22 – 1962 German GP


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

Fussing over goggles steaming up in the rain and fretting about fouled spark plugs, Jim Clark forgot that he’d switched off his fuel pumps to avoid the latter. He remembered just as the carbs of his Lotus ran dry and the soggy flag dropped. 

Angry at his schoolboy error, he belatedly tore into the race determined to atone. He would drive faster in his career but never more wildly.

Tenth at the end of the first lap, he was fourth by lap eight. Freed from traffic, he immediately chopped eight seconds from the advantage of those ahead. Whereupon they responded to shed only two more to him next time around. The gap measured 14 seconds entering the 11th lap (of 15). Whereupon Clark scared himself silly with a tank-slapper of epic proportion. Realising that he was overstepping the mark, he settled for fourth. That he did so having got so close highlighted how brilliantly the leading three were performing.

The 1962 German Grand Prix on the Database

Graham Hill, whose BRM had taken the lead from Dan Gurney’s pole-sitting Porsche at the start of the third lap, and the Lola-Climax of John Surtees had circulated nose to tail throughout: harrying, jockeying, hoping to force a mistake. But none was forthcoming. Surtees annexed second on lap five while Gurney mulled over the best way of ‘relocating’ the battery suddenly adrift in his cockpit, but thereafter a status quo of the tingling variety gripped them and the crowd.

Hill’s BRM was faster on the long straight that funnelled them to the finish, but Surtees had a plan: get a good run exiting Schwalbenschwanz, nip by and then hold the centre of this narrow stretch of road. What he couldn’t factor in was the sudden appearance of a backmarker in his path.

Hill, the winner by 2.5sec, reckoned this to be his greatest drive. PF

About 100 Greatest Grands Prix | From the editor Damien Smith
The Grand Prix motor races we can never forget…

This was a 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.

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.

You can download 100 Greatest Grands Prix in PDF form in the Motor Sport app.

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