Continental notes, November 2003

Jenks on Mexico ’64

I have never been a great enthusiast of the drivers’ world championship’s system of points-chasing for many reasons, and in the past it has been shown to give the championship to the wrong man, or to the right man by reason of luck. This year’s win by John Surtees is a typical example, for with one lap to go in the Mexican Grand Prix he had no chance at all of being world champion and then, suddenly, two things happened which gave him the title.

Jim Clark had the race and the championship, by points or merit, in the bag and then his engine went bang and he was out of the race. Bandini had let Surtees overtake into second position, and thus gain sufficient points to be acclaimed world champion. I said that Clark was on his way to being champion by points or merit, for had he won the race it would have been his fourth major victory this season which should’ve made him champion, points or no points. Only by the present system is it possible for someone to win races and not be champion.

I do not begrudge Surtees his championship. In fact, it is the best thing that could have happened, for it also brought the manufacturers’ title to Ferrari, and there is no more worthy grand prix constructor, for he really designs and builds his own cars, using very few proprietary parts.

If Dan Gurney can be champion for 1965, either by winning races like Clark did in ’63, or by having other people not winning them, like Surtees, then everything will be nice and tidy. — Yours DSJ