The 1965 Mexican Grand Prix, officially known as the IV Gran Premio de Mexico, served as the season finale to the 1965 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Magdalena Mixhuca circuit in Mexico City on the 24th of October. The race, despite being a dead rubber in terms of the Championship, would be remembered for the one and only triumph of Richie Ginther, and the coming of age for Honda.
Jim Clark and Team Lotus had scored maximum points, and therefore won the Championship, back in August at the German Grand Prix, and it was the Scot who stole the show in qualifying, taking pole in the last moments from Dan Gurney. Ginther put the #11 Honda on the second row, starting third, although their efforts were all slightly overshadowed by an incident at Reg Parnell Racing, where Innes Ireland was fired after the session and his seat handed to Bob Bondurant.
At the start, Clark was hobbled by engine trouble for the second race in succession, so the sight of a Lotus-Climax dancing off into the distance was not repeated. In his place was Ginther, who lit up the Honda V12 perfectly to streak into the lead when the flag dropped, Jackie Stewart the only man to keep with him in the early stages.
Ginther began to stretch his legs as the order behind shifted in the early stages, Stewart getting taken by Mike Spence, before Gurney took Graham Hill, Stewart and Spence to set up an all American battle for victory. It was a tense battle, largely conducted on the time sheets as Gurney slowly inched his way closer but, ultimately, time ran out meaning Ginther swept home to claim his, Honda's and tyre supplier Goodyear's first victory.
Mexico City had witnessed one of the greatest finales in the history of motor racing back in 1964, so the organisers were not expecting record crowds with the title already sorted. Regardless, the entire F1 circus arrived fresh from Watkins Glen for the final World Championship round of the season, with an identical entry list submitted. As for the circuit, little had changed since 1964, although a few new buildings were being created within the sports park as Mexico City prepared to host the 1968 Olympic Games.
The only changes to the entry list were at Ferrari, who still had John Surtees out of action after his huge CanAm accident three weeks earlier. The Englishman was out of hospital after the potentially fatal crash, although his badly broken leg meant it was touch and go as to whether he would race again. Their three car effort would consist of Lorenzo Bandini, Pedro Rodríguez (racing under the North American Racing Team banner) and Ludovico Scarfiotti, who replaced Bob Bondurant.
Team Lotus brought Jim Clark and Mike Spence their two familiar Lotus 33 chargers, with the World Champion getting a freshly rebuilt engine. They also entered local racer Moisés Solana once again, the Mexican getting the chance to use a 33 too, while a fourth 33 was loaned to privateers Reg Parnell Racing. The British privateer squad had their familiar ex-factory Lotus 25s for their drivers Innes Ireland and Richard Attwood, although there were rumours of a fallout when Ireland failed to arrive on time.
BRM brought two modified cars for Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill, the changes focused on getting the engine to perform better on the oxygen starved circuit. Brabham-Climax were unaltered, although Jack Brabham and Dan Gurney had two cars each to pick from, although the New Yorker was without the updated Climax engine, which had been a source of trouble throughout the second half of the season. Cooper-Climax completed the British "Garagistas", although they were in a dark mood after Bruce McLaren announced he was leaving to found his own Grand Prix team.
The final manufacturer entry on the Mexican entry list was Honda, and the Japanese firm were out to try and get a podium at the season finale. They arrived early at a circuit where their V12 engine had not run before, in such low air, and so arranged for Richie Ginther and Ronnie Bucknum to have three, three-hour private sessions in before the rest of the field arrived. They were set to go racing in a much stronger position than usual, with Ginther getting an unofficial best time of 1:58.00 in damp conditions, faster than the lap record set in 1964.
Aside from Reg Parnell Racing, who brought in Bondurant as a reserve entry just in case Ireland failed to arrive or was ill again, the only other privateers were the RRC Walker Racing Team. As usual, Jo Bonnier and Jo Siffert would go to battle in their mismatched Brabham chassis, and were under special instruction not to write them off, as they had been sold to Warner Bros. actor Steve McQueen as he prepared to film the upcoming "Day of the Champion". It was also to be last time RRC Walker ran two cars, with Siffert signed up as their only driver for 1966, using a factory spec-Cooper-Maserati.
Although it was mathematically impossible for Hill to finish ahead of Clark when dropped scores were applied, the Englishman headed into the season finale in Mexico City with a chance of outscoring the Scot overall. A seven point gap between Clark's 54 strong tally and Hill's total of 47 (officially 40) meant the Englishman would overtake him on total points scored if the Scot failed to score. Elsewhere, Stewart was confirmed to be in third place, too far out of reach of Gurney, while the badly injured Surtees completed the top five.
Hill's victory meant that BRM had unofficially outscored Lotus-Climax with a race to go, breaking through the 60 point mark while the Norfolk squad only had 54. Unfortunately, the dropped score rule also applied to the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers, so Lotus were already Champions, with a nine point gap back to the BRM squad. Ferrari were under serious threat from Brabham-Climax for third, the two separated by just two points, while Cooper-Climax completed the top five.
The full entry list for the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix is outlined below:
Despite the three days of private running for Honda the official practice/qualifying would begin on Friday, with four hours from 1:00 pm onwards. A second four hour session was scheduled for Saturday afternoon, with both sessions held in dry conditions. The target time for the pace setters would be Jim Clark's circuit record of 1:57.24, which was enough to give the Scot pole in 1964.
At precisely 13:00 on Friday afternoon, Lorenzo Bandini flung his car out of the pits, the Ferrari team needing to get some solid running in with their F12 engine which had not run in high altitude conditions before. Graham Hill made multiple visits to the pits to have his fuel mixture adjusted, while Clark had to run in his rebuilt engine, as Team Lotus tried everything they knew to get the maximum performance, and chance of survival out of the Climax product. Moisés Solana, meanwhile, was pushing from the get go in the third Lotus, as he finished the first hour of the session the fastest of the factory Lotuses.
The other Mexican in the field, Pedro Rodríguez, was being made to compare tyres, as Firestone prepared to join the F1 circus in 1966, but before he could get any serious comparison work done on Dunlops, a rear wheel came loose and put the car in the wall. The accident was bad enough to write the car off for the weekend, with an uninjured Rodriguez now having to share with Ludovico Scarfiotti.
In contrast, the two Honda drivers Richie Ginther and Ronnie Bucknum were swapping cars willingly, with those two topping the times until late in the day, when Clark danced his Lotus round to record 1:57.00, just moments before his engine blew up in a cloud of smoke. The Scot went back out and improved, but it was New Yorker Dan Gurney who ultimately ended the first day fastest, recording a 1:56.24. The Scot would once again have to bed a rebuilt engine in on Saturday morning, keeping him out of the pole fight for some time, as Mike Spence, BRM and Honda joined the scrap.
Spence was the first to find time on Saturday, recording a sub-1:58.0 while Honda slowly drew in their Friday times by lapping consistently quicker by a few hundredths each lap. The times then plateaued as the field waited for the temperatures to drop later in the afternoon, with the final flurry opened in the final hour as the drivers hunted down Gurney's time. Ultimately, Clark would steal pole by under a tenth of a second in the final moments, Gurney having been unable to best his Friday time, while Ginther, Jack Brabham and Hill all managed to get within a second.
Away from the pole battle there were concerned faces at Cooper-Climax and Reg Parnell Racing for the first part of the session, when their four drivers failed to arrive. Tim Parnell and John Cooper started to think that their drivers had been arrested, and after an hour of waiting, the former plucked Bob Bondurant out of the Ferrari garage and sent him out in Richard Attwood's car. The quartet did eventually arrive after getting lost en-route to the circuit, before a huge argument erupted between Parnell and Innes Ireland which saw the Englishman blamed for the incident, even though he was not responsible, and therefore sacked on the spot.
The full qualifying results for the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix are outlined below:
- * Scarfiotti and Ireland could not start as their cars were used by their team mates.
Sunday was fine and dry, although the BRM and Team Lotus mechanics had had a busy night, rebuilding and refitting engines. Ferrari had had to sacrifice Ludovico Scarfiotti so that Pedro Rodríguez could run, while Innes Ireland's race seat was handed to American Bob Bondurant. After a parade lap, which was meant to be a procession in Renault R8 1100s but turned into a gymkhana, the drivers were herded into their Grand Prix cars to take the start.
When the flag dropped all eyes, and ears, were focused on the white Honda of Richie Ginther, whose V12 engine sent him screaming past the front row of Jim Clark and Dan Gurney to take the lead. Clark, for his part, was immediately hit by an engine issue, the new Climax development engine partially failing to drop him out of the top ten at the start. In his place came Jackie Stewart, another man to get an excellent start and bypass the front row, while Mike Spence managed to out-drag Gurney into the first corner.
When the cars returned to the start/finish straight it was clear that Ginther was out to win, with the Californian over 50 yards ahead of Stewart as they crossed the line. Behind Stewart, who had been unwell all through practice, came a group consisting of Spence, Gurney, Graham Hill, Lorenzo Bandini and Pedro Rodríguez, the latter having got a storming start from fourteenth. Then came a gap before Bruce McLaren led the rest of the field through in eighth, with Jo Siffert, an under-powered Clark, Jochen Rindt his closest challengers.
Ginther began to pull even further up the road on the second lap, although this was helped by a move by Spence, as he claimed second from Stewart at the hairpin. The Englishman was then off to hunt down the Honda, leaving Stewart to battle with Gurney, Bandini and Hill, who had all dropped Rodriguez. Elsewhere, Siffert and Clark managed to elbow McLaren out of the way and were chasing down Rodriguez, while Jack Brabham lost time with a series of minor engine issues.
The opening laps flew by as Ginther calmly extended his advantage, although Spence was preventing him from escaping fully. Then came the third placed brawl, where Hill passed Bandini, prompting Gurney to take Stewart, all in the space of a lap. Before the New Yorker could escape, Stewart managed to dive back past into the first corner, putting Gurney right in the sights of the Scot's team mate Hill. The Englishman eventually forced his way past on lap seven, before they both flashed past Stewart for a private duel for third, leaving Stewart at a rate of knots.
After being put to the back of that group, Bandini's pace disappeared meaning he was suddenly in a fight with Rodriguez, Siffert and Clark, the latter two having steadily gained on the second Ferrari since they had dealt with McLaren. The new quartet was shifting order all the time, as Siffert took Rodriguez on one lap, before the Mexican re-passed on the next, dragging Clark with him. The Scot was just about to challenge the two Ferrari's ahead when his hobbled engine finally let go at the hairpin, meaning he became the first retirement of the race.
With the World Champion out, all of Team Lotus' hopes were now with second placed Spence, although when the leaders charged past the pits on the tenth lap, he was over four seconds off the back of Ginther's Honda. A five second gap was then followed by the arrival of Hill and Gurney, who had now dropped Stewart as their scrap got increasingly physical. The New Yorker knew his best chance at taking third would be at the hairpin at turn six, and after two false starts, the Brabham driver finally managed wrestle away the inside line and take third.
With that, Gurney was away and hunting down Spence, leaving Hill to orbit on his own, a few seconds up the road from team mate Stewart. Behind them came an all Ferrari scrap as Bonnier and Rodriguez duelled for sixth, and when the Mexican went ahead of the Italian, the home crowd went into delirium. Their fight went on for a dozen laps, with the two swapping positions all the time, while Siffert stalked the pair of them a few seconds behind with Jo Bonnier in close attendance.
McLaren and Rindt swapped positions for a time, the New Zealander allowing the Austrian through in his hopes that the exuberant youngster would drag him back into contention, but before any progress was made the gearbox on McLaren's car failed. This happened just after Richard Attwood had passed, the Englishman having had a brilliant inter-Reg Parnell Racing scrap with new boy Bob Bondurant for most of the opening half of the race. Further up the order, Stewart developed some clutch slip and fell behind Rodriguez for two laps after the Mexican cleared himself of Bandini.
Just before half distance, Gurney swept past Spence for second, although it soon became clear that Ginther was pacing himself out front, as the New Yorker could not dent the Californian's lead. Hill was a distant fourth, unable to catch Spence, while Stewart's clutch sorted itself out, meaning the Scot managed to re-pass Rodriguez, just before the Mexican's engine suddenly started running rough. His dramas came at a poor moment for the Ferrari team as a whole, as Bandini had come in after ripping the nost off of his car after a slide into a tyre barrier.
As the two Ferraris lost time in the pits, Siffert caught and passed Stewart, as the Scot's clutch once again started slipping, and was doing so worse than before. Ronnie Bucknum was next to take the Scot, with the American also dragging Mexican racer Moisés Solana past the Scot too. Those two had run together throughout the race, with Solana determined to beat the more powerful Honda, despite his factory Lotus being under-powered.
Bucknum was finally forced to relent to Solana's pressure, meaning the Mexican went away to chase after Siffert, while Bandini and Rodriguez returned to try and get back into the points. The casualties were also piling up, Bondurant going out with a suspension failure, Rindt retiring with an ignition failure, while Brabham finally calling time on his race after another engine issue. Then, just a few laps after Bonnier had to stop out on circuit when a suspension bracket failed, Solana was stung by an ignition fault, denying him a solid fifth place finish, while Hill went out with an engine failure.
The last two retirements came just ten laps from the flag, and as the leaders came past the pits for the 56th time, Ginther was hoping it would appear all the sooner. Gurney had been setting lap record after lap record as he drew slowly, inch by inch to the back of the Honda, as a battle between New York and California brewed. Ginther responded, setting his own lap records as both dipped below the pole time from practice, although Gurney would set the best time of the weekend with a 1:55.84.
Onto the final lap and Ginther was just three seconds ahead, meaning any mistake would allow Gurney a shot at the lead. The New Yorker was really pushing but, ultimately, Ginther came through the final lap without issue to collect a maiden Grand Prix victory for himself, Honda and tyre supplier Goodyear, just 2.89s ahead of Gurney. Spence was over a minute behind by this stage to collect a career best third place finish, while Siffert was the only other man still on the lead lap. Bucknum made it a double points finish for Honda with fifth, ahead of Attwood in sixth, while Rodriguez beat Bandini as the two Ferraris recovered, but just fell shy of the points.
The full results for the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix are outlined below:
|5||12||Ronnie Bucknum||Honda||64||+1 lap||10||2|
|6||21||Richard Attwood||Lotus-BRM||64||+1 lap||17||1|
|7||14||Pedro Rodríguez||Ferrari||62||+3 laps||14|
|8||2||Lorenzo Bandini||Ferrari||62||+3 laps||7|
|Ret||7||Jack Brabham||Brabham-Climax||38||Oil leak||4|
- First and only win for Richie Ginther.
- Also the last of Ginther's fourteen visits to the podium.
- Honda won a race for the first time.
- Also the Japanese manufacturer's first podium.
- First win for Goodyear as a tyre supplier.
- Only podium finish for Mike Spence.
At last, Jim Clark could be officially crowned as World Champion for the second time, the final three rounds simply a formality before the Scot was officially declared as Champion again. Graham Hill finished as runner up for the third season in a row, although this time he could not outscore the Champion over the season as a whole. Third place went to impressive rookie Jackie Stewart, whose performances throughout the season left many tipping the young Scot as a future World Champion.
Like Clark, Lotus-Climax had to wait until Mexico to receive their crown, beating BRM by nine points come season's end. However, the Norfolk squad had been outscored by the Bourne based outfit over the season as a whole, so they were thankful for the six round rule. Brabham-Climax, meanwhile, managed to leap ahead of Ferrari at the season finale to claim third, while Richie Ginther's maiden win left Honda in sixth after their first (almost) full season.
Images and Videos:
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: MEXICAN GP, 1965', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr141.html, (Accessed 28/07/2016)
- M.S.J., 'IV Mexican Grand Prix - Honda Win', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport Magazine, 01/11/1965), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/december-1965/43/iv-mexican-grand-prix, (Accessed 29/07/2016)
- 'Mexico 1965: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1965/mexique/engages.aspx, (Accessed 26/07/2016)
- 'Mexico 1965: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1965/mexique/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 29/07/2016)
- 'Mexico 1965: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1965/mexique/classement.aspx, (Accessed 29/07/2016)
|V T E||Mexican Grand Prix / Mexico City Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez (1963-1970, 1986-1992, 2015-present)|
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