Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor: Cassius42
– 1965: Three World Champions share the podium once again
On this day in 1965, three regulars took to the podium: Jim Clark, Graham Hill and John Surtees. Except they were not sophisticated enough in those days for an actual podium ceremony, the winner often got their trophy and garland as they stepped from the car.
The event was the British GP at Silverstone, with the three protagonists finishing in that order. I say regulars because that was the order at the previous British GP, which was held at Brands Hatch. And another 12 months previously the same three were on the podium at Aintree for the 1963 running. However, there was a slight difference in that John Surtees beat Graham Hill to second that year, and in all cases Clark had started from pole position.
In the race, Clark drove away from his chasers, having been beaten away from the grid by the Honda RA272 of Richie Ginther. Hill was trying to keep up but it looked like a lost cause until Clark’s Lotus developed a misfire allowing Hill to close to 3 seconds at the flag.
The trend (well that of Clark dominating: he won 40% of the races of the 1.5 litre Formula 1) started in 1962, at Aintree, where Clark and Surtees finished one and two. Surtees was still in the early stages of his F1 career, following his switch from bikes, and was driving a Reg Parnell Racing Lola-Climax. Hill, in his BRM, could only manage fourth place that year, although he would improve on this in later years.
Clark completed the hat-trick of pole, fastest lap and the win, having dominated from the start to pull clear of Surtees by 49 seconds. Bruce McLaren in a Cooper came third this year with Hill in fourth and a lapped Jack Brabham fifth in a Lotus just before the debut of his own F1 car.
After Brabham left Cooper to form his own company, McLaren was promoted to team leader, but Cooper were never the dominant force they had been earlier with Black Jack at the wheel. The Aintree circuit is located within the famous Aintree Grand National Racecourse and used the same grandstands as the horse racing.
Back at its spiritual home, Silverstone, the 1963 race was a similar emphatic 25 second victory over Surtees, who was now racing for Ferrari. Clark was half way through his record of seven wins in that season on his way to his first championship.
At the start of the race it was the two Brabhams of Gurney and Brabham who led, showing the progress made with these cars over the year. Clark had dropped to fifth but only took until lap 4 before he was back in the lead. Hill was looking good for second, after Gurney and Brabham retired, having fought off Surtees. However, he ran out of fuel on the last lap and coasted over the line, allowing Surtees to spoil what could have been an even more remarkable trend.
Graham never seemed to have any luck at his home Grand Prix and never won it, in contrast to his record at Monaco. Hill was still driving the 1962 championship winning P57 after BRM’s first attempt at a monocoque chassis proved disastrous, proving that F1 has long been about the technical challenge as much as driving talent. Surtees’ move to Ferrari was leading to a resurgent season after a dismal 1962, culminating in a win in the next race in Germany.
In 1964, the British GP found a new alternating location at Brands Hatch, following the sale of Aintree to new owners who intended to turn it into a housing estate. The result was familiar: Clark won in his Lotus from Hill’s BRM and Surtees in the Ferrari, to reverse the latter two positions from the previous year. Hills’ pursuit of Clark was dogged and the margin at the flag was only 2.8 seconds, a change from the previous two years. Clark had to work hard to keep the lead with Hill often less than a second behind. John Surtees moved into third when Dan Gurney pitted on lap three, and put all his efforts into trying to catch Hill and Clark.
For the final year of the 1.5 litre formula, the British GP had its usual result on its return to Silverstone, on the classic circuit devoid of chicanes. There was a novel sight at the start as Richie Ginther took the Honda RA272 into the lead off the line. The Honda was improving rapidly after its tentative start with a few outings the year before. However, it was not long before Clark asserted his dominance. Hill was into second on lap two and tried to keep in touch.
His persistence was nearly rewarded when Clark’s Lotus developed a misfire allowing Hill to close to three seconds at the flag. Clark resorted to coasting round corners and using higher gears in an effort to preserve his engine. Hill took fastest lap in his late charge. The Honda developed fuel injection problems and retired, but would go on for their maiden win in the Mexican Grand Prix at the end of the season. This was Clark’s fourth consecutive win in the race, mirroring his record in the Belgian Grand Prix.
Another interesting factoid is Lorenzo Bandini finishing fifth in both 1963 and 1964, but in different cars. He only got a full time drive at Ferrari in 1964, after occasional drives in 1962; in 1963 he was driving a Scuderia Centro-Sud BRM P57, until offered another chance in the works Ferrari team. The prestigious Lorenzo Bandini trophy is presented in his honour and won by notables such as Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.
Also, if you think Britain dominates F1 now with the preponderance of teams based in the ‘Motorsport Valley’, which stretches along the M40 corridor, encompassing both Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire – in those days it was the drivers too with the first five places in the ’65 race taken by the Brits; with Mike Spence and Jackie Stewart in fourth and fifth.