The 1968 Dutch Grand Prix, otherwise known as the XVI Grote Prijs van Nederland, was the fifth round of the 1968 FIA Formula One Championship, held at Zandvoort on the 23rd of June, 1968. A damp weekend among the dunes preceded a wet race on Sunday, where the two Matras of Jackie Stewart and Jean-Pierre Beltoise put together one of the most dominant performances of the season.
Qualifying had seen both sessions threatened by rain, with Saturday's running severely restricted by downpours. Pole therefore went, once again, to Chris Amon in the lead Ferrari, the New Zealander having been the first of eight drivers to set a time below the old circuit record. He would share the front row with Jochen Rindt and Championship leader Graham Hill.
Light rain was falling when the flag dropped on Sunday, with Rindt slithering off the line the fastest to take an early lead. Unfortunately that meant that the Austrian would be first to experience the track surface, and by the end of the opening lap Rindt was back down to third after running wide, allowing Hill and Stewart to get past.
By lap four the rain was starting to fall harder, with the Scottish Stewart taking full advantage of the increasing wetness to take the lead. His teammate Beltoise was also making progress, moving into the wake of Hill as Stewart began to pull out a huge lead. The Frenchman would harass the Englishman for several laps, until a mistake on lap 23 saw Beltoise pit to have sand removed from his throttle.
The rest of the race would see Beltoise put together an excellent recovery drive to rise from seventh to second, before joining Stewart in the sprint away from the field. They remained unchallenged for the rest of the race to earn Matra their first one-two, which would also be the first victory for a French manufacturer. Hill had to retire after a series of spins, leaving Pedro Rodríguez to claim third as the best of the rest.
The fifth round of the season would see Zandvoort get its annual chance to host a Grand Prix, with the F1 circus arriving on the Thursday before the weekend. The circuit's proximity to the North Sea meant that there would be a high chance of rain, a fact proved as the entire race weekend was predicted to be a damp affair. Otherwise it would be business as usual for the Dutch Grand Prix, with all of the major teams and drivers in attendance.
The first team to arrive in Zandvoort had been Honda who had been in the Netherlands all week to try and get some testing in. Unfortunately for them it had rained throughout their stay, although they were at least in a position to run John Surtees for the weekend. The same could not be said for Eagle-Weslake who were at the circuit but without any cars after destroying their last serviceable unit a few weeks earlier.
That left team owner/driver Dan Gurney to loan the spare Brabham-Repco from former boss Jack Brabham, so long as the Anglo-Australian effort's new cars ran smoothly. It would be the first time that Brabham and teammate Jochen Rindt both ran the new BT26, which had been fitted with nose fins and a "wings" over the gearbox. If both Brabham and Rindt ran without issue then Gurney would be entered in their spare car, which would be run by AAR but under the Brabham banner. A fourth car had also been entered for privateer Silvio Moser, with no factory support.
Elsewhere, Championship leaders Lotus-Ford Cosworth arrived with their pair of Lotus 49Bs in the exact state that they had finished the Belgian Grand Prix. Both Graham Hill and Jackie Oliver were happy with the aero-changes made in Spa, although the reliability of the 49 was more of a concern. They were also partially backing the Rob Walker Racing Team's 49, entered for Jo Siffert, which had had a fresh engine installed ahead of the weekend in the sand.
BRM were back and looking as strong as they had been for a while, with Pedro Rodríguez and Richard Attwood ready to run as usual. The familiar deal with Reg Parnell Racing saw BRM once again provide a car for the British privateers, as Tim Parnell entered Piers Courage once again. BRM's major customer Cooper were in a less secure place, running only one car for Lucien Bianchi after Brian Redman broke his arm in Spa.
Away from the British efforts and Ferrari appeared to be as strong as they had been for a long time, with Chris Amon and Jacky Ickx suffering from a lack of luck rather than a lack of pace. Matra were also fairly happy ahead of the Zandvoort race, their V12 car having completed the Spa weekend without issue, prompting the team to push on to build a second car in time for the French Grand Prix. Jean-Pierre Beltoise would therefore have to push on with only one car in the dunes, while Jackie Stewart had the choice of two Ford Cosworth engined cars.
Finally came the two McLaren-Ford Cosworths, entered as #1 and #2 for the weekend, defending Champion Denny Hulme listed as their first entry. The two orange cars had had their driveshafts replaced with more reliable units, reinforced to cope with the strain, with no other changes made. An older McLaren could also be found in the hands of Jo Bonnier, featuring the developmental BRM engine.
Despite a poor display from Hill and Team Lotus in Spa, it was still the Englishman who led the way after four rounds, and still by the same margin as he had after the Monaco Grand Prix. Belgium race winner McLaren was up to third, level on points with the late Jim Clark, while Hulme remained in second as Hill's closest challenger. The now deceased Ludovico Scarfiotti had slipped to seventh as Pedro Rodríguez leapt into the top five, with fifteen drivers now on the scorers list for 1968.
Team Lotus had had to rely on Oliver to add to their tally in Spa, as they left Belgium with a twelve point lead in the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers standings. McLaren-Ford Cosworth, fresh from their maiden victory, had closed the gap down from nineteen points, while BRM were into double figures for the season. Cooper-BRM were best of the rest in fourth, ahead of Ferrari, the debuting Matra-Ford Cosworth and defending Champions Brabham-Repco.
The full entry list for the 1968 Dutch Grand Prix is outlined below:
Practice and qualifying were combined as was the norm for Formula One in its earliest days, with Friday and Saturday equating for more than eight hours of running. The majority of this time was penciled in for Friday, with sessions in the morning, afternoon and evening, while Saturday would have to make do with only two hours, with the weather ultimately proving that this was the correct balance. Target times for the fastest drivers would be the 1:28.08 set by the late Jim Clark in 1967, although the circuit record was slightly faster at 1:25.1, set by Graham Hill to take pole for the same race.
Unlike Spa, the entire field would get out within the first few minutes of the Friday session, with the two orange McLarens of Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme immediately going out to post quick times. The day had dawned overcast and windy, so it was no surprise that the pace was incredibly high among the front runners as soon as the session opened. Indeed, come the lunch break the entire field had recorded at least one lap under 1:30.00, with the two McLarens ending the first part of Friday's running in the 1:25.00s.
After the lunch break there was another flurry of activity on the circuit, this time led by the two Ferraris of Chris Amon and Jacky Ickx as they set about beating the two McLarens. Piers Courage, meanwhile, was looking set to beat the two factory BRMs after a strong morning run, while Lotus-Ford Cosworth were hard at work trying to sort out a rev limiting issue on Hill's engine. Brabham-Repco were another team working furiously fast, finally managing to get both of the new cars out before the end of the afternoon session.
Another fast and furious session followed, although the two McLarens would not be able to make any real gains leaving them to tumble down the order. That allowed Amon, Jochen Rindt, Hill, Jack Brabham, Jackie Stewart and Ickx to all get ahead before the end of the day, with the New Zealander snatching provisional pole just before the end of the day. Other notable performers were Jackie Oliver in the second Lotus, the Brit having worked very hard to try and get among the fastest drivers, while Courage's pace had impressed quite a few people, at least until his BRM engine developed an ignition fault.
Saturday's running was severely hampered by the rain coming off the North Sea, leaving only a brief window of dry running in the middle of the two hour session. Most drivers managed to set at least one quick lap in, with Dan Gurney doing the most damage to the starting order by leaping up into the 1:25.00s with his first flying lap, just before the rain came down again. Elsewhere, Jo Siffert suffered a suspension failure on his old Lotus, Jean-Pierre Beltoise bested his time in the Cosworth powered Matra, while Brabham wrote off another engine when a bearing seized during the brief period of dry running.
The full qualifying results for the 1968 Dutch Grand Prix are outlined below:
|3||3||Graham Hill||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:23.84||1:24.49||+0.30s|
|5||8||Jackie Stewart||Matra-Ford Cosworth||1:24.41||1:32.62||+0.87s|
|7||1||Denny Hulme||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:24.45||1:25.54||+0.91s|
|8||2||Bruce McLaren||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:24.58||1:24.97||+1.04s|
|10||4||Jackie Oliver||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:25.48||1:25.51||+1.94s|
|12||18||Dan Gurney||Brabham-Repco||No Time||1:25.79||+2.25s|
|13||21||Jo Siffert||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:25.86||1:27.29||+2.32s|
The race was set to start at 2:30pm on Sunday, and as the field began to gather on the dummy grid ahead of the started to fall on the circuit. Special permission was granted by the FIA so that the teams could change the tyres in time for the start, with six mechanics allowed to work on the cars rather than the maximum permitted two, a rule which would be in place throughout the race. Despite the last minute rush, all nineteen cars were ready to crawl onto the grid proper for the start.
When the flag dropped the familiar roar/scream of the Grand Prix cars was non-existent, as the entire field tried as hard as they could to get underway at a tip-toe. Jochen Rindt therefore slithered off the line to take an early lead, with the rest of the field sorting themselves out through the Tarzan hairpin. Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart managed to join the Austrian in the brief sprint into the first corner, with those two managing to elbow their way past the Brabham-Repco when Rindt got too eager on the throttle before the run back to the pits.
Come the end of the opening lap and Hill had pulled clear of Rindt, taking Stewart with him as the Austrian began to hold up the rest of the field. Pole sitter Chris Amon was the first of those being held up by Rindt, ignoring the spray being thrown up from the Brabham, with teammate Jacky Ickx tucked in behind. Pedro Rodríguez, Jo Siffert and Jean-Pierre Beltoise, having made a stunning start from sixteenth, were also caught up in Rindt's traffic jam, while Bruce McLaren and Jack Brabham decided to drop back from the pack due to the spray.
The following laps would see Hill and Stewart continue to sprint away from the rest of the field, with Rindt valiantly fending off most of the runners. The Austrian's efforts allowed Beltoise to pick off Siffert and Rodriguez, before Amon forced Rindt into a mistake on lap three, opening the door for the rest of the group. Ickx, Beltoise, Rodriguez and Siffert all slithered through before Rindt regain his composure, leaving the Austrian to push even harder and lose even more time.
Back with the leading duo and Stewart got a good exit from the final corner to draw level with Hill as they started the fourth lap, the Scot ultimately snatching the lead into Tarzan by virtue of having the inside line. Moments later and Beltoise came charging down the start/finish straight, taking both Ferraris on the long drag to Tarzan, leaving the two Matras in first and third. The Frenchman would soon begin to hunt down Hill while Stewart began to pull away, suggesting that the Matra chassis with Dunlop tyres was the best combination on the coast of the North Sea.
Elsewhere, Piers Courage became the first man to suffer from the conditions, spinning into the barriers at the Hunzerug hairpin on lap five, smashing the nose cowling in the process. Siffert, meanwhile, was beginning to struggle in the worsening conditions, which seemed to be affecting everyone bar the Matras, while the two Ferraris were struggling with a lack of rev-range. Defending Champion Denny Hulme was another struggler having developed a misfire, running at the very back of the field until he decided to retire the car.
By the time that Hulme had called time on his running the race had settled down, although there would be one final burst of excitement before the calm descended. Lucien Bianchi was coming through the final corner to complete lap nine, tucked in the spray being thrown up by Jo Bonnier as he had been for much of the race. Unfortunately for the Belgian it had been such a strong run from the back of the circuit that he was far closer to the Swede than he had been before, and so misjudged his turn in point. The Cooper-BRM clipped the high inside kerb and was spat back across the circuit, wiping out a marshals post as Bianchi tried to get the car under control. Fortunately, the marshals had stepped away from the post in time, while Bianchi was able to climb out of his shattered Cooper without injury.
Two laps after Bianchi's accident and there were two Matras leading the field, as Beltoise put an excellent move through Tarzan to take second before sprinting off after Stewart. Elsewhere, John Surtees decided to stop for a different set of tyres, only to spin at Hunzerug having had even less grip than before. The Hondola was therefore left to trail along at the back of the field, joined by Rindt whose race was ruined by a misfire, caused by a lack of alternators.
For the next few laps the only on circuit entertainment would be provided by Jackie Oliver, Richard Attwood, Silvio Moser and a recovering Siffert, the quartet running almost nose-to-tail for several laps with occasional changes through Tarzan. Stewart, meanwhile, was beginning to lap the slower cars, putting Brabham a lap down on the twentieth lap, before attempting to do the same to Bruce McLaren. The New Zealander, however, would not prove to be an issue for McLaren locked up into Tarzan and slithered into the sand and stalled, ending his race when the engine refused to start.
A lap later and McLaren was almost joined by Beltoise, who got caught out when his throttle slides jammed open as the Frenchman applied the brakes. Some furious work on the steering wheel kept the Matra out of the barriers, Beltoise dancing across tarmac, grass and sand in his attempts to regain control, before suffering the same issue a lap later, this time at the fortunately slower Hunzerug hairpin. The Frenchman therefore stopped to have the slides, now completely jammed up with sand, cleaned out, rejoining almost a lap down in seventh.
As Beltoise endured his roller coaster ride, Rodriguez pulled a brave move on Ickx on the flatout run back to the pits to take fourth, the Belgian still struggling to cope with the lack of rev range from his Ferrari engine. Brabham, meanwhile, suffered an engine failure as he braked into Tarzan, neatly sliding to a stop a few yards away from McLaren before pushing his powerless car away from the edge of the circuit. Elsewhere, Surtees was back in for another ineffectual tyre change, while Ickx went for a spin at Hunzerug, just after Rodriguez elbowed his way into third with a smooth move on the brakes at Tarzan to pass Amon.
Ickx's latest struggle was a huge benefit to Beltoise, who was already making progress through the field after taking sixth away from Dan Gurney in the third Brabham. Ickx's spin promoted the Frenchman, before the blue Matra went screaming past the lead Ferrari of Amon a few laps later into Tarzan. Rodriguez was next on the list of Beltoise targets, although the Mexican's resistance would only be broken when Beltoise managed to get a strong run out of the final corner to draft past the BRM down the start/finish straight after several false starts.
Beltoise was soon scything his way up to the back of Hill as the last catchable man on his list, as teammate Stewart continued to lead the race by almost a lap. Come half distance the Scot had lapped everyone bar Beltoise and Hill, with the former dragging the race leader along as he pulled within five seconds of the Englishman. After the leading trio came Rodriguez with Amon in fairly close attendance, with Gurney ahead of Ickx after the Belgian's spin before a big gap back to Moser, Siffert and Attwood.
A few laps later, and with the rain falling even more heavily that before, Beltoise went sailing past Hill and into second with his all too familiar move up the inside of Tarzan. A few moments later and Ickx pulled an identical move on Gurney to retake sixth place, just after the pair had put a lap on Moser, who was still fending off Siffert and Attwood. The inexperienced Swiss racer was coping very well in the wet, and some canny driving by Moser saw him use Gurney as a means to escape the clutches of his chasers over the following laps.
The ever increasing amount of water on the circuit was now making every part of the circuit a challenge, as demonstrated by Courage who lost the back end of his car at Hondenvalk. Gurney, meanwhile, went for a couple of pirouettes at Tarzan and Hunzerug, both caused by steamed up goggles, prompting the New Yorker to ditch them and drive on regardless. Siffert was having similar issues, and when his gearbox began to play up the Swiss driver decided to call time on his race having been out of the running.
Amon took the increasing chaos as a sign to change to a different set of wet tyres, a decision that dropped him down to eighth and did little to improve his confidence. Hill, meanwhile, became the latest man to spin at Tarzan, bending a steering arm and breaking the nose cowling by hitting a fence post, while also self-diagnosing that the throttle slides had jammed to cause the accident. Two laps later and Gurney was bouncing along the sand around the back of the circuit, another victim of jammed throttle slides, with the New Yorker sliding across the circuit through every corner until he managed to wrestle the last of Brabham's into the pits to retire.
The latest wave of retirements, and weather, left ten cars in the running, with Stewart now a lap ahead of the entire field having lapped Beltoise. Rodriguez was now a safe third with Hill trying to limp to the flag, Ickx trying to hunt the struggling Lotus, with Moser an excellent sixth. Amon was a frustrated seventh, pushing the Ferrari to the point he was losing time, with Attwood, Bonnier and a damp Oliver completing the field, all determined to at least finish the race.
With a handful of lap to go, and having done enough to be classified, Hill went off at Tarzan once again and hit another fence post to write off the front end of his car entirely. That would be the last action of the race, with Stewart letting Beltoise un-lap himself before sweeping home to claim an excellent victory, all the more memorable as it would be the first for Matra. Beltoise appeared a couple of minutes later to confirm the Matra one-two, with Rodriguez slithering home to record another podium for BRM. Ickx, Moser and Amon were all promoted with the demise of Hill, while Attwood, Bonnier and Oliver all managed to survive until the end, although the latter would not be classified.
The full results for the 1968 Dutch Grand Prix are outlined below:
|1||8||Jackie Stewart||Matra-Ford Cosworth||90||2:46:11.26||5||9|
|3||15||Pedro Rodríguez||BRM||89||+1 lap||11||4|
|4||10||Jacky Ickx||Ferrari||88||+2 laps||6||3|
|5||22||Silvio Moser||Brabham-Repco||87||+3 laps||17||2|
|6||9||Chris Amon||Ferrari||85||+5 laps||1||1|
|7||16||Richard Attwood||BRM||85||+5 laps||15|
|8||19||Jo Bonnier||McLaren-BRM||82||+8 laps||19|
|9*||3||Graham Hill||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||81||Spin||3|
|NC†||4||Jackie Oliver||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||80||+10 laps||10|
|Ret||21||Jo Siffert||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||55||Gearbox||13|
|Ret||2||Bruce McLaren||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||19||Accident||8|
|Ret||1||Denny Hulme||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||10||Ignition||7|
- * Hill still classified as a finisher as he had completed 90% of the race distance.
- † Oliver, in contrast, could not be classified as he had failed to complete the minimum race distance.
- Third win for Jackie Stewart.
- Matra earned their first win as a manufacturer.
- It would also be the first victory achieved by a French constructor.
- Jean-Pierre Beltoise claimed a maiden podium finish.
- First podium for Matra as an engine builder.
- Also their first fastest lap.
- Maiden points finish for Silvio Moser.
Victory put Jackie Stewart up among the leaders in the title bout, although he still only had half the total number of points of early pace setter Graham Hill. The Englishman's poor run had continued in the Netherlands, but his early season triumphs were enough for Hill to keep the Championship lead. Pedro Rodríguez and Denny Hulme were level on points, the Mexican ahead based on his third place, while Bruce McLaren, Jim Clark and Jean-Pierre Beltoise were all tied on nine points.
Like their lead driver, it was Lotus-Ford Cosworth that maintained the lead in the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers, despite the fact that they were enduring a poor run of form. McLaren-Ford Cosworth held station in second as their closest competitors, although they were under threat from an improving BRM squad. Matra-Ford Cosworth had leapt up the order thanks to Stewart's win, with Ferrari hanging onto the top five after another minor points finish.
Images and Videos:
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: DUTCH GP, 1968', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr166.html, (Accessed 28/09/2016)
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 2.28 2.29 2.30 2.31 2.32 2.33 2.34 2.35 2.36 2.37 2.38 2.39 2.40 2.41 2.42 2.43 2.44 2.45 2.46 2.47 2.48 2.49 2.50 2.51 2.52 2.53 2.54 2.55 2.56 2.57 2.58 2.59 2.60 2.61 2.62 2.63 2.64 2.65 2.66 2.67 2.68 2.69 2.70 2.71 2.72 2.73 2.74 2.75 2.76 2.77 2.78 2.79 2.80 2.81 2.82 2.83 2.84 2.85 2.86 2.87 2.88 2.89 2.90 2.91 2.92 'D.S.J., 'THE DUTCH GRAND PRIX: A Franco-British Victory', motorsportmagazine.com, (MotorSport Magazine, 01/08/1968), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/august-1968/42/dutch-grand-prix, (Accessed 28/09/2016)
- ↑ 'Netherlands 1968: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1968/pays-bas/engages.aspx, (Accessed 28/09/2016)
- ↑ 'Netherlands 1968: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1968/pays-bas/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 28/09/2016)
- ↑ 'Netherlands 1968: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1968/pays-bas/classement.aspx, (Accessed 28/09/2016)
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