Continental Notes, March 1963

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At the end of this month Formula One racing will begin with a short race at Snetterton Airfield circuit, and the following three weekends will see European Grand Prix racing starting in earnest. The first weekend in April sees the Bruxelles G.P. on the Heysel circuit on the outskirts of the Belgian capital, Easter Monday sees the traditional round-the-houses Grand Prix at Pau, and the weekend after that is the Siracusa G.P. in Sicily. The Bruxelles event, apart from being a series of stop-and-start races which seems to result in as few cars at the finish as if it was a full length non-stop Grand Prix, is road racing in the truest sense, for the Heysel circuit comprises normal roads that are not specially prepared in any way, and combines a flat-out downhill rush, hairpin bends, autobahn motoring, and kerbstones and street racing. The Pau G.P. has been a long-distance endurance race in the best tradition for many years, and the 100 laps of town circuit calls for the most precise and accurate driving, which is perhaps why Trintignant is so outstanding on this circuit. It will be quite a motoring trip from Pau, in south-west France, to Siracusa in the south-east corner of Sicily, always assuming the race takes place, but the Sicilian event is not one of the most reliable.

Before all this activity begins it is worth while looking at the probable situation for the 1963 season. The reigning champion manufacturer is B.R.M. and they will no doubt do everything in their power to stay champions for 1963. The general design of the car would seem to be fairly settled, and their main efforts are likely to be in extracting more and more b.h.p. from the fuel-injected V8 engine, reducing the weight of the cars, adding more speeds to the gearbox and reducing frontal area. However, the B.R.M. design team do not “design-as-we-go” like some car builders, but plan sensibly and soundly, and no doubt have developments under way which may appear as the season goes on. It has been suggested that they are turning their thoughts to stressed-skin construction once more, having tried it quite successfully in the early days of the 2 1/2-litre cars. Personally I would like to see B.R.M. take up the Ferguson offer of 4-W-D, for they are the only racing team with the facilities and ability to manufacture a 4-W-D transmission to Ferguson standards. The Lotus team, who have a faster and better car than B.R.M., still have to suffer from supplies of engines and gearbox from outside manufacturers, which can never be the same as making the whole car in your own machine shops. The Coventry-Climax V8, now being developed into a Mark II version, after the scare-mongering last autumn about stopping racing activities, will obviously go on with Lucas fuel-injection, but whereas the B.R.M. engine works adequately by squirting the fuel through an injector situated in the inlet tract near the throttle valve, the Climax engine would only work satisfactorily when the injector was mounted at the air entry, in the centre of the orifice, rather like a simple jet carburetter, but with a controlled jet.

The new Coventry-Climax V8 engines should appear with larger bore and shorter stroke, with subsequent high r.p.m. and more interest in maximum b.h.p. Last year the Climax was limited to about 8,500 r.p.m. but this year should see 10,000-r.p.m. engines, in line with B.R.M., Ferrari and Porsche, and in its train will come gear-ratio problems, numbers of gears and rev-bands, all of which Colin Chapman will have to sort out on the 1963 Lotus cars. The recent appearance of the Lotus 27, the stressed-skin Formula Junior car, prompts the thought that a Lotus-Cortina twin-cam engine would fit in, and 150 b.h.p. from the 1,500 c.c. version would make the car quite exciting round tight little circuits, such as Pau, Naples, Mallory or the short Brands Hatch. It is very obvious that Colin Chapman does not intend to rely on firms outside his own little empire, for major components and development work, and I feel that it will not be long before the Lotus team cars begin to show signs of being less and less a “components special” and more and more all Lotus, or should I say “all Detroit.” In the mid-‘thirties there was a very active young designer in British racing named Reid Railton, who today is quite important in the General Motors Corporation…!

As far as Coventry-Climax are concerned the remarks above as regards Lotus will more or less apply to Cooper, but if there is only one 10,000-r.p.m. engine then I feel that Lotus will get it first. On the chassis side it was interesting to see the Moulton-B.M.C. Hydro-elastic suspension of Morris 1100 origin on the new Cooper Junior, so maybe Issigonis and Moulton will help Coopers with their 1963 Grand Prix cars. After all, B.M.C. stole a march on Ford with the Cooper-Mini, and Fords replied with the Lotus-Cortina, to which B.M.C. have counteracted with Moulton suspension on the Junior. There is no doubt about it that when real manufacturers get bitten by racing, things get very interesting; it’s just a question of money, there are plenty of design brains in racing.

The apparent withdrawal by Coventry-Climax last autumn seemed to get rid of the Bowmaker team and the U.D.T.-Laystall team overnight, neither of the Hire Purchase Companies feeling that they had justified the expense of racing during 1962 anyway. The Bowmaker withdrawal meant the end of the Lola Formula One cars, which was a pity for last season’s results in motor-racing parlance were pretty good. They collected two excellent second places in Grande Epreuve races as well as a win at Mallory Park, and were always in the running, or at least John Surtees was, and the way he led at Reims until the Coventry-Climax engine let him down should have been a tonic for a new make of Grand Prix car in its first season. It would seem that “good” in motor-racing talk is “not good enough” in financial talk. As far as the United Dominions Trust Hire Purchase Company’s onslaught on Grand Prix racing is concerned the less said the better, and after the amount of U.D.T. money spent by Ken Gregory and his British Racing Partnership set-up, compared with the results, it is not surprising that the arrangement folded up. It seems that for 1963 the British Racing Partnership, or B.R.P. for short, will continue to be active and it even looks as though they are going to use their own money this year. The question is, will Stirling Moss be their manager, for there is still no sign of him being fit enough to return to racing.

That indefatigable sportsman R.R.C. Walker will still be in the running with his Team Walker cars, in spite of some unhappy set-backs last year, losing Moss, Rodriguez and Hocking all in one season, plus having five major write-offs with his cars. For 1963 he will use a Lotus and a Cooper, both with Coventry-Climax V8 engines, and should Ferguson decide to return to F.1 then the P99 would undoubtedly be run by Team Walker. Finally, from England there is the Brabham team, with the Brabham-Climax cars. After a hesitant start, or so it seemed perhaps because too much was expected of the new Brabham car when it first appeared, it looks as though the Australian is getting the design sorted out nicely, if the Australian Grand Prix result is anything to go by. He will be dependent on Coventry-Climax and Colotti for the major components of the car, and for development work, but the cars should be well in the running and he may even be patriotically inspired to try a V6 Clisby engine in a Brabham; this is the interesting-looking wide angle V6 engine designed and built by Harold Clisby in Australia.

From the Continent we can be assured of Ferrari being in the fray, for in spite of statements, rumours and temperament, the Scuderia Ferrari have not missed a Grand Prix season since they started with their own Formula One car in 1948. The end of last season showed that they were not averse to copying Lotus designs as far as suspension was concerned, although they made a poor job of it, and who better to copy than Chapman? On engine and gearbox designs they have no need to copy anyone, for even though some British engine designers consider Ferrari to be on the wrong track on engine design, his 120-degree V6 doesn’t go too badly and his 6-speed gearbox hardly ever gave trouble. The new firm at Bologna, the A.T.S., is still an unknown quantity, but the most encouraging thing about them is that last May, at Zandvoort, Engineer Carlo Chiti, the designer, was saying that they would have a car completed by December, and this turned out to be absolutely true, so obviously it is an organisation that can be taken fairly seriously. To build a complete car from a clean sheet of paper in that short space of time and to schedule must mean that they have plenty of money, brains and resources available, which are a good start to a racing programme. Competing, organising, servicing and developing is another matter about which only time will tell.

Porsche are a big question mark, for they have allowed both their Grand Prix drivers to go elsewhere, which rather indicates that the Formula One team is being abandoned. They did make the proviso that it would be better to appear at the start of the season with new Grand Prix cars and no drivers, than two drivers and no Grand Prix cars. In other words they could not make up their minds whether to continue in Formula One or not. For ten years or so Porsche have been taking part in competitions with a regular degree of success, starting in rallies and open-road races with G.T. cars, progressing from 1,100 c.c. to 2,000 c.c., and from G.T. to sports cars, and always managing to be one jump ahead of any likely opposition. By clever management and foresightedness Porsche always seemed to be able to notch up successes, seldom outright, but always by class or category and invariably at a praiseworthy speed. They never entered any races as potential outright winners, although they often did win outright, but built up an incredible name for above-average performance for their category. They would be sixth, seventh and eighth in a long-distance event with 1 1/2-litre engines against rivals with more than twice that capacity, and the feeling was that they had done relatively better than the larger rivals. Their 1,300-c.c. cars would be way ahead of 2000-c.c. cars, in the early days and it looked good, and it was good, but there was seldom any serious class opposition, and the really fast cars were 3,000 c.c. or even 4,000 c.c.

Somehow the works Porsche G.T. cars, and often the sports cars, did not seem to compete fair and square with direct opposition; not that I blame them nor disparage their efforts, for it was the result of an intelligent race direction, for they were racing for business purposes. By the time the 1,300-c.c. Giuliettas got cracking Porsche had moved to the 1,600-c.c. class; when the RSK models looked like falling behind in sports-car racing they were relegated to Mountain Hill-Climbs, where they had a clear run to victory (until 1962 when Ferrari built a hill-climb sports car), and the works team were in the 2-litre sports class, and so it went on. Porsche never plunged into racing unthinkingly, and when they decided to tackle Grand Prix racing there was much dissention at the factory and many bitter arguments. In Grand Prix racing they had to be well and truly face-to-face with their adversaries, and Porsche enthusiasts were hopeful of huge success. This did not come and 1962 was not a typical Porsche competition year as far as Formula One racing was concerned, which must have been a bitter pill to swallow, but let us hope it has not frightened them away from Grand Prix racing altogether.

In addition to the foregoing there is the unknown quantity of de Tomaso; unknown in as much as Alessandro de Tomaso has been playing with racing cars for many years but always flitted from one thing to another and never really finished anything. If his flat-8 that appeared at Monza never races anywhere this year it would not surprise me, it would only mean that he was off on another brilliant project; he could use a good development engineer. The two Americans Hugh Powell and Tony Settember have put the Emeryson remains into a pot, stirred well and simmered, and produced the Sirocco-Powell, it is hoped with a B.R.M. V8 engine ultimately; but whatever happens this outfit is not intended to be more than a private affair. The Reventlow millions seemed to have been stirred up again, and young Mr. Woolworth may try again at Grand Prix racing; and you can’t have too many Grand Prix cars about the place, providing of course they don’t all come from the same factory. Maserati are another problem firm; there are continual bits of news from Modena that Engineer Alfieri is working on a Grand Prix design, but money is their problem and probably will remain so unless we all buy 3500 GT Maserati coupés, or a rich American finances a racing team once again. After all, Paravano and Temple Buell poured a lot of dollars into Maserati for G.P. cars and Cunningham has kept the Modena sports-car development on the go for some years. The return of Maserati as a works team would have to be taken seriously, for they dusted-up Lancia and Ferrari in the past and made Vanwall and Mercedes-Benz press on hard with development, before they withdrew.

Having looked at the mechanical side of things, what of the human side, namely the drivers. The sort of motoring journalist who would be best employed on a woman’s magazine has a tendency to ask a new World Champion if he intends to retire now that he has achieved the crown. While I did not ask Graham Hill this question, I did not conceal the fact from him that I consider Jimmy Clark to be a faster (and per se, a better driver), to which Graham replied that he intended to rectify that situation in 1963. That is the sort of fighting talk I like to hear from Grand Prix drivers; heart-searching, psychological, sob-stuff leaves me a bit sick. Nobody could be more satisfied with B.R.M. than Hill, and they could not wish for a better driver, and honestly do not wish for better. Clark in anything but a pencil-slim Lotus car looks out of place, so we shall enjoy many more races watching the Scotsman’s effortless high-speed driving, a worthy replacement for Moss on any circuit, although he cannot yet match his experience. Both Hill and Clark are worthy team leaders, having nothing to fear from other drivers in their team as regards ability, and knowing that they are both accepted as natural leaders. Being leaders they fulfil the title by always being in the running for the lead. In this sense Bruce McLaren, as leader of the Cooper works team, is not quite up to their standard, for the New Zealander is a little bit cautious and would rather sit in second place than stick his neck out and set the pace. However, his recent bout of racing in New Zealand should keep him on top form, and with Maggs as second driver the Cooper boys form a good solid pair.

Another team-leader who will undoubtedly do some leading, if not winning, is Surtees with the Ferrari team. It will be interesting to see him in a robust car that is capable of standing his high pressure, for, like Moss, Surtees can use everything a car can give and he wants it to go on giving all the time. Ferrari engines and gearboxes should give him all he wants, and any road-holding defects are unlikely to deter him. With Willy Mairesse as number two the Ferrari team looks like having a revival, for the Belgian is a flyer in the true sense of the word. His performance at the last Italian Grand Prix, his first race after his Belgian crash, deserved far more credit than it received, and he has long been an admirer of John Surtees, so we can expect some good team driving by the Maranello men. The Brabham team have cornered Dan Gurney, and a more agreeable driver you could not wish to find, so that the combination of Jack Brabham and Gurney should produce some results. It will be the most honest and down-to-earth team of drivers seen for a long time, for if anyone has their feet on the ground it is Brabham and Gurney, and all they know about “bull” is that it is something that other teams suffer from. A pair of “racers” sums them up the best. All I am prepared to say about Rob Walker’s drivers is that he has got a pair of “problems” that can be raced at some races and not at others, so let us hope that he is able to choose his events wisely. Trintignant will drive immaculately anywhere, but it is not everywhere that such manners are required; while Bonnier can be made to go very fast, providing the stimulus is right, but the source of the stimulus is not obvious.

The new A.T.S. concern have a problematical pair of drivers in Phil Hill and Baghetti, the American being one of the fastest drivers racing providing everything is right for him and the car, but who knows what is right? Baghetti never made any pretentions of being great, he just did as he was told and drove well, and being very sensible he out-smarted Bonnier and Gurney to win the French G.P. in 1961, out-smarted just about everyone to win at Siracusa earlier that year, and will probably go on doing exactly what he is told, and may well win more races. His erstwhile team-mate Lorenzo Bandini seems to have had another rough deal, for at the time of writing he is left out in the cold as far as Grand Prix racing is concerned. When Baghetti was being sponsored by an Italian Federation as an up-and-coming driver Bandini was turned down, yet he was a faster driver and but for some skull-duggery at the end of the season he would have been Italian Champion while driving for Guglielmo Dei’s Centro-Sud team in 1961. The Italian Federation organised a “final” round in the Championship on the spur of the moment when Bandini’s car was on the way to Mexico and Baghetti “happened” to have borrowed a Porsche. I always felt that had Bandini borrowed a car and won that “final” round, there would have been another one a bit later on. There are signs of Centro-Sud starting up again, in which case Bandini may well be their number one driver. This leaves B.R.P. and whatever cars they produce, and Ireland is to be their driver, with the Texan Jim Hall as team-mate. Somehow there is a subtle difference between Texans and Americans, and if you’ve met Jim Hall you will know what I mean. He is a very promising driver as well, if his American race record is anything to go by.

I get very bored by people who say, “Ah, but things are not as good as they used to be.” If all the foregoing is any guide I think 1963 is going to be quite a year, and remember that in 1958 it was announced that the new 1 1/2-litre Formula would end in 1963, and well-known people were saying “this ridiculous Formula will be a disaster, nobody wants it.” Not only have we got it, but we are going to keep it for 1964 and 1965 as well, it has proved so popular, or have I got the wrong impression?

One thing I appear to have overlooked for 1963 is the entry of Japan into Grand Prix racing. I haven’t overlooked it, I just don’t know, and I doubt whether anyone else knows either, but at least Mr. Honda himself has made it obvious that a new Grand Prix engine today must start by giving 220 b.h.p., which sounds very reasonable.—D. S. J.

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