F1 Retro August 2007
Fifty years ago this month Graham Hill won Le Mans. And by adding the French classic to his list of victories he achieved something that no other driver has done before or since: claiming the so-called Triple Crown of motor racing.
After scoring the first of five Monaco wins in 1963, Hill then added the Indianapolis 500 at his second attempt in 1966. The two-time F1 champion just needed La Sarthe to complete the set, but by the time he saddled up for one last attempt in 1972, a victory was looking unlikely.
In this month’s F1 Retro his Matra team-mate from that race, Henri Pescarolo, elaborates on his doubts about a 43-year-old Hill who was without a championship F1 win in three years.
“At first I said, ‘No, I don’t want him,’” remembers Pescarolo. “I was concerned about how he would cope with the dangers.”
The meticulous Hill soon changed his young partner’s perception, and the pair famously won the enduro classic by 11 laps – the first French victory at Le Mans in over 20 years, prompting “an explosion of joy”.
“Graham was intelligent and had the right approach,” says Pescarolo. “He knew it was important not to have your team-mate as your enemy. Not all F1 drivers have understood that. He was perfect.”