The 1969 Canadian Grand Prix, also known as the IX Canadian Grand Prix, was the ninth round of the 1969 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at Mosport Park on the 20th of September 1969. The race would be remembered for a collision between the two main protagonists, Jacky Ickx and Jackie Stewart, an incident which ultimately proved decisive in the battle for victory.
Stewart came to Canada having already been declared as World Champion, so it came as a slight surprise to see the Scot only qualify on the second row, down in fourth. In contrast, Ickx rediscovered his form from the German Grand Prix to slither his Brabham-Ford Cosworth to pole, sharing the front row with Jochen Rindt and Jean-Pierre Beltoise.
The start of the race saw Rindt sprint off the line and into the lead, with Ickx and Beltoise slipping in behind. Stewart made a decent start to hold onto fourth, before completing an excellent series of moves to snatch the lead on lap six.
Rindt would be passed by Ickx a few laps after Stewart went past, with the Belgian immediately pushing on to hunt the Scot down. Beltoise, meanwhile, slipped away from the lead battle to lead a brawl for fourth, only to hit a very slow Al Pease who was running with an old Eagle-Climax.
The duel for the lead was intense, with Ickx trying to force Stewart into a mistake, but to no avail. On lap 33 an opportunity finally arose for the Belgian as the pair came to lap Pease for a fourth time, with Ickx sending his Brabham up the inside of the Matra, just as the Scot began to turn into the corner. The pair were tipped into a spin and ended up on the grass, although Ickx was quickly back in motion having managed to avoid stalling his car.
The following moments saw Stewart desperately try to restart his car, before finally having to concede defeat and push his non-firing Matra away from the edge of the circuit. Ickx was therefore left with a healthy lead, made all the more secure when teammate Jack Brabham moved past Rindt in the closing stages to make it a Brabham one-two when the chequered flag fell. Rindt came home in fourth ahead of Beltoise, whose recovery had been aided by a large number of retirements, with Bruce McLaren and Johnny Servoz-Gavin completing the scorers.
The Canadian Grand Prix of 1969 would also be significant for various other feats, including the first point scored by a 4WD car, earned by Servoz-Gavin in the Matra MS84. Pease also made his own little piece of history by becoming the first driver to be disqualified from a Grand Prix for being too slow, while the race was also notable for being the final start for either an Eagle chassis or a Climax engine.
With the World Championships already decided, the organisers of the Canadian Grand Prix of 1969 had to come up with an alternative solution to attract both teams and fans to attend the first fly-away race since the season opening round in South Africa. They therefore adopted the technique of their cousins over the boarder, offering a huge amount of prize money, which would reward 20 of the race starters just for making it onto the grid, effectively covering everyone's expenses. As such, a relatively huge entry list of 22 cars was submitted for the battle of Mosport Park, returning to the F1 calendar after the 1968 visit to Circuit Mont-Tremblant.
Having won both the drivers and constructors Championships, Matra-Ford Cosworth, still under the day-to-day control of Ken Tyrrell, were able to expand their effort without the risk of harming lead driver Jackie Stewart. Stewart, for his part, was already cashing in on his prize, making numerous appearances in the media amid a wave on new sponsorship deals, rather overshadowing the fact that Graham Hill was still the official Champion until the chequered flag was flown in Mexico. For Matra, however, the fact that they were World Champions ensured that the Scot could be backed up by two teammates, with Johnny Servoz-Gavin given a shot at racing the 4WD MS84, while Jean-Pierre Beltoise would use his usual MS80.
Lotus-Ford Cosworth were also to deploy a three car effort in Canada, although this had been the case since the British Grand Prix back in July. Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt would run in the red-white-gold 49Bs, which were shipped straight from Monza without any repair work until they landed in North America. The third car shipped over was the 4WD Lotus 63, piloted once again by John Miles as Mario Andretti was racing elsewhere.
The third three car effort in the field was somewhat surprising, as the organisationally troubled BRM squad arrived with three cars ready to race, despite spending most of the season in leadership limbo. Regular racers John Surtees and Jackie Oliver were back in action, using the two P139s they had used in Monza, while the spare P138 was issued to local racer Bill Brack. Brack, as a Lotus dealer, had raced a Lotus in previous races in North America, but with the factory team occupied Brack concluded a deal to use the spare BRM car, albeit with the understanding that the two factory drivers would use it if a problem arose with one of their cars.
In contrast, Brabham-Ford Cosworth arrived with only two cars on offer, as Jack Brabham and Jacky Ickx went to battle for the factory team once again. A third BT26A was to be found in the hands of Piers Courage, supported by Frank Williams Racing Cars once again, with the young British racer attracting the eyes of several factory squads after his recent form. An older BT24 was to be found in the hands of Silvio Moser, while a BT23B, fitted with a very underpowered Climax engine, was entered by local racer John Cordts.
McLaren-Ford Cosworth had a two car entry, fielding Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme once again, with the team leaving their 4WD effort back in the UK once again to be further revised. Elsewhere, Ferrari decided to loan Pedro Rodríguez and his 312 to the North American Racing Team, owned by Ferrari North America dealer Luigi Chinetti, with the Italian firm in disarray after a poor season. Ferrari's lead driver Chris Amon would not attend the race, instead staying in Europe as he tried to help develop the 312B in time for the start of the 1970 season.
The rest of the entries were a mix of European and North American privateers, headlined by the familiar sight of the Rob Walker Racing Team Lotus 49B, entered for Jo Siffert as usual. Another 49B would be piloted by American Pete Lovely, who had bought his car earlier in the year, while Jo Bonnier entered his bright yellow Lotus, although it was still being repaired back in Norfolk. Brit Tony Lanfranchi was entered by Falken Racing in a Cooper-Maserati, although that would never materialise, while Al Pease was back for his home race entering the first, and therefore relatively ancient, Eagle-Climax that had first raced at the 1966 Belgian Grand Prix.
Victory in Italy meant that Stewart had claimed his first World Championship with three races to spare, such had been the dominance of the Scot throughout the season. The battle for second now took precedence, McLaren having moved back ahead of Ickx in Monza, with just nine points covering second to sixth. Fifteen drivers in total had now scored ahead of the end of year trip to the Americas, with Rodríguez the latest driver to add his name to the board.
Like lead driver Stewart, Matra-Ford Cosworth were declared Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturer's Champions in Italy, with a grand total of 60 points. Lotus-Ford Cosworth were only 26 points back, with 27 left to fight for, but the Norfolk squad would then drop points if they won every race to the end of the season, making it impossible for them to catch the Anglo-French effort. Brabham-Ford Cosworth and McLaren-Ford Cosworth were therefore a bigger threat for second, the trio separated by nine points, while Ferrari left their home race with just five points to their name.
The full entry list for the 1969 Canadian Grand Prix is shown below:
Practice/qualifying were scheduled for both Thursday and Friday, although with Thursday's running not being officially timed, the grid would have to be sorted out on Friday. As it turned out, Thursday proved to be little more than a track cleaning exercise, with most of the field struggling to find grip on the dusty track surface. The circuit record had previously been set by Bruce McLaren in a CanAm race earlier in the season, with the heavy endurance racer getting round the circuit in a 1:19.5, a target for the top runners despite the fact that they were unable to match that time at all on Thursday.
Friday's running would be split into two sessions, one in the late morning followed by a second in the afternoon. Yet, despite the appearance of a lack of pace on Thursday, Friday saw the old CanAm held record disappear almost instantly, with Jean-Pierre Beltoise completing an early run that dipped below the 1:19.0 mark in the opening half hour. Indeed, the Frenchman was on top form around Mosport Park, ending the first official session fastest of all with a 1:17.9.
Unfortunately for Beltoise his time would be equalled by Jochen Rindt and Jackie Stewart before the lunch break, and his attempts to best it prior to the break ended with his Matra caught in some wire fencing. The Frenchman was lucky to escape without any major damage to himself or the car, unlike Jo Siffert who was the only other driver to crash that morning. The Swiss racer was charging into the final corner when he got his foot caught under the brake pedal, making it impossible for him to slow down. A shaken Siffert emerged from his Lotus 49B unaided, although the entire left hand side of the car would have to be rebuilt before the race on Saturday.
The afternoon session on Friday would be dictated from the start by Jacky Ickx, who instantly shattered the best time of the day on his first run. Having set a 1:18.3 in the morning running, the Belgian went out at the very start of the afternoon session, before recording a 1:17.4 within three laps, a stunning time that would go unbeaten for the rest of the day. Neither Beltoise or Rindt managed to improve on their morning times, while Stewart suffered an engine failure early on and so took over the 4WD Matra from Johnny Servoz-Gavin.
Elsewhere, McLaren and teammate Denny Hulme both managed to record 1:18.5s, the duo having shared the car that had set the former circuit record, although Hulme had managed to claim a 1:18.0 in the morning session. John Miles, meanwhile, set a respectable time of 1:20.0 in the Lotus 63, fastest of anyone who tried out a 4WD machine, while also topping all of the non-Cosworth powered cars. Indeed, it was looking like another dismal weekend for both Ferrari and BRM, with Jackie Oliver two tenths slower than Miles in the experimental Lotus.
The full qualifying results for the 1969 Canadian Grand Prix are outlined below:
|1||11||Jacky Ickx||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:18.3||1:17.4||—|
|2||18||Jean-Pierre Beltoise||Matra-Ford Cosworth||1:17.9||1:19.6||+0.5s|
|3||2||Jochen Rindt||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:17.9||1:18.0||+0.5s|
|4||17||Jackie Stewart||Matra-Ford Cosworth||1:17.9||1:20.1||+0.5s|
|5||5||Denny Hulme||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:18.0||1:18.5||+0.6s|
|6||12||Jack Brabham||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:18.0||1:19.0||+0.6s|
|7||1||Graham Hill||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:18.6||1:18.3||+0.9s|
|8||9||Jo Siffert||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:18.5||No Time||+1.1s|
|9||4||Bruce McLaren||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:18.6||1:18.5||+1.1s|
|10||21||Piers Courage||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||No Time||1:19.5||+2.1s|
|11||3||John Miles||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:20.7||1:20.0||+2.6s|
|15||19||Johnny Servoz-Gavin||Matra-Ford Cosworth||1:21.4||1:21.6||+4.0s|
|16||25||Pete Lovely||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:25.8||1:22.9||+5.5s|
|18||16||Bill Brack||BRM||No Time||1:28.7||+11.3s|
|20||20||Silvio Moser||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:53.1||1:41.4||+24.0s|
|WD||22||Jo Bonnier||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||Withdrawn|
Saturday dawned bright and warm ahead of the race, which was scheduled to get underway at 1:00pm local time. Overnight work had seen fresh engines installed by those that had them, while others complained about the timing/scoring system, which was seen as being inadequate given three drivers had set identical times to the nearest tenth. Otherwise the field was ready to race, with 50,000 fans gathering around Mosport Park to watch the latest round of the 1969 season.
When the flag fell to start the race it would be Jochen Rindt who reacted fastest to snatch the lead, the Austrian having the best line into turn one despite starting on the outside of the front row. Pole sitter Jacky Ickx, also made a good start, something of a rarity for the young Belgian racer, slotting in behind Rindt as the field streamed into the flowing turn one. The rest of the field soon filtered into the first corner of Mosport Park, with several local drivers making ground with strong starts.
It was because of the local starters that Silvio Moser ended his race on the opening lap, despite running at the very back of the field. The Swiss racer had made a terrible start to fall to the very back of the field, although that meant he came charging through the opening corners at full speed, catching the locals who were already being bumped down the order after their initial high. Indeed, Moser's closing speed was so great that he had to take avoiding action, getting completely locked up after throwing his car sideways, slamming into the barriers with enough force to end his race on the spot. Moser himself was unhurt, although he would be likely to invest in a new car after his latest accident.
After the first lap drama for Moser things began to settle, with Rindt just pulling clear of Ickx, who had both Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Jackie Stewart breathing down his neck. Elsewhere, Jackie Oliver became the second retirement of the day when his BRM suffered an engine failure, as he, teammate John Surtees and Pedro Rodríguez in the Ferrari fell away from the Ford Cosworth herd out ahead. Behind them sat the local contingent, led by Pete Lovely in his Lotus 49B, while Al Pease was noticeably losing time at every turn.
Once the order had settled down after the opening laps, Stewart began to wind up the pace, soon challenging teammate Beltoise for third. Moments after Oliver moved over to the side with a ruined engine, Stewart dived past his teammate into the final corner, before tagging onto the back of Ickx to begin an assault for second. Two laps later and the Scot had forced his way past the Belgian around the back of the circuit, before claiming the lead from Rindt with another unseen move on lap six.
Stewart push seemed to ignite a hidden desire in Ickx, for the Belgian began to harass the back of Rindt just moments after the Scot had made his way past. Two laps of constant pressure finally paid off to allow the Belgian to move through to second, by which stage Stewart had escaped up the road by three seconds. Yet, the gap was not enough to deter Ickx at this early stage, with the Brabham soon glued to the back of the Matra while Rindt's Lotus fell further and further behind.
As Stewart and Ickx pulled away out front, Rindt was being drawn in by an impressive scrap for fourth, all held up behind Beltoise. Graham Hill, Jo Siffert, Jack Brabham and Piers Courage were all stuck behind the Frenchman, and as time wore on it seemed inevitable that the Matra would be elbowed out of the way. As this battle developed two more drivers disappeared from the race, Denny Hulme suffering an ignition failure, quickly followed by one of slower Canadians when John Cordts retired with an incurable oil leak.
It was a stalemate out front between Ickx and Stewart, and with Rindt just escaping the attentions of the battle for fourth, most of the fans were drawn to queue behind Beltoise. It was a terrific scrap for fourth place, which did have a shout of challenging for the lead if the lead trio suddenly lost pace, until the quintet came across the back marking Pease. The Canadian was proving to be a nuisance at best even in the opening stages, and when Beltoise came up behind him, the Eagle-Climax made no attempts to move out of the way. Unsighted, Beltoise had to turn in, and the immovable Pease refused to make room, leaving the Matra to bounce off the side of the Eagle, damaging something in the suspension and allowing Beltoise's chasers to move swiftly past.
In the few moments that followed Brabham managed to break through into fourth, leaping in between Beltoise and Hill as the former skidded sideways. The Australian was soon able to hound the back of Rindt as Beltoise, Hill and Courage recovered, although both Hill and Courage soon made their way past the Frenchman when he pulled into the pits for a quick look over. With the Matra squad quickly diagnosing that they could not solve the issue without effectively ending the Frenchman's race, Beltoise was soon back in the fray, emerging just moments before Courage dropped out with a split fuel tank.
The Stewart/Ickx duel, meanwhile, was raging on out front, although the Belgian simply could not force the Scot into a mistake. Then on lap 33, as the pair came charging past the soon to be disqualified Pease, Ickx finally sent a lunge down the inside of Stewart, getting his car alongside the Matra. It had been a slight hesitation from Stewart that delayed his turn-in, and when he did it meant that his left rear wheel touched the right rear of Ickx, tipping both into a spin.
Fired up by the incident, Ickx quickly managed to get his car spun back around and in motion, well before Rindt came upon the scene of the crime. Yet, when the Austrian did come past, Stewart was still sat at the side of the road, desperately trying to get his Cosworth engine to restart. When Ickx came round a lap later, looking embarrassed as he spotted the stranded Stewart, the Scot gave up on his attempts to start the car again, instead opting to push his non-firing car away from the edge of the circuit.
With such a huge advantage out front, Ickx was already effectively the winner, only needing to tick off the remaining laps as others fell by the wayside. Surtees and Rodriguez would retire either side of Stewart's stall, while John Miles was within touching distance of the points when he suffered a gearbox failure in the Lotus 63. Siffert and Hill would also fall before the flag, while Bill Brack was too slow to be classified when the chequered flag appeared.
Indeed, the only major on-track change came when Brabham came charging up onto the back of Rindt after the halfway point, the two running nose to tail for several laps. Unfortunately for the Austrian the Australian was in a very antagonistic mood, and so when he was finally given half an opportunity, Brabham stuck his car up the inside of the Lotus and forced Rindt to move aside. The next few laps would see Brabham establish a fair sized gap back to the demoted Rindt, before settling down to a cruise as everyone else had done.
Ultimately Ickx would win by three quarters of a minute from teammate Brabham, while Rindt finished six seconds further back. Beltoise dragged his wounded Matra home to fourth as others fell away with mechanical issues, while a demoralised Bruce McLaren came across the line in a distant fifth. Sixth place went to Johnny Servoz-Gavin in the 4WD Matra, the Frenchman therefore claiming a small piece of history by scoring the first point for a 4WD car, while Lovely completed the classified finishers a grand total of six laps behind.
The final results for the 1969 Canadian Grand Prix are shown below:
- 25th and final start by an Eagle chassis.
- Climax had an engine entered for the 96th and final time.
- Third career win for Jacky Ickx.
- Brabham claimed their twelfth victory as a constructor.
- Johnny Servoz-Gavin became the first driver to score a point with a 4WD chassis.
- Al Pease was the first (and only) driver to be disqualified for being "too slow" in a World Championship race.
Victory allowed Jacky Ickx to climb back into second place in the World Championship standings, as he battled with Bruce McLaren to be runner-up from the pre-crowned Jackie Stewart. Graham Hill and Jean-Pierre Beltoise were tied on 19 points, the soon to be ex-Champion ahead on countback, with both seemingly out of the battle for second. Jo Siffert still led the "Privateer" field from sixth, also ahead of factory drivers Jochen Rindt and Denny Hulme, while the historic point for Johnny Servoz-Gavin left the Frenchman at the bottom of the sixteen point scorers.
The Brabham-Ford Cosworth one-two at Mosport Park pushed the Anglo-Australian effort back into second as the F1 circus headed south, now heading Lotus-Ford Cosworth by a single point. Matra-Ford Cosworth were already out of reach, sat on 63 points, while McLaren-Ford Cosworth would only be a threat for second if they picked up a win and saw both Brabham and Team Lotus fail to score. The best of the non-Cosworth powered entrants were Ferrari, still stuck on a miserable tally of five, while BRM rounded out the scorers with two.
Images and Videos:
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: CANADIAN GP, 1969', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr182.html, (Accessed 29/01/2017)
- A.R.M., 'The Canadian Grand Prix: A one-two for Brabham', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/11/1969), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/november-1969/44/canadian-grand-prix, (Accessed 29/01/2017)
- 'Canada 1969: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1969/canada/engages.aspx, (Accessed 29/01/2017)
- 'Canada 1969: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1969/canada/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 29/01/2017)
- 'Canada 1969: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1969/canada/classement.aspx, (Accessed 29/01/2017)
|V T E||Canadian Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Mosport Park (1967, 1969, 1971–1974, 1976–1977), Mont-Tremblant (1968, 1970), Montreal (1978–1986, 1988–2008, 2010–present)|
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