Continental Notes, March 1964

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March will see the beginning of the 1964 season of Formula One racing, with an event at Snetterton, in which there looks like being quite a good entry, though little that is new, the date of March 14th being rather early. Most of the Grand Prix teams are as last year, the drivers being satisfied with the cars and the owners satisfied with the drivers, though there are two exceptions. These are Trevor Taylor and Tony Maggs, both of whom have been dropped from the factory teams for which they drove last year. In place of Taylor, Team Lotus are using Peter Arundell, with Mike Spence as a third string, the lead being once more in the capable hands of World Champion Jim Clark. Arundell has been King of Formula Junior in the past but has had two F.1 drives, at Reims in 1962 and at Solitude last year where he put up a very good performance, assisted by the fact that prior to the race he won a Junior event over 15 laps of the demanding circuit, so that he was on top of his form when he got into the Formula One car for the first time. Spence also drove Juniors last year with great verve, and had his Formula One tryout with Team Lotus in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, which was not the best place for a new boy to appear for the first time. His handling of the situation impressed me and so did his practice time of 1 min. 40.9 sec., which compared with Clark’s 1 min. 38.5 sec., and was faster than a lot of much more experienced drivers. In the race he retired with engine trouble.

The B.R.M. team of Graham Hill and Richie Ginther remains unchanged, but the cars will be very different from what we have seen in the past. After a series of financial setbacks Jack Brabham considered giving up his team of Formula One Brabhams, but second thoughts have prompted him to have another go, and Dan Gurney is staying with him for another year. If ever there was a combination of car and driver that must eventually win a major Grand Prix it is Gurney and the Brabham car. In my view there are only four drivers who are capable of winning a Grand Prix race, all other things being equal, and Gurney is one of them, no matter what car he is driving, and in the Brabham-Climax V8 he seems well at home. The works Cooper team will once more be led by Bruce McLaren, a good driver but not a natural winner, and with Maggs being dropped the number two driver is to be the American Tim Mayer. Like Trevor Taylor, much was expected of Maggs, but though he did not do anything particularly wrong, he just was not a strong supporter to McLaren. If a team has a truly brilliant number one driver, like Clark or Surtees, then it can afford to carry a mediocre driver as number two, but if the number one is not outstanding then the number two has got to be of a very high quality, especially when up against teams like B.R.M. and Brabham, where both drivers are of a very high quality. The British Racing Partnership team was in a similar position to Cooper, for Jim Hall was quite incapable of keeping up with Innes Ireland, and for this year they have dropped Jim Hall and taken Trevor Taylor, which seems to me like a case of “out of the frying pan . . . etc.”

A team that was being planned to be on a similar serious footing to the B.R.P. team was Reg Parnell’s racing team, which he formed around Lola cars in 1963, with Chris Amon and Mike Hailwood as drivers. “Uncle Reg” was planning a full season of racing with the 1963 Lotus works cars that he had purchased, and a new car of his own construction. His untimely death from a short illness was not only the loss of a friendly figure from the Grand Prix scene, but left the racing team in an unbalanced state. Parnell’s son Tim is going on with the plans, in which Hailwood figures prominently as much of the finance behind the projects had been put up by the motorcycle World Champion. Hailwood and Amon will drive for the Parnell Racing Team and they form a good pair of rising stars, the New Zealander Amon having shown good form on more than one occasion last season.

The only other country fielding Grand Prix teams is Italy, headed, of course, by the Scuderia Ferrari. Famous manufacturers come and go in Grand Prix racing, as do private teams, but Ferrari goes on for ever. Since he first ran a Ferrari car in Grand Prix racing in 1947 Enzo has not missed a season, in spite of numerous threats of withdrawal. His cars do not always win, but they always provide the opposition, and with John Surtees once again as number one driver we can be assured that the red cars from Maranello will be stirring things up. Surtees will be very ably supported by Lorenzo Bandini, who is a very capable and fast driver who has suffered from a rather chequered career due to certain people in Italy acting from personal motives rather than from the interests of the sport. Bandini was discovered by Gugliehno Dei when he was driving Formula Junior cars, and by way of the Scuderia Centro-Sud Signor Dei gave Bandini opportunities to prove himself. It was impossible to doubt his ability, yet other drivers were given works drives with Ferrari, but Bandini continued to make his ability very obvious. After a brief run with the Ferrari team, during which time he blotted his copybook but once, compared with other members of the team who were continually making mistakes, he was dropped. Once again it was Dei who supplied him with the cars to enable him to keep himself to the forefront, and in 1963 his driving of the ex-works B.R.M. V8 was enjoyed by everyone who saw it, and he was finally invited back into the Ferrari team. This meant, of course, that Dei lost his best runner, a thing that is always happening to private teams who discover a good driver.

I remember Amedée Gordini being very bitter about this question at one time, when Jean Behra left the Gordini team to go to Maserati. However, Guglielmo Dei is rather like Ferrari, in that motor racing is an uncontrollable passion more than a business, and he is continuing his Scuderia Centro-Sud through 1964 with a pair of ex-works B.R.M. V8 cars and, at the moment, with Phil Hill and Giancarlo Baghetti as drivers. This presumably means that the ill-fated A.T.S. project is not continuing, although no official word has been received about this. Another well-meant but mis-directed effort that will not be seen again is the Scirocco-Powell team of Scirocco-B.R.M. cars, for the whole project has been abandoned and the cars disposed of. – D. S. J.

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