Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Carlo Carluccio
– 1962: Hill wrote his name into the history books
On this day, fifty one years ago Graham Hill secured his first world title and his win also confirmed BRM as the World Constructors champions.
The Formula One World Championship had arrived in East London, South Africa for the ninth and final round of the 1962 season.
The penultimate round had been at Watkins Glen, nearly three months previously, and as the teams arrived for this – the first ever South African Grand Prix – Ferrari once again chose not to compete. In the U.S event, Ferrari openly admitted that as they were not in contention for the titles, they couldn’t be bothered to attend!
The race was to be a title decider between the Lotus of Jim Clark and Hill in his BRM. Hill, in fact held the advantage in the points table, with 39 as opposed to Clark on 30, but the scoring system only allowed the best five to count to your total.
Hill already had three victories and two second positions, so could only improve his tally with a win. Clark had three victories and a fourth place, so would have claimed the title with a victory as this would have tied them on points but he would have had more victories.
Clark qualified on pole position ahead of his adversary and as the flag dropped he went straight into the lead. Hill chased valiantly but Clark was mesmerising and disappeared into a commanding lead.
Thrid place was being fought out between Bruce Mclaren, John Surtees and Tony Maggs.
By lap 20, Clark had extended his lead to thirteen seconds and was still pulling away from his opposition. There was simply no possibility of an answer from the BRM driver and he chased valiantly in the hope that for the fourth time that season Clark would fail to finish.
John Surtees had retired on lap 26 due to engine problems in his Lola, meanwhile Clark continued serenely at the front building his advantage in the delicate Lotus 25 to just over thirty seconds.
It is possible that delicate is too prophetic an adjective but Jim Clark passed the pits on Lap 57 trailing smoke from his engine. This worsened until a plume of smoke followed his progress around the circuit and he pulled into the pits on lap 61. A bolt had loosened and fallen out and this had allowed the oil to escape.
Graham Hill continued for the remaining twenty laps and secured his and BRM’s respective first titles. In an era where sport meant more than glory, Jim Clark was the first to congratulate his compatriot.
Clark, Chapman and the Lotus 25 would be back for the Monaco Grand Prix, the opening round of the 1963 season on the 26th May 1963; some five months later!