75 – 1965 Monaco GP


A series taken from the 162-page Motor Sport special 100 Greatest Grands Prix (other specials are available here).

From the editor Damien Smith

The Grand Prix motor races we can never forget…

Welcome to this special one-off magazine, dedicated to our love of Grand Prix racing and produced by the same team that brings you Motor Sport each month.

It seemed a good idea: whittle down 107 years of racing history to come up with 100 GPs that could be considered the ‘greatest’ – then rank them in meritocratic order. By week three, the old grey matter was beginning to ache…

Defining greatness was the first task. There were the obvious races – the wheel-to-wheel duels, the comeback classics. But there were also individual performances of supreme dominance, races that might not necessarily have been the most exciting to witness. Greatness goes way beyond thrill-a-minute, we decided.

Then there were those races of prominence, attached to a certain time or place that made them hugely significant. I’m thinking specifically of Belgrade, 1939. Only five entries took the start of a race that didn’t sound particularly scintillating. But as it happened to take place on the very day WWII broke out, we felt it worthy of inclusion. Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel’s remarkable maiden GP win at Monza in 2008, for lowly Scuderia Toro Rosso, was left on the cutting room floor. Is that fair? You decide. We also opted to include a few races that weren’t Grands Prix, leastways in name, although the strength of entry was such that they might as well have been…

Choosing which races should make the list was hard enough; ranking the top 100 in some sort of order was even tougher, especially when it came to the crunch: which should be number one? We never did agree unanimously on the ‘greatest’, but if the magazine was to be finished a decision had to be taken. And that’s what I’m here for!

Will you agree with our choice and order? Probably not. But if steam begins to issue from your ears, take a deep breath. In any exercise such as this, there is no definitive list – because there can’t be. Our top 100 is based on opinion, nothing more, designed to be a bit of fun and to spark good-natured debate among fans of the world’s greatest sport.

So turn the page, delve in – and whatever you do, don’t take it too seriously.

1965 Monaco GP
May 30, Monte Carlo

It’s not often that a Grand Prix winner hops out to push his car back into the race. But that’s what Graham Hill had to do during his quest to chalk up a hat trick of wins in the Principality. ‘Mr Monaco’ earned his title during one of his very best drives.

Hill and his young BRM team-mate Jackie Stewart had dominated the early stages of a race that was missing both Jim Clark and Dan Gurney, who were on duty at the Indianapolis 500. But as Hill shot out of the tunnel on lap 25, there was Bob Anderson’s Brabham crawling towards the chicane with a driveshaft problem. Graham took to the escape road in avoidance, resuming in fifth “with a very black and angry look on his face and his moustache bristling,” as Denis Jenkinson put it.

Now for the comeback. Ahead of him, Stewart threw away hopes of a first GP win by spinning on to the pavement at Ste Devote, leaving Lorenzo Bandini’s 12-cylinder Ferrari ahead of Jack Brabham and John Surtees’ V8 Prancing Horse. Stewart had rejoined in fourth, but soon allowed his BRM team leader past. Hill was on a mission.

Brabham took the lead from Bandini, but a broken rev counter would eventually contribute to a blown Climax engine. By lap 50, half-distance, Bandini led once again from Surtees, but Hill was right with them. The unstoppable Graham went on to pass both red cars and set a new lap record on his way to a third Monaco win on the trot. Had he been there, even Clark might have struggled to hold him back. DS

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