|Thoughts before the 1967 season|
|As these words are being read the South African GP will be taking place, this year at the Kyalami circuit and not at the usual East London one (A full report will appear in February MOTOR SPORT). As the event is in the World Championship series this year, many teams have had to get organised very quickly, and there have been some interesting changes.|
|HONDA SHOWS UP, HONDA WINS - For a long time the Japanese company has dominated motor cycle racing. But are they up to the challenge of thoroughbred formula one battles - and can they produce the same high grade machines as seen from BRM throughout the last decade?|
|Graham Hill from BRM to Lotus
Biggest surprise was Graham Hill leaving the BRM team, where he has been number one driver for many years, and joining Lotus as number two to Jim Clark. Since the arrival in the Bourne team of Stewart in 1965, Hill has been hard pressed to justify his position as number one, and Stewart's steady progress has made it all the harder. During 1966 tension was mounting and the BRM team manager was often put in a difficult position, such as when he had only one good engine, or one good gearbox left after practice troubles. Most of the time he retained faith in his number one driver and gave the good parts to Hill, even though it was more likely that Stewart could have made better use of them. It is a very good team that can guarantee to have two perfect cars on a starting grid.
All this is not to decry Hill's driving ability or his position as team leader, but it does support the theory I put forward some while ago that until the arrival of Stewart in Formula 1 in 1965 we had been accepting a lower standard of top-line driver than we had had in the past. Bright newcomers are bound to appear on the scene, and many do no more than that, but the occasional one leaps to the top quickly, and inevitably the established stars have to take a bit of a knock. Jim Clark did this to Innes Ireland, unwittingly, when he joined the Lotus Grand Prix team, Ascari did it to Villoresi in the Maserati team, Rosemeyer did it to Stuck and Varzi in the Auto-Union team, and so on back through the ages. Personally, I think Hill has made a wise move, for he can now drive at the same pace as he has always done, which is a very fast pace, and thus back up Clark, instead of having to drive "over his head" in his efforts to stay ahead of Stewart within the same team.
For those of us who accept that Clark is the top driver at the moment there will be no discredit to Hill if he makes second place on the starting grid behind Clark; in fact, the Lotus team is going to be very strong, for if Hill is behind, it will only be by fractions of a second, for he has always been in the "top six" in Grand Prix racing. Just how successful Team Lotus are going to be will depend on the new V8 Cosworth engine, which Ford (England) are financing. The Ford publicity machine gives the impression that they have bought Hill and that the Clark, Hill, Chapman, Lotus combine is in reality Ford (England). Financially this may be true, but I feel that it will be a Lotus-Cosworth that wins the races.
The Ford workers' newspaper is already telling them that the combination of Clark and Hill driving the new Ford Grand Prix car is going to be a strong challenge in 1967. My feeling is that the Ford empire have not realised that they are working for Colin Chapman, not him working for them! It is the way to get results, as a look at Indianapolis shows; Clark and Chapman set the landmark there, with the assistance of Ford (USA). The Cosworth V8 engine is not expected before the Monaco GP on May 7th, but I feel we can rest confident in the abilities of Duckworth and Costin to do what they say they will do.
The next major move that happened at the end of 1966 was John Surtees joining the Honda team. Now this was no surprise at all, for there was really nowhere else for him to go, and Honda would have been stupid to have missed the opportunity of signing on this top-flight driver. Since leaving the Ferrari team. Surtees has been a bit lost, for though he drove for Cooper-Maserati it was not a satisfactory combination, but he had to drive that or nothing. Obviously he would not join any team as number two driver, so that ruled him out of Lotus, BRM, Brabham and Gurney's Eagle team. He could hardly go back to Ferrari, so the only hope was Honda, and that is what has happened.
Good a driver as Ginther is, he is not in the top six and Honda are out to win, so it was a simple matter of Ginther out, Surtees in. In big business things like this are easily done, and Grand Prix racing is big business. The funny thing about this move was that Ginther seems to have misunderstood what Honda said (perhaps they spoke in Japanese!) for after the Mexican GP there were those who were prepared to believe that Honda were withdrawing from racing. Perhaps Ginther did understand but explained himself badly, or the reporters were not listening properly. Whatever happened, Ginther has left Honda and has joined Gurney with his Eagle team, which is a very good thing, for the diminutive Ginther will make a very good number two to the giant Gurney, just as Hill will back up Clark.
Had the Eagle team got as advanced as they had hoped last season they would have run two cars, with Jerry Grant as number two and, even if he had only had the 4-cylinder Coventry-Climax-powered car, he could have spent a useful year learning the European Grand Prix way of racing. As it turned out he did not get a chance to drive in Europe due to a lack of Eagles and this put them a season behind their competitors. By replacing Grant with Ginther they have saved a lot of time, for Ginther has nothing to learn about European circuits and Grand Prix racing; he can start off using the Eagle to its full immediately. It was not a case of dropping Grant, for he had never really started.
Another piece of definite news, as distinct from rumour, is the fact that the Australian Repco firm are building an entirely new V8 engine for Brabham. This can cause no surprise at all, for after the amazing success of the "hot rod" V8 engine, it would be a strange engineering firm who were not compelled to go one better and do the whole job from scratch. There is no intention of building anything exotic or complicated, but merely to continue the development line started with the modified alloy-Buick V8 that formed the Repco V8 engine during 1966. Brabham and Tauranac will continue with the development of the chassis and, while the new Brabham-Repco V8 will not provide much engineering or design excitement, it will certainly be a sound and practical job that will take a lot of beating, just like Brabham himself as a driver.
With Surtees leaving Cooper-Maserati, young Jochen Rindt has returned to his position as number one, a place he relinquished to Surtees with splendid grace last July. A lot of up-and-coming drivers could well keep an eye on Rindt as an example of how to succeed if you have not got the outstanding natural ability of a Clark or a Stewart. I remember watching Rindt in the old Formula Junior racing in Europe, when he was just starting. Austria ran a Formula 1 race and he dearly wanted to drive in it, being his "own" Grand Prix event, and he worked away and got the loan of a 1.5-litre Ford pushrod engine, which was put in his Junior Cooper. Against V8 BRM and Climax engines it was hopelessly outclassed, even if he could have driven as well as the factory drivers, but this did not trouble Rindt. He was in a Formula 1 race, which was all that mattered, and he drove like a demon, thoroughly enjoying himself and putting up a performance that was no disgrace at all. He has kept this happy press-on characteristic all through his brief career, and it often carries him way ahead of better drivers who are busy grumbling and complaining. The Maserati firm are continuing to supply engines to Cooper, and while the V12 may not have appeared very fast, and only won one major event, it took the Cooper cars to numerous praiseworthy places behind the winning Brabham, as the tabulated Race Results of 1966 elsewhere in this issue reveal. With the 1967 Grand season starting on January 2nd we can look forward to a busy and interesting year, though this first event is hardly likely to provide any serious pointers towards the trends for the rest of the year.
|A NEW STAR - Jochen Rindt in the cockpit of his Cooper-maserati is a hard-working new-comer, whereas "Black" Jack Brabham and Graham Hill both are well known to the racing comunity. Brabham controls his and Tauranac's MRD team with a firm hand, and Hill has left BRM after a long string of succeses in order to set his own pace, after being "threatened" by young Stewart.|
|After the first race|
|British Racing Motors
The BRM team have confirmed that they will continue to run a pair of H16-engined cars in 1967 with Stewart as team leader and his number two will be drawn from Mike Spence, Piers Courage and Chris Irwin. The BRM team will be working in liaison with Reg Parnell (Racing) Ltd, run by Tim Parnell and he will be running BRM-engined cars. In South Africa Spence drove the second works car and Courage the Parnell car, but the driver pool will be shared in different ways depending on circumstances and circuits.
One of H16-engined cars has been painted and polished as an exhibition model and will tour various International engineering exhibitions as an example of British design and workmanship. This is well justified because even though it has yet to be completely successful, it does represent an outstanding achievement in courageous and audacious thinking. During the old 1.5-litre Formula for Grand Prix racing BRM made an experimental 4-wheel-drive car, in conjunction with Ferguson Research, using Ferguson patented 4-wheel-drive mechanism. Due to the pressure of racing this car was never developed or tested to the full. It has now been sold to David Good, who intends to drive it in the RAC Hill-climb Championship, and BRM and Ferguson are co-operating on a new four-wheel-drive car designed around the 3-litre H16-cylinder engine unit.
This is no surprise for the H16 engine was obviously laid out so that a drive could be taken from either end, or both ends. The 1.5-litre BRM 4WD car was essentially a mock-up, using many components from the old Grand Prix cars, so that it was too big and too heavy, but if an H16 car is designed from scratch as was the Ferguson P99 it would be an extremely interesting car that could bring a new meaning to Grand Prix performance. It would require a driver whose mind and reflexes are untramelled by conventional practice, or a natural genius like Stirling Moss or Jim Clark, both of whom adjusted themselves to 4WD very readily and with control over their natural instincts. This may be the reason for BRM taking an interest in young and inexperienced drivers (as far as super-high-performance is concerned) such as Irwin and Courage.
Team Lotus were well satisfied with the first outing of their two star team of drivers, Clark and Hill, even though the Lotus-BRM H16 cars did not behave properly. Until the new, small and compact Lotus with the Cosworth V8 engine is ready Team Lotus will continue with the H16-engined cars. Elsewhere in this issue is a letter from Walter Hayes, the Director of Public Affairs of Ford (Great Britain), in which he quite fairly claims one third of any Team Lotus success that may be coming in 1967.
Chapman does not often make a bad racing car, Cosworth have an obvious "magic touch" where engines are concerned and Ford know-how on production and Ford money is beyond reproach. With Clark and Hill as drivers this total combination must surely produce results that will be hard to match, and in these days of international miscellany in racing teams it is nice to know that we have another all-British team to support the BRM all-British team. American Ford-supported racing projects used to carry the notice "Powered by Ford" so perhaps we shall see the new Lotus-Cosworth carrying the notice "Paid for by Ford."
|Engines of different concepts - Above the H16 BRM; practically two eight-cylinder boxer engines sandwiched together and, Right the Maserati V12 in Joakim Bonnier's Cooper.|
Ferrari has announced that his Grand Prix team will consist of Bandini and Parkes, with Scarfiotti in addition if he decides to run three cars, such as at Monza. Chris Amon and Jonathan Williams are also on the Ferrari books, but at the moment their activities look as though they will be confined to long-distance racing with the P4 cars. The new 36-valve Grand Prix engine that appeared at Monza last year, with 1st and 2nd places, will undoubtedly form the mainstay of the Ferrari Grand Prix team, and this design of two inlet valves and one exhaust valve, with inlet ports down between the camshafts on each cylinder head of the 12-cylinder engine has been carried on to the large P4 engine in the Group 6 prototype cars.
The P4 follows the design trends of the P2 and P3, but the engine has been enlarged to nearly 5 litres and with fuel-injection and the 3-valve combustion chamber layout it should present a strong challenge from Maranello. The factory team will be working closely with the agents' teams, the North American Racing Team (NART), of Luigi Chinetti, the British Maranello Concessionaires team of Ronnie Hoare, the Scuderia Filipinetti and Jacques Swaters of Belgium, so that the Italian factory will be represented by the best possible machinery in all prototype races.
While B.R.M. and Lotus are all-British Grand Prix teams the Cooper team is quite the opposite, with a British chassis, Italian engine, and Austrian and Mexican drivers. However, there is no question about the effectiveness of this gathering, for Cooper-Maserati have won the last two Grand Prix races, and last season they came close to winning many more. The cars for 1967 will not be changed, apart from detail improvements, and Rindt and Rodriguez will certainly make full use of the potential of the cars from Cooper.
The Brabham team of Brabham and Hulme cannot make any new moves until the new Repco engine is forthcoming, which one assumes will be before Monaco if humanly possible. At the moment the 1966 Repco V8 engine is being sold to one or two private people, and if Brabham could arrange a good spares and service department at Byfleet this simple and robust 300 bhp power unit would surely sell like hot cakes for all manner of competition cars.
|Clockwise from above left: The new Repco engine for Brabham. Ferrari's GT championship entry P4 with 4-litre version of the Formula One engine. Lotus hopes for succes with the new thorough design Type 49 - will it be as good as the Type 33 ?|
It was a disappointment that the Gurney-Weslake V12 engine did not go to South Africa, for every race that a new project misses means that it is one more race behind its rivals. The Eagle chassis that Len Terry designed for Gurney is well developed and success for the Eagle depends entirely on Weslake Engineering. At Indianapolis Gurney has been going very fast indeed during some testing, putting in a lap at over 267 kph using a Ford engine in the Eagle chassis, and I would dearly love to see Gurneywin the 1967 Indianapolis in one of his Eagle cars. With Ginther as his number two driver the All American Racers team really is all-American and the whole organisation proudly carry the blue and white colours of America.
The biggest unknown factor and the most feared by some people is the combination of Honda and Surtees. Some think that Surtees will solve the Honda chassis problems and become unbeatable, but I do not subscribe to this view, having great faith in Lotus and BRM. The Honda concern can certainly produce engines and horsepower, but they seem to be lacking in chassis and suspension knowledge, though Surtees ought to be able to put them right, providing that they know what he is trying to convey to them. The suggestion that Honda are or will be all-conquering is a defeatist attitude and one that is not true, they can make mistakes and errors like anyone else.
In the motorcycle world they spread this feeling that they were unbeatable and in 1966 they lured Mike Hailwood away from MV-Agusta and produced a 500 cc Honda racing bike. It was thought that the 500 cc Championship would be theirs for the taking, but the new bike proved unreliable and not that much better, if any, than the MV and young Agostini won the 500 cc championship on the Italian MV, leaving a lot of very puzzled Japanese faces about the place "Honourable Honda machine did not prove to be honourable success."
|Left: Surtees in the RA273 Honda. Above: Gurney with the V12 Weslake|