The 1966 British Grand Prix, officially staged as the XIX R.A.C. British Grand Prix, was the fourth round of the 1966 FIA Formula One World Championship, held at Brands Hatch on the 16th of July, 1966. The race, held in wet but drying conditions, would be remembered for a dominant display of the race winner, despite some of his rivals starting on wet tyres.
Practice/qualifying were held in perfect conditions on Friday and Saturday, and with the flowing nature of Brands Hatch, which only had a couple of truly straight straights, the underpowered runners were able to set times comparable to the 1966 machines. That said, pole would go to Jack Brabham with his own Brabham-Repco, while usual team mate Denny Hulme, and ex-team mate Dan Gurney completed the front row, the latter with his self-built Eagle-Climax.
Sunday had dawned wet and windy, although the track was showing signs of drying as the cars assembled on the grid. Most of the field used dry tyres, although the Cooper-Maserati effort of Jochen Rindt and John Surtees opted for wets. The ploy worked as they shot up to second and third, and only a brilliant start for pole sitter Brabham saw him escape their early charge.
The circuit began to dry quite quickly after the early laps, and so Rindt and Surtees came under attack from Hulme, Graham Hill and Jim Clark, the latter two using modified 1965 cars. All three went past the two Coopers before Hulme took Hill and Clark, although the Scot had to pit with a brake issue leading to a mesmerising drive in the final laps as Clark tried to catch Surtees and Rindt, still out on their wets.
But, out front, Brabham was untouched, and having collected the fastest lap on lap 60, the Australian swept home to collect a second win in a row, and a second career Grand Chelem. His pace was backed by Hulme as he charged home for second ahead of Hill, while Clark completed an excellent recovery drive to score his first points of the season, dancing past Rindt and Surtees a couple of laps from the end. A late problem for Surtees allowed Bruce McLaren to take sixth and score the first point for the new McLaren Racing effort.
1966 was the year of Brands Hatch to host the British Grand Prix, as per the arrangement between itself and Silverstone to swap the honour. The popular Kent based circuit was unchanged since its last use in 1964 (although the Race of Champions had been hosted in 1965), and a inflated entry list was submitted for the weekend. The curiosity for most of the F1 circus would be whether the advantage enjoyed by the 3.0 litre cars in the previous two rounds would be repeated on the twisting Brands Hatch circuit, or whether the modified field could achieve a triump as they had at Monaco.
The only major manufacturer effort not in Kent were the Ferraris of Lorenzo Bandini and Mike Parkes, after strikes in Italy made it difficult for the cars to get out of Italy. Rumours were rife that the real reason for the lack of attendance were that the starting money was not enough, although some writers speculated that the Italian firm were becoming bored of racing, having been humbled at Le Mans a few weeks earlier. Regardless, the rest of the field were happy to take their cars to battle in Kent, with all the British based manufacturers in attendance.
Strongest of the British efforts were the Australian run Brabham-Repco effort, as Jack Brabham arrived with Denny Hulme in the two cars they had raced in France. They added a third car for impressive youngster Chris Irwin, who had been taking numerous wins in Formula Three, although the Brit would be running an older Brabham car with a modified Climax engine. The two 66 cars were also featuring some updates, with Brabham getting a slightly revised suspension upgrade, while Hulme's car featured a redesigned exhaust system which made the back of the car look tidier and slightly upped the power.
Team Lotus, in contrast, were in a sorry state ahead of the British Grand Prix, with only one car ready before the weekend for Jim Clark, who had recovered from his French bird strike. Their second car was a BRM powered Lotus 33 for Peter Arundell which had to be built at the circuit, after the team pulled the plug on their experimental Lotus 43 with the BRM H16 engine, which had caused problem after problem for them. The 43 project was still receiving some attention back in Norfolk, although Colin Chapman was forced to go back to Climax and request a second V8 FWMV unit from them, to which the engine firmed obliged, despite having quit the F1 world at the end of 1965.
BRM arrived in a marginally better position than their Norfolk based rivals, but they had lost their two H16 cars, which were being rebuilt back at the factory. They were left with one ex-Tasman Championship car between their two drivers Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart, the latter a welcome sight back in the paddock after his huge accident at Spa. The young Scot was the one who did not have a car, so BRM had to recall, rebuild and prepare an exhibition car which had been on tour out in the Far East in a couple of weeks so Stewart could race.
The factory Cooper-Maserati effot was scaled back for the British Grand Prix, as Jochen Rindt and John Surtees arrived to do battle, leaving Chris Amon without a drive. The New Zealander arranged to drive with Bruce McLaren and his Bruce McLaren Motor Racing effort once again, but when the second car hit trouble before the weekend, the New Zealander was put in their sports car effort instead, which would be a support race for the Grand Prix. As for the Cooper effort, Rindt and Surtees would run as they had in France, although Surtees had the oversized air ducts removed to reduce drag.
The rest of the field was made up of privateers with single car efforts, although a couple were self-built chassis and familiar faces. One of these was the familiar Dan Gurney, back with the Eagle-Climax which was turning heads with its looks rather than its pace, while Jo Bonnier had his modified Brabham-Climax car out once again, while also acting as M.G.M.'s film driver for the upcoming Grand Prix film. The other efforts of note were the new Shannon-Climax effort entered for Chris Lawrence, a stress-skined car with a modified 1950s Climax FPE engine from a group of ex-F1 engineers, including Paul Emery, while the second was a T73 chassis, modified to use a Ferrari GT spec V12.
Victory for the first time since 1960 Portuguese Grand Prix sent Jack Brabham straight to the top of the World Championship standings, two clear of Lorenzo Bandini. The Championship standings were beginning to fill out after the reduced scorers list from the first two rounds, as twelve drivers, rounded out by John Taylor, were on the board. Three drivers had nine points, John Surtees and Jackie Stewart tied after a win a piece, while Jochen Rindt was fifth.
Ferrari extended their advantage to nine points in the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers, now ahead of the Brabham-Repco outfit. BRM were third, level on points with Cooper-Maserati, while Dan Gurney's new Eagle-Climax effort was in fifth. Privateer Taylor's point also meant that Brabham-BRM were on the board as the first privateer effort.
The full entry list for the 1966 British Grand Prix is outlined below:
Qualifying/Practice would run together as normal, with the first session opening on Thursday at 10:30am, lasting until 1:00pm in the afternoon. A second hour long session was staged later in the afternoon, before two sessions on Friday, running at identical times. As for target times, the 1964 pole time set by Jim Clark stood at a 1:38.1, although the unofficial record was set by the Scot during the 1965 Race of Champions meeting at 1:34.9.
When the circuit opened on Thursday it immediately became clear that the team to beat would be Brabham-Repco, who sent out Jack Brabham and Denny Hulme together and left them to it. They worked together to get pace setting times on the board early on, setting identical efforts of 1:34.8 well before the end of the session. However, with Ferrari absent, and Cooper-Maseratis struggling with minor mechnical issues, the Brabham's were unchallenged throughout the morning.
Indeed, the 3.0 litre cars would also end up unchallenged by the underpowered runners using modified 1965 equipment, as they too encountered issues. Team Lotus were busy making sure that Peter Arundell would have a car to himself for the weekend with their borrowed BRM engine, while Jim Clark was dragged to the circuit doctor to make sure he could see out of his left eye. Bruce McLaren had to wait for his engine to be delivered from Italy after Serenissima took it away to be rebuilt, while Bob Bondurant and the Shannon-Climax failed to get out at all.
For the afternoon the Brabhams put in an indentical programme of running as they had in the morning, with the two Antipodeans orbiting the circuit without issues all afternoon. Jo Bonnier, meanwhile, was sent out in the M.G.M. owned Brabham-BRM, fitted with dummy exhausts and painted scarlet to mimick a Ferrari, although most of the F1 circus could not help but smirk when the "Hollywood" car blew up its engine before the cameras could get any footage. Elsewhere, Clark joined the frey and looked quick, entering a private duel with rival Graham Hill to be the best of the 1965 runners, while Jackie Stewart was slowly building up his pace throughout the day.
Into Friday, and arguably the best sight of the session was that of Dan Gurney, who was throwing the Eagle-Climax around the circuit and finally getting results. The New Yorker had had designer Len Terry adjust the handling to suit his style even more, and the underpowered Climax was running healthily, although he could not outrightly challenge the Brabhams. Elsewhere, Trevor Taylor got a few laps in in the new Shannon-Climax, while Bonnier was reunited with his RRC Walker Racing Team chassis from 1965, as M.G.M. sent him out in another mock-Ferrari.
After the unofficial session on Friday afternoon, the timekeepers published the results of qualifying, which revealled that Brabham would start on pole for the first time since the 1964 French Grand Prix. The Australian would eventually force his car to record a 1:34.5 which Hulme could not match, although the New Zealander would start from second. Sharing the front row with them would be Gurney in the Eagle, while Clark and Hill would do battle from the second row to try and sneak onto the podium.
The full qualifying results for the 1966 British Grand Prix are outlined below:
It was a wet and windy Saturday in Kent for the fourth round of the season, and the support races were filled with on, and frequently off-track action. Team Lotus had conquered in the British Saloon Car Championship race in the morning, but there was little hope for them in the Grand Prix, despite lead driver Jim Clark starting in fifth. The weather, meanwhile, had changed to drizzle just as the field was assembled on the grid most of the field opted for dry-spec tyres, although Cooper-Maserati opted to mount full wets on the their factory cars.
When the Union Flag fell it was pole sitter Jack Brabham who reacted the fastest, surging into the lead on the inside of Paddock Hill Bend, with Dan Gurney tucking neatly in behind. The other front row starter Denny Hulme, however, got forced out wide on the exit of the first corner, and by the time the field went charging into Druids Hairpin the New Zealander was behind Clark, Graham Hill and the two Coopers. He almost got two of those positions back, however, when Hill and John Surtees clattered into one another on the brakes, although both escaped with only minor damage.
By the end of the first lap the two Brabham-Repcos were having two very different races, with Brabham swinging his car through every corner and gaining time, while Hulme slipped further down the order. Jochen Rindt, meanwhile, was enjoying himself, a quick pirouette almost ending his race on the opening lap, but he was soon past Gurney and into second. The rain that Cooper had gambled on had already drifted away from the circuit, but the morning of drizzle made the circuit slippery enough that the wets looked to be the right call.
At the end of second lap Brabham was still leading from Rindt and Gurney, with Surtees chasing the leaders down having dealt with Clark and Hill. Those two were exchanging blows as if they were battling for the lead, much to the delight of the home crowd, just ahead of Jackie Stewart, Bruce McLaren, Hulme and Jo Siffert. Behind that group came Mike Spence, whose car and helmet had been attacked by the M.G.M. mob to resemble Mike Parkes' Ferrari, while Jo Bonnier was close by in the newly christened "phoney pherrari".
The opening stages saw Brabham's lead extended by a fair margin when Rindt spun for a second time which left the Austrian at the mercy of team mate Surtees after Gurney dropped out with engine issues. Hill and Clark were slipping further back with every tour as their private duel thrilled the home fans, although there were soon joined by Stewart who rediscovered his pace in the heat of the race. The young Scot was briefly able to break up the fight by getting ahead of Clark, but a misfire developed moments later and cost him some pace, with the fault ultimately causing him to retire.
Bonnier's pace took a nose dive so that he was lapped by everyone within fifteen laps, while Guy Ligier and debutante Chris Irwin joined the Spence/McLaren fight as the lower orders of the top ten began to lap the back markers. Surtees and Rindt, meanwhile, decided to swap round to let the Englishman attack the Australian, who they could keep in sight but not close down. The swap, however, had no effect, as they were losing out to Brabham round every corner, with the circuit already drying out and ruining their tyres.
As news of the struggles of the two Coopers filtered to Clark and Hill, the two called a mutual truce to go and hunt them down, with Hulme escaping from Spence/McLaren and joining the former pair in the hunt. It was not too long before a quintet had formed at Druids, with Surtees and Rindt defending valiantly for a time, until the Austrian fell to the two Champions behind. Hill then pounced on Surtees at South Bank Corner, locking up his rear wheels to slither past the ex-Ferrari driver.
Soon, the two Coopers were out of the fight entirely, as Hulme picked off Rindt before following Clark through past Surtees, with Hill and Clark then reopening their duel with the New Zealander just behind. The top six were the only cars left on the lead lap after the first half of the race, with McLaren still running reliably but having to occasionally swat away youngster Irwin. Before the rest of the field could stream through to start the second half of the race, however, Hulme pounced on Clark and Hill, takinng the Scot on lap 37, before working hard to push past Hill at Druids two laps later.
The Hill/Clark battle resumed once Hulme went chasing off after Brabham, although it would only last for another five laps before Clark was in the pits with a brake issue. The Scot had lost all of his brake fluid in the space of a couple of laps, although it was an issue easily solved with a top up and he was sent straight back out. The stop, and a couple of laps spent pumping the brakes to push fluid to where it was needed meant that the two Coopers were well ahead, leaving the Scot with work to do.
By this stage everyone was out of the hunt for victory, as Brabham and Hulme were well clear of the rest of the field, and despite both easing off, the times were going upwards as conditions improved. Hill was all on his own while Rindt was back ahead of Surtees, with the Englishman soon dropping out after developing a handling issue. Clark, meanwhile, was charging up to the back of the Austrian, taking five seconds a lap out of the wet shod Cooper, before sweeping past through Paddock Hill Bend five laps from the end.
With that the race was well and truly done, although Hill was forced to drop to a crawl during the final lap when his oil pressure disappeared. Yet, the Englishman was so far ahead of the hindered Clark that he would get to the flag well before the Scot, but a lap down on the two Brabham-Repcos. Indeed, Brabham had swept home with fastest lap, pole and having lead from start to finish to claim a second Grand Chelem with relative ease, while Hulme backed him all the way ending the race ten seconds back.
Clark ended the race fourth, and if a couple more laps had been left to go he may well have taken Hill for third. Rindt was a content fifth, up to second in the Championship, while McLaren fended off Irwin's late challenge into Druids in the closing stages to claim a maiden point for his new effort. John Taylor was eighth four laps back after a low profile battle with Bob Bondurant, Guy Ligier was actually classified as he got up to speed with Grand Prix racing ahead of Chris Lawrence, while Siffert and Bob Anderson had endured enough problems to mean that they were not classified.
The full results for the 1966 British Grand Prix are outlined below:
- * Siffert and Anderson were not classified as they had failed to complete 90% of the race distance.
- Repco had their first pole start.
- Ninth career win for Jack Brabham.
- Also the Australian racer's second career Grand Chelem
- Fourth win for Brabham as a constructor.
- Denny Hulme's second place was also their 20th podium finish.
- First fastest lap for Repco.
Victory for the second race in a row left Jack Brabham ten points clear at the top of the World Championship standings, meaning he was a win ahead of the rest of the field. Jochen Rindt was his closest challenger in second, a point ahead of Lorenzo Bandini and Denny Hulme, while Jackie Stewart and John Surtees were tied for fifth. Defending Champion Jim Clark was finally on the board down in tenth, while Bruce McLaren had his first point with his own car.
Brabham-Repco and Ferrari had 21 points each at the top of the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers, and it was the Anglo-Australian outfit who were ahead with two wins to the Italian firm's one. BRM were sat in third, eight points off of the leaders, while only two points clear of a revived Cooper-Maserati effort. Lotus-Climax were finally on the board in fifth, while McLaren-Serenissima had their first point in Formula One.
Images and Videos:
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: BRITISH GP, 1966', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr145.html, (Accessed 02/08/2016)
- D.S.J., 'THE 19th BRITISH GRAND PRIX: A CLEAN SWEEP', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport Magazine, 01/08/1966), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/august-1966/20/19th-british-grand-prix, (Accessed 02/08/2016)
- 'Britain 1966: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1966/grande-bretagne/engages.aspx, (Accessed 02/08/2016)
- 'Britain 1966: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1966/grande-bretagne/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 02/08/2016)
- 'Britain 1966: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1966/grande-bretagne/classement.aspx, (Accessed 02/08/2016)
|V T E||British Grand Prix|
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