The 1969 Monaco Grand Prix, officially known as the XXVII Grand Prix Automobile de Monaco, was the third round of the 1969 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Circuit de Monaco on the 18th of May 1969. The race weekend would see the FIA take action to ban wings, and a record number of wins in the Principality.
Indeed, the times from the first qualifying session were deleted, with the ban on wings coming into effect after the opening couple of hours of running. The remaining sessions would therefore decided the grid, with Championship leader Jackie Stewart claiming pole having topped every session.
When the flag fell on raceday it would be Stewart and fellow front row starter Chris Amon who went into Sainte Devote battling for the lead, the Scot emerging with the lead. Next came Graham Hill after he moved past Jean-Pierre Beltoise, while there was an accident for Jackie Oliver at the back of the field.
The following laps would see a nasty accident in the tunnel, where John Surtees suffered a gearbox failure and got rammed by an unsighted Jack Brabham. Both escaped uninjured, and were joined on the sidelines a few laps later by a frustrated Amon, who had been challenging for the lead when his differential failed.
It would ultimately be another retirement that decided the race, as Stewart suffered a driveshaft failure, identical to one suffered by teammate Beltoise a lap earlier. Hill was therefore left with a sizeable lead over Jacky Ickx in second, who was under pressure from Piers Courage behind.
The second placed battle would last for a short while, ended when Ickx dropped out of the race with a suspension failure. The rest of the race became a procession, as Hill claimed a record fifth victory, Courage claimed a maiden podium, while Jo Siffert completed the podium. The rest of the points would go to Richard Attwood, Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme.
The big news ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix would be the cancellation of the Belgian Grand Prix, which had been boycotted by most the drivers until its safety standards were improved. Naturally, some would speculate that this was an attempt to move the Grand Prix away from Spa-Francorchamps, a change originally proposed in 1961. Yet, Monaco itself would be unaffected by this news, with the city streets set to get its annual blast of Formula One madness.
There would, however, be some confusion over the use of wings which, after the huge accidents in Spain, many though would be banned. Yet, the G.P.D.A. (Grand Prix Drivers Association, FIA, and F.O.C.A. (Formula One Constructors Association) had all failed to discuss the topic in the intervening weeks, allowing confusion to reign in the paddock. The entry list therefore came with a full supply of wings for every car, although the FIA suddenly began to investigate the situation as soon as the teams arrived on the harbour front.
Arguably the most impressive job completed in the break since Spain had been done by Lotus-Ford Cosworth, who had been the victims of the wing failures. In a little under two weeks the Norfolk squad had built two 49Bs to replace the pair written off at the Montjuïc Circuit, having taken the chassis from the Tasman Championship. They would not, however, be operating at full strength on the driver front as Jochen Rindt was still recovering from his broken nose. Richard Attwood was therefore given a surprise call up to partner Graham Hill, while Jo Siffert remained with the privateers at Rob Walker.
McLaren-Ford Cosworth, in contrast, would have their two immaculate cars from Spain, neither of which had required any maintenance over the fortnight. The New Zealand dominated team had instead focused on upgrades, with both cars receiving new aerofoils and new front wheels, held by a centrally located nut. Bruce McLaren had the developmental M7C for the weekend, while Denny Hulme would race the oldest surviving M7A once again.
The other factory efforts would also be unchanged, Brabham-Ford Cosworth bringing fully winged cars for regular drivers Jack Brabham and Jacky Ickx. They had also mounted deflectors to the rear wing, hoping to force the air onto the aerofoil to increase downforce. Matra-Ford Cosworth, meanwhile, had two cars for Jackie Stewart and Jean-Pierre Beltoise, both of which had new nose sections and revised nose fins.
Enzo Ferrari had been very critical of the Monaco Grand Prix for some time, and some took the delay in confirming an entry from Maranello as a sign that the Italians had fallen out of love with F1. Yet, their lead driver Chris Amon would arrive at the circuit with a full works effort, which featured two cars for the New Zealander to use. BRM completed the factory entries, three cars given to works drivers John Surtees and Jackie Oliver featuring their new V12 engine, while Pedro Rodríguez had an older chassis run by Reg Parnell Racing as usual.
The final three entries of the sixteen were privateers running without any form of factory support. The most high profile would be Piers Courage, racing for Frank Williams in their Brabham BT26A which was unchanged since Spain. Silvio Moser made a rare appearance in his self-run Brabham BT20, while Vic Elford was entered in a Maserati engined Cooper T86 run, rather appropriately, by Antique Automobiles.
Two wins from the opening two races had left Stewart with a formidable lead at the top of the Championship standings, the Scot having left Spain with almost double the points of his nearest rival. That man was Bruce McLaren, who had been pacing himself in the opening rounds and so was a point ahead of teammate Denny Hulme in third. Graham Hill sat in fourth after his accident on the city streets, with Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Jo Siffert, John Surtees and Jacky Ickx the other scorers.
Matra-Ford Cosworth were well on their way to becoming Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers' Champions thanks to Stewart's two wins, holding an eight point advantage after just two rounds. McLaren-Ford Cosworth were their closest challengers with Lotus-Ford Cosworth four further back after their disasterous failures. BRM and Brabham-Ford Cosworth completed the early season scorers, with Ferrari notable by their absence, the only factory team yet to have scored.
The full entry list for the 1969 Monaco Grand Prix is outlined below:
Three sessions of practice/qualifying were scheduled for the weekend, with afternoon runs on Thursday and Saturday either side of a morning blast on Friday. The weather across the three days would remain the same, dull and dry, although marginally warmer temperatures on Saturday would prove decisive. That target time for the front runners would be a 1:28.1, the fastest lap set by Richard Attwood in 1968 as he hunted down eventual winner Graham Hill.
Attwood's time at the top of the Monte Carlo lap charts would only last until the end of the first hour of running, with most of the field dipping under 1:30.0 during their first runs. Of those, Jackie Stewart, Championship leader, was pushing hardest, the Scot smashing the circuit record by setting a 1:24.9 at the end of the opening hour. Graham Hill, Jacky Ickx and, most impressively, Jo Siffert would also get under Attwood's mark, with the Brit himself struggling to get used to his new Lotus 49B.
Elsewhere, Piers Courage was causing a stir, lapping under the circuit record and threatening the factory drivers at the top of the times, over three seconds faster than Jack Brabham in a, near, identical car. Yet, while some privateers were thriving, others were floundering along with the worst of the factory teams. Vic Elford, for example, was over ten seconds off of the ultimate pace in the outclassed Cooper-Maserati, despite having a problem free session. He, however, would not be at the bottom of the timesheets, for Silvio Moser failed to get out onto the circuit at all.
Once the session was over the C.S.I., organising the race on behalf of the FIA, pulled all of the team bosses together after inspecting the cars in a semi-official scrutineering period. For a reason known only to themselves, the C.S.I. immediately banned the aerofoils that were fitted to every single car, simultaneously deleting the times recorded from the day's session. Discontent about the "vote" to ban the wings was quickly silenced, although the fact that Ferrari and McLaren-Ford Cosworth left satisfied would be shown quite early on Friday morning.
For Ferrari and McLaren, some of their aerodynamic parts had been fitted directly to the bodywork, parts which were excluded from a ban that should have been implemented before the weekend. As a result, their combined trio of New Zealanders, Chris Amon, Denny Hulme and Bruce McLaren all went out at the start of Friday's session and went quickest, as others struggled to adapt their cars. Yet, it was only a matter of time before the rest of the field caught them up, and soon all three would be off the pace.
Stewart would once again end the session fastest, and was only a little over half a second slower than his previous time, despite running with the wrong suspension setup. Hill also impressed, ending the session two tenths off the Scot and his best time from Thursday, while Siffert looked quick, until his Cosworth engine failed on his first real attempt. Ickx, Brabham and Courage would also end the session among the top runners, the latter stating that he was enjoying his time in the cockpit, just "don't tell Frank".
The day and a half long break between Friday morning and Saturday afternoon allowed the teams to repair their challengers, several drivers getting refurbished engines to cure their troubles. Most of the mechanics had also spent time studying their suspension setups, the lack of aerofoils meaning that a general refresher course in creating mechanical grip was required. The result would be some very impressive times across the board, with several drivers managing to best their aero-aided times from Thursday.
The man to define the session, however, would be Stewart, who somehow found a second on his best lap to take pole, besting his Thursday time by three tenths. His teammate Jean-Pierre Beltoise, who had been forced to sit out at various times when Stewart used his car, got within a second, although the two French Matras were denied a front row lockout when Amon suddenly jumped into second with a 1:25.0. Hill ended the day by matching his time from Friday, John Surtees finally managed to smile when he levelled the time of Siffert, despite using a poor BRM, while Elford got the Cooper-Maserati round in a 1:32.8, in a car that had not been developed for over a year.
The full qualifying results for the 1969 Monaco Grand Prix are outlined below:
|1||7||Jackie Stewart||Matra-Ford Cosworth||1:24.9||1:25.6||1:24.6||—|
|3||8||Jean-Pierre Beltoise||Matra-Ford Cosworth||1:29.1||1:26.3||1:25.4||+0.8s|
|4||1||Graham Hill||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:25.6||1:25.8||1:25.8||+1.2s|
|5||9||Jo Siffert||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:26.5||1:56.6||1:26.0||+1.4s|
|7||6||Jacky Ickx||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:26.0||1:26.3||1:26.6||+1.7s|
|8||5||Jack Brabham||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:31.0||1:26.4||1:26.5||+1.8s|
|9||16||Piers Courage||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:27.5||1:26.4||1:26.4||+1.8s|
|10||2||Richard Attwood||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:30.6||1:28.0||1:26.5||+1.9s|
|11||4||Bruce McLaren||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:27.6||1:29.2||1:26.7||+2.1s|
|12||3||Denny Hulme||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:29.0||1:27.8||1:26.8||+2.2s|
|15||17||Silvio Moser||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||No Time||1:30.5||1:31.5||+5.9s|
- * Thursday's times were deleted as the field would effectively run to a different specification for the rest of the meeting.
- T Indicates that a driver used their test/spare car.
It would be another dull and sun lacking day in the Principality on raceday, although there was little threat of rain with a warm afternoon developing. There would be little ceremony before the start of the race, the familiar opening of the circuit by Prince Rainier supported by two new Lamborghini sports cars. After that, and some light bodywork changes at Lotus-Ford Cosworth, the field would be ready to battle around the city streets.
It would be an undramatic start when the flag dropped, with Jackie Stewart and Chris Amon immediately leaping away from the rest. Jean-Pierre Beltoise fended off Graham Hill for third, with their dice causing the rest of the field to bunch up into Sainte Devote, resulting in a fair amount of rubbing. Unfortunately, one bounce for Jackie Oliver was enough to push his BRM into the wall, leaving the Brit to pull up at the side of the circuit with badly bent suspension.
End of the opening lap and Stewart had dragged Amon clear of the rest of the field, over a second clear of the duel for third. This trend would continue into the following laps, with Stewart even managing to escape the clutches of Amon at almost a second per lap. Beltoise, meanwhile, was under huge pressure from Hill, the Englishman eventually breaking his resistance on lap four, while Jacky Ickx and Piers Courage charged past Jo Siffert when the privateer's engine began to run flat.
Stewart would continue to pull clear of Amon lap after lap, while the New Zealander was still making time on Hill, despite the fact that the Englishman was in clear air. Beltoise was still tagged onto the back of the Lotus, with Ickx and Courage in close attendance, while Siffert was running on his own in seventh. John Surtees led the next cluster, chased by Jack Brabham, the two McLaren-Ford Cosworths and Richard Attwood, while Pedro Rodríguez, Silvio Moser and Vic Elford ran around at the back.
The close running in the second group would eventually be broken up on lap ten, when Surtees suffered a complete failure of his gearbox through the tunnel. Unfortunately, Brabham had just decided to make a move on the Brit when the BRM's gearbox failed, and as Surtees' car suddenly jinked right while coming to a stop, contact was inevitable. The BRM ripped its front right suspension off by touching the rear left of the Brabham, send both skating along the barriers on either side of the circuit. Both would, however, climb out of their cars without any aid, walking back to the pits together, with Brabham laughing about the miraculous nature of the incident.
As reports and details of that accident filtered down to the pits, Stewart was putting together another masterclass out front, moving ten seconds clear of Amon and lapping the slowest of the slow at the back of the field. Two of those would retire soon afterwards, Rodriguez suffering an engine failure, followed in by Moser with completely collapsed suspension. The race was completely in the Scot's favour, and when Amon dropped out of the race with a differential problem on lap seventeen, the race seemed to be over.
With a huge lead over the rest, Stewart began to nurse his car to the best of his abilities, having soon much in hand that he could afford to simply weave his car around some of the more severe bumps on the racing line. Attention therefore turned to the battle for second, with Hill unable to escape the attentions of Beltoise, while Ickx and Courage went toe-to-toe for fourth just a yards behind. Indeed, while the Hill/Beltoise battle saw little more than the Frenchman running right up behind the Brit, Ickx and Courage were all over the track trying to gain anything over their immediate rival, leading to a terrific scrap on the streets.
Yet, the battle for second would only last so long, with Beltoise suddenly limping into the pits with a driveshaft failure, leaving Hill on his own. Then, a lap later, the Matra crew had their heads in their hands, for Stewart would come limping in with an identical failure, a shock for the team as the Scot had not been pushing his car at all. Hill duly inherited the lead in a healthy Lotus, while the Ickx/Courage fight took on a new significance as they now battled for second.
The intense fight for second soon allowed Hill to pull away from the pair, and at half-distance the Englishman was twenty seconds clear. Indeed, Ickx and Courage proved inseparable, both taking stints in second only to be demoted a few corners later, despite some interventions from the marshals with blue flags. It was a scrap to savour, for Siffert was on his own, forty seconds back, while McLaren was keeping Attwood at arms length as the only other cars on the lead lap.
Yet, the Ickx/Courage scrap could only last so long and, after 49 laps of constant battling, Ickx's car finally faltered, the Belgian suffering a suspension failure just before the tunnel. That left Courage on his own in second, able to relax for the first time, and all but settled the race order apart from mechanical failures. As for Ickx, his car would end up parked on the harbour front unharmed, despite a violent swerve across the road in front of Courage.
The final change to the order would come on lap 59, when Attwood finally managed to force McLaren into a mistake, putting himself into fourth. With that, the race was run, and a little under an hour later Hill cruised home to claim a record fifth win in the Principality, and close to within three points of Championship leader Stewart. Frank Williams would be delighted too, the privateer entrant seeing driver Courage claim second, while Siffert nursed his car to the flag in third, some eighteen seconds ahead of Attwood. McLaren was lapped in the closing stages, himself a lap ahead of teammate Hulme, while Elford also completed the race, six laps off in the "Antique" Cooper-Maserati.
The full results for the 1969 Monaco Grand Prix are outlined below:
|1||1||Graham Hill||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||80||1:56:59.4||4||9|
|2||16||Piers Courage||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||80||+17.3s||9||6|
|3||9||Jo Siffert||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||80||+34.6s||5||4|
|4||2||Richard Attwood||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||80||+52.9s||10||3|
|5||4||Bruce McLaren||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||79||+1 lap||11||2|
|6||3||Denny Hulme||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||78||+2 laps||12||1|
|7||12||Vic Elford||Cooper-Maserati||74||+6 laps||16|
|Ret||6||Jacky Ickx||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||48||Suspension||7|
|Ret||7||Jackie Stewart||Matra-Ford Cosworth||22||Driveshaft||1|
|Ret||8||Jean-Pierre Beltoise||Matra-Ford Cosworth||20||Driveshaft||3|
|Ret||17||Silvio Moser||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||15||Driveshaft||15|
|Ret||5||Jack Brabham||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||9||Accident||8|
- 128th and final start for a Cooper chassis.
- Maserati started their 108th and final race as an engine supplier.
- Maiden pole position for Jackie Stewart.
- The Scot also recorded the first pole for Matra.
- Fourteenth and final victory for Graham Hill.
- Also a record fifth win for Hill at the Monaco Grand Prix.
- Hill also earned his 36th and final podium finish.
- Lotus-Ford Cosworth claimed their 35th win.
- Piers Courage claimed his first podium finish.
- Courage also earned Frank Williams' first podium spot as an entrant.
Jackie Stewart left Monaco with his Championship lead intact, although Graham Hill had managed to cut the Scot's advantage down the three points. Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme were next, both proving to be consistent point scorers, while Jo Siffert completed the top five. There had been five other scorers in the opening three rounds, with Jacky Ickx down in tenth with a single point.
Like their driver, Matra-Ford Cosworth still sat at the top of the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers, although their lead had been cut to three points be Lotus-Ford Cosworth's lead driver. McLaren-Ford Cosworth sat in third, a further three points back, while Brabham-Ford Cosworth were in fourth, largely thanks to privateer Piers Courage. BRM were also on the board, a contrast to Ferrari who were still yet to score.
Images and Videos:
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: MONACO GP, 1969', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr176.html, (Accessed 21/12/2016)
- D.S.J., 'Continental Notes', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/06/1969), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/june-1969/22/continental-notes, (Accessed 21/12/2016)
- D.S.J., 'The Monaco Grand Prix', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/06/1969), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/june-1969/26/monaco-grand-prix, (Accessed 21/12/2016)
- 'Monaco 1969: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1969/monaco/engages.aspx, (Accessed 21/12/2016)
- 'Monaco 1969: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1969/monaco/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 22/12/2016)
- 'Monaco 1969: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1969/monaco/classement.aspx, (Accessed 22/12/2016)
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