt overtakes Graham Hill and moves up to third place, and Denny Hulme also manages to pass the B.R.M. driver who has engine problems. There is not much chance that Jackie Stewart will be able to bring his 2-litres B.R.M. Tasman  ahead of John Surtees' 3-litre Ferrari, but the Scottish driver does not even give the chance to break away to the British driver. During the thirteenth lap, Surtees feels that something is not working in the rear axle of the Ferrari and makes Stewart pass who then stops in the pits. John Surtees, instead, makes another lap before stopping in the pits to check the problem, then makes another lap before retiring due to the breakage of the self-locking differential. Back in the pits, John Surtees and Eugenio Dragoni, Ferrari’s sports director, argue again. Dragoni accuses the British driver of causing the failure with a deliberately brutal driving. And when he goes back to Maranello, he will try to convince Ferrari to get rid of his former World Champion. Meanwhile, however, this retirement leaves Jackie Stewart in the lead, followed by Jochen Rindt, Graham Hill and Lorenzo Bandini. During the fifteenth lap, Denny Hulme also retires due to a broken crankshaft joint and Jack Brabham comes out shortly after and retires with his new Hewland gearbox stuck on the same gear, during the seventeenth lap. Meanwhile, Jim Clark moved into fifth place, also managing to close a bit of the gap with the leader of the race, which after the retirement of John Surtees ran slower than before.

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A little later Jo Bonnier, already lapped by Jackie Stewart, stops in the pits because he lacks fuel, while Jochen Rindt is put in trouble by Lorenzo Bandini and Richie Ginther, who is driving the other official Cooper-Maserati. On the twentieth lap, Bob Bondurant, Guy Ligier and Jo Bonnier have already been lapped while Lorenzo Bandini manages to get into second place ahead of Jochen Rindt and forms a group of three drivers with Graham Hill. Jim Clark gradually manages to close the gap and as he gets closer to Graham Hill he starts to improve his timing. In the meantime, however, Graham Hill overtakes Jochen Rindt, who is now in Jim Clark’s crosshairs. In this phase of the race, Jackie Stewart is still detached from the other drivers but is not unbeatable: in fact, Jim Clark continues to gain lap after lap and the gap is reduced to 35 seconds. He also overtakes Jochen Rindt, whose engine begins to have a power loss and, during the forty-fifth lap, he is near Graham Hill. But for the Scottish driver it is not so easy to overtake the British driver. During the thirty-fourth lap, Mike Spence retires as a suspension link breaks. During the fiftieth lap - so halfway through the race - Jackie Stewart is still in the lead but Jim Clark further reduces his gap by another four seconds, and is impeded by Graham Hill who in turn fails to overtake Lorenzo Bandini. During the next lap, Richie Ginther’s Cooper-Maserati is reached by Bob Bondurant, Jo Bonnier and Guy Ligier.

 

When Clark begins to get closer and closer to Hill, the gap from the leader drops to 27 seconds, while Jochen Rindt instead has to retire - during the fifty-sixth lap - due to the failure of his engine. The gap remains the same for four laps, until Jim Clark decides to try to pass Graham Hill at the Saint Devote corner, where both brake hard and Hill has to let him pass. At the end of the sixty-first lap, Jim Clark brakes to face the Gasworks hairpin and the left rear fork end breaks in two; the Scottish driver has to retire, leaving the third place to Graham Hill. But he immediately spins at the first hairpin bend after the Casino square, and blocks his engine. Before leaving, the British driver loses a lot of time, and when he leaves he has a big dent under the nose of the car. With Jim Clark retired and Graham Hill behind, Jackie Stewart still can’t relax because Lorenzo Bandini’s gap has dropped to 20 seconds. Jo Bonnier unwittingly slows down Stewart who then has to lap Ginther again, wasting further time. The gap between B.R.M. and Ferrari falls to 18 seconds, a gap not small enough to be dangerous but not enough to allow the Scottish driver to relax. Shortly after, Richie Ginther stops in the pits to make a repair, and the only drivers who stopped in the pits for fuel are Bondurant and Bonnier.

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During the eighty-second lap, Jackie Stewart laps his teammate, while Lorenzo Bandini further reduces his gap and now he is just 12 seconds behind. The Italian driver does everything to recover, also setting the fastest lap in 1'29"8. The gap, however, is not reduced anymore, and indeed begins to increase. In fact, Jackie Stewart, warned of the danger, reacts and in the last ten laps restores the distance, with the authority of the champion. On the other hand, it must be said that at a certain point it would have been dangerous for Bandini to insist on a hopeless duel, while the second place - as already happened last year - rewards his magnificent behaviour, not to mention the valuable points in the standings. Meanwhile, Richie Ginther stops again because of another broken transmission shaft, while Graham Hill spins in third place followed by Bondurant. Nothing happens in the last eighteen laps, and Jackie Stewart wins the Monaco Grand Prix, at a record average speed for the 100 laps of the race. The Ferrari 246 of Lorenzo Bandini finishes second. In third place Graham Hill with his B.R.M., followed by the American driver Bob Bondurant. Richie Ginther and Guy Ligier finish fifth and sixth but - as they are not classified - they don’t get any points in the standings. Also this year the victory of the Monaco Grand Prix, the first round of the World Championship of motoring, went to one of the favourites of the eve, that Jackie Stewart who only last year entered among the best drivers and that on the tremendous circuit of the Principality, gave a demonstration of class, technical skills and intelligence out of the ordinary. Stewart has driven a 8-cylinders 2-litres B.R.M., that is an old single-seater with increased displacement, like all the classified cars, that have been in all four and for all in sixteen races.

 

Lorenzo Bandini’s Ferrari finished second: the Italian driver’s race was great, at times even moving for the commitment and decision of the young man who, towards the conclusion of the Grand Prix, even gave the impression of being able to reach Stewart, and that took the great satisfaction of setting the new lap record, exceeding the 126 km/h average, the highest speed ever reached on this circuit. Concerning the other great drivers, Graham Hill, in a B.R.M. identical to that of his youngest teammate, finished third, after a calm but overall regular race. The World Champion in charge, Jim Clark, who started with Lotus in not perfect mechanical conditions for the failure of a gear of the first speed, fought with his usual style, without however being able to do anything good, and ending the race with an unexpected skid in the corner, which forced him to retire. Finally John Surtees, after a very fast and authoritarian start in the lead, complained about the break of the differential, after just thirteen laps. Surtees was at the wheel of the new Ferrari equipped with a 3000 cc 12-cylinder engine, which is probably more suitable for very fast tracks. But the fact is that the cars of the new Formula 1, just yesterday at their debut in a World Championship race, have all disappointed, despite a good start of the Cooper-Maserati. The midfield cars are the ones that have imposed themselves, as a demonstration of how long the work of developing every technical novelty is. Last year Jackie Stewart finished third, behind his teammate Graham Hill and Lorenzo Bandini. Now was the time, but Stewart doesn’t get too upset. At the end of the race, after receiving the trophy from the hands of Grace of Monaco, he says to a friend:

 

"You see, everything went as planned".

 

He is referring to something that happened before the race: Jackie was going into the box of B.R.M., when from the grandstands someone shouted:

 

"What are you going to do today?"

 

The Scottish driver raised his thumb and exclaimed calmly:

 

"I’m going to win".

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With Stewart’s victory, B.R.M. wins for the fourth time in a row at Monte Carlo, and in this round the merit is greater, as of the four cars classified three belong to the British team. They are not yet using the new three litres, they use the 1800 cc of the old formula, brought to two litres. They deliver 260 horsepower, just enough for the characteristic Monegasque track, where the great powers are, in a sense, a hindrance for the drivers. Once again Ferrari failed to win the Monaco Grand Prix. After several years in which a car from Maranello didn't cross the finish line first, Lorenzo Bandini, for the second year in a row, had to settle for second place. His, however, was an exciting performance; Lorenzo, after the retirement of Surtees, gave the impression with a spectacular chase of being able to reach Jackie Stewart; he came to limit the gap to 12 seconds (beating also the lap record) then, missing a few laps at the end, he slowed down slightly, limiting himself to keep the lead over Graham Hill. At the end of the race, Lorenzo Bandini is not happy, even if Ferrari mechanics compliment him and the many Italian fans applaud him.

 

"Is it possible that I always have to finish second?"

 

Then, to reassure him and to make the mechanics of the Ferrari team rejoice, the first news comes from Spa-Francorchamps, where the 1000 km race is held, the fifth round of the World Championship for Makes of the World Sportscar Championship. The 330P3 of Parkes-Scarfiotti won, ahead of many Fords. The Italian driver gave up only when the Ferrari box realised that his generous effort would have no chance to end positively. It may be that Lorenzo Bandini has been damaged in a way by the initial lead of his teammate, who dragging Stewart has ended up putting the latter with an advantage that puts him safe from surprises. But these are conclusions that are thought of at the end, having in front of your eyes the complete overview of the race. If John Surtees' car had not broken the differential lock, the reasoning would have been quite different. However, it remains the memory of the bravery of the combativeness, the decision of the Milanese driver, who in the initial plans of Ferrari this year should have been Surtees’ reserve. The 1966 World Championship thus began once again with the success of a British car and a driver. But it is a simple episode, and very little indicative on the technical level, since for now the new Formula 1 has not expressed anything definitive: it won a car that we can consider old while, out of all the mechanical means set according to the regulations entered into force this year, not even one has finished the race. There is no doubt, however, that on Sunday, June 12, 1966, at the Belgian Grand Prix, Ferrari is ahead of the opposing teams: we will see on the very fast circuit of Spa-Francorchamps if this conviction corresponds to reality.

 

Meanwhile, as said, just from Spa comes a great confirmation from the Ferrari Prototype, that with the pair Parkes-Scarfiotti has peremptorily established itself in the 1000 kilometres, a race of the World Championship for Makes. The Italian driver Ludovico Scarfiotti, paired with the Englishman Mike Parkes, leads to victory, in the 1000 kilometres of Francorchamps the prototype Ferrari to the stunning average of 211.917 km/h. The Ferrari PS finished the 1000 kilometres in four hours, 13 minutes and 21 seconds. The average of Scarfiotti and Parkes is the best that has ever been achieved in an endurance race and bodes well for the next 24 Hours of Le Mans, of which the 1000 kilometres of Francorchamps is a bit of a preparation. Ferrari PS also set a new circuit record at an average of 221.201 km/h. A lap from Ferrari came the Ford GT - in second place - of the British drivers John Whitmore and Gardner; a car that together with the car of Scarfiotti and Parkes has always been in the lead of the race. Ferrari, in fact, has won the race since the first laps. On the fifth lap, after a considerable and risky effort, it took a lead of about a minute and nine seconds over Ford and it appears to be the only car that can contend for the record. For the third place in the standings, the fight narrows to a Ford GT SO and the Ferrari P2 of Bianchi-Beurlisse. But the latter is eliminated by a mechanical failure. The Ferrari Dino 200, Porsche, Alpine M 65 and Moira are also expected to perform well. At the start there are forty-six competing cars: 21 prototypes and 22 sports cars. The laps are 71. It is a very fast track, one of the most dangerous of its kind, but no major accidents occur. The best in the standings do at least three refuelings and two driver changes. The winning car has Mike Parkes at the wheel upon arrival. The 7-litres Fords were not in the race, but this does not detract from the significance of the victory of the 330 P3, waiting for the great confrontation of Le Mans, on 18 and 19 June 1966, with Ford.

 

Giulia Pea

 

Translated by Monica Bessi


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