The 1964 Austrian Grand Prix, officially recognised as the II Großer Preis von Österreich, was the seventh round of the 1964 FIA Formula One World Championship, held on the 23rd of August. Using the Zeltweg Airfield as a circuit, the race would be remembered as the debut for future World Champion Jochen Rindt and for a fiery accident for former Champion Phil Hill.
Practice and qualifying had seen an impressive battle for pole, with just a second covering the top seven drivers, and a little over three seconds for the entire field. Graham Hill was the man who claimed the prime grid position, lining up on a four wide front row with John Surtees, Jim Clark and Dan Gurney, while debutante Rindt found himself down in thirteenth. Off the line, it was advantage Gurney and Surtees, with Hill and Clark making poor starts with the latter suffering with a terminal problem.
The early stages saw Surtees wrestle the lead away from Gurney while Lorenzo Bandini established himself in third ahead of an enticing battle for fourth. Clark was challenging Hill, Jack Brabham and Richie Ginther, until the fight was broken up by a series of mechanical failures, while Surtees retired from the lead with a suspension failure. Clark then chased down Bandini for second, only to have a total failure in his transmission.
As Clark dropped out, so too did Gurney, handing victory seemingly to Bandini if he could survive the horrendous bumps of the airfield. Other retirements had promoted Ginther to second, and Swede Jo Bonnier to third, although the latter would fall soon after to put Bob Anderson onto the podium instead. As this was going on, Phil Hill crashed heavily and got thrown from his car, fortunate as the car suddenly burst into flame and burned to the ground. Bandini, meanwhile, ran on untroubled to claim a maiden victory, ahead of Ginther and Anderson, the latter making his first visit to the podium.
Austria was a new addition to the World Championship calendar in 1964, although the Zeltweg Airfield had hosted one non-Championship Grand Prix before, as well as numerous Formula Two races. The I Austrian Grand Prix had been held in 1963, mainly as a demonstration to the FIA that Zeltweg could host a Grand Prix event, with a circuit that used both the runway as a race track, and the hangers as garages. Jack Brabham had won the original Austrian Grand Prix, in a race which had seen an extraordinary amount of retirements due to the bumpy track surface.
It was a fair distance to the Austrian mountains to get to Zeltweg, but all of the major F1 entrants would arrive for the weekend ready to race. Leading the way were Team Lotus, who brought four cars for their two drivers Jim Clark and Mike Spence, with Peter Arundell still recovering from his accident. Of their equipment, Clark and Spence would race the new Lotus 33s in the race, with Clark's venerable 25 as a spare, while the fourth car was loaned to Reg Parnell Racing after Mike Hailwood put one of their usual cars in a lake.
BRM were in a worse condition ahead of the race, down to two cars at a track where mechanical failures were noteworthy. They had their two usual 1964 challengers ready, although Graham Hill's car had to be rebuilt after the Englishman wrote off their newest car while testing at Snetterton. They did, however, have the advantage of supporting three ex-factory P57s which, if things went badly during the weekend, could be called in for use by the team.
For Brabham-Climax things seemed to be going well, although team owner, and previous Austria conqueror Brabham would have to run in a new Brabham BT11 for the weekend. Whereas the BT11 had primarily been a customer chassis, the Australian's car would feature several minor updates, including more fibreglass to make the new car lighter. This was in contrast to Gurney, who had a new engine for his BT7, which had served the New Yorker well throughout the season.
Rounding out the factory efforts were Ferrari and Cooper-Climax, both of whom were running as they were in Germany. For Ferrari, John Surtees would have his choice of their two surviving 1964 cars, while Lorenzo Bandini would have to make do with an updated 156 Aero. Cooper had the usual pair of outclassed T73s, with an older car in reserve.
The BRP-BRM effort would also get to Austria for the race, with Innes Ireland in their newer car while Trevor Taylor was entered in their original design. Then, it was into the major privateer field, with Reg Parnell Racing field their usual two Lotus 25s, while Scuderia Centro Sud brought their pair of BRM P57s. The RRC Walker Racing Team had an expanded effort in Austria, fielding a second Brabham car for impressive youngster Jochen Rindt to partner Jo Bonnier.
The title battle had been severely shaken up at the Nürburgring, as Graham Hill shot to the top of the standings, overhauling defending Champion Clark. The two came into Austria just two points apart, and seemingly in a two horse race with John Surtees eleven points further back, with just four races to go. There was then an additional eight point gap back to fourth, where Ginther led a trio of cars tied on eleven points.
Team Lotus had just held onto the lead in the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers after the German round, clinging on to a one point lead over BRM. Again, the title looked like a two horse race ahead of the seventh round, with a fourteen point gap back to the improved Ferrari outfit. The Italian firm looked set to battle it out with Brabham for third, while Cooper rounded out the factory effort teams in fifth, ahead of the privateer run Brabham-BRM and Lotus-BRM entries.
The full entry list for the 1964 Austrian Grand Prix is outlined below:
After all of the equipment was moved from the edge of the circuit to the hangers/pits ahead of practice on Friday, the cars were ready to go out for qualifying. Over two two hour sessions on Friday and Saturday eighteen drivers would start from the original list of twenty one, although this was hastily changed ahead of the Grand Prix. As for times, Jack Brabham held the lap record at Zeltweg at 1:11.4, while Jim Clark arrived with a circuit record of 1:10.2.
First practice was a stop start affair in the early stages, when Phil Hill got sideways through the run onto the runway and slammed into the straw bales marking the edge of the circuit. A terminal accident for the suspension put the former World Champion in the spare Cooper, just as Lorenzo Bandini had his day ended early by an incurable oil leak. Elsewhere, Team Lotus had to borrow the welding equipment of rivals BRM to repair the throttle cable on Jim Clark's car, while BRM's own Graham Hill was wearing a chin support to cope with the after effects of his Snetterton accident.
Also hampering the efforts of the teams, and a most likely cause for the widespread reports of poor handling and suspension problems, was the track surface. Although the concrete slabs were secure, the haphazard nature of their layout meant the cars were frequently bumping, while the constant vibrations caused stress fractures. Victims included Clark and Richie Ginther, the latter having ruined a good lap for team mate Hill just moments before.
Hill was credited with the best time of Friday, although the official timing system failed during the session, meaning those times were not considered to be accurate. With most of the crews pulling an all-nighter to repair their challengers, the field regathered on the apron for another day of high speed bouncing, with the entire field on the circuit within the first five minutes. Rain affected the early running prompting an en-masse withdrawal to the pits, leaving the two Coopers on their own, before the sun, and the cars, reappeared for the rest of the session.
Amid the constant chaos of cars on the circuit, all of which would require another night of repairs to be ready for the race, an incredible battle for pole emerged. Ultimately, after two days of sublime running, it was Graham Hill who ended up with pole, a quarter of a second ahead of John Surtees. They, however, were just a small part of a wider battle that saw pole exchanged between no fewer than seven drivers, with Clark, Dan Gurney, Ginther, Brabham and Bandini all within a second of Hill's new circuit record of 1:09.84.
The full qualifying results for the 1964 Austrian Grand Prix are outlined below:
After a night of rain and repairs, with many teams having to cannibalise their spare cars to get their race cars ready for the race, the field was assembled on the grid. Some were forced into their reserve cars in the end, John Surtees one victim with Ferrari of the bumps, while the two BRP-BRMs had minor issues on the grid. Regardless, the track was bathed in sunshine, the track was warm, and all of the cars pulled clear of the dummy grid without issue.
When the flag dropped it was advantage Dan Gurney, as he got a better start than John Surtees to leap into the lead of the Grand Prix. This was in stark contrast to their fellow front row starts, where Graham Hill on pole got too much wheel spin and so tumbled down the order. But in marginally more trouble was Jim Clark, who could not get into first gear on the grid proper, before spinning up his wheels when he managed to force his car into second.
By the end of the first lap, Hill and Clark found themselves still outside the top ten, running together to try and get back through the order, as Gurney and Surtees sprinted away. The two strugglers got a boost when Jack Brabham dragged his car into the pits to have a fuel feed issue resolved, while Giancarlo Baghetti struggled with fouled up spark plugs. Regardless, the leading pair were in a class of their own, with Surtees elbowing his way past before the end of the second lap.
As the lead changed, Clark made progress from the back of the field, taking Graham Hill, Phil Hill and Jo Siffert on successive laps before joining onto a four way scrap for fourth. An intense battle saw Richie Ginther, Bruce McLaren, Jo Bonnier and Innes Ireland fly around the runway together in the opening stages. Yet, even though they could not find a way past each other, Clark was able to breeze past, taking Ireland on lap six before sweeping past McLaren, Bonnier and Ginther over the following two.
As Clark pounced, several drivers fell to mechanical problems attributed to the track surface. Chris Amon was an early victim, a handling fault developing that sent him onto the grass at the hairpin, block his radiator, and duly destroy his engine. Graham Hill, meanwhile, was forced to coast back to the pits when a driveshaft sheered and totalled his engine, before Surtees lost his lead.
The Englishman had just managed to get a small gap to Gurney for the lead, although he was having to push the Ferrari to its limits just to make even the smallest fraction of a second. Then, on lap eight as the Englishman dived on the brakes for the hairpin, the suspension failed on the rear, sending the Ferrari into retirement amid a shower of sparks and dust. That left Gurney to ease his pace in the lead, although he was soon made aware that the flying Scot was up to second, with Clark picking off Lorenzo Bandini a lap after Surtees' disappearance.
With ten laps gone, Gurney held a thirteen second lead over Clark, who was already sprinting away from Bandini at a fair rate. Next came McLaren, who finally managed to pass Ginther and escape the fourth place battle, leaving the latter to battle with Bonnier and Ireland. Then went Siffert and Mike Spence, just as the Englishman made a move on the Swiss racer for ninth, before a group being led by the debuting Jochen Rindt which featured Phil Hill, Mike Hailwood, Bob Anderson and Tony Maggs.
It was this last battle where eyes were drawn for the time being, with Clark slowly drawing in Gurney for what many hoped would be another exciting dice between the two. The first casualty was Anderson, who sent himself spinning at the hairpin before getting caught behind a slow Trevor Taylor at the back. A few laps later, Hailwood spun while trying to take Rindt through the long loop back to the main straight. With little space in the pack, Hill was forced to take immediate action and throw his Cooper-Climax onto the grass, meaning he would rejoin at the very back of the field, while Hailwood continued just ahead of Taylor.
As the laps ticked away Clark continued to draw slowly onto the back of Gurney, although his efforts were almost in vain when the New Yorker narrowly avoided an accident while lapping the tail enders. The race leader was drawing into the back of the Rindt scrap and came across the struggling Taylor, who immediately began to move across and wave Gurney past. Only, as he did so, a lower wishbone on the BRP-BRM failed and caused a complete collapse of the rear suspension, throwing the car into a spin just as he moved over.
Fortunately, the failure threw Taylor's car into a spin in the same direction that he had been moving out of the way of Gurney, meaning the leader escaped unharmed, while Taylor slid to a halt without issue. As this was going on, Siffert was forced into retirement when a brake failure threw his car into a straw bale. Those two were forced to leave their cars by the side of the circuit, a visible sign of the torture the cars were going through around Zeltweg.
Elsewhere, Spence was having an excellent run for Team Lotus, the Englishman getting into the battle of Ginther, Bonnier and Ireland a few laps after taking Siffert to reform a quartet for fourth. Clark, meanwhile, was now within sight of Gurney throughout the lap, although the Scot was anxiously looking over his shoulder at his rear suspension. On lap 40, the Scot's concerns were revealed, as out of the hairpin one of his driveshafts failed, punctured the transmission box and littered parts of the running gear across the circuit.
With Clark out, and Bandini well behind, Gurney eased his pace, just as Spence's Lotus had an identical failure within a lap of Clark's exit. Ireland had also hit problems, tumbling when his engine began to run rough, while Bandini's day was made easier when McLaren dropped down the order with a power issue. That left Ginther and Bonnier now in an exclusive battle for third, although that was to become a battle for second as the mechanical gods struck once again.
For three laps, Gurney had been running off his outright pace as he looked to nurse his Brabham-Climax to the finish. Yet, two laps later the New Yorker drew his car into the pits to have his front suspension looked at, having detected a problem just moments before. Bandini screamed past and so, with nothing obvious to be found, Gurney rejoined, only to return immediately to retire, a radius arm breaking away to put the lead in Bandini's hands.
Many drivers had limped in for repairs, including Brabham and Ireland, who both rejoined in the hope that attrition would allow them to score despite losing massive amounts of time. Surtees too was back on the circuit, the Englishman having walked back to the pits, picked up a jack and a few spares, before returning to his car to affect some minor repairs. The Englishman was only able to get the car to the pits, however, before his retirement was officially confirmed, with just eleven cars left running at half-distance.
That soon became nine, as Rindt's race was called to an early end, first by brake failure and then by suspension failure. As the Austrian disappeared so to did Phil Hill, whose Cooper's suspension collapsed on the entry to the start/finish straight, pitching the car into the bales. Unfortunately, the American was running at high speed, and the moment the car crumpled on the bales the engine burst into flames, with Hill out of the car in a flash.
With the Californian left to stand and watch as his car burnt itself to the ground, Hailwood was forced in for repairs after several suspension issues. As all this was going on, Bandini was holding a fifteen second lead over Ginther, who remained under pressure from Bonnier. Then, amid the chaos, came Anderson, the Brit staying out of trouble since his early spin to run a lap down but well within a chance of a maiden podium.
The race was now entering its final throes, although Bonnier lost touch with Ginther as his RRC Walker Racing Team run Brabham developed a misfire. He was soon in a tight battle with the lapped Anderson, the two putting on a terrific fight to entertain the crowds despite the lap gap, until the Swede's engine really began to struggle. His pace plummeted, and Anderson roared away, only to come back up to Bonnier a few laps later and snatch third place.
The final laps saw Bonnier also taken by Maggs and Ireland before race end, although Giancarlo Baghetti, Hailwood and Brabham were too far behind to challenge for the final point. They, however, were the final changes to the order, as Ginther just failed to draw in Bandini before the end, meaning the Italian claimed victory for the first time in his career. Ginther was just over six seconds back come race end, while Anderson ended the race three laps back in third to collect a maiden podium, despite the attention of Maggs and Ireland in the closing stages.
The full results for the 1964 Austrian Grand Prix are outlined below:
|3||22||Bob Anderson||Brabham-Climax||102||+3 laps||14||4|
|4||19||Tony Maggs||BRM||102||+3 laps||19||3|
|5||14||Innes Ireland||BRP-BRM||102||+3 laps||11||2|
|6||11||Jo Bonnier||Brabham-Climax||101||+4 laps||10||1|
|7||18||Giancarlo Baghetti||BRM||96||+9 laps||15|
|8||17||Mike Hailwood||Lotus-BRM||95||+10 laps||18|
|9||6||Jack Brabham||Brabham-Climax||76||+29 laps||6|
- Debut for Jochen Rindt.
- Maiden victory for Lorenzo Bandini.
- Also the Italian's only victory.
- First and only podium for Bob Anderson.
- BRM claimed their thirtieth podium.
With the top three in the Championship all failing to score, it was status quo leaving Austria, with Graham Hill still leading the way with 32 points. Jim Clark held onto second just two behind, while John Surtees completed the top three eleven points further back. Richie Ginther remained in fourth, but had made a fair amount of ground, while victory for Lorenzo Bandini put the Italian into the top five.
There was, in contrast, a fair amount of shuffling in the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers as BRM overhauled Lotus-Climax at the top of the standings. Ferrari would thank Bandini for bringing them straight back into the title fight, now eight points away from the new leaders. Brabham-Climax could also now entertain hopes of a title, although they would be too far back to seriously challenge, while BRP-BRM finally got on the board.
Images and Videos:
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: AUSTRIAN GP, 1964',grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr128.html, (Accessed 01/07/2016)
- 'Austrian Grand Prix: Wild and Woolly', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport Magazine, 01/10/1964), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/october-1964/39/austrian-grand-prix and http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/october-1964/41/october-1964, (Accessed 02/07/2016)
- 'Austria 1964: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1964/autriche/engages.aspx, (Accessed 02/07/2016)
- 'Austria 1964: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1964/autriche/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 04/07/2016)
- 'Austria 1964: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1964/autriche/classement.aspx, (Accessed 06/07/2016)
|V T E||Austrian Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Zeltweg Airfield (1963–1964), Red Bull Ring (1970–1987, 1997-2003, 2014-present)|
|Races||1964 • 1965–1969 • 1970 • 1971 • 1972 • 1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979 • 1980 • 1981 • 1982 • 1983 • 1984 • 1985 • 1986 • 1987 • 1988–1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004–2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020 • 2021 • 2022|
|Red Bull Ring was previously called Österreichring and A1-Ring.|
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