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#123 1964 Netherlands Grand Prix

2021-08-18 01:00

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#1964,

#123 1964 Netherlands Grand Prix

Domenica 17 Maggio 1964 le corse automobilistiche disputate sul velocissimo circuito di Spa, sono funestate da un drammatico incidente. Nella prova pe

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On Sunday, May 17, 1964, the car racing held in the super-fast track of Spa are marred by a tragic accident. During the tests for gran turismo cars, which precede the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, the Lotus-Cortina driven by the belgian driver Jackie Ickx, which participates for category 1300 to 1600 cm³, goes out of track: after having swerved on the right, the car falls down between the audience, in a restricted area. Three people are seriously injured: two men and a woman. Unfortunately, she dies during the transport to the hospital. Even the driver is in bad condition: the doctors of the Spa hospital have discovered some fractures and a concussion.

 

In Spa, the third test of the Manifacturers World Championship for prototype gran turismo cars is won by Ferrari. The Englishman Mike Parkes is in first place, Jean Guichet in second, Lorenzo Bandini in third and David Piper in fourth. The italian Company, which had previously won the 12 Hours in Sebring on March, but never participated at the Targa Florio, is now leader of the world ranking. The race involves a lot of cars, among which there are the American Ford-Cobras, driven by Phil Hill, Schlesser, Ireland and Bondurant, some Jaguars, Aston Martins and Porsches. The superiority of Ferrari is immediately manifested: Parkes and the Englishman David Piper take the lead immediately, even if they have been contrasted during the first laps by Protheroe on Jaguar.

 

After a lightning start, Phil Hill is forced to pit for a lot of times: when the mechanics finally find the failure and fix it, the former world champion is committed to a series of super-fast laps, during which he records a new record for sportscar on the track of Spa at the average speed of 207.1 km/h. There is no fight in the second part of the race. The four Ferraris go on with regularity at the average speed of 200 km/h. the positions don’t change even if the Frenchman Guichet tries to reduce the disadvantage of the team mate Parkes during the last 36 laps.

 

It was expected a bitter duel between Ferraris and Ford Cobras, but the American cars have been delayed or knocked out by technical problems, even if the team mobilised American and European experts to develop cars suitable for sport competitions. There is another success for Italian cars at the Coupe of Spa, racing for turismo cars that was held before the 500 Kilometres. The Lancia Flavia driven by Leo Cella was ranked second in the general ranking and first for the class up to 2000 cm³, beating cars that were more powerful and with sportier characteristics.

 

The Dutch Gran Prix, second race of the Formula 1 World Championship, is held on Sunday, May 24, 1964 on the track of Zandvoort, and it is connected to the race held 15 days before in Monte-Carlo, in which the new Ferrari driven by Surtees and the Lotus of Clark could not express their best performance. Also the B.R.M., the Brabham and the new Cooper can better express their possibilities here.

The track of Zandvoort, a mixed-fast itinerary, has the right features to point out the road holding qualities of the cars more than their speed. The favourite drivers in tomorrow’s race are again Jimmy Clark and Graham Hill, the winner of Monaco Gran Prix. The Gran Prix entries are only 18 and this is the reason why in the rear of the line-up there is not an open battle between the cars.

 

Early in the season one of the topics that held the dice during the eve of the races was related to tyre. The majority of the racing cars have now smaller rims, but with larger diameter and tires with larger treads, so this makes the cars’ centre of gravity lower and they have a bigger grip. It is also necessary to add that, because of the low temperature of the treads, the intake is less too. In fact, the optimal working temperatures are around 60 degrees, so the intake during a race is 1.5 millimetres: a set of tires can be used for two races.

 

This year, the Dutch Gran Prix organisation is undertaken by NAV, a sports association acting on behalf of KNAC, reminding the BRDC that runs the British Gran Prix for RAC. This new organisation invites a group made up of 18 drivers to participate: all the official teams are included and the only regular that are missing are the British Racing Partnership’s drivers.

 

The Ferrari teams of Surtees and Bandini are both registered on Ferrari V8, with a Ferrari V6 as a reserve, while the couple of B.R.M., made up by Graham Hill and Ginther, have two 1964 cars already used in Monte-Carlo. It is the same for Brabham and Gurney with the Brabhams and Clark and Arundell with the Lotus, while McLaren and Phil Hill run with the 1964 Coopers and Amon and Hailwood will use the Lotus 25 Parnell. Bonnier has the new Rob Walker’s Brabham-B.R.M. and Siffert has a similar car, while Anderson runs with his new Brabham-Climax. The Centro-Sud BRM cars will be driven by Maggs and Baghetti, while de Beaufort completes the list with one of his old 4-cylinder Porsche.

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The Zandvoort circuit is a private track on its ground, so it gives a big time for the tests, that will start on Friday morning at 10 o’clock and will last for two hours. Surtees tries to run with the Ferrari V8 that he drove in Monte-Carlo, while Bandini with the Ferrari V6, because the second V8 car is not ready to debut; as far as the eye could see, this new car seems to be identical to the one used by Surtees.

 

Brabham and Gurney run with the Brabham-Climax; the purpose of the Australian man is to make immediately a good time, because he wants to fly to Indianapolis after this first session. Actually, the two Brabhams are very competitive and Gurney shows a good rhythm. The two Lotus-Climax V8 are the 25C and the 25D already used in Monte-Carlo, while Arundell’s 25C has the transmission shafts Type 33 like Clark’s car, even if it is still using the rear suspension Type 25, but has a complete group of steering wheel Type 33, while Clark’s car uses a Type 25 cogwheel group. Both cars use new reinforced mounting brackets for the rear anti-roll bars, because – in contrast to what many reports said – the breakage in Monte-Carlo had nothing to do with Clark hitting the straw bales: in fact, the designer of the stirrups will admit that he has cut off a little too much, trying to save weight.

 

The standard Cooper cars are the 1964 ones, and now they have bars with radius from the outer edge of the suspension’s upper front balance wheels to the frame. This change has been done to try to cut off some of the concussions that occur during strong braking, which could be a cause of the breakage of the steering wheel that happened to McLaren in Monte-Carlo.

 

The 1963 car is in the Cooper garage in Zandvoort, completely disassembled, so it is now a source of spare parts. After the big success in Monte-Carlo, the BRM team just had to set up cars in the same way to ensure reliability and efficience, there was no need to do planning or reconstruction. The Centro-Sud team brings some mechanics together and preapares its two 1963 B.R.M. V8, but without the factory mechanics’ touch the cars are in decline of performance.

 

The Parnell team modifies Amon’s Lotus-B.R.M. V8 to fit the new Lotus 13-inch wheels and the wide tread Dunlop tyres: this requires the use of the struts of the Lotus 24 front suspension to obtain the right height of the hub centre and, as a consequence, the edit of the angles of the front suspension components. From Amon’s test we can see that the team did a good work.

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Among the private owners, Anderson seems to be quite competitive, even if his cars have an old type V8 Climax that uses Weber fuel, while the other engines built in Coventry are injection Lucas. Bonnier uses the new Walker’s Brabham-B.R.M. V8 with a type 34 Colotti six-speed gearbox, but he also uses the 1963 Cooper-Climax. Obviously he will not take long to understand which car is better: the Brabham, because it is faster. The only people that will not take to the track for the next tests are de Beaufort, who is late, and Siffert, whose mechanics are still putting the finishing touches on his new Brabham-B.R.M. V8 with Colotti six-speed gearbox. Last week, they were in Brabham’s fabric to build the car.

 

Even if the lap record is 1'33"77, scored in 1963 by Clark with a Lotus-Climax, with the new Dunlop tires and a Climax 200 hp engine, there is the feeling that the wall of 1'30" could be approached. Despite the good weather conditions, the faster lap during the morning session is 1'31"2, made by Gurney with his Brabham-Climax, followed by Clark with 1'31"6. The majority of the team timekeepers in the boxes says that these times should be inverted, but there is no arguing with the official timekeepers, so Gurney is credited with the faster time.

 

During this first session of tests there is no other man that can be compared to these two drivers, but after lunch there is another session of tests. Graham Hill joins them with 1’31”4, but Clark improves his time taking the edge to 1'31"3. The Ferrari team has only a car with V8 engine, that has a lot of difficulties because of a oil leak coming from a junction on the rear part of the engine. Bandini, as anticipated, is training with a V6 engine carand seems to do well. At the same time, the official Coopers do not behave in a pleasing way, and nothing seems to improve the situation.

 

The Lotus team is so confident that Clark manages to take time to show Arundell the circuit: for a little while the two cars run just a few meters away, before Clark decides to accelerate leaving Arundell behind. He is not able to stay beside Clark in breaking and in fast curves. Hailwood’s tests suddenly stop when a spur gear and a pinion of the Hewland gearbox of his Lotus 25 get broken. The position on the front part of the grid are for the benefit of Gurney, Clark and Graham Hill, all in the segment of 1'31".

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On Saturday afternoon there is the last session of tests, that lasts for two hours, and even if the contenders of the front row do not manages to improve their times, the majority of the other drivers does this trick. Conditions are still good, and the traditional high wind in Zandvoort is now pleasing. Bandini tries the new Ferrari V8, while Surtees still has problems, this time because of a radiator’s loose. This one is replaced behind the boxes. The Cooper team seems that it can improve his cars but, even if Phil Hill sets up the car to go faster, timekeepers insists that he was slower than before.

 

Both the Lotus and B.R.M. teams are under control of the situation, so they have the time to sit down and wait until conditions would be good for them, because there is no reason to drain the cars with a lot of exercises. Hailwood cannot practice because his gearbox is still getting fixed, but at the end Siffert gets his new Brabham completed and starts to do a big job to make it work correctly. Clark goes again on track with Arundell near, but once the Scottishman starts seriously to race his team mate remains behind: even if Arundell tried to have some settings modified, like the camber angle and the convergence, he cannot match Clark’s times.

 

Towards the end of the test, the Ferrari team seems to have difficulties, because Surtees tests the new Ferrari VB while Bandini gets back to the car with a V6 engine: when the old V8 engine is fixed, Surtees returns to use it. At the same time, the Coopers still seem to be in disorder, while McLaren manages to do a quite fast lap. It is also important to underline that Brabham’s Friday morning time was so good that he is now third on the grid. Amon reaches the record of his best time during every practice session (1'35"9) and he can now be quiet because he also reached his limit.

 

The best time remains that of the Australian driver Dan Gurney (Brabham) that finishes the race in 1'31"2, at the speed of 165.512 km/h: the first starting position is his. In the front row there are also Jim Clark (Lotus) that ended in 1’31”3 at the average speed of 165.32 km/h and Graham Hill (B.R.M.) in 1'31"4.

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On Sunday, May 24, 1964, in front of 80.000 spectators, with fine weather, the Dutch Gran Prix, second race of the Formula 1 World Championship, takes place. Everyone, except for Maggs, is ready to go. Surtees is on board of the new Ferrari V8, but it has the fairing and the windshield of the previous V8 that tend not to adjust well, so the unpainted space along the top of the side fuel tanks is covered by a red tape. Bandini goes with the V6 car, but before the start his numbers are transferred to the oldest V8 car and the front is mounted there too. The reason for this change is that the screens are designed to accommodate the single driver, for what concerns the angle and the height.

 

All the drivers are taken to do a tour of the track sitting in open sports cars, before the organizers give the signal to make a pace lap, but for some strange reason nobody is in a hurry to do so and they wait until 3.25 p.m. before all the cars are ready on the starting grid. The engines are started at the 3-minutes signal, which seems a very long time to keep them in function before going on the real grid. However, everything is working and 17 cars are taken to their positions on the grid to wait for the last 30 seconds before the race start.

 

All the three drivers on the front row exaggerate with the wheelspin and by looking at each other they realize how much their butterflies are open, so that the cloud of smoke of the gums is more impressive, even if the acceleration is not as open as it had to be. Side by side, the drivers run to the first corner, but Gurney is the first to stop, giving Clark and Hill the opportunity to first enter the curve. Clark is inside, but Hill does not give up and runs beside the Scottish driver for all the 180° lap, but this one, who have a little distance to run, remains in front, while they leave the corner.

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At the end of the 1st lap, Clark is in leading position, followed by Graham Hill, Gurney and Surtees. Behind them, with a little distance, there is Arundell, Lotus’ number two, and behind him a little group made up by Brabham, McLaren, Ginther and Phil Hill, whose positions are still undefined. The leading positions of the race remain the same for the first nine laps, until Surtees passes Gurney and come third.

 

Bad for Brabham, that during the race has demostrated to be little combative, maybe because of his previous days’ adventures. During the first days of texts he had to leave the track to go to Indianapolis and participate to the 500 Miles qualifications. After the practice, Brabham returned to Netherlands in time for the Gran Prix. Returning to the race, Clark seems to be the undisputed protagonist. He imposes a significant distance between himself and his opponents: at a quarter of the race he is in advantage of 12 seconds on Graham Hill, Surtees and Gurney, of 40 seconds on Arundell and 45 on Brabham, McLaren and Ginther.

 

From this moment on, the outcome of the race is decided, because Clark throws himself into a a rush and increases his advantage at every lap. Graham Hill, Gurney, Surtees, Phill Hill and McLaren  chase him for the first lap, but at the end of the second only the first four are able to take Clark in view, while the two official Coopers of Hill and McLaren retire from the run-up immediately, and are then challenged by Ginther’s B.R.M.

 

On the third lap, Surtees passes Arundell and, on the next lap, Lotus’ number 2 appears unable to follow the leader’s rhythm. After five lapses Clark has accumulated a 3-seconds advantage on Graham Hill, while Gurney and Surtees are just behind the B.R.M. Among the other competitors, Bandini is racing with a car that seems to be a 7-cylinder since the pace lap, while Siffert pits on lap 2 for problems to the feeding system of his new Brabham. Arundell guides a fast buy lonely race in a good fifth position, Brabham starts to make his way outside half court, Amon keeps up with Ginther and Anderson and Hailwood are fighting.

 

On lap 6, Clark sets a new lap record in 1'32"8; after ten lapses his ahead on second is nearly 4 seconds, while after 15 lapses it is five seconds.  Meanwhile, after having raced alongside for some lapses, Surtees and manages to pass Gurney at lap 10, but Gurney is still hanging on and Graham Hill never lost touch with both. After having struggled for many lapses, Bandini pits to see if there is something to do; only during lap 21, he will return to race, with the same engine that works in an irregular way. Despite a change of the candles and some operations, mechanics do not find nothing apparently wrong, because the problem – it will be found later – is in the injection unit.

 

After 20 lapses, Clark’s advantage is increased to 10 seconds, while Hill, Surtees, and Gurney are quite near, and McLaren is trying his best to mantain the wake of the Brabham. At the end of lap 22, Gurney looses ground on Hill and Surtees, and on the next lap he pits with the sensation that something in the rear suspension is not working well. Shortly after, Gurney is sitting in the car while his mechanic pushes and pulls everything without finding anything wrong. After long minutes, the driver notices that one of the rays of his wheel is broken on the hub. Obviously this is the reason why he has a sensation of instability and, having 56 laps to race and having lost the contact with the leaders, the American driver gives up because there is not a replacement wheel available.

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While this is happening, Graham Hill’s B.R.M. starts to misfire and Surtees passes him, conquering the second position. The problem of the BRM gets worse until the engine is completely off, like the ignition was inactive. The problem is on the feeding system, where the high temperature in the car are affecting the Lucas pressure pump for the injection system. The block of steam is in the tubes or in the pump itself, which is mounted in an horizontal way in the car’s base above an air intake.

 

Everytime a stream bubble arrives in the injector, the engine is off and Hill is thrown forward as if he had pressed the brake pedal. Then the bubble passes away, the fuel arrives and the engine is again off, usually while Hill’s feet is lowered, so the wild acceleration make his head go back. At the exit of some curves this situation is repeated for three or four times in rapid succession, so that Hill’s eyes are near to fall off. So first Hill loses rapidly ground from the leaders and after that he risks also to lose the third position, because Arundell is not so far.

 

Lotus’ box urges its driver number two insist because Brabham starts to seem threatening at the five position, so Arundell answers in a wonderful way, having two goals even if he cannot see no one. From the signals that he receives from the boxes, the driver understands that he has to get away from Brabham and to catch up Hill’s B.R.M.

 

Not long after Hill’s problems started, the other B.R.M. has the same struggles and Ginther disappears because his engine is off. When the pumps and the tubes cool down, the engine turns on and Ginther returns to race, with the menchanic’s surprise, because he will pass in front of the boxes as if nothing had happened. Although, on the next lap there are problems again, so he pits asking to put water on his pump; the problem is slowed, but it is just a matter of time before the temperature starts to rise to vaporization. Also Bandini is having injection problems, because his Ferrari V8 is not working well and at the end it completely stops, during lap 20.

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During lap 33, Phil Hill pits to see if the rear suspension is working in the right way, because he feels strange vibrations and is sure that there is a failure. Mechanics, however, do not find anything broken, so the American driver returns on track. After a few lapses, Bonnier pits saying that he has the same sensations, but everything seems to be ok with his Brabham-B.R.M., so he returns to race.

It is probably a wind change the reason why these two drivers thought that something was not working well, because the wind blows between the sand dunes in particular ways, and it is not a case that, after the end of the race, Clark will admit to have noticed a change in managing his Lotus in the middle of the race.

 

In the middle of the race distance, Clark’s Lotus is about 29 seconds ahead Surtees’ Ferrari, and 31 seconds ahead Graham Hill’s B.R.M., followed by Arundell and Brabham, then McLaren, Amon, Bonnier, Anderson and Hailwood. These last are conducting a good race together, even if they are both suffering from an handicap: Anderson has the fuel that splashes in his face from a trebuchet, and Hailwood must keep attention because his car has been repaired with a toothed wheel and a pinion that had already been used and there was no guarantee that they would have lasted until the end of the race. It is precisely when Brabham has his eyes on Arundell, during lap 44, that his engine turns off and he pits: the disc of the distributor has come off. The second Brabham is out of the race. Clark is still the leader of the race, he is now far from Surtees and doubles the times of the drivers of half rating.

 

At lap 47, Arundell passes Graham Hill’s B.R.M., that is now accustomed to the violent outbursts of his engine, that goes off and then turns on, even if these outbursts are starting to causing him back pain. At lap 49, Clark doubles Hill: after only a lap the B.R.M.’s driver decides to pit. This time the mechanics are ready with a remedy: they found a big funnel to be able to put in the canister a big amount of fuel and water. So, when Hill stops, they put the funnel collar in the car and pour the water in the pump. The vehicle is full of water when Hill accelerates to exit the boxes and, as he will say later, the wave of water will cool his heat so as it does with the pump.

 

At lap 51, Clark doubles Arundell, that is now in third position: the number two driver moves nearly to one side to permit to his leader to pass. At lap 55, his lead on Surtees is 45 seconds. At the same time, Graham Hill, back to racing in 6th place, can regularly go on: the feeding system is now working in the right way. It does not take long for the British driver to reach McLaren and Amon and pass them. But when it seems that the British driver can reach Arundell, the pump overheats again and returns to work in irregular way.

During the last laps, Ginther’s car is suffering from the same problem again, that forces the driver to pit for cooling the water, while Hailwood has to give up completely when his crown wheel and the pinion collapse during the 57th lap. Meanwhile, even if Surtees is in second place, he is not confident, because the Ferrari is showing problems in the engine compartment, and he is happy because the third classified is very far and unable to reach him. At the very end of the race, the Lotus team tries again to encourage Arundell when it seems that Graham Hill could reach him.

 

Clark runs through the last laps with precision, a joy for the eyes and a lesson for everyone, and crosses the finish line first, followed by Surtees, 53.6 seconds away, while the others end the race a lap late or back. The following are Peter Arundell, Graham Hill, Chris Amon, Bob Anderson and Bruce McLaren, who has been passed four laps from the end.

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Finally, Jim Clark wins the Dutch Gran Prix at the average speed of 157.713 km/h. The english driver takes the lead of the world ranking together with Graham Hill, the winner of the Monaco Gran Prix. Clark, only driver together with Surtees to finish the race at full speed, ha salso registered a new official record in Zandvoort, at the average speed of 162.659 km/h, beating the primacy established from himself the year before, 161.096 km/h. Good test also for another italian driver, Giancarlo Baghetti, who with his BRM has finished the race in tenth position 6 laps from the winner, even if he has been delayed by some mechanical problems. Third place for the english Peter Arundell (Lotus), same position obtained at the Monaco Gran Prix.

 

Praise from the international press for Clark, winner of the Dutch Gran Prix for the second consecutive year on Zandvoort track. The newspapers consider satisfactory also Surtees’ performance, concluded in a good second place, obtained thanks to tenacity with which the English driver has followed Clark. From the Dutch Gran Prix it is clear that, from a technical point of view, the Lotus, the B.R.M., the Brabham and the new Ferrari 158 seems to be at the same level. This means that the race’s performance varies according to the drivers’ ability. The performances of the Italian drivers have been good, even if it is not clear if the Fmi will consider them for the test of Avigliana. Now there is anxious wait for the Belgian Gran Prix, next stop of the Formula 1 World Championship, that will be held on Sunday, June 14, 1964 in Spa Franchorchamps. The attention is turned to the Ferraris: it is time for the rescue?

 

Nicoletta Zuppardo

Team

 

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