Sir Jackie Stewart’s view that a “too fragile” Lotus stymied Jim Clark’s success at Monaco [Monaco masters, May] deserves further scrutiny, particularly given that Chapman’s cars won five Monte Carlo races between 1960 and 1970. Few would disagree with Stewart’s premise that ‘Chunky’ Chapman’s approach to car design often compromised his machinery’s resilience, but Jimmy’s failure ever to win a Monaco Grand Prix deserves some context. Clark started four of his six Monaco Grands Prix between 1961 and ’67 from pole (he missed the ’65 race due to a clash with Indianapolis). He suffered four retirements, two of which can be directly attributed to Lotus design fragility (suspension failures in 1966 and ’67). Gear and engine troubles halted his Lotus 25 in 1962 and ’63.
Although Clark reached the finish of his first Monaco Grand Prix in 1961, a stop to rectify an ignition lead fault destroyed his race. His 1964 event was marred by a scrutineer-enforced pitstop to address trailing parts after swiping a marker – but Clark still finished fourth.
Lotus fragility certainly played a part, but so did bad luck. And tragically we never saw Jimmy in a Lotus 49 there –a machine that was to be victorious in every Monaco Grand Prix it started.