The 1962 British Grand Prix, officially advertised as the XV RAC British Grand Prix, played host to the fifth race of the 1962 FIA Formula One World Championship on the 21st of July. The race would be staged at Aintree for the second season in a row, with Silverstone unable to host the race despite a previous agreement to play host with Aintree on alternate years, leaving the FIA to hastily arrange the replacement venue.
The race itself would not be remembered for the on track action, although the result would live long in the memory for one man. Jim Clark and Team Lotus were in imperious form throughout the weekend, with the Scot claiming pole, fastest lap and the win to earn a spectacular Grand Chelem, the first of his career after leading every lap. John Surtees proved to be Clark's closest challenger on Sunday, taking a first podium for Lola-Climax, while Bruce McLaren triumphed in an interesting battle for third that lasted for much of the race.
Less than two weeks had passed since the battle in Rouen, with several drivers, although not many teams, also attending the XII Solitude Grand Prix in Germany. Yet, it was only Team Lotus and Porsche whom had attended the German race while the continued strikes in Italy severely hampered Ferrari's efforts to attend any race over the summer. They would ultimately arrive in Liverpool with just one car for lead driver Phil Hill, amid a grid filled with cars both new and old.
Porsche had secured a one-two in Solitude following on from Dan Gurney's fortunate, but by no means unworthy, victory in France and arrived full of confidence with their two 804s, while also providing minor support to Carel Godin de Beaufort. Team Lotus also brought their Solitude challengers with them, although Trevor Taylor's efforts over the previous two World Championship races saw him relegated to a 24 chassis for his home race. Jim Clark would use the sole remaining Lotus 25 for his home race, hoping that Colin Chapman's engineers had solved the suspension issues that caused him to retire at Rouen.
Both Lola-Climax and Cooper-Climax arrived at fill strength for the British race, with the former able to bring a third car just in case Roy Salvadori or John Surtees ran into problems. Of the major privateer outfits, the Rob Walker Racing Team were early casualties after Maurice Trintignant had finally managed to write off their Lotus 24 in France, while Jack Brabham brought his Lotus to Aintree, a late issue for his brand new creation, the Brabham BT3, meaning the car was not ready to make its Grand Prix bow. Elsewhere, the UDT Laystall Racing Team had decided to call time, on their experiments with the BRM engine in the back of Masten Gregory's Lotus, with a new Climax V8 installed ahead of the British race to bring his car in line with team mate Innes Ireland.
BRM arrived at Aintree with high hopes of a good result, although their recent issues with Graham Hill's engines meant there was some concern. Richie Ginther was looking much happier in the second car after his podium in France, and there was no doubt that Hill would fight for victory at his home race. This was in stark contrast to the higher numbered entrants for the British Grand Prix, with a mix of old and new machinery on display, including returns for Emeryson and Gilby.
With the major contenders largely failing to score in France, the World Championship looked very similar coming into the British round, with Graham Hill still leading American name sake Phil Hill by two points. Bruce McLaren was one of the few to make ground at Rouen, climbing to third on twelve points, while Clark and Gurney completed the top five with nine points apiece. There had been fifteen point scorers in 1962 to this point, with Brabham at the foot of the scorers table with a solitary point.
The Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers, in contrast, had been slightly stretched in France, with BRM opening out a three point lead ahead of Cooper-Climax courtesy of Ginther's result two weeks earlier. Team Lotus found themselves in third having failed to score at all, while Ferrari's lack of attendance had seen them slip to fourth, six behind leaders BRM. Porsche's victory had seen them move into fifth place and double figures, while Surtees' consistent scoring meant Lola were on the board in sixth.
The full entry list for the 1962 British Grand Prix is outlined below:
With the race scheduled for Saturday, the combined practice and qualifying sessions opened on Thursday afternoon, with a second session on Friday. Many of the drivers had competed in the VII Aintree 200 earlier in the season, and so saw Jim Clark flatten the lap record at Aintree with a time of 1:54.0. The Scot was now favourite to take pole, although a strong headwind on Thursday meant that time was unlikely to be bested until the wind dropped on Friday.
Dan Gurney was out early on Thursday to set a stunning pace in qualifying, quickly setting times in the 1:55.0 range. The only man to threaten his times before a break mid-way through the Thursday session was Graham Hill, although the Englishman would destroy his fragile BRM engine in the process, meaning it was doubtful if he would run again before the race, although a new unit was quickly being taken to the circuit. Elsewhere, John Surtees tested the brand new Lola-Climax, ultimately deciding to use his usual challenger after a gearbox issue, while Clark swapped between his and team mate Trevor Taylor's cars in an attempt to beat his 1:54.0 from April.
The early session on Friday provided little action in the lighter winds, with Graham Hill making a small cameo before his new engine sprung an oil leak. There was still some improvement before the Touring Cars came out to play in the mid-afternoon, with Innes Ireland jumping startlingly close to former team mate Clark's time from Thursday. With that, Ireland called time on his practice exploits for the day, with Surtees just managing to squeeze his Lola between them before the end of the session.
With Clark still on provisional pole, the second session on Friday provided one last opportunity, and the conditions remained perfect, meaning several drivers sought to improve their times. Clark was among them, and late in the day, with the wind dropping completely, the Scot flashed around Aintree in 1:53.6, a stunning lap to set a new qualifying record around the British circuit. With that, the session was done, although late improvements for Hill saw him get onto the second row, starting from fifth behind ex-team mate McLaren.
The full qualifying results for the 1962 British Grand Prix are outlined below:
|Carel Godin de Beaufort||18|
After the dust had settled on an exciting British Saloon Car Championship race, the Grand Prix cars were dragged onto the circuit at 2:00 in the afternoon, with a quick warm-up lap before the race start at 2:30. All of the cars seemed healthy, all that was, apart from Innes Ireland who had had a gearbox serviced overnight, only for a partial failure on the way to the grid. A swarm of mechanics worked on his car on the grid, but with no time to replace the parts, Ireland's engine cover was replaced with the broken components removed, leaving the Brit on the front row, but without second or third gear.
When the flag dropped, twenty of the twenty one cars on the grid leapt away, with Ireland now finding that he had no drive at all. His Lotus 24 looked vulnerable on the fringes of the front row, but fortunately the swarm of cars behind the stranded car found the space to avoid him. His car was quickly dragged away so a proper repair could be affected as, at the front of the field, Jim Clark rocketed away, leaving John Surtees seemingly in a fight for second from the opening lap.
Indeed, other than Ireland's dramas, the start had been tame, although Dan Gurney had had a barnstorming getaway to run in third behind Surtees, with Bruce McLaren, Jack Brabham and Graham Hill all running in the American's wake. Phil Hill was also in the top ten after his disappointing weekend to that point, taking advantage of dramas for Jo Bonnier, whose poor start had left him at the tail end of the 1962 cars, and Richie Ginther. Clark, meanwhile, was streaming away from the rest, pulling over two seconds clear after the second lap, while Surtees' group pulled clear of seventh placed Masten Gregory.
Although Clark looked untouchable, there were fights to be had behind, with McLaren looking for a way past Gurney at every opportunity. The New Zealander's ex-team mate Brabham was just behind, but he was under pressure from Graham Hill, the Englishman realising that he needed to challenge Clark or see his Championship lead would vanish. The second pack, meanwhile, was seeing a resurgent Bonnier make ground, the Swede taking Phil Hill, Roy Salvadori and Gregory in the space of a couple of laps.
Casualties were beginning to appear as early as lap five, with Tony Shelly disappearing after a fraction of the race had passed with an overheating problem, while Ireland remained in the pits with his gearbox being repaired. The second Team Lotus car of Trevor Taylor was in the pits, the Englishman handing a choke pipe from the carburettor to one of his mechanics as be pulled into the pits. Incredibly, the heavy metal pipe had been launched from the engine over Taylor's head and landed in his lap as he completed his seventh tour of Aintree, with the youngster reacting quickly to pull into his garage. A quick replacement and his Lotus was back in action, a lap down but sounding healthier than it had before.
By lap ten Ireland was back in action, his dogged gearbox running with just three gears, 1st, 4th and 5th, although he was determined to finish his home race. Richie Ginther was falling down the order, meanwhile, with his BRM sounding rought, while Wolfgang Seidel pulled off with a brake problem. Back with the leaders and Clark had eased his pace to lead by around five seconds from Surtees, although the gap was climbing slightly lap-by-lap, with McLaren taking third from Gurney on lap thirteen after sustained pressure. Brabham continued to be hounded by Hill to little effect for fifth, while Tony Maggs had pushed to the front of the second group after a stunning move on Bonnier through the Canal Curve.
By the time a third of the race distance had been covered, Clark was beginning to push his car again, setting quicker and quicker lap times to pull over ten seconds clear of Surtees, who himself had a healthy gap behind. Hill, meanwhile, had been busy, taking Brabham and Gurney while the cameras had focused elsewhere, while Maggs and Bonnier were scrapping for seventh still, the Swede managing to get back ahead for a time. Phil Hill's poor weekend saw him fighting with the ill BRM of Ginther outside of the top ten, while Ian Burgess and Jackie Lewis were in a tense dogfight in the de facto four-cylinder class.
Porsche, however, were about to see their day ruined by a rare series of mechanical issues, with both cars affected. Bonnier was the first to come to strife, dragging his 804 into the pits with a gearbox issue, before being sent out to retire on the next lap. Gurney, meanwhile, was still battling with Hill and Brabham around him when his clutch began to slip, allowing Brabham to take the Porsche with relative ease. The American was hence left in sixth and had to nurse his car to the finish, his chance of points seeming to disappear with every passing lap as Maggs drew ever closer. Elsewhere, Roy Salvadori was forced to retire his Lola after an ignition failure, the Brit having just been in a position to challenge Maggs as Bonnier tumbled out of the race.
Clark continued to push his car, although he was still a second short of his April record as the race drew closer to its conclusion, with Surtees still a strong second for Lola. The top five still ran on the lead lap, while Gurney finally fell to Maggs with a third of the race to go. Ginther had rolled to a stop down the Railway Straight, although his quick probing around the engine revealed a broken wire that the American racer was able to repair. His fix got him back into the race, but he had dropped to thirteenth, soon to become twelfth when Phil Hill's miserable weekend came to an end with a distributor failure.
Into the closing stages and Gurney was seriously struggling but still going, losing out to Taylor who had stuck to the back of team mate Clark after being lapped. Burgess had managed to build a lead in the four cylinder class, until a stop allowed Lewis and American Tony Settember to flash past, while Ireland continued to limp around at the back of the field. With a few laps to go, and within sight of rival Graham Hill, Clark eased his pace not wanting to lap his friend, with Taylor flashing out of his team mate's wake and roaring past to unlap himself, although he still remained a lap behind.
With that, the race was done, with the final laps passing with a severe lack of on track action as Clark completed a dominant victory. Surtees was a worthy second, still inside a minute of the race winner, while McLaren claimed third to keep Cooper in the Manufacturer's Cup. Hill claimed fourth still on the lead lap, with Brabham and Maggs completing the scorers, while Ireland finished over fourteen laps down in sixteenth.
The full results for the 1962 British Grand Prix are outlined below:
- First Grand Chelem for Jim Clark.
- Maiden podium finish for Lola-Climax.
A second victory for Jim Clark saw him close to just one point of Championship leader Graham Hill as the World Championship passed the halfway mark, Hill having to be thankful for the Lotus' earlier temperamental nature. Bruce McLaren had remained in third, now three behind the leading Hill, while the defending Champion Phil Hill slipped to fourth having failed to score. John Surtees' maiden podium with Lola-Climax, meanwhile, meant that he was in an impressive fifth place, and just six points off the leader.
BRM no longer appeared to be the dominant force in 1962, as Lotus-Climax hit the front of the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers for the first time in their history. They left with a single point lead over the British rival, while the now ever reliable Cooper-Climax outfit dropped to third, but were still within touching distance. Ferrari were now suffering from their poor attendance in the previous two rounds and so slipped ever further away in fourth, and now sat just one point ahead of Lola, who had once again jumped ahead of Porsche.
Images and Videos:
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: BRITISH GP, 1962', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr107.html, (Accessed 28/05/2016)
- '15TH R.A.C. BRITISH GRAND PRIX', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport Magazine, 01/08/1962), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/august-1962/14/15th-rac-british-grand-prix, (Accessed 28/05/2016)
- 'Britain 1962: Race Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1962/grande-bretagne/engages.aspx, (Accessed 28/05/2016)
- 'Britain 1962: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1962/grande-bretagne/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 29/05/2016)
- 'Britain 1962: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1962/grande-bretagne/classement.aspx, (Accessed 29/05/2016)
|V T E||British Grand Prix|
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