Clark (Lotus 35-Cosworth) Demonstrates F.2

PAU, FRANCE, April 25th .

WHEN Formula Two began last year it looked as though it was going to hang fire, but the French gave it a great boost by organising a whole series of events under the title of “Les Grands Prix de France,” and while each event was complete in itself, the results of the series added up to a championship with overall prize money. The French did not do this from purely sporting instincts and a desire to see Formula Two flourish, but this 1,000-c.c. category was the only hope of them seeing any French cars taking part with any hope of success. French cars in Formula One are non-existent, and equally in GT racing and Prototype racing, as far as outright wins are concerned, but in Formula Two the little firms of Alpine and Rene-Bonnet, supported by Renault, were prepared to participate. The 1964 series of F.2 races proved to be a British and Commonwealth benefit, the French opposition being rather poor, but the organisers were prepared to try again for 1965, and this year’s “Les Grands Prix de France” for Formula Two comprise events at Pau, Reims, Rouen, Montlhery and Albi, and the Pau event opened the series.

Leaving this French F.2 championship to one side, the Pau Grand Prix is well able to stand on its own, this year being the twenty-fifth since its inception. For many years the circuit, round part of the town and through the Beaumont Park, has remained unchanged, though the character of the event has seen various changes, and it is rather sad to see a race that was once a full-blooded Grand Prix event, become a Formula Two race for the second year running. The distance was once again 80 laps, in place of the more classic 100 laps which Grand Prix cars used to cover.

Now that Formula Two has become well established it is becoming nearly as complex and technically exacting as Formula One and is beginning to put as much strain on the accessory world as does Grand Prix racing. Whether this is a good thing remains to be seen, as also does the question of whether the tyre, petrol, oil, electrics and sparking plug firms can afford to give F.2 unlimited support as they have given to F.1 and Prototype racing. What is becoming very clear is that a private owner has no more opportunity of participating in F.2 than he has in F.1. The entry at Pau was a very good one but, apart from two Frenchmen, consisted of organised teams with nearly as much backing in money and materials as the average Grand Prix team. Perhaps the most exaggerated was Jack Brabham with his Brabham-Honda, for he had five Japanese looking after the engine alone, admittedly not from personal choice, but it is typical of the trend in F.2. There still being only one of these 4-cylinder 1,000-c.c. twin-camshaft, 4-valves-per-cylinder, fuel-injection engines available, his teammate Hulme had to be content with the simpler Cosworth single-camshaft engine.

With B.R.M. in full production with their 4-cylinder 1,000-c.c. engine, most teams have taken delivery of at least one, and in the Team Lotus run by Ron Harris it was Brian Hart who was driving their Lotus 35-B.R.M., while Clark drove a Lotus 35-Cosworth, with a new induction system using two 40IDF2 Weber carburetters, both cars having 6-speed Hewland gearboxes. Tim Parnell had a Lotus 35 with B.R.M. engine, which David Hobbs was driving for him, and the Midland Racing Partnership had a B.R.M. engine in one of their new monocoque Lola cars, this being driven by Maggs, while Attwood had a similar chassis using a Cosworth engine. Their third car was a last year’s Lola-Cosworth and this was on loan to Frenchman Jose Rosinski. The John Coombs-entered Brabham-B.R.M. was being driven by Graham Hill, and the Ken Tyrell pair of new Coopers both had B.R.M. engines and had Stewart and Gardner as drivers, the Australian standing-in for Surtees, who was more seriously occupied with a 4-litre Ferrari prototype at Monza. The Roy Winkleman team had two Brabhams with Cosworth engines, both using the new carburation layout, and these were driven by Alan Rees and Jochen Rindt, while Beckwith had the Normand Racing Brabham-Cosworth, and two similar cars were entered by Ford-France, for Schlesser and Ligier, the Cosworth engines being called Ford, for obvious reasons, in the last two entries. The Frenchmen Maglia (Lotus-Cosworth) and Offenstadt (Cooper-B.R.M.) made up the total runners to appear with British cars, but the latter only got as far as practice with his brand new car when the gearbox seized solid.

French opposition came from two works Alpine-Renaults, for Grandsire and Vinatier, and while the chassis were basically last year’s models, which started life as Brabhams, the engines were new all-aluminium twin-cam 4-cylinders designed by Gordini and built by Renault, and used a pair of double-choke horizontal Weber carburetters, these engines being coupled to Hewland gearboxes. The engines were so new that they had done very little test-bed running and were only got to Pau in time for the second practice period, so naturally did not make much of a showing of the rather odd Rene Bonnet cars that appeared last year there was no sight or sound, even in the entry list.

In practice Stewart made fastest time, but only a fraction ahead of Clark and Graham Hill, and while the Tyrell car was obviously all set and ready to race, using new Dunlop R7 tyres, the Ron Harris cars were busy experimenting with Goodyear and Dunlop tyres. All the serious runners improved enormously on last year’s lap times, as one would expect, with twelve months of racing and development behind them and new engines, gearboxes and tyres available and superior chassis. However, this overall improvement was more than was anticipated and made the performances of the old Formula One cars look a bit pale, but then they were V8-engined cars of early 1962, which look pale anyway alongside 1965 V8 cars.

There was every prospect of a very good race developing, for Stewart was obviously in great form and the Tyrell cars were prepared in their usual impeccable way, Clark had already won three times at Pau and was not likely to let anyone get the better of him, Graham Hill was very much on form, and behind these three were drivers such as Beckwith, Rees, Gardner, Attwood, Maggs, Brabham and Hulme, although the last two were not very happy, the Honda engine not working as it should and Hulme’s car suffering from violent understeer, which is not what is wanted on a street-circuit such as Pau. Unfortunately, race-day dawned wet and stayed wet, and a drizzling rain fell continuously, so that the circuit became like a skating-rink, the rain not being heavy enough to actually wash the roads. Clark gave the most perfect example of throttle control and path-picking, his lines through and out of corners being most interesting, as he avoided cambers, particularly slippery patches, used wheelspin at the appropriate moments, and did the 80 laps in the lead the whole way, treading fast but warily like a cat on a shelf-full of china. Nobody could stay with him under these conditions, even though Stewart, Attwood and Beckwith got by a ” gefuffie ” on the first corner, when Gardner goofed and spun, causing most of the field to come almost to a stop; needless to say, Clark was already in front. Graham Hill got sorted out and joined the trio running for second place, and though he got by Beckwith and Attwood, he could not get by Stewart, and all the time Clark was pulling out more and more lead, finding grip where others were having wheelspin. Beckwith dropped back when his gearbox gave trouble, and left him with only fifth gear, and Brabham did not last long, for the ” wire-and-bobbin ” mechanism controlling the Honda engine fuel-injection throttles and mixture controls came adrift. Even without this trouble he was not going very well, the engine never sounding very healthy, and he was hung up in the first-corner mix-up and again in another bit of nonsense at the third hairpin on the opening lap.

Hulme understeered himself into the straw bales, and out of the race, on a downhill hairpin, and Brian Hart was delayed at the pits due to Ligier bumping his fuel pump in the first-corner mix-up, the injection pressure pump being mounted on the side of the gearbox on the Lotus-B.R.M. Graham Hill went out very suddenly when his final-drive seized solid, and Stewart threw away a certain second place when he spun and had trouble restarting. Although he did his best to make up for his mistake, he could only catch Schlesser and take fifth place. This error let Attwood into second place, but though he was driving incredibly neatly and tidily, he was not all that fast and was lapped by Clark. In third place, the Austrian driver Rindt was driving very courageously, but it was only ” lightning reactions ” that were keeping him on the road, his progress being heart-stopping to watch. He almost caught Attwood and would undoubtedly have got by, but got all crossed-up on one corner and lost all the ground he had gained, and it was then too near the end of the race to do anything about it.

After the F.2 race there was a 35-lap race for F.3 cars on a circuit that was now unbelievably slippery, and, unlike some British organisers, the Automobile Club Basco-Bearnais kept to the full distance, saying ” these are the known conditions and we must accept them.” A strong contingent of British entries got through qualifying and a lot of slow French cars and drivers were weeded out, but unfortunately not all of them. Roy Pike, the Californian-in-England, driving the Chequered Flag team’s Brabham-Ford, ran away with the race, giving a demonstration of smooth, relaxed and unruffled driving that would have done credit to Jim Clark. There were some slow and wild French drivers on the circuit, who had to be lapped, and he took them all in his easy unruffled style. Some of the British entry got a bit ruffled and went off the road, or spun, among these being Crichton-Stuart, Courage, Lucas and Davies, but conditions were such that almost any spin was excusable, therefore more credit to those who “stayed on the island.” Mauro Bianchi, younger brother of Lucien, drove a works Alpine-Renault, and was the only one to provide any opposition to the British entries, though young Vidal, in a similar car, kept with the leading group for quite a time. In the closing stages of the race Bianchi closed up on Pike, but the “Chequered Flag” driver had the situation well under control and kept comfortably in front.—D. S. J.