40 – 1967 Dutch GPby Damien Smith on 8th July 2016
A series taken from the 162-page Motor Sport special 100 Greatest Grands Prix (other specials are available here).
Was £100,000 ever better spent in Formula 1? It’s hard to see how. Ford’s top brass travelled to the circuit in the Dutch sand dunes to witness their big investment’s bow, to be rewarded with a searing landmark in the history of Grand Prix racing.
The race itself was hardly thrill-a-minute, but that’s irrelevant: this was a ‘great’ Grand Prix for what it represented. Cosworth’s Double Four Valve V8, the most successful and important engine in F1 history, arrived in a blitz of fastest practice times and a stunning debut race victory. What’s more, Colin Chapman’s all-new Lotus 49 to which it was bolted relied on the DFV for more than power. For the first time, both chassis and engine were mated as one, the block a fully integrated stressed member. Once again, Chapman had changed everything.
Perhaps true justice would have awarded Graham Hill this historic win. After all, he’d carried out the development tests in 49/1. Indeed, it was Graham who set the practice pace while team-mate Jim Clark lost learning time in newly minted 49/2 with a hub failure. But despite taking a commanding lead from the start, Hill’s DFV failed him, broken teeth on camshaft driving gears changing the passage of fate. Clark, catching up for lost time, played himself in and then struck, passing Jochen Rindt and Jack Brabham on consecutive laps. As Jenks described in Motor Sport, from there he “just motored relentlessly into the distance”.
Hill’s failure was more indicative of the short-term frustrations of the DFV in that ‘summer of love’. But for now, the significance of Clark’s peerless performance was clear to all: a new F1 superpower was born. DS
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.