1964 British Grand Prix race report - A hard time for Clark

A Hard Time for Clark

Brands Hatch England July 11th

The British Grand Prix has never had any particular home, and this year it was to hold the title of European Grand Prix so the R.A.C. not only decided to run it themselves, instead of delegating it to the B.R.D.C. or the B.A.R.C., but also chose Brands Hatch Stadium as the venue and enlisted the help of almost everyone in the British sporting world. Naturally the full length circuit was used so that it was new to the present day Grand Prix “circus,” though Lotus had given a demonstration with their champion car at the end of last year and earlier this summer there had been some unofficial practice allowed, as well as another short session the night before the official practice for the Grand Prix began. There was to be the usual full supporting programme that invariably seems to turn a Grand Prix event into a “fiesta,” but it was arranged that the F.1 cars should have the whole of the morning on Thursday and Friday for practice, which provided ample time for most people.

It was fine and dry when the Grand Prix cars started circulating at 10 a.m. on Thursday morning and there were two notable omissions, the first the fact that the Ferrari team had only one car, which Surtees was driving, and it was a V6-engined car as used earlier this season before the V8 was ready; the other absentee was the new experimental 4-w-d B.R.M. which Attwood should have been driving. This had developed a bit of trouble on test and was being modified, but was under way and being run at Snetterton before making its public appearance. Everyone else was out on the circuit except for Frank Gardner with his little F.2 Brabham fitted with a 1,500-c.c. Lotus-Cortina Ford engine. Team Lotus had two cars, with Clark using the Type 33 and Spence replacing Arundell on the modified Type 25, the Lotus number two driver still being in hospital following his F.2 crash at Reims. Following the collection of a piece of gravel down an intake pipe at Rouen the intakes were covered with gauze once again, and Clark’s car had the high pressure fuel pump mounted on the outside of the right hand side of the cockpit, while Spence’s car had it mounted on a bracket behind the ZF gearbox. The B.R.M. team had the same three cars as at Rouen, with Graham Hill putting his first choice on the earlier 1964 car, having the latest one as a spare. All three were using the earlier gearboxes, and they had the air intakes neatly parcelled in an open top box, thus keeping all hot air from the engine out of the intakes. The two Brabhams of Brabham and Gurney were unchanged from previous races, except that Gurney’s engine no longer had the mixture control in the cockpit coupled to the injection unit, although the control remained there. Surtees was rather unhappily having to make use of the V6 Ferrari, and Bandini had nothing to drive, while the works Coopers of McLaren and Phil Hill had gauze covers over the top of the engines. After their disastrous Rouen meeting the B.R.P. team had got sorted out once again, with Ireland driving the latest “monocoque” car, now straightened out after its Silverstone crash in May. Taylor was using the car he had in France, the minor damage having been put right. Hailwood and Amon were driving the Parnell Lotus-B.R.M. V8 cars, and the team were looking after Revson’s earlier Lotus-B.R.M. V8, while Bonnier had the choice of Rob Walker’s two cars as usual. The Centro-Sud B.R.M.’s were back in the fold, for Maggs and Baghetti and the private owners, Siffert and Anderson had their 1964 Brabhams, the latter having new Hewland “friction-free” drive shafts at the rear, with flexible inboard universal joints allowing the use of shafts without sliding joints. Raby had his 1963 Brabham with B.R.M. V8 engine and Trintignant had his early B.R.M. V8, while John Taylor was driving Gerards neatly prepared F.3 Cooper with two o.h.c. Lotus-Ford engine and Hewland gearbox.

This being the first official outing for current Grand Prix cars on the Brands Hatch circuit there were no standards at which to aim, except the old 2 1/2-litre F.1 lap record of 1 min. 40.2 sec. and the times set up earlier this year during an unofficial practice day. It did not take long for a bogey time of 1 min. 40 sec. to be set by the fast drivers and there was a lot of activity to get below this, and as an apparent added incentive there were 100 bottles of champagne on a table by the starting line for the driver setting the fastest lap of the morning, though 100 bottles of Pepsi-Cola would have been more in keeping with the Kentish circuit and today’s Grand Prix drivers. There were some unfortunate incidents during the morning. Revson’s lotus breaking its left rear hub carrier as he went into Paddock Bend and Phil Hill’s Cooper was down on power. Clark did some laps in Spence’s car and McLaren tried Hill’s Cooper, but all the right sort of drivers were getting below 1 min. 40 sec., including Gurney, Graham Hill, Clark, Brabham, Surtees and McLaren. Shortly after midday Trevor Taylor was very close to the 1 min 40 sec, mark when his foot slipped off the brake pedal going into Hawthorn Bend and he crashed heavily. The car was badly damaged and Taylor very lucky to get away with bruising and nothing broken. This held up practice for a short time so the closing time was extended to make up for it. The “battle for the bubbly” continued between Lotus and Brabhams, with B.R.M. Ferrari and Cooper not far behind, but Gurney finally won the day, doing many laps at under 1 min. 40 sec., rather than the odd one or two, and he finished up with 1 min. 38.4 sec., closely followed by Brabham and Clark, who tied at 1 min. 38.8 sec.

On Friday morning practice continued at 10 a.m. under perfect conditions and the entry was added to by the appearance of the interesting 4-w-d B.R.M. driven by Attwood. The Revson Lotus had been repaired and Trevor Taylor was out in the B.R.P. teams’ Lotus 24 with B.R.M. engine. One V8 engined Ferrari had arrived, for Surtees, and Bandini took the V6 engined car. Clark had his old modified Lotus 25 as well as the newer Lotus 33 and Graham Hill had abbreviated sides on the engine compartment of his earlier 1964 B.R.M., while Coopers had found the lack of power in Phil Hill’s car to be due to ignition timing trouble. There was no champagne for fastest time of the morning, nor any Pepsi-Cola or tea but more important there was the final outcome of the front row of the starting grid and this was most important, for overtaking on the Brands Hatch circuit is very difficult and nobody hoping to win the race could afford not to be on the front row of the grid. This knowledge, more than any fancy presentations or photographs in the newspapers, really got the lads going on Friday morning and I took the opportunity to tour the circuit and watch from close quarters; there was some pretty fierce motoring taking place. Graham Hill seemed determined to get his time down by reason of sheer hard work, doing a great number of laps, Clark was using all the road and the raised kerbstones coming out of the corners, Gurney and Brabham looked well under control and Surtees did not look as fast as he was actually going. McLaren was not letting his Cooper get too much over-the-limit, in case he could not get it back, and Phil Hill did not look prepared to let his car get anywhere near the limit of adhesion, looking very unconfident about the whole thing. Ginther did not seem too happy with his car or the circuit and did not seem to be at home as he usually does, while Spence was learning his way along steadily conscious of being a “stand-in” for the injured Arundell. The 4-w-d B.R.M. was strictly “on test” and it was silly to expect wonders from such a new car, especially with the sound and sensible Attwood at the wheel, but Bob Anderson was surprising everyone with some fast times. His revised rear end had improved the handling of his Brabham enormously and he was enjoying himself hanging on to some of the works runners when they passed him, while he was quite a bit faster than many of the works drivers.

As the morning wore on the pace quickened and drivers like Clark, Graham Hill and Gurney began to use the edges of the circuit more often and there was a lot of “full power and opposite-lock” motoring out of the corners. Whereas the average driver would approach a corner with 12 in. between his tyres and the edge of the road, cut the apex by 6 in. and run out to within 12 in. of the edge on the way out of a corner, the fast boys were down to the point of having their tyres on the very edge of the road at entry, putting a front wheel over the black and white kerb as they slid across the apex and then sliding out of the corner with a rear wheel kicking up stones and dirt as it dropped off the edge of the road. Over the bumps on Westfield Corner the fast boys were really working lock-to-lock as the front wheels came off the ground and anyone who thinks the modern Grand Prix car does not let you see the driver working should have been at Brands Hatch on that Friday morning. The battle for pole position on the grid was being resolved between Clark, Gurney and Graham Hill, with Brabham and Surtees ever present. Anderson had surprised everyone by getting below 1 min. 40 sec. and equalling McLaren’s time, especially as his Coventry-Climax engine was an early carburetter model. By the end of the morning Gurney was looking exceedingly grim. Clark had been using both Lotus cars and was getting both outside wheels off the edge out of some of the corners and Graham Hill was using both his B.R.M.s and was arriving into the downhill Paddock Bend on opposite-lock and giving spectators heart-stopping moments until he got control again at the foot of the hill. All the text-book stuff had gone by the board and everyone was scratching hard, the more the top boys worked the more the tail-enders had to work to keep in the picture. It all ended with Clark just beating Graham Hill, both of them using their earlier cars, with Gurney in third position, but closely followed by Brabham and Surtees, and it had been quite a busy morning.

On Saturday the day dawned wet and hopes sank. but the weather cleared and remained cloudy and dry, which was ideal for fast racing. The anticipated 135,000 spectators and ghastly traffic jams did not materialise so conditions were enthusiastic and comfortable and after some preliminary races for saloons and GT cars and an unnecessary display of militarism by the British Army, the time for the European Grand Prix approached. Clark decided to use the modified Lotus 25, this having the 1963 type of ball and socket steering rack, but the 1964 type of vertical pivot bolts for the rear radius arms, these arms being joined to the tops of the rear hub carriers, as on the Lotus 33; it also retained the high pressure injection pump in front of the radiator. Graham Hill chose his earlier 1964 B.R.M. “monocoque” and Gurney had no choice, being well content with the Brabham he has used all season, and these three formed the front row of the grid. In case any of the spectators did not know who was driving which car organisers stuck great labels on the sides of the cars, marked Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Dan Gurney, etc. A preliminary warm-up round the circuit was permitted and then the cars were formed up on the “dummy grid,” moving up to the starting line a few seconds before the fall of the flag.

As the field surged forward Amon’s clutch did not bite and Siffert turned sharp left to avoid the Parnell Team Lotus and in doing so the Swiss driver struck Gardner’s F.2 Brabham which folded up and retired on the spot. Amon and Siffert got away, though the New Zealander had damaged his clutch and he did not get going properly. The front rows of the grid had surged away on full noise and Clark and Gurney went down Paddock Hill side by side. Clark could hear the shriek of Gurney’s tyres alongside his left ear but neither gave up and wheel to wheel they raced up towards Druids Corner, the tight right-hand hairpin. Being on the inside Clark was able to get to the corner first and was away into the lead and by the end of the opening lap the situation was nice and tidy, in the order (of merit one might almost add) of Clark (Lotus), Gurney (Brabham), Graham Hill (B.R.M.), Surtees. (Ferrari) and Brabham (Brabham), there already being a short gap before Mclaren arrived leading the rest of the field. The leaders remained in the same order on lap 2, but Siffert began to make up for his bad start, and passed Raby, but Amon was right out of the hunt and was soon to retire with a defective clutch. On the third lap there was a groan from the Brabham supporters when it was seen that Gurney was no longer with the leading bunch and be came into the pits with smoke coming from the wiring for the ignition. It was not until the leaders were on lap 8: that Gurney was able to join in again, with new electrical components fitted and the electrical short-circuit sorted out, but there was little hope of him getting back among the leaders, for Gurney is a “racer” not a “genius.” Clark was still leading Hill, but not getting away from him, for though the race had started with a lap in 1 min. 40 sec., they were now doing 1 min. 45 sec, as someone was slopping oil all round the course and though it may not have been visible to the marshals and observers the leading drivers could “feel” it and the pace had slackened. On lap 4 Hailwood had gone on to the grass at the bottom of the hill from Druids Corner and carried away an oil pipe under the car on an extraneous object lying in the grass, and though he carried on for a while he eventually had to give up. He had meanwhile effectively oiled the circuit. On lap 7 McLaren came to rest on the short straight behind the pits, with a broken gearbox.

Clark was still leading Hill and the two of them had drawn away from Surtees and Brabham, and with McLaren out this left Bandini on his own in fifth place. Then came Phil Hill, Bonnier, Anderson, Ginther, Spence, Taylor, Ireland and John Taylor all still fairly closely in touch with one another, with Baghetti, Siffert and Maggs bringing up the rear and Raby behind, having made a short pit stop. Trevor Taylor had to give up when the heat in the cockpit overcame him as he was not feeling well, and Bonnier, Phil Hill and Anderson got away from the pack and started a three-cornered dice, from which the Swede soon dropped out when he made a quick pit stop, but Ireland looked to be moving up to take his place. By lap 15 Hill was really pressing Clark and looked as if he would have liked to have got by, but as the pace was still down at 1 min. 45 sec. it was all a bit false. Even so, these two were out on their own and on lap 16 Brabham shot into the pits to see if he had a flat rear tyre, as he had suddenly got all sideways at one point. Nothing was wrong so he rejoined the race, still in fourth place, but on lap 19 was back in again, even faster this time, and was quite certain something was broken at the back end. This time Bandini went by before Brabham could convince himself that all was well and rejoin the race again.

By the end of twenty laps Clark still had Graham Hill right on his tail, but they were still going comparatively slowly, though they had a 10-second lead over Surtees, who had 44 seconds lead over his team-mate Bandini in the V6 Ferrari. Then came Brabham not completely convinced that all was well with his car, and Phil Hill with Bob Anderson pushing him hard. Behind them Ireland, Ginther and Spence were having a close scrap and then came John Taylor in his Cooper-Ford, the last one who had not been lapped by the leaders. Apart from Brabham getting away from the Phil Hill/Anderson duel nothing much changed during the next seven laps, but the track was drying out gradually and the pace was increasing. Then Clark and Hill came up behind the Phil Hill/Anderson pair and Clark nipped by and left Graham Hill sandwiched between the two slower cars. This was just the chance Clark wanted and he pressed on really hard and opened a gap between his Lotus and the pursuing B.R.M., so that when Graham Hill got by the slower cars, which was only a question of the next corner, Clark had gone. Brabham was now lapped by these two and the pace was getting down under 1 min 40 sec. to some serious racing. Graham Hill was trying really hard now, getting his arms crossed on some of the corners and sweating but he could not regain the few yards that Clark had pulled out and as the pace increased the gap opened slowly but surely until by 40 laps, which was half-distance, Clark had a precarious 2 sec. lead, but a lead none the less. Surtees was still in third place 27 sec. behind and was the only one on the same lap as the leaders, and many of the runners were being lapped for the second time. Try as he might Phil Hill could not get rid of Anderson, the bright green Brabham pressing the Cooper all the time and Ireland, Spence and Ginther were still involved in a personal scrap. Siffert was next, having caught all the tail-enders and Baghetti, Revson and Maggs were the only ones left running without incident, though Gurney, Bonnier and Raby were still circulating, but John Taylor was at the pits having his gearbox repaired. However, Raby did not go much further for a rear stub axle broke which spun him off just after joining the new leg of the circuit, fortunately without any personal damage, and then Revson’s B.R.M. engine went sick and Maggs went out with gearbox trouble. Phil Hill began to weaken and Anderson got by and pulled away, and then Clark came up to lap the Ireland, Spence, Ginther trio, and once again he used this chance to pull out a bit more over Graham Hill, getting by without waste of time, while Hill got hung up by them and seeing this Clark applied maximum effort through the next four corners and opened the gap to 5 sec. It was still a precarious lead and he was working hard to maintain it, for Graham Hill was still hammering away behind. Slowly but surely Brabham was gaining on Bandini, but it was taking a long time as the young Italian was driving very well, still in fourth place, and Surtees was still in third place but unable to keep up with the leaders. With a dry track Clark was getting into his stride and on lap 61 he set a new lap record in 1 min 39.4 sec. and was 8 sec. ahead of Hill, and as he disappeared under the bridge and started off on the new leg of the circuit, Surtees was just appearing at Clearways to join the old part of the circuit. Bandini was now desperately fighting off the attack of Brabham but the Australian was relentless and at the same time Phil Hill was having a “second wind” and was after Anderson. On lap 66 Brabham got by Bandini and on the next lap Phil Hill got by Anderson, but nobody showed any signs of giving up. Ginther had got the lead in his trio, but Ireland was falling back with a fluffy sounding engine. On lap 73 Clark set another new lap record with 1 min. 38.8 sec. (96.56 m.p.h.) and had 7 1/2 sec. lead on Hill, so with the end in sight he was able to ease up and Hill closed to within 3 sec. before the finish but there was no question of catching the Lotus. On his final lap Clark just lapped Bandini for the second time so that the Ferrari driver was two laps down against Brabham’s one lap, whereas he was still quite close to Brabham in actual fact.

Although Clark had led the race from the first lap to the finish it was not an easy win, for Graham Hill had worked hard to press him all the time. Surtees finished a lonely third, not very satisfied with the performance of his Ferrari and Brabham had driven a very busy race to get fourth place, ahead of Bandini while Phil Hill finished sixth, just ahead of Anderson; when they finished, the Californian said to the ex-motorcyclist, “You gave me a helluva time, I could have had an easy ride.” Gurney finished at the end of the field, having made up nothing on the leaders after his pit stop, and John Taylor had joined in again after his gearbox was repaired and was still running at the end.

The Supporting Races

The saloon car race was not very exciting, being a procession of Lotus-Cortinas cornering on three wheels and Jackie Stewart lost second place to Sears at the end when he got a bit crossed-up coming out of Clearways. The GT race saw the same Stewart leading in Coomb’s hot Jaguar E-type from Sears in the Willment A.C. Cobra, after a muddled start in which some cars were in the wrong position. Sears was black-flagged into the pits as a handicap for starting from the wrong position, but made up for it by thoroughly trouncing the Jaguar. David Piper in his GTO Ferrari had a good battle with Salvadori in C. T. Atkins’ A.C. Cobra, but power prevailed before the end of the race. In the sports car race Dibley in the Moss team’s Brabham-Climax led throughout from Salvadori in Atkins’ 5-litre Maserati V8-engined Cooper, but D. Hulme took second place before the end, driving the Team Elite’s Brabham-Climax. – D.S.J.