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#122 1964 Monaco Grand Prix

2021-08-19 00:00

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#1964,

#122 1964 Monaco Grand Prix

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For several years, motor sport has been divided into various formulas and categories, so the three old divisions, turismo, sport and race, have been expanded. To the “race” category has been reserved the technical function that later it will be up to the Formula 1 cars. In fact, Formula 1 regulation requires specific key parameters: an engine capacity of 1500 cm3, with no over-feeding systems; the maximum weight of the car without supplies must be of 450 kg; the electric starting of the engine with on-board facilities and also the use of normal fuel. It is well known that the car companies which participate to this technical-agonistic race are only the italian Ferrari and the English single-seaters that from a couple of seasons usually conquer the world title with national drivers (dual record that in the past was also usual in Italy).

 

After the races in Aintree, Siracusa and Silverstone, in which there has been a reduced and moderately busy participation, all the lights are now shining on the first Gran Prix of the 1964 World Championship, that takes place as usual in Monaco. The Principate’s track gives a lot of resonance to the race and is undoubtedly particular: it runs for little more than 3 km through the streets of the city, with short straight lines interrupted by a long series of curves. All the bigger teams will be there, including Ferrari with the couple made up by John Surtees and Lorenzo Bandini. The Maranello-based company will participate to the Championship with two 158 cars, ideated and developed by Forghieri, Rocchi, Bussi and May, that made their debut in Siracusa. There will then be the Lotus with the world champion Jim Clark and the young Arundell, a very promising driver coming from the junior category. To race also the Cooper with McLaren and Phil Hill, the B.R.M. with Graham Hill, Ginther and Attwood, the Brabham with its constructor Jack Brabham and Gurney. There are also the assisted drivers, as Bonnier (Brabham), Baghetti (B.R.M.) and Maggs (B.R.M.). Even if the subscribers are 23, only the 16 drivers who have been qualified during the tests will have the opportunity to take the start.

 

For the press it’s impossible to make predictions at the beginning of the season, even if the focus is on the drivers who have already established themselves during the preseason, as Surtees or Jack Brabham, and on the world champion Clark with his Lotus. According to the journalists, he is the heir to Moss, on the wheel of the new Lotus 33-type built up by Chapman.

 

During the first day of tests, held on Friday, May 8, 1964, the best time is the one of John Surtees, who obtains 1’35” at the average speed of 119,178 km/h, just five tenths of a second more than the record made the year before. The second is Brabham who, at the wheel of the car built up by himself, turns in 1'35"1; Graham Hill on B.R.M. in 1'35"3; Lorenzo Bandini on Ferrari in 1'36”. Bad for the Cooper drivers, because of the inefficiency of the cars. McLaren also did an accident: he finished against a barrier because of a failure at the wheel.

 

During the training, Innes Ireland (BRP), at the exit of the variant placed at the end of the downhill after the tunnel, swerves and goes to hit the straw blocks positioned along the rim of the seafront: it is the same point where, in 1955, the driver Ascari fell in the sea. The car is damaged, but fortunately the driver has no injuries. By the way, Ireland remains excluded from the Gran Prix because his single-seater cannot be repaired. For the English driver, it is the third accident in the last five days: in Silverstone he had already gone off the road and, on his way to Monte-Carlo, on the wheel of a friend’s turismo car, he went to crawl against a wall near Nizza.

 

During the last training, on Saturday, May 9, 1964, very few drivers are able to improve the times of the day before, because of the weather conditions to whom the actual racing engines are very susceptible. Among the high calibres, only Surtees is able to go down of 5/10 of a second and to obtain the best time of the day, while Graham Hill goes down of just 3/10. Clark, who the day before, after the Indianapolis tests, obtained the average speed of 120 km/h, today made sure that anyone could take his record. Even if the world champion has demonstrated to be in top form, in Ferrari there is a lot of trust on the capability of the 8-cylinder driven by Surtees (Bandini will race on the 6-cylinder).

 

The starting front row of the XXII Gran Prix of Monaco is finally conquered by Jim Clark and Jack Brabham, the drivers who did the best times at the official tests. Clark has also reached the average speed of 120,116 km/h, for the first time on the difficult track of Monte-Carlo. Second row for Graham Hill (B.R.M.) and Surtees (Ferrari), third for Bandini (Ferrari) and Ginther (B.R.M.). The list is completed by the two drivers of Cooper, Phil Hill and McLaren. These are the eight names from which the winner of the first race of the 1964 Formula 1 World Championship will emerge.

 

On Sunday, May 10, 1964 the Gran Prix of Monaco, first race of the Formula 1 World Championship, starts. At departure, Clark is the first of the race, he forces the pace and gains about a second for every lap: on the 7th lap, his advantage is 7 seconds. Behind him there are Graham Hill, Brabham and Gurney. Bad for Surtees, who, after a few laps, arrives to the pits freewheel because of some problems to the gearbox. Despite the mechanics’ efforts, when the car leaves again the gearbox gets definitively broken. For more than a third of the hundred laps of the track, Clark seems to mantain the leadership: after two passages he manages to gain 150 yards on the other drivers and he seems unreachable.

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Around the 20th lap, you can see, beyond the tail of Clark’s Lotus, the stabiliser bar dangling down. It is an element of the back suspension, which came off from one of the two brackets and twisted on the retrotreno in a dangerous position. Despite this, the Scottishman remains tempered and continues to run, mantaining the advantage of 8-10 seconds on Gurney (Brabham) and of 12 on Graham Hill, the only two drivers who are able to not lose sight of the Lotus. At the same time, Brabham is forced to retire because of some problems at the fuel.

 

On the 36th lap, Clark stops at his pit, where the mechanics remove in two seconds the appendix giving the world champion the chance to restart in third position, about ten seconds from Gurney and Hill. Behind them there are Ginther, Phil Hill, Bandini and Arundell. Clark does not give up and launches himself into a ruthless pursuit, by taking the disadvantage to 6 seconds and realizing the best record on track in 1’34”. The car, lightened by a lack of fuel, has troubles with the balance of the retrotreno which has an imbalance in cornering stability. A few laps later, Gurney retires for the rupture of the gearbox and gets out from his car with the legs burned by the high temperature that there was inside (caused by the hot oil which was dripping from the gauge nut). Clark reduces the disadvantage even more and takes it to 4 seconds, but Graham Hill does not give up and increases the detachment.

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At the same time, Bandini overcomes Phil Hill, but on lap 69 he is forced to pit because of the rupture of a joint. Phil Hill retires for the rupture of the retrotreno, even if he manages to qualify. Clark continues to follow Graham Hill, but his Lotus has now lost stability with the use of the engine and it is often over-revving. Despite the pit stop on lap 95 with a very low oil pressure, the Scottishman immediately restarts under pressure from Colin Chapman. However, after only one lap, on the climb near the casino, Clark ends his race: the Coventry-Climax has definitively stopped.

 

Graham Hill wins the XXII Monaco Gran Prix. The british driver receives the cup together with 10.000 francs by the hands of the prince Ranieri of Monaco, that is as always in the forum with his wife, princess Grace. Praise from the press: the B.R.M. driver did an excellent race for regularity, determination and timing, at the wheel of an efficient car. Good test in fact for the B.R.M., the only cars that have finished the race in perfect conditions. Graham Hill has also established a new record at the average speed of 117 km/h.

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It is impossible to give an opinion about the Ferraris because of the early withdrawal from the race of Surtees’ 8-cylinder, even if he has been able to keep the race rhythm imposed by the other competitors. However, further improvements are possible, especially on speedier tracks. Good test fot Bandini’s 6-cylinder, with which the driver performed a tenacious race until he reached the fourth position, even if he was then blocked by a transmission failure.

 

The protagonists of this race were two. The first is with no doubts Graham Hill, a driver with a good style and a not flashy race behaviour. He is thoughtful, smart, calculator and able to reach a lot of good results. In Monaco, the London-based man has demonstrated to know perfectly all his B.R.M’s secrets. Even if at first he remained in the shadows, at the right moment he has gained the record on the track, by taking advantage of the problems of Jim Clark’s Lotus and of those of Dan Gurney, who did not hide the physical hardship of assuming the role of tread after the short pit of Clark. So Graham Hill has been able to launch an unexpected attack, symbolized by a lap done at the record speed of 120.575 km/h.

 

The second undisputed star of the race is the world champion Jim Clark, who has a different temper if compared to Graham Hill. He is a driver of clean and precise style, impetuous, brilliant, and seems often intolerant of the enemies’ presence. In Monaco, Clark initially met every expectation, by placing in the head after the departure. Then there has been a turn of events: the rear stabiliser bar of his Lotus hangs between the wheels, weakly held up by the central support, that cannot avoid the risk of getting stuck one of them. The road holding of the car is now compromised, even if Clark is able to hide the difficulties thanks to the fact that the body of the car is well sunk in the suspensions. The driver has a semi-full fuel tank and decides to go on. Then, he chooses to pit and two mechanics break off the steel rod in a few seconds, giving Clark the chance to continue his race in a really fast way. The decrease of the weight of the car increased however the difficulties of mantaining the adherence in curves, and the Scottishman is forced to retire four laps from the end.

 

It is not surprising the victory of the cross-Channel cars, because they are built under favorable conditions by technicians encouraged by the English industry also as regards the raw materials, like replacement parts, accessories, tyres and fuel for propaganda purposes. It is also important to underline the presence of Coventry-Climax, specialized industry who supplies racing engines to the Lotus, to the Cooper and to the Brabham, and allows his designers to dedicate themselves only to the construction of the frames. On the contrary, the BRM builds its own engines and has also started to sell them to the competing brands.

 

The Ferrari is unconvincing because of the problems in Surtees’ 8-cylinder, which allowed him to perform only 13 laps; but the season is still long and unpredictable. Best judgments for Bandini, who on his 6-cylinder has been able to recover up to the fourth position forty laps from the end, even if then he has been forced to retire for a transmission failure, peculiarity of Monaco circuit. Bad race also for Cooper, even if John Cooper set a new idea of the racing car years before. This included engine on the back, reduction in weight and very thin bodies; today he has been passed by his former students.

 

Nicoletta Zuppardo

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