The first round of the 1963 FIA Formula One World Championship was the 1963 Monaco Grand Prix, held at the Circuit de Monaco on the 26th of May. Officially recognised as the XXI Grand Prix Automobile de Monaco, with Graham Hill and BRM set to start the defence of their Championship crowns.
Hill and Championship runner-up Jim Clark had dominated the end of the 1962 season, and it was the Scot who claimed pole position for the opening round. A poor start saw the Scot drop behind Hill and the Englishman's team mate Richie Ginther, but after a long battle the Team Lotus racer was leading. Then, in the closing stages, the gearbox seized and threw Clark into the barrier, leaving Hill to sweep to victory.
An impressive run for new Ferrari lead driver John Surtees saw him climb into second at one point in the race, but the Englishman would ultimately have to settle for fourth behind Hill, Ginther and Bruce McLaren. Surtees also claimed fastest lap on the final lap while trying to get back onto the podium, with Tony Maggs and Trevor Taylor completing the scorers.
For the first time in a number of years, Monaco had a change in the course configuration. To lessen the chances of a major first-corner accident, the grid and start/finish line had been moved to the other side of the "island", as the pit area was colloquially known. The Virage du Gazometre would now be the final turn of the circuit, instead of the first.
There was a change to the automatic qualifying format in Monaco which had always been tedious at best. For the 1963 race, five drivers, rather than the major constructors, were handed spots on the grid, with World Champions Graham Hill, Phil Hill and Jack Brabham, as well as former race winners Maurice Trintignant and Bruce McLaren guarenteed to start. This move particularly upset Team Lotus and Ferrari with neither of those outfits represented among the five guaranteed starters.
Indeed, for the latter of those two, 1962 had been an awful year which saw sackings, strikes and a rebellion by ex-employees. The problems had already come to the fore in November 1961 when key figures had walked out of the marketing department, and the strikes in Italy across the summer of 1962 saw many of the technical staff leave. They engineers now group together to form a rival team, Automobili Turismo e Sport which set about building racing cars to rival their former employer, while also picking up Phil Hill who had been sacked from the team at the 1962 United States Grand Prix. Ferrari themselves arrived with an updated version of the 156, minus its trademark "sharknose", as well as a new driver pairing in John Surtees and Willy Mairesse.
Elsewhere Porsche had quit Formula One, citing the spiralling costs involved, with Dan Gurney joining up with an expanded Brabham-Climax outfit. Their second driver Jo Bonnier also found a new seat, taking up the vacant seat with the RRC Walker Racing Team, with Trintignant racing for Reg Parnell Racing. He was added to their new line up which featured John Campbell-Jones and promising youngster Chris Amon, who would make his debut in Monte Carlo. They still maintained their Lola-Climaxes from 1962, although they had lost major sponsor Yeoman Credit.
The class acts of 1962, meanwhile, saw little change over the winter, only tweaks being made to their cars and engines. Champions BRM arrived with 1962 drivers Hill and Richie Ginther, while their P57s only featured updated engines as the field made it to Monaco. It had also been a winter of refinement for Team Lotus, with only Jim Clark provided with a brand new chassis. Trevor Taylor therefore took over the Scot's previous challenger, with both cars running the updated Climax engine with fuel injection, hoping to counter the powerful BRM.
Cooper-Climax would arrive with an unchanged driver line up too, Tony Maggs and Bruce McLaren set to race the new T66 under the guide of stand in chief Ken Tyrrell. There were also set to be a few new cars on the grid, with Scirocco-BRM, a British constructor, joining the fray with two new cars. ATS also arrived with their new cars, while De Tomaso fielded their new challenger which had been demonstrated at the 1962 Italian Grand Prix. Otherwise, the entry list was made up of privateers using customer Lotus 24s, although Jack Brabham would ultimately race in a loaned 25.
The full entry list for the 1963 Monaco Grand Prix is outlined below:
The tradition of holding the first practice/qualifying session on Thursday was maintained, with many of the drivers getting out early on a warm afternoon. This was followed by a session in the early morning of Friday, held shortly after dawn, before one last practice on Saturday afternoon. All three sessions were run in dry conditions, and the early pace suggested that a 1:40.0 lap time was the minimum a driver should achieve with modern machinery.
Most of the teams were affected by mechanical issues on Thursday, although many drivers did find that they could no longer improve their times in a rather canny way. The timekeepers at Monaco decided to move the start/finish straight over to the in-land straight up to Sainte-Devote, with the timing line moved to the exit of the Gasworks Hairpin. This had previously been located in the braking zone for the hairpin, meaning a brave and "crafty" driver could leave their braking ridiculously late to set a better time. The move made the times more consistent, and more representative of the true pace of the drivers making it more difficult for a driver to "cheat" their way to a better time.
This, however, would not prove to be an issue for the class acts of the period, Jim Clark immediately going a tenth quicker than his pole time from 1962. On Thursday, the Scot was the only man under 1:37.0, a time only achieved by Richie Ginther and Graham Hill, although on Friday morning the times did begin to tumble. Ferrari led the charge, Willy Mairesse forcing the updated 156 round in a 1:36.0 before John Surtees managed to beat Clark's time from Thursday.
It was late in that session where the times really tumbled, Clark having had to abandon his earliest attempts due to traffic. All of the leading contenders went out for the final few minutes, with Hill, Ginther, Ireland, Surtees, Dan Gurney and Mairesse all going under 1:36.0. The only man who didn't get into that group was Clark, who forced a locking Lotus around Monaco to record a 1:34.3 lap, a new circuit record and provisional pole.
Saturday did not see the best times troubled, although many of the slower drivers did make improvements before the end of practice. Team Lotus continued on untroubled, wondering whether they would be met with problems during the race that had affected their rivals, while Ferrari had to rebuild the front left corner of Surtees' car after he hit the wall at the chicane with a brake issue. Several drivers did not appear at all over the three days, including the new ATS, Scirocco-BRM and De Tomaso machines.
The full qualifying results for the 1963 Monaco Grand Prix are outlined below:
|WD||22||Nasif Estéfano||De Tomaso||Withdrawn|
- * Amon would not start the race as his car was handed to Trintignant.
The "Grand Prix of Europe" of 1963 was scheduled for 2:45 on Sunday afternoon, with the field starting to line up on the grid in pairs from 2:30 onwards. Chris Amon would be the only qualifier not to start, the young New Zealander having had his car given to Maurice Trintignant after a late issue on Saturday. The fifteen starters were ready to go as the start time approached for the 100 lap race, the circuit bathed in warm sunshine.
A perfect start from the "even" numbered side of the grid saw Graham Hill and Richie Ginther storm into the lead of the race as the field charged towards Casino Square. Pole sitter Jim Clark ran in third after a smoking tyre start, with John Surtees starting his first race for Ferrari in fourth. Bruce McLaren made up a couple of spots, taking Innes Ireland and Dan Gurney, with Tony Maggs, Willy Mairesse and Trevor Taylor completing a ten car scrap for the first lap.
The field ran nose-to-tail for the opening five laps, with no one attempting to make a move for fear of losing out to the rest of the train. Clark was the only one who made attempts, although every time he got alongside Ginther through the middle of a corner, the American simply stamped on the throttle and roared ahead. This was a pattern until lap five when the Scot finally managed to take the position without losing out, with the frantic pace of the leaders seeing th top nine pull away from the rest.
After Clark cleared Ginther the green-gold Lotus was immediately attacking Hill, the Scot throwing his 25 from side to side to find space around the Englishman. As the field came round the Gasworks Hairpin to complete lap seven the Scot was in the lead, although his late dive on the brakes allowed Hill to get back past as they blasted towards Sainte Devote. Half a lap latter and the move was repeated, Clark having snatched the inside line for the Station Hairpin, only to run wide and allow Hill to flash back up the inside, with Ginther also sliding past.
By lap ten, Clark was back ahead of Ginther and again dancing in the wake of Hill, with their furious duel keeping the rest of the top nine within striking distance. Clark repeated his earlier attempt through Gasworks Hairpin once again with an identical outcome, although Hill was fortunate that Ginther was running in third, for his line into the final corner meant that he could be forced further wide if someone followed Clark through. As the frantic duel for the lead continued, Jo Siffert had a connecting rod punch a hole through his engine, causing the Lotus-BRM to dump most of its oil at the Gasworks Hairpin and put the Swiss racer out.
Siffert's oil slick was, fortunately, far enough off the racing line not to cause problems, as Hill and Clark repeated their dance through the hairpin over the following laps. Yet, that was not to last, for Clark finally managed to get a strong enough exit to keep with Hill as the Englishman stamped on the throttle to complete lap seventeen. They ran side by side to Sainte Devote, with Clark snatching the lead by holding the inside line through the narrow right hander, the pair flashing past a lapped Jack Brabham as they flew up the hill towards Casino.
Clark set about building a lead, setting consecutive fastest laps to pull steadily ahead of Hill, while Mairesse picked off Maggs and Gurney at the back of the lead group. A few laps later and Gurney was out in the Brabham-Climax, the car having suffered an engine problem, while Surtees began to attack Ginther, with McLaren just a few yards back. It was not long before the scarlet car found its way past, with the Englishman immediately setting out after Hill ahead, with Ginther now sat in the sights of McLaren.
Surtees' attempts to pass were being hampered by the BRM ahead, for Hill's car had developed a slight oil leak which sprayed small amounts of oil onto Surtees' car, often striking his goggles or face. Elsewhere, Jo Bonnier was in trouble having damaged his clutch pedal, before Mairesse rolled into the pits with a dead engine. Taylor, meanwhile, was making progress, battling his way past Maggs for seventh before inheriting sixth as Ireland crashed out after a gearbox failure threw his car into the seawall.
Clark was running seven seconds clear at the head of the field, with the fuel burning off at such a rate that the lap times were getting ever closer to the qualifying pace. The race was now at half distance, with Hill still defending from Surtees before a ten second gap back to a furious duel between Ginther and McLaren. A minute back were Taylor and Maggs, fighting for the final point in sixth and the last of those on the lead lap as Brabham and Bonnier limped into the pits once again.
The race began to settle from this point, with Clark equalling his lap record from 1962 on lap 57. Just behind came Hill and Surtees, but now the scarlet Ferrari was alongside the BRM coming down the start/finish line, and duly snatched second in a perfect imitation of Clark's earlier move through Sainte Devote. Yet, Surtees now had a new problem, his oiled up goggles making it difficult to spot his braking and turn in points and so he let Hill go by a few laps later to have a reference. As they swapped back, Clark broke his lap record, before chipping more time off over the next few laps to set a 1:34.9 on lap 69.
With three quarters of the race now run, Clark led Hill and Surtees, with Ginther running ahead of McLaren after the New Zealander opted to use the BRM as a tool to catch the pair ahead. A few moments later, however, the order was completely changed, with Hill suddenly leading from Ginther and McLaren, with Surtees down to fourth and Clark out entirely. The first incident saw Surtees flagged down by the Race Director, who instructed the Englishman to allow Ginther to pass before, with his engine now losing pressure, allowing McLaren to flash past. Then, the cameras turned to see Clark climbing out of his car, the Scot having eased his pace by easing through gear changes rather than flicking through as the ZF gearbox had been designed for. That caused the gearbox to lock the rear axle through the Gasworks Hairpin on lap 79, and the Lotus refused to move again.
With the lead in his hands, and Ginther a fair way back, Hill wound up the pace, braking the lap record Clark had set earlier in the race by two tenths on lap 85. The race order was now settled as Hill lapped Taylor and Maggs, before Surtees claimed fastest lap with three tours to go. The Englishman would ultimately set a new record on the final lap at 1:34.5, as his compatriot Hill swept home to record a perfect start to his title defence. Ginther kept McLaren at back to complete a BRM one-two for the second Championship race in succession, with Surtees, Maggs and Taylor completing the scorers.
The full results for the 1963 Monaco Grand Prix are outlined below:
|5||8||Tony Maggs||Cooper-Climax||98||+2 laps||10||2|
|6||10||Trevor Taylor||Lotus-Climax||98||+2 laps||9||1|
|7||11||Jo Bonnier||Cooper-Climax||94||+6 laps||11|
|Ret||17||Maurice Trintignant||Lola-Climax||34||Oil leak||14|
|WD||22||Nasif Estéfano||De Tomaso|
- * Clark and Brabham were still classified despite retiring before the final lap.
- First entry for Chris Amon
- Fewest number of starters for a season opening race until the 2015 Australian Grand Prix.
- Fifth win for Graham Hill.
- Climax claimed their sixtieth podium finish.
Graham Hill opened his title defence with victory, meaning he led the Championship after the opening round, with six of a driver's results counting towards their final tally. He left Monaco three points ahead of team mate Richie Ginther, while a podium for Bruce McLaren saw him start the year off in third. John Surtees, Trevor Taylor and Tony Maggs also kicked of the new season with points.
The one-two for BRM saw them construct an early lead in the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers, although under the rules for that Championship, only Hill's points counted to their tally. Ginther's result, however, did deny points for the rest of the entrants, meaning Cooper-Climax started the season in second, but five points behind. Ferrari and Lotus-Climax rounded out the early pace setters.
Images and Videos:
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: MONACO GP, 1963', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr112.html, (Accessed 03/06/2016)
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 2.28 2.29 2.30 2.31 2.32 2.33 2.34 2.35 2.36 2.37 2.38 2.39 2.40 2.41 2.42 2.43 2.44 2.45 2.46 2.47 2.48 2.49 2.50 2.51 2.52 2.53 2.54 2.55 2.56 2.57 2.58 2.59 2.60 2.61 2.62 2.63 2.64 2.65 2.66 2.67 2.68 2.69 2.70 2.71 2.72 'XXI Monaco Grand Prix', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport Magazine, 01/07/1963), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/july-1963/26/xxi-monaco-grand-prix, (Accessed 03/06/2016)
- ↑ 'Monaco 1963: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1963/monaco/engages.aspx, (Accessed 02/06/2016)
- ↑ 'Monaco 1963: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1963/monaco/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 03/06/2016)
- ↑ 'Monaco 1963: Results', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1963/monaco/classement.aspx, (Accessed 03/06/2016)
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