Having come so close to the title 12 months earlier, Jim Clark and the Lotus 25 totally dominated 1963. He won seven races and only lost the remaining three due to mechanical failures. Both Ferrari and BRM had built semi-monocoque cars to challenge the Lotus, but neither proved a match.
Ferrari attempted to end a losing streak that lasted since September 1961 by signing John Surtees to lead their challenge. BRM retained World Champion Graham Hill while former Ferrari drivers Phil Hill and Giancarlo Baghetti moved to the new and chaotic ATS team. Dan Gurney joined Jack Brabham’s team after Porsche withdrew from Formula 1 and he made a strong impression although he was unable to win a Grand Prix.
Clark retired from the opening round (although he was still classified as a finisher), leaving Graham Hill to record the first of his five wins around the streets of Monaco. The Scotsman then won the next four races to take command of the championship. That run ended when engine problems slowed him at the Nurburgring, allowing Surtees past to score his first win for Ferrari. The Italian GP followed and once again the organisers wanted to use Monza’s combined road and banked course. But the banking was abandoned after initial practice when some teams protested that these corners were too bumpy and dangerous. Clark duly triumphed in the race to clinch his first championship.
Graham Hill won the United States GP after electrical problems left Clark on the grid. The new champion then charged through the field to finish third and he won again in Mexico. The final race of the year in South Africa gave the irrepressible Clark his seventh victory, a record for wins in a single season that lasted until the championship was expanded to 16 races. With England’s Hill and Surtees the only other winners, British drivers won every race in 1963.