The 1966 German Grand Prix, officially known as the XXVIII Großer Preis von Deutschland, was the sixth race of the 1966 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Nürburgring on the 7th of August, 1966. The race would not go done too well in the F1 history books, with a poor entry meaning Formula Two cars were needed to fill the grid, while a horrific accident claimed the life of driver John Taylor.
After the Formula Two cars were included with most of the F1 privateers absent, qualifying saw Jim Clark dance his under-powered Lotus 33 for pole. The Scot would share the four car wide front row with John Surtees, Jackie Stewart and Ludovico Scarfiotti, while Jacky Ickx took the F2 "pole" down in sixteenth.
The race would start on a damp circuit, meaning the Nürburgring was at its treacherous best, with the sun belaying just how wet the circuit was. At the start, Clark got too much wheel spin and tumbled down the order, allowing Surtees, Brabham, and a quick starting Lorenzo Bandini to jump ahead.
It was on the opening lap where Taylor met his demise, the Englishman getting airborne over the bridge at Quiddelbacher-Höhe after contact with F2 leader Ickx. It was a huge accident which saw Taylor's car burst into flames while still skidding down the circuit, although the Englishman was able to jump and sprint away when the car came to halt before collapsing on the grass. The circuit ambulance arrived to take the Brit to hospital at Coblenz, where he would succumb to his injuries four weeks later.
As Taylor was whisked away, Brabham had snatched the lead from Surtees while Jochen Rindt pushed Bandini down, just before the Italian was swarmed by Clark, Dan Gurney and Jackie Stewart. Graham Hill would then proceed to carve through the group and attack Gurney, who broke away from the rest, although the New Yorker would falter with an ignition failure.
A couple of laps from the end there was a shock for the field when Clark made a rare mistake through Bergwerk, and spun into a ditch. But, out front, no one could deny Brabham victory for the fourth race in a row, as Surtees and Rindt held station as they were unable to catch the Aussie. The Formula Two honours went to Jean-Pierre Beltoise in a Matra-Ford.
The Nürburgring Nordschleife was unchanged since the previous race in 1965, although the organisers were unsure about the size of the field. At 22.810km long, the Nordschleife would be largely empty if it was only the regular Grand Prix field that raced, an issue enhanced when McLaren-Serenissima and the RRC Walker Racing Team withdrew. The organisers therefore decided to allow a select group of Formula Two racers to take part, with a lot of negotiation with the Formula One runners to ensure that the 1.0 litre cars could compete for their own honours.
Despite the withdrawal of McLaren, the major manufacturer teams were out in force in West Germany, headlined by the in form Brabham-Repco team. Team leader Jack Brabham had won three races in a row and was dominating the World Championship, while Denny Hulme was unlucky not to have been as successful after numerous issues. The team had taken the time to build a new updated chassis for the team owner after the British Grand Prix, aiming to bring his car in line with Hulme's, but the German Grand Prix was too soon for the new car.
Ferrari and Cooper-Maserati arrived in the Eifel mountains with three cars apiece, although they differed on how they would be deployed. The factory effort from Cooper would see John Surtees and Jochen Rindt share their three cars, the newest held in reserve as it was deemed to un-tested to race. The Italian outfit, meanwhile, decided to draft in Ludovico Scarfiotti for a rare Grand Prix outing, the Italian racer using the V6 chassis.
Dan Gurney was back once again with the improving Eagle-Climax, which was looking dangerous to the rest of the field, if and when it got the 3.0 litre Weslake engine it was designed for. Team Lotus were back with two modified 1965 cars for Jim Clark and Peter Arundell, using Climax and BRM engines respectively. BRM were also at the Nordschleife with modified 65 equipment, their two Tasman Championship cars needed for Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart as the H16 engines continued to chew through gearboxes at an alarming rate.
The privateer field constantly shifted before the weekend, with the final list only becoming clear once the cars were assembled in the paddock. Jo Bonnier had the M.G.M. crew with him once again as he raced a Cooper-Maserati, the same combination powering Guy Ligier, while Chris Lawrence was entered in a custom built Cooper-Ferrari. Bob Bondurant returned after missing the last couple of Grand Prix, Mike Spence had one of the ex-factory Lotuses run by Reg Parnell Racing, Bob Anderson raced his usual Brabham-Climax and John Taylor arrived to replace Jo Siffert when the RRC Walker Racing Team withdrew.
The Formula Two field was headlined by two of the most promising youngsters of the 1966 season, as Jacky Ickx at Tyrrell, and Jean-Pierre Beltoise of Matra arrived to do battle. The Ford Cosworth SCA engine was by far the most popular engine, with all bar Tyrrell and the Anglo-Suisse Racing Team using the Ford Cosworth 1.0 litre engine, the other two cars using 1.0 litre BRM adaptations. The F2 field also had some familiar names from Grand Prix racing, including Pedro Rodríguez (Lotus), Hans Herrmann (Winkelmann), Giancarlo Baghetti (Anglo-Suisse) and Richard Attwood (Midland) all in action.
Victory for the third race in a row in the Netherlands meant that Brabham was sixteen points clear of the rest of the runners in the World Championship, as dropped scores came into effect. Hill was up to second after another podium, joined in the top three by team mate Stewart, while Rindt dropped to fifth. Lorenzo Bandini and Surtees were no longer tied on points and race records, with Hulme now in-between, as fifteen drivers were now registered on the board.
Brabham-Repco went into the second half of the season with an eight point lead in the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers thanks to Brabham's recent run. Second place was still held by Ferrari, who simply looked to have been outdone by the Anglo-Aussie combination, and were only three points ahead of BRM in third. Cooper-Maserati were ahead of Team Lotus into the second part of the season, who were at the bottom of the top five.
The full entry list for the 1966 German Grand Prix is outlined below:
- A green background indicates a Formula Two driver.
Qualifying/practice were run as one as usual at the Nürburgring over Friday and Saturday, with the Nordschleife bathed in glorious sunshine for the opening session at 12:00 on Friday. A second session was staged for one and a half hours in the afternoon on Friday, affected by rain at the start, before a two hour session on Saturday over lunch time to close out the Grand Prix practice. Times were expected to go through the roof with the new 3.0 litre formula, with Jim Clark's pole time from 1965 standing as the lap record at 8:22.7.
The bumps, dips and sweeps of the Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit meant that teams would have to spend a lot of time refining their suspension setups, a process which was done throughout the first Friday session. A rhythum was crucial to a good time too, something which could only be developed through simply being on circuit, so there were shocks in the paddock as the efficient Brabham-Repco cars were not running. The team were still building Jack Brabham's car while Denny Hulme wrecked his engine on his first run.
The early afternoon session did not, despite expectations, in an improvement in the lap record, with the modded 1965 car of Jackie Stewart getting the best time at 8:26.0. When it rained at the start of the afternoon session the hope of seeing records smashed was gone, with everyone finding the circuit slippery at best. Only Dan Gurney, and the hampered Hulme, attempted qualifying runs, while Guy Ligier suffered a nasty accident to end his German Grand Prix before it had begun, his Cooper-Maserati crashing into the trees after a twitch through Hatzenbach.
Saturday only had one session scheduled, and with bright sunny conditions the times were set to tumble, with all of the cars now setup to tackle the Nordschleife. Brabham was quickly up to speed once his car was built, joining Mike Parkes in slithering through the run to the Mini-Karusell. The F2 field, meanwhile, were being dominated by a young Belgian racer in the form of Jacky Ickx, whose pace was strong enough to put him up with the back of the F1 runners, ending qualifying ahead of Peter Arundell.
Spectacular scenes were being made at the humpback bridge at Schwalbenschwanz as cars actually got airborne, which was telling for suspension strength with the heavy Ferraris actually slamming into the ground, while the light weight F2s skipped over the hump with ease. Despite these images however, Saturday saw times collapse, with Clark forcing his Lotus round almost unseen for a 8:16.5, meaning the 2.0 litre car would start from pole. John Surtees had almost 100bhp in excess of the Scot but was almost a second and a half slower, while the best Ferrari was actually the V6 car being pushed onto the front row by Ludovico Scarfiotti.
The full qualifying results for the 1966 German Grand Prix are outlined below:
- A green background indicates a Formula Two driver.
- * Moser and Mitter could not be able to take the start on the grid.
A dull and wet day in the Eifel mountains dawned on Sunday, with the race scheduled for 2:00pm after a support programme featuring a short sportscar race, and a particularly gruelling bicycle race. The rain stopped an hour before the start time with the cars assembled on the grid without issue, although there were swarms of mechanics swapping tyres. From swapping to a different manufacturer to cutting grooves in their own sets, the teams were trying to find any advantage over their competitors as the start time approached.
The flag dropped to begin the 1966 German Grand Prix at 2:00pm on the dot, and it was the more powerful 3.0 litre cars, producing around 400 bhp, that got to the Süd Kehre first, with the clouds opening once again. The best start, arguably, was made by Jack Brabham, as he leapt past the under-powered Lotus of pole sitter Jim Clark to slot into second as John Surtees went into Hatzenbach in the lead. Behind came Lorenzo Bandini and Jochen Rindt before Clark and the BRM duo as the field went deeper into the mountains.
Unfortunately, the opening lap would not be a clean affair, with a couple of Formula One cars stuck at the back of the Formula Two field, with a huge speed differential in certain places. One place in particular was the dip of Quiddelbacher-Höhe before the fearsome Flugplatz, where John Taylor's heavier Grand Prix went up the inside of a F2 car, only to get his nose clipped and sent spinning into the trees. The car smashed into a tree and burst into flames, not aided by the fact that Jacky Ickx clipped the car while trying to avoid it. Taylor was caught in the cockpit for sometime as the fire grew from the fuel tanks, and only after getting help from Ickx did the Brit get free, although he was badly burnt in the process.
News of Taylor's accident was only officially known when an ambulance was dispatched, although when Ickx returned in his wounded F2 car at the end of the lap the severity of the incident became clear. At the end of the first lap, meanwhile, there had been a change for the lead, when Brabham got a better exit from Galgenkopf and drew past Surtees over the rise at Tiergarten. Surtees and Rindt were still chasing hard, Bandini having lost out to a resurgent Clark through the Karusell run, Dan Gurney and Jackie Stewart having also got through.
The F2 cars were in a separate herd of their own were led across the line by Jean-Pierre Beltoise after the dramas for his great rival Ickx, and their pace was strong enough to take Jo Bonnier and Peter Arundell ahead. The rain was becoming more intermittent during the second lap, with the forest meaning that mist would form in the dips around the circuit, making the slippery surface more difficult to see. The pace was over a minute down on Clark's pole time after the second lap, as Surtees inched onto the back of Brabham as the two broke away from Rindt.
Clark and Graham Hill, meanwhile, were looking set for another epic duel, with Gurney looking a serious threat to the Lotus, while Hill claimed Mike Parkes and Bandini in short order to leave Stewart as his last victim before he got on the back of his great rival. Next time through they were together, Hill passing Stewart with ease through Bergwerk, while Gurney got the job done down the Döttinger Höhe. On lap four, however, the duel was over as Hill breezed past the Lotus without a serious challenge, Clark really struggling with his Firestone tyres.
By this stage the list of retirements was expanding in a steady trickle as usual at the Nürburgring, although the fourth lap was particularly brutal, as Bob Bondurant, Bonnier, Piers Courage and Kurt Ahrens all went out. The lead battle, meanwhile, was a tense stalemate as Brabham and Surtees exchanged lap times, the Englishman opting for the safer side of things and simply trying to keep out of range of the spray. Rindt was already too far back to really contemplate a challenge, but with Gurney also a distance back the Austrian could afford to cruise.
The man on the move, as it happened, was Denny Hulme after his poor qualifying, as numerous issues bombarded the second Brabham-Repco racer. Stewart was first to fall on lap six, followed by Clark on the next before Hill also fell victim to the New Zealander's charge before the end of lap seven. The flying Antipodean was then off to chase down Gurney but just as the #4 Brabham got into the spray of the Eagle, Hulme's engine suddenly died with an ignition failure, ending his race.
With the rain returning to most of the circuit every fifteen minutes or so, the track never really dried, or got soaked, leaving the surface slippery instead. What resulted was a stalemate once Hulme disappeared, with gaps neutralised across the board, with Ferrari at the lower end of the top ten, and very frustrated. The retirements, meanwhile, had meant that the first of the F2 cars was to be found in the top ten, Beltoise still leading the small group of survivors, who all moved up when Scarfiotti dropped out.
The Italian misery was made even worse on lap ten, the lap Scarfiotti's injector failed, when Parkes slid wide at Bergwerk and disappeared into the trees. The next retirement was lower down the order, Chris Lawrence hitting the brakes at Süd Kehre only to have a wishbone break, sending him skidding out of the race. Then the focus was on Clark, whose talent could not force any pace out of his Firestone tyres, and seemed to run out when he slipped off the circuit at Bergwerk too, a rare mistake that left the Scot out of the race.
One last retirement was reported when Mike Spence failed to appear on lap 12 after an alternator failure, although Surtees was incredibly close to joining him. The Englishman's clutch had been an issue throughout the race, and on lap 13 it finally failed, meaning he had to work hard just to keep the car going over the final laps. The gap to Brabham ballooned out from that point, growing from five second on lap 13 to 44.4 when the Aussie finally crossed the finish line.
Indeed, the owner/driver had been untroubled by the intermittent rain an treacherous track to win for the fourth time in a row to leave himself on the verge of a third World Championship. Surtees crawled across the line to a frustrated second ahead of Rindt, before heartbreak for Gurney who had had an ignition failure on the final lap. A clip had failed on the condenser and let the unit slip, a simple fix for Gurney and his engineering skills, but by the time he got to the finish line Hill, Stewart and Bandini had all flashed through.
Indeed, Gurney arrived so late that the timekeepers had already began to put away their equipment, so he was officially recorded as a lap down. He was still ahead of the F2 front runners, headed home by Beltoise who had been unchallenged once Ickx went out on the opening lap. Hubert Hahne and Jo Schlesser would join him on the F2 podium once the Grand Prix celebrations were over, with many disappointed at the lack of action from the lightweight 1.0 litres.
As for Taylor, the Englishman would get to hospital in Coblenz before the race ended, although his burns were so severe that he would die from his injuries four weeks later.
The full results for the 1966 German Grand Prix are outlined below:
- A green background indicates a Formula Two driver.
- First time Formula Two cars were included in a Grand Prix since the 1958 Moroccan Grand Prix.
- 44th and final pole position for a Climax engine.
- Eleventh win for Jack Brabham.
- Also the Australian racer's fourth in a row.
- Sixth win for Brabham.
- Fourth win for Repco.
- 40th podium finish for Maserati.
- John Taylor was the first driver to die at a World Championship event since Carel Godin de Beaufort at the 1964 German Grand Prix.
Despite the circumstances, victory for Jack Brabham left the Australian racer in complete command of the World Championship, now just a win away from scoring maximum points. Graham Hill was in second but could not challenge because of the dropped score rule, meaning it was down to third placed John Surtees, and fifth placed Jackie Stewart, with one win apiece, to try and deny Brabham a third World Championship. Jochen Rindt was level on points with pretender Surtees, but behind as he had not scored a win, while John Taylor was the last name on the list of scorers.
The Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers Championship was also left undecided after the German Grand Prix, although Brabham-Repco were unlikely to be beaten. Their only possible challengers would be Ferrari and BRM, both of whom would have to get one of their drivers to win the final three races of the season without Brabham besting a fourth place. Elsewhere, Cooper-Maserati were in fourth and out of the hunt, but were significantly ten points clear of Lotus-Climax, with the Norfolk based squad now desperate to get their hands on a 3.0 litre engine.
Images and Videos:
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: GERMAN GP, 1966', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr147.html, (Accessed 04/08/2016)
- D.S.J., 'THE GERMAN GRAND PRIX BRABHAM WORKS HARD', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport Magazine, 01/09/1966), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/september-1966/15/german-grand-prix, (Accessed 04/08/2016)
- 'Germany 1966: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1966/allemagne/engages.aspx, (Accessed 02/08/2016)
- 'Germany 1966: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1966/allemagne/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 04/08/2016)
- 'Germany 1966: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1966/allemagne/classement.aspx, (Accessed 04/08/2016)
|V T E||German Grand Prix|
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