The XVIII R.A.C. British Grand Prix, otherwise known as the 1965 British Grand Prix, was the fifth round of the 1965 FIA Formula One World Championship, held at Silverstone on the 10th of July. Like so many races during the early 1960s, the British Grand Prix would be noted for the performance of several British drivers, as the top five finishers all raced under the Union Flag.
Championship leader Jim Clark arrived in Silverstone hunting a fourth consecutive triumph at the British Grand Prix, with the Scot duly taking pole. Clark would share the front row with fellow Brits Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart, but there was a surprise when Richie Ginther put the new Honda into third.
It was actually Ginther's Honda that stole the show off the line, the American getting the best start to lead early on, although Clark elbowed his way past before the end of the opening lap. As usual, the Scot was quick to pull away, while Ginther slipped back behind Hill and John Surtees over the following laps.
Ginther's race would be ruined by a misfire, allowing Mike Spence and Jackie Stewart to climb into the top five, with those two scrapping with Surtees for much of the race. Hill, meanwhile, was chasing down Clark, although the Scot just held on to claim a fourth home win after his Team Lotus machine started to misfire.
There had been a change of ownership for the rights to host the British Grand Prix, with the R.A.C. selling their stake to the B.R.D.C.. The new organisers had been responsible for arranging the last few British Grand Prix on behalf of the R.A.C., and they brought about a deal to have Silverstone and Brands Hatch share the position of host. 1965 would be the turn of Silverstone to play host, arranging for a £100 prize for the fastest lap, sponsored by the Daily Express.
For Ferrari, the British Grand Prix proved to be a turning point in their relationship with defending Champion John Surtees. The Englishman would finally be allowed to use the F12 car, only one having been built to race, meaning Lorenzo Bandini was relegated to a V8 car. The spare Ferrari V8 would be allocated to Surtees too, as the Englishman looked to relaunch his title defence at his home race.
BRM were back up to full strength in Silverstone, as the team rebuilt the 1964 Monaco Grand Prix winning car to serve as a spare after Graham Hill wrote off one of the cars in France. Otherwise, Hill and Jackie Stewart were to use the same cars they had used to race at the Charade Circuit, with both looking to battle for the fastest lap prize. In previous seasons, BRM had also taken the opportunity to enter an experimental third car at their home race, but this did not happen in 1965.
For Championship leader Lotus-Climax, the British Grand Prix arrived too soon for their third car, which was away having a brand new Climax engine fitted, meaning they would only have two cars available. Otherwise, Jim Clark and Mike Spence would race as usual for the team with the cars that had battled away in France. Cooper-Climax were, in contrast, using three chassis, an unusual bonus for Bruce McLaren and Jochen Rindt, but the experimental car was not to be used during the race.
Honda were set to run at full strength until the last moment, when Ronnie Bucknum had to be withdrawn leaving Richie Ginther as their only combatant. For Brabham-Climax there was an impressive turn out, as Dan Gurney, Jack Brabham and Denny Hulme were all entered, although they were to use older versions of the Climax engine. They rounded out the factory efforts, before an expanded privateer field took over the rest of the entry list.
The RRC Walker Racing Team were back in action at Silverstone, Jo Bonnier and Jo Siffert looking to be the best of the privateers. They were to go to battle with Reg Parnell Racing and their trio of ex-Team Lotus cars, although team leader Mike Hailwood was withdrawn before the weekend. DW Racing Enterprises would also head to Silverstone with two cars, although Paul Hawkins would have to withdraw after his freshly dried out Lotus 33 crashed during a pre-event practice session.
Bob Gerard Racing made a rare Grand Prix appearance, fielding two cars for British Saloon Car Championship star John Rhodes and Alan Rollinson. Frank Gardner was back with John Willment Automobiles, while Ian Raby came with his team, fielding Chris Amon as a driver although Raby would also drive the car. Masten Gregory got another chance with Scuderia Centro Sud, while Brian Gubby entered his privately owned Lotus 24 to complete the entry list.
A third victory for Clark saw the Scot extend his Championship lead once again, and put himself halfway to maximum points after only four races. With Hill only securing fifth, Clark's lead now stood at ten points, more than a race win, and it seemed as if Hill's team mate was more of a threat. Young Stewart's second place in France had put him level on points with the former Champion, and momentum seemed to be favouring him as the only pretender to the all conquering Clark.
A third victory of the year for Lotus-Climax had finally put them back on top of the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers standings, leaving France with a two point advantage. BRM had been forced to make way, although the nine point gap back to Ferrari meant they looked set for second even at this early stage. Cooper-Climax remained in fourth ahead of Brabham-Climax, with Honda still behind the privateer Brabham-BRM entries.
The full entry list for the 1965 British Grand Prix is outlined below:
- * Ian Raby Racing also entered Chris Amon as the #24 entry, but the New Zealander did not race.
The return to Silverstone would see a lot of practice time allocated to the Grand Prix cars, starting with a one and a half hour session on Thursday morning. A second session was run on Thursday afternoon, lasting for an hour, before a two and a half hour run on Friday morning. Target times for the pace setters would be the circuit record set by John Surtees back in 1963, a 1:34.4 having earned the Brit pole position two years before.
The early pace setter on a cloudy but otherwise fine Thursday morning was the Ferrari racer Surtees, as he managed to wrestle the F12 car around quicker than he could in the V8 machine. He was quick to get under his unofficial record set in testing during 1964, a 1:33.0, but struggled to find anything much below that before the session ended. He was a strong contender for pole until Jim Clark got to work, setting a 1:31.3 in his familiar Lotus 33 to smash the circuit record before the end of the morning.
More drivers would get under the 64 circuit record before the end of the morning session, including the Honda of Richie Ginther, which was looking increasingly impressive as the season wore on. The afternoon session would be held under much thicker clouds, with a threat of rain throughout the hour. Many believed that Friday was going to be a washout, and so the main challengers went out to grab pole, Graham Hill and Clark spending most of the session on a dead heat.
Fortunately, the rain failed to arrive on Friday morning, although the threatening clouds still drifted over the circuit. Hill had managed to steal the £100 prize for fastest lap at the end of Thursday, meaning he had provisional pole, although Clark was now equipped with an updated Climax powered Lotus. He was among many drivers to quickly get back onto the pace of Thursday, although it was Ginther who stole the show for Honda by getting into the top three early on.
Ginther could not improve his 1:31.3 for the rest of the day, although the Honda was singing with a distinctive note around the airfield all morning. Jackie Stewart managed to match the Honda's time, with Surtees joining them on the 1:31.3 mark. Meanwhile, the battle for pole was on, with Clark managing to level with Hill early on, before a majestic lap saw him find a further two tenths to snatch pole before the final hour.
The full qualifying results for the 1965 British Grand Prix are outlined below:
- * Amon and Rollinson were not able to start the race.
- † Although the grid was limited to 22 places, and there would only be 21 starters, Gubby left Silverstone before Rollinson was withdrawn.
Another dull, grey day in Silverstone on Saturday saw the threat of rain remain, although the clouds would not burst before the Grand Prix. After a morning of support races and demonstration runs, the Grand Prix cars were wheeled out for the 2:00pm start, with a warm up lap permitted for everyone. There was a late issue for Brabham-Climax when Dan Gurney came onto the grid amid a cloud of smoke after an engine failure, prompting Jack Brabham to give his car to his American team mate for the race.
A brilliant start followed the fall of the flag, with Jim Clark and the screaming Honda of Richie Ginther sprinting off the line. Those two would charge into Copse corner side-by-side, and it was Ginther who took charge, squeezing the Scot towards the inside wall to force Clark to lift off the throttle. The ploy worked and Ginther duly snatched the lead, only for Clark to come cruising past the American down the Hanger Straight after getting a better run through Chapel.
The Scot duly managed to pull a small lead over the rest of the field before the end of the first lap, although there was a heart in the mouth moment as the Lotus came sliding round Woodcote with a wheel on the grass. Behind came Ginther still in second, although he would fall to the chasing Graham Hill and John Surtees early into the second lap. Then came an interesting scrap over fifth, with Jackie Stewart going toe to toe with Mike Spence, Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme, with Jochen Rindt and Gurney also threatening the quartet.
Immediately clear was the natural pace advantage that Clark had over the rest, the only reason that Hill could keep up being his frantic work at the wheel. He was a few seconds behind the Scot in the early stages, but kept the gap to a consistent size, while Surtees failed to escape the attentions of Ginther. Those two were under increasing threat from the Stewart group as the early laps ticked away, with the Scot having to both attack for fourth and defend for fifth.
Sadly, the Honda soon developed a worsening ignition issue that drained power from the engine, allowing Surtees to escape before Stewart and Spence slithered past. The Honda's moment in the sun was officially over when Ginther had to stop in the pits, and after a few aborted runs, the Japanese car was out with an incurable ignition fault. He joined Lorenzo Bandini on the side lines, the Italian having destroyed the engine in the V8 Ferrari, while Masten Gregory was a constant visitor with an ignition issue too.
Back with the leaders, and Clark was slowly inching away from Hill, pulling out a few tenths of a second each lap from the determined Englishman. Stewart and Spence, meanwhile, had broken away from their group to hunt down Surtees, with Spence taking the lead of the pack on lap 24 through Beckets, just moments before Rindt spun all on his own. There was more action further back, as Rindt rejoined behind a struggling Gurney, with Jo Siffert taking Innes Ireland outside of the top ten.
The race began to settle at this stage, with Hill easing off and left to hope that Clark, who refused to relent, had a mechanical issue. When Hulme retired with an alternator failure the only action on circuit was to be found in the form of Spence, who was oscillating between attacking Surtees and defending from Stewart. Just after half distance the second Lotus was up to third, having elbowed the Ferrari out of the way after Stewart eased off the pressure from behind.
Surtees seemed to wake up after the Spence move, retaking third back with a move through Stowe, but he could not escape the second Lotus. Behind came a sick sounding Stewart, the engine running off key but the Scot could not afford a stop with McLaren, Jo Bonnier and Gurney only a few seconds back. His chasers soon became just Bonnier and Gurney when McLaren developed a gearbox issue, and when Clark came cruising past Gurney went on a charge and claimed Bonnier's sixth place, but fell short of the back of the young Scot.
Suddenly, Clark went past with a slightly misfiring engine, the result of a fuel pressure issue, although his pace was not affected to a large extent. It did, however, inspire Hill, who was signalled by his pitcrew to go on the attack as soon as the Lotus' small weakness became apparent. The only issue for the Englishman was the half-lap gap between them with only a quarter of the race to go.
The pendulum was gradually swinging towards Hill as the race entered the closing stages, and after Rindt's engine expired on lap 63, all of the attention was on the sick Lotus. Clark's fuel pressure issue was becoming worse as the fuel disappeared, the engine surging through some of the corners, while an oil leak was slowly causing the engine to lose oil pressure. Only the Scot's adaptability to the situation, driving by the oil pressure gague rather than feel, meant that kept going, with Hill's pace ramping up all the time.
A tense final few laps wound away with Clark still slowing while Hill speeded up, and at the start of the final lap the BRM had the Lotus in sight, Clark just entering Copse and Hill came out of Woodcote. Hill would set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap, but it was not enough as Clark put together one last push to keep the Englishman three seconds away at the end of the race to collect his fourth win of the season. A race of two halves for the top two saw both show excellent determination, an attribute shared by third place finisher Surtees as he fended a particularly exuberant Spence for over half the race.
The full results for the 1965 British Grand Prix are outlined below:
|6||7||Dan Gurney||Brabham-Climax||79||+1 lap||7||1|
|7||15||Jo Bonnier||Brabham-Climax||79||+1 lap||14|
|8||17||Frank Gardner||Brabham-BRM||78||+2 laps||13|
|9||16||Jo Siffert||Brabham-BRM||78||+2 laps||18|
|10||9||Bruce McLaren||Cooper-Climax||77||+3 laps||11|
|11||24||Ian Raby||Brabham-BRM||73||+7 laps||20|
|12||12||Masten Gregory||BRM||70||+10 laps||19|
|13||22||Richard Attwood||Lotus-BRM||63||+17 laps||16|
- * Rindt was still classified as he was adjudged to have completed enough of the race distance.
- 50th Grand Prix for Dan Gurney.
- Seventeenth win for Jim Clark.
- Graham Hill earned his twentieth podium finish.
- 10th fastest lap for BRM.
Another victory for Jim Clark meant he left Silverstone just two race wins away from scoring maximum points, while his Championship lead grew to thirteen points. Graham Hill was his closest challenger, but the size of the gap meant he was more likely to be in a scrap with atleast two other drivers to be runner up. Youngster Jackie Stewart had held onto third, four points of team mate Hill, with John Surtees a further two points back.
Lotus-Climax would head into the second half of the season with a five point advantage in the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers, all thanks to the efforts of Clark. BRM sat in second, and unlike their drivers, looked set to battle with the Norfolk based squad for the title. Ferrari were eleven points off in third, and with a twelve point gap back to Cooper-Climax, they looked set to stay there for the rest of the season.
Images and Videos:
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: BRITISH GP, 1965', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr136.html, (Accessed 22/07/2016)
- D.S.J., '18th R.A.C. British Grand Prix: A close thing', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport Magazine, 01/08/1965), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/august-1965/20/18th-rac-british-grand-prix, (Accessed 22/07/2016)
- 'Britain 1965: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1965/grande-bretagne/engages.aspx, (Accessed 22/07/2016)
- 'Britain 1965: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1965/grande-bretagne/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 22/07/2016)
- 'Britain 1965: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1965/grande-bretagne/classement.aspx, (Accessed 23/07/2016)
|V T E||British Grand Prix|
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