The 1965 Belgian Grand Prix, also advertised as the XXV Grand Prix de Belgique or the 1965 European Grand Prix, was the third round of the 1965 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at Spa-Francorchamps on the 13th of June. The entire weekend was almost thrown into doubt after a dispute about starting money, although the race would be fondly remembered for the performance of two Scottish racers.
Qualifying and practice were a rather sorry affair, particularly on Friday where half of the field refused to run at all after being made to fight for four starting places (twelve having been allocated to the six manufacturer entrants). Fortunately a compromise expanded the grid allocation to twenty, but that still meant two would miss out, as Englishman Graham Hill swept to pole for BRM.
A miserable day in the Ardennes Forest, featuring grey skies and rain, greeted the field for race day, and it was Hill who got away best from pole. The Englishman, however, would be bested before the end of the opening lap by Scot Jim Clark through the Masta Kink. The Scot then began to pull out a huge lead and lap his British rival.
Hill was also taken by impressive Scottish youngster, and team mate, Jackie Stewart who would be the only man to stay on the lead lap. Pole sitter Hill would fall to fifth come the end of the race as the Scots danced away at the front, with Bruce McLaren and Jack Brabham also getting by. The race was also notable for the feats of Richie Ginther, who claimed a maiden World Championship point for Honda.
A two week break between the Monaco and Belgian Grand Prix saw Team Lotus make a triumphant return to the grid after Jim Clark's victory at the Indianapolis 500. They were allocated two manufacturer slots on the grid, despite the fact that Mike Spence had never raced at Spa. They had two of the new 33 chassis available for their two racers, with a spare in the form of Clark's all conquering 25 from 1963.
BRM were also out in force, with Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart to do battle for them once again, Stewart another to get an automatic entry, despite never having raced at Spa before. The third factory spot went to Cooper-Climax, fielding Bruce McLaren and another Spa virgin in the form Jochen Rindt. Rounding out the British invitational entries were Brabham-Climax, with Dan Gurney and Jack Brabham getting identical new cars.
Ferrari arrived hunting for victory, with defending World Champion John Surtees again using the V8 car while Lorenzo Bandini had the F12. The final two invitations were then handed to Honda, whose V12 engines would be better suited to the flowing curves of Spa then the Monte Carlo streets. They fielded their two American runners in Richie Ginther and Ronnie Bucknum as usual.
Then came the privateers, headed by Reg Parnell Racing whom had obtained Innes Ireland after the fall of the British Racing Partnership outfit. He would partner Richard Attwood as they went to battle with the R.R.C. Walker Racing Team, who had Jo Bonnier and Jo Siffert in mismatched Brabhams once again. John Willment Automobiles were also in attendance once again, the British privateers fielding Aussie racer Frank Gardner.
Belgium also saw the return of Scuderia Centro Sud back for the first time since the end of the 1964 season, as they fielded three ex-factory BRMs. They decided to hand home runs to Lucien Bianchi and Willy Mairesse, returning for the first time since his huge accident at the 1963 German Grand Prix, while Masten Gregory was handed their third entry. DW Racing Enterprises rounded out the entries with Bob Anderson, and a now dried out Paul Hawkins back for another F1 battle.
Victory for Hill in Monte Carlo sent him straight to the top of the Drivers' Championship, as he added the four points from finishing third in South Africa. The absent Clark had slipped to second, level on points with defending Champion Surtees but judged ahead because of his win, while Bandini and Stewart completed the top five. The rest of the point scorers at this early stage of the Championship were McLaren, Spence and Siffert.
Hill's victory meant that BRM left Monaco in the lead of the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers standings, a point ahead of Italian based rivals Ferrari. Lotus-Climax slipped to third after their decision to miss the battle in the streets, while Cooper-Climax had four points in fourth. Brabham-BRM completed the scorers after Siffert's point for the RRC Walker Racing Team.
The full entry list for the 1965 Belgian Grand Prix is outlined below:
Practice/qualifying was scheduled for Friday afternoon, running from 5:00 pm until 7:00 pm, before an additional session on Saturday at a slightly earlier time. Unfortunately, the first session of the weekend was hampered by a boycott, after the privateer entrants protested over the allocation of starting money/grid slots, which meant they had to squabble for only four places. They was ultimately resolved before the Saturday session, so that there would be 20 starters, with the top drivers aiming for the circuit record of 3:49.2, set by Dan Gurney during the 1964 race.
Friday proved to be rather tame with only twelve cars on circuit, although there were still some surprises along the way. Leading the shocks was the rookie Jackie Stewart, as the Scot became the first man to break the four minute mark, before Richie Ginther hit home with a 3:57.0 before the end of the first hour. He later improved to a 3:55.0, although that was just before Graham Hill stole the show as be inched closer the the 3:50.0 mark throughout the day.
The Friday session then sprang into life as the end approached, with the Team Lotus leader Jim Clark, sporting a new Climax engine with 32 valves looking to challenge Hill. John Surtees was also closing in, and with Stewart on circuit too the 3:50.0 barrier fell before sessions end. Ginther almost joined them, falling shy by just over a quarter of a second, while Clark was hit by an oil leak to prevent him attempting to grab provisional pole.
After discussions with the R.A.C.B. in the morning, the privateers agreed to join the fray on Saturday afternoon which would begin in even better conditions than Friday. They, however, were left to fight amongst themselves, for the factory battle was really winding up when the BRMs broke the circuit record in the early stages. Clark was hampered by the Climax engine once again, only getting sporadic laps on the circuit as a series of minor issues reduced his running time.
Ultimately, Hill would set new and unreachable standards before the end of the session, grabbing pole with a 3:45.4, meaning he had completed the lap at an average speed of 140 mph. Clark's sporadic laps were only good enough to get him to within two seconds of the Englishman, although he still proved to be the closest challenger, with Stewart just a few tenths slower in third. As for the privateers, the withdrawal of Paul Hawkins reduced the number set to miss out to one, before Willy Mairesse was eliminated for being too slow. Bob Anderson did manage to qualify, but an engine failure ended his chances of competing for the DW Racing Enterprises outfit had no spares.
The full qualifying results for the 1965 Belgian Grand Prix are outlined below:
- Bold indicates a driver's best/qualifying time.
- T Indicates a driver using their test/spare car to set their best time in that session.
- * Anderson could not start due to an engine failure.
- † Mairesse failed to set a time due to driving too slow.
- * Anderson could not start due to an engine failure.
Sunday dawned with clear skies for the support races, but by midday a uniformly grey sky covered the circuit, with the threat of rain increasing as the light dropped. As the Grand Prix cars were assembled on the grid rain began to trickle from the clouds, getting steadily heavier as the 3:30pm start time approached. Anderson's withdrawal, and Mairesse's decision to race in Germany meant that nineteen engines were fired up to battle around a very wet Spa-Francorchamps when the flag dropped.
As soon as the flag dropped the field became engulfed in spray, thrown up by the huge amount of wheelspin as everyone tried to get some traction. This did not help the BRMs, whom had planned to "shut the door" on Jim Clark through Eau Rouge as they started either side of the Scot. Instead, the field got away evenly and without issue, meaning it was pole sitter Graham Hill leading the way over the top of Stavelot, with Clark second and Jackie Stewart in third.
The opening half of the lap proved to be rather tame, with everyone taking time to adjust to the tricky conditions, meaning there was room around every car. Then, as the field streamed through to the Masta Kink, Clark decided to challenge the Englishman for the lead, emerging triumphant from the tricky chicane a few seconds later. The Scot then had his Lotus 33, using different wet tyres to everyone else bar team mate Mike Spence, dancing away to build a huge lead by the end of the opening lap.
As the field flashed past the pits to complete lap one the heavens opened once again to deposit more water on the soaked circuit, as all bar one car made it through. The early casualty was Frank Gardner, the Aussie stuck out on the back of the circuit with a lose distributor cap. He was able to get the cap back in place and continue, although an ignition fault, likely due to the amount of water, meant he had to retire a couple of laps later.
As Gardner fell, Clark was showing why he could of had three World titles over the previous three seasons, with the Scot getting into Burneville before Hill and the rest got to La Source. It was clear that the Lotus was handling well in the conditions, Clark later stating that he was lifting less than everyone else rather than using the throttle more. This was in stark contrast to the chasing Hill, whom had switched to the third BRM car, which had been retired to development duty due to age.
Hill's problems were soon amplified when his inexperienced team mate Stewart sailed past on the run to La Source on lap four, the second Scot disappearing from view within a few moments. The #7 BRM could not get its power down, so cornering quickly in the tricky conditions was simply out of the question, leaving him to become part of the procession falling ever further away from Clark. As for Stewart, the young Scot was rather enjoying the conditions, chasing after the elusive cloud of spray from Clark's leading Lotus, which had time to settle before his countryman could get to the same piece of tarmac.
By now the rain from the second shower had eased, just as John Surtees retired from fourth after an ignition failure, a fate shared by Jo Bonnier a couple of laps later. Surtees' demise was particularly beneficial to Bruce McLaren, who climbed to fourth as a result, although he had to pass the Honda of Richie Ginther in the process. In the tricky conditions, the Honda, and McLaren's Cooper-Climax seemed to have the pace, although the fact that Ginther was able to keep the powerful V12 car in a straight line was impressive enough on its own.
More pit action saw Jochen Rindt pit to have his rev-counter replaced, while Masten Gregory stopped with a series of ultimately terminal issues. Ronnie Bucknum was also having problems, his Honda engine eventually dying at the back of the circuit, just as Jack Brabham began to attack the sister car of Ginther. Richard Attwood stopped in the pits to collect a rain visor, although the inexperienced Brit was coping brilliantly with the conditions to build a tremendous lead over the rest of the privateer field.
Rain affected different parts of the circuit at different points, and at one point it was sunshine on the pit straight while lightning flashed over Malmedy. The spray was worse then ever, preventing people from safely challenging the car in front, although race leader Clark, and to a lesser degree Stewart, seemed able to get past without issue. At the halfway point in the race, Clark held a three quarter of a minute lead over Stewart, before a huge gap back to Hill in third.
The ill-handling BRM had a huge cloud of spray behind him, and it was only when they came to a near stop at La Source that McLaren and Brabham appeared in his wake. The trailing Aussie had dealt with Ginther almost completely unseen, leaving the American to fight the conditions on his own, before joining his former team mate in attacking Hill. Behind Ginther came Spence in the second Lotus, although he was not enjoying the conditions and so had to battle with Attwood for seventh, before Clark slithered around the pair of them at Stavelot to put them a lap down.
Soon Hill had to relent to the increasing pressure from McLaren and Brabham, although he managed to fend of Brabham for a time once McLaren got through for third. The only distraction to their brewing battle was the incredible Clark, who came slithering past to lap the pair of them, before hunting down and lapping McLaren a few minutes later. As this was going on, Innes Ireland crept into the pits with an issue and to drop off Bucknum, the Brit having stopped out on the circuit where the second Honda had pulled off.
Then news came through of an accident at the Masta Kink, confirmed when Attwood failed to appear in the wake of Spence. The Brit had gone off on the exit of the kink at high speed, with his Lotus-BRM slamming into a telegraph pole with enough force to crack into two pieces. Attwood had just enough time to escape the ruined car before the remains of the cockpit burst into flames, the Brit therefore earning a few minor burns to a fair set of bruises, but was otherwise unharmed.
With that the race was run, although there were murmurs of discontent at Team Lotus when Stewart suddenly had the gap down to thirty seconds. Clark;s car had a clutch problem as the race neared its conclusion, and with two laps to go the issue looked too severe for him to continue. Fortunately for the Lotus race the problem cleared itself and he duly built his lead back to the three quarter of a minute mark before claiming a fifteenth career win.
The only man worthy of receiving the plaudits after that race would be second placed Stewart, who may well have collected his first win if Clark's problem had been more serious. He came home to a stunning second place, a lap ahead of team mate Hill, who had eventually given way to Brabham in the closing stages. The order behind the two Scots was therefore McLaren, Brabham, Hill, while Ginther slithered the sole-surviving Honda home to a maiden points finish in sixth.
The full results for the 1965 Belgian Grand Prix are outlined below:
|3||4||Bruce McLaren||Cooper-Climax||31||+1 Lap||9||4|
|4||14||Jack Brabham||Brabham-Climax||31||+1 Lap||10||3|
|5||7||Graham Hill||BRM||31||+1 Lap||1||2|
|6||10||Richie Ginther||Honda||31||+1 Lap||4||1|
|7||18||Mike Spence||Lotus-Climax||31||+1 Lap||12|
|8||21||Jo Siffert||Brabham-BRM||31||+1 Lap||8|
|9||2||Lorenzo Bandini||Ferrari||30||+2 Laps||15|
|10||15||Dan Gurney||Brabham-Climax||30||+2 Laps||5|
|11||5||Jochen Rindt||Cooper-Climax||29||+3 Laps||14|
|12||27||Lucien Bianchi||BRM||29||+3 Laps||17|
|13||22||Innes Ireland||Lotus-BRM||27||+5 Laps||16|
|Ret||29||Masten Gregory||BRM||12||Fuel pump||20|
- * Attwood still classified as he was judged to have completed enough of the race distance.
- Fifteenth win for Jim Clark.
- Also the twentieth podium for the Scot.
- Twentieth win for Team Lotus.
- Twentieth podium for Bruce McLaren.
A second victory of the season put Jim Clark back into the lead of the Championship, and with a three point advantage over his nearest rival Graham Hill. Another impressive display by Jackie Stewart put the youngster into the top three, seven points down on countryman Clark. John Surtees dropped to fourth in the season of his title defence, while Bruce McLaren rounded out the top five.
The Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers had also been ramped up in Belgium, as BRM held on to their narrow one point lead. Lotus-Climax clawed their way back into second to challenge their British rivals, while Ferrari were a further six points back. The maiden point for Honda put them in seventh, behind the privately entered Brabham-BRMs.
Images and Videos:
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: BELGIAN GP, 1965', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr134.html, (Accessed 20/07/2016)
- D.S.J., 'Belgian Grand Prix: Scotland Forever', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport Magazine, 01/07/1965), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/july-1965/12/belgian-grand-prix-scotland-forever, (Accessed 20/07/2016)
- 'Belgium 1965: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1965/belgique/engages.aspx, (Accessed 20/07/2016)
- 'Belgium 1965: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1965/belgique/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 20/07/2016)
- 'Belgium 1965: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1965/belgique/classement.aspx, (Accessed 20/07/2016)
|V T E||Belgian Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Spa-Francorchamps (1950 - 1970, 1983, 1985 - Present), Nivelles (1972, 1974), Zolder (1973, 1975 - 1982, 1984)|
|Races||1950 • 1951 • 1952 • 1953 • 1954 • 1955 • 1956 • 1957 • 1958 • 1959 • 1960 • 1961 • 1962 • 1963 • 1964 • 1965 • 1966 • 1967 • 1968 • 1969 • 1970 • 1971 • 1972 • 1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979 • 1980 • 1981 • 1982 • 1983 • 1984 • 1985 • 1986 • 1987 • 1988 • 1989 • 1990 • 1991 • 1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020 • 2021|
|Pre-1950 races||1925 • 1930 • 1931 • 1933 • 1934 • 1935 • 1937 • 1939 • 1946 • 1947 • 1949|
|V T E||European Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Brands Hatch (1983, 1985), Nürburgring (1984, 1995–1996, 1999–2007), Donington (1993), Jerez (1994, 1997), Valencia (2008–2012), Baku (2016)|
|Races||1950 • 1951 • 1952 • 1953 • 1954 • 1955 • 1956 • 1957 • 1958 • 1959 • 1960 • 1961 • 1962 • 1963 • 1964 • 1965 • 1966 • 1967 • 1968 • 1969–1971 • 1972 • 1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978–1982 • 1983 • 1984 • 1985 • 1986–1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013–2015 • 2016|
|Non-Championship Races||1923 • 1924 • 1925 • 1926 • 1927 • 1928 • 1929 • 1930 • 1931–1946 • 1947 • 1948 • 1949|
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