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#137 1965 Netherlands Grand Prix

2022-05-10 00:00

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#137 1965 Netherlands Grand Prix

While the Constructors World Championship and the International Prototypes Cup are living an interesting season thanks to the technical-sporting compe

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While the Constructors World Championship and the International Prototypes Cup are living an interesting season thanks to the technical-sporting competition between Ferrari and Ford, the Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship already seems to be destined to a monotone ending. The blame, or better, the merit, naturally lies with the Clark-Lotus duo, the true protagonists of all the Grand Prix of the 1965 season, except the one in Monaco, from which they were absent due to another appointment in Indianapolis. Clark, driving the car prepared by Colin Chapman, won in South Africa, in Belgium, in France and finally in England, on the home circuit of Silverstone. All successes achieved clearly, according to an extremely similar style and race behaviour: immediately or almost immediately in the lead, then, lap by lap, increase of the advantage (at the end of the second lap in the French Grand Prix, the Scotsman was already seconds ahead of Stewart) and consolidation of the same; finally, fight the opponents on the finish line when the race is over. With all the reservations that indirect comparisons imply, only one driver in the last decade seems able to hold a candle to Clark: Manuel Fangio. Both have - if nothing else - a common feature; the amazing constancy in the victories. Proposing for Sunday 18 July 1965 the Dutch Grand Prix, sixth round of the World Championship, the calendar offers a last chance to the rivals of the wild Scottish.

 

If Graham Hill, John Surtees, the young revelation of the year Jackie Stewart, Jack Brabham, Dan Gurney or Lorenzo Bandini won’t be able to succeed even this time, Clark will practically have the title in his pocket. The two B.R.M. drivers, Hill and Stewart, together with Surtees with Ferrari and Gurney with Brabham, appear as the most formidable adversaries; on a slightly lower level the elderly Jack Brabham, now more valid as a builder and preparer than as a driver, but always dangerous in Zandvoort, where he accomplished his best feats. The Australian, lately, has indulged in a not very nice controversy about the value of Jim Clark accusing him of being only very, very lucky. Incidentally, luck has never shown such constant love for the same person, especially when talking about racing, where success depends on a thousand different factors, starting with the mechanical ones. In Zandvoort Brabham will try to prove the validity of his thesis. The performance of the Hondas is expected with curiosity, the Americans Richie Ginther and Ronnie Bucknum officially bringing the cars to the Dutch circuit for the first time. Two years back, in 1963, a large team of Japanese technicians had installed themselves in Zandvoort, where they conducted a long series of experiments on the first prototypes. At Silverstone the only Honda in the race had performed very well in training and in the first part of the race, only to disappear on the sixtieth lap due to serious engine problems. The Japanese, however, are not discouraged and continue to improve the tuning of their machine with an admirable tenacity.

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Surtees appears more discouraged: for the British driver the 1965 season, after the magnificent success of the previous year, got off to a bad start. In Monte Carlo, on a circuit he doesn’t like, the first Ferrari driver put up a modest resistance against Clark; in Francorchamps bad luck got in the way, but in Silverstone on the 12-cylinder he offered another opaque race. Lastly, the well-known controversy with the Maranello team certainly did not help to cheer up the rider. Surtees is fourth in the league table with 17 points, separated by 19 from Clark, quietly placed at an altitude of 36. A precarious position, now irremediable, unless an exceptional exploit. Not much better is Graham Hill, who must even suffer from an inferiority complex towards Jim Clark. His B.R.M. should be better equipped than the Lotus, but Hill loses more than one second per lap in racing, while in practice the differences were now in the order of one-two tenths of a second. At Silverstone, after Clark slowed down in the final due to the injection malfunction, he accelerated incredibly, repeatedly beating the lap record. Hill apparently suffers a direct confrontation, wheel to wheel, with the Lotus driver. For Graham Hill, Surtees and companions Sunday there will be little to be happy: Jim Clark and his Lotus reach Zandvoort the chapter of records. The race track is 4103 meters long; it winds along the edges of the Atlantic between dunes often upset by an annoying side wind that brings the sand onto the track and presents a whole series of wide curves and counter-curves in continuous ups and downs.

 

The expected distance is eighty laps, equal to 335,440 kilometers: just over two hours of racing. The Netherlands Grand Prix, usually held in May, has sometimes been the first or second event of the Formula One World Championship season, but this time it’s been postponed to July, becoming the sixth appointment of 1965. The policy of the organizers now seems to try a different date each year, presumably to find the one that attracts more spectators. Next year a date is hoped for in August, but due to a clash with the German Grand Prix it is difficult to find a date and the FIA ​​has not yet decided on which dates the races will take place in 1966. Zandvoort is a seaside locality on the North Sea coast, between Haarlem and The Hague, very close to big cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam, as well as Brussels, Belgium, so the races on this circuit usually attract a good number of spectators. As the Grand Prix takes place over the holidays, organizers hope to attract many occasional spectators, and the claimed figure of 60.000 doesn't seem too realistic. The large number of vacationers has made things difficult for the teams, who have found their favourite hotels fully booked or unwilling to respect the particular meal times that the drivers, and especially the mechanics, are forced to respect. The KNAC, which manages the race together with the NAV (the equivalent of the RAC and the BRDC), has decided not to resort to qualifying and has invited sixteen drivers to participate, ten of which made up of six official teams plus two cars each of the team of Rob Walker and John Willment. 

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However, once more Honda decided to only register one car, as well as Willment Team. The organizers have then invited Parnell to bring two cars and Bob Anderson to enroll his Brabham, so that the total of the participants is now of 17 cars. Only one week after the British Grand Prix, the teams didn’t have enough time to bring relevant updates; on the opposite, they nearly made it to find remedy to the damages reported the previous week. Despite this, Team Lotus brings three cars: two Coventry-Climax crankshafts and one with the usual 4-valve per cylinder V8 repaired after the oil pressure problems at Silverstone. The owners of the other 4-valve Climax engine, the Brabham team, sadly or perhaps fortunately had to give up on their 4-valve engine, which was badly damaged during the warm-up lap at Silverstone. A cylinder head broke on one side of the engine, and somehow was released on one of the fuel injection intake pipes, hitting the metal cage that prevents stone chips from falling into the pipes, then falling onto another pipe on the opposite side of the cylinder, causing enormous damage to the cylinder head, which could not be repaired in the short time available. Despite having three chassis available, the Brabham is reduced to having to use two normal two-valve engines, so these are prepared for Gurney and HuIme, with Jack Brabham giving way to the New Zealander.

 

B.R.M. brings three cars with normal specifics, with Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart choosing their preferred model. Hill's brake problem at Silverstone was traced back to a brake cylinder, which was then replaced. Honda, which runs on its home circuit, having its workshop in Amsterdam, brings two cars for Richie Ginther, which remained similar except for the placement of an air container that was mounted above the intake trumpets. Although it has not been officially confirmed, it appears that Honda will only race one car for Richie Ginther in the remaining races. Scuderia Ferrari once again entrusts the car with a 12-cylinder engine to John Surtees, leaving Lorenzo Bandini with two models equipped with a V8 engine to choose from. There is also a modified version of the 12-cylinder which has almost reached the end of development in Modena and will make its debut at Monza or even at the Nürburgring, depending on how the tests go. The Cooper team takes its three cars directly from Silverstone to Zandvoort, two of which with the Cooper gearbox and one spare with the Hewland gearbox. Private individuals are forced to settle for their usual cars, having few means and facilities to make changes, even though Anderson still tests large exhaust manifolds on his Climax engine.

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The weekend starts as usual with the free practice on Friday, 16th of July 1965, with a pungent cold weather and a threat of rain. Despite the drivers are ready to start the session at the chooses time, workers are still spreading the asphalt in front of the box, so the session is delayed of 30 minutes. As soon as the practice begins, Richie Ginther sets the pace, certainly helped by the various tests done in Zandvoort in recent months, which approaches the best time set in the previous year's tests by Dan Gurney in 1'31"0, managing to equal him, before Jim Clark overtakes him with a 1'31"0. Dan Gurney fails to match his time in 1964 and turns in 1’31"7. Like Honda, B.R.M. recently tested in Zandvoort, but neither Hill nor Stewart can come close to Hill's unofficial record of 1’28"3. Stewart laps in 1'31"6 and Hill, who suffers from a cold, in 1'31"8. The practice is interrupted for a while by the spin of Innes Ireland which ends up in the sand at the Hunze Rug, sending the officers into panic waving the white flag and signalling the arrival of an ambulance even though it is the race director who goes out on the track in his BMW 1800. Ireland’s car is pulled out and the British driver continues the tests, then receiving a black flag; but unfortunately Bob Anderson's number is shown as a mistake, irritating the Brabham team driver who runs on a rebuilt engine after piston ring’s break at Silverstone. The rain begins to fall during lunchtime, and so the afternoon session takes place under an almost constant downpour, leading all the drivers to try to go below the 2-minute threshold. The team B.R.M., the most diligent of all, tests all the Dunlop tires at disposal, ending up with Hill setting the fastest lap of the afternoon session in 1’52"0. This allows Hill to set the fastest lap in the afternoon, in 1’52"0.

 

Saturday, 17th of July, the weather improves. The sky is clear and the sun is showing, but the typical breeze of Zandvoort is still in the air. The track is used in the morning for some tests by a group of sedans and some Formula Vee single-seaters, so in the afternoon the asphalt is slippery. Two cars crash together and go out of the track in the same place as Ireland on the previous day: it’s Richie Ginther and Jochen Rindt. The race commissioner shows a white flag on the starting line; the commissioner close to the interested turn shows a yellow flag; finally, the commissioner in proximity of the finish line shows a blue flag. The session is officially stopped as a red flag is shown on the starting line, but the drivers are confused because of the different flags and commissioners need to invade the track to force the cars to stop, risking getting injured. Meanwhile, the two drivers involved in the accident have already exited the cars unharmed and the same cars have been moved. Although all the riders have the opportunity to practice a lot, they all take a lot to improve their times and the only one to drop below 1'31"0 is Graham Hill who completes his fastest lap in 1'30"7 with his B.R.M. Jim Clark's car engine, on the other hand, leaks a lot of oil. Also, after the leak is repaired, the engine almost seems to be out of tune; the Scottish driver then decides to use the car that is equipped with the 2-valve engine intended for the dispute of the race. The problems with the car equipped with the 4-valve engine prevented him from improving the time of the first day of testing, but Jim Clark still managed to take second place with a time of 1'31"0, despite both Richie Ginther and John Surtees mark the same time during Saturday's practice. Bandini has problems with his V8 Ferrari but manages to use the spare car for the race.

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On race day, Sunday 18th of July 1965, there is hope for a sunny day, but at the end of the two support races clouds come to darken the sky, with a cold breeze rising. Since rain was unlikely to fall, the drivers face some troubles in the compound choice. John Surtees chooses four Dunlop R7s, while his teammate on the other Ferrari, Bandini, picks the R6. Both Graham Hill and Innes Ireland pick R6s for the front wheels and R7s for the rear wheels. Team Lotus’ drivers both pick R6s for all four wheels, as well as the drivers for Team Cooper and Team Rob Walker. The Honda, the two Brabhams and Gardner’s Brabham start with Goodyear all-weather tires. The start will take place from the starting grid and for once everything goes smoothly: all the cars start without problems, moving on to the main grid. A small distraction is provided by Chapman, who is involved in a fight with the Dutch police and will be arrested after the race. The national flag is lowered and Richie Ginther is author of an extraordinary start from the front row. The American driver passes Graham Hill on the left, taking the outside of the racing line and overtaking the British at the Tarzan corner. In the same lap Graham Hill gets advantage from the slipstream and so do behind him Jim Clark, Dan Gurney, Jackie Stewart and Mike Spence. At the end of the first lap Ginther is still in the lead, but Hill and Clark are now extremely close, while Gurney and Stewart are a bit farer, followed by Spence, Surtees, Hulme, Bandini, McLaren, Rindt, Ireland, Gardner, Siffert, Attwood, Bonnier and Anderson.

 

Somehow Richie Ginther keeps the lead during lap 2, but during lap 3 Graham Hill earns back his starting position on the same turn where he got passed, and after two laps Jim Clark does the same in a duel with the Honda American driver. Everything suggests a long duel between Hill and Clark, but Jim Clark easily overtakes Graham Hill on the sixth lap and from then on he begins to create a gap, which gradually widens. Ginther instead begins his downhill march: Gurney passes him and wins the third place, and then Jackie Stewart does the same for the fourth, leaving Ginther in fifth position. Meanwhile, John Surtees overtakes Spence to take sixth place, while Jochen Rindt overtakes McLaren founder Bruce McLaren to take ninth. Attwood's Lotus-BRM, meanwhile, makes a strange noise at the back of the line, as Bob Anderson withdraws his Brabham into the chorus of lap 11 due to overheating, followed shortly after by Jo Bonnier with his Lotus-Climax due to an oil leak. In addition, the Swedish driver suffers from a problem with his toe, which is swollen. During the tenth lap Jim Clark accumulates an advantage of 1.5 seconds on Graham Hill, while Dan Gurney begins to press the B.R.M. driver, although Jackie Stewart begins to reduce the gap from Hill and Gurney. Over time Denny Hulme manages to find a good pace with his Brabham, passing both Spence and Surtees in quick succession. The British Scuderia Ferrari driver is having difficulty managing his car, which seems to wear out the tires very quickly and irregularly. As the laps go by, Jackie Stewart approaches Graham Hill and Dan Gurney, who passes Hill on the outside of the Tarzan corner.

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Jackie Stewarts keeps reducing the distance from Hill and Gurney, while the Brabham’s driver passes Hill’s B.R.M. on the outside of the Tarzan turn, completing the overtake accelerating at the Hunze Rug turn, earning the second position. Further back, Richie Ginther loses another position, this time in favor of Denny Hulme, and subsequently spins at the Hunze Rug, losing another position, this time behind John Surtees. Meanwhile Jo Siffert finds a good pace with his Brabham, until an ignition problem forces him to stop along the circuit; a quick kick starts the car's engine again, but the fuel pressure is low. Despite this, Siffert continues his race. After chasing for a few laps, Jackie Stewart manages to overtake both Graham Hill and Dan Gurney in a surprisingly easy way, finishing in second position behind Jim Clark, at a distance of 6.5 seconds, and even starting to gain ground against the Scottish driver. Team Lotus mechanics keep Clark constantly updated, and the Scottish driver begins to extend the margin after a few laps. Several spins at the Hunze Rug corner help keep the crowd in a state of suspense: Innes Ireland is the first to be the victim of a mistake, followed by Mike Spence making a mistake while braking; both end up losing positions, being joined by the rear of the group, where Bandini, McLaren and Rindt are located. Bruce McLaren then ends up retiring - during the thirty-sixth lap - due to the rupture of the crown gear and the pinion of the differential, while Bandini is also victim of an error, always spinning at the Hunze Rug and losing a few positions.

 

Meanwhile Jim Clark continues to increase his lead and at the same time Jackie Stewart leaves behind Dan Gurney, who is himself a long way from Graham Hill, who broke the tachometer at the start of the race. In fifth place follows Denny Hulme, while John Surtees is reached by Richie Ginther, who is increasing his pace after a second spin. The second Cooper retires during the fourty-eight lap when Jochen Rindt notices a low oil pressure. The order of the drivers in the lead doesn’t change for the remaining of he race, since Ginther can only put pressure on Surtees for the sixth place, while Bandini overtakes Spence and earns the eight position. Hulme faces some mechanical problems a few laps before the end of the race, when his engine starts producing a weird noise, forcing the driver from New Zealand to enter the pits for a fast check, where the mechanics notice that the exhaust manifold is broken. Hulme restarts without losing his position, even if Ginther and Surtees gets closer and closer in the last laps. Jim Clarks reaches the chequered flag after 80 laps, registering a new record in 2 hours 3'59"1, with an average speed of 162.326 Km/h, taking his fifth win of the 1965 season. An impeccable demonstration of his skills behind the wheel of the Lotus, recalling how this year out of six races he won five. The Scotsman shares the podium with fellow Scottish countryman Jackie Stewart, who finishes the race just 8 seconds behind the leader, while Dan Gurney concludes in third place, 13 seconds behind. Graham Hill ends in fourth position, followed in fifth by Denny Hulme and in sixth by Richie Ginther. 

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John Surtees is seventh, followed by Mike Spence, eighth, as Lorenzo Bandini was overtaken by the British driver during the penultimate lap, also due to the gearbox jammed in second gear. Continuing in his incredible sequence of victories, Jim Clark imposed his talent again in the Netherlands Grand Prix, sixth race of the Formula One World Championship of 1965. The Scottish driver took part in 5 races and won all of them. The drivers ranking now sees Clark with 45 points, Hill with 26, Stewart with 25, and then Surtees, World Champion of the previous season and now without any chances, with only 17. It’s hard to find other adjectives to describe the class and the talent of the Scottish driver; from the time of the legendary Nuvolari, and then after the years of Fangio and Ascari, we didn’t see any special driver able to impose his dominance in every circuit. On the eve of each race there is discussion about horsepower of the upright engines on the participating cars, theories about stability, tires and chassis are speculated, it is said that after all Lotus is not at all superior to the B.R.M., to the Ferraris, to Hondas, and therefore the day of Clark’s myth is getting closer. Then the drivers get on track, Clark goes off on his own, and the critics look to the next time. The quiet Lotus driver is coming to win his second world title, and from the top of an even disconcerting superiority. According to the championship regulations, the best positions of each driver in the half plus one of the tests valid for the title are considered. A total of ten are scheduled this year (eleven if the Austrian Grand Prix will be qualified), so the placements in six tests count. On balance, in order to mathematically win the world championship, Clark would still have to win one of the four remaining races on the calendar.

 

But it would also be enough for the Scottish if Graham Hill (a victory in Monaco) will not assert himself in the next Grand Prix, that of Germany at the Nurburgring, which will take place on Sunday 1st August, since the following races would not be enough to total the score already accumulated by Clark. Therefore, the flying Scotsman must be considered the 1965 champion: there is no doubt that he is the strongest, and if his Lotus is really not superior to the rival cars, the greater the merits of Clark. Another British driver, Jackie Stewart, who is also Scottish, is coming to the fore this year. Stewart is very young, but in his first season of activity in Formula 1 he already demonstrates a confidence and authority that leaves everyone astonished. Hired by B.R.M. as Graham Hill's teammate, the boy is already brighter (and in any case more consistent) than his team leader; in Zandvoort he finished behind Clark for eight seconds only, and is third in the world rankings. It is said that next year Clark will retire from the automotive scene: perhaps the one who will take his place in skills and popularity is ready. Disappointments, on the other hand, continue to come from the Ferrari drivers; not from the Ferraris, because the Maranello cars seem to be perfectly up to the English ones (in tests, Surtees always obtains almost the same performance as Clark). The fact is that the outgoing World Champion rarely gives the feeling of wanting to fight, and the unfortunate circumstances that sometimes have opposed him are not enough to explain this lack of behaviour. For Lorenzo Bandini there are limits given by class, masked by a great will and an undoubted skill in knowing how to save the mechanical means. Do Ferrari fans have to give up and wait for next year to see the victorious Ferrari cars again? 

 

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