The 1963 British Grand Prix was the fifth round of the 1963 FIA Formula One World Championship, held at Silverstone on the 20th of July. After losing out to the two Brabham-Climax cars at the start, Jim Clark had to battle for the lead in a race that ended with three British drivers on the podium.
Having qualified on pole for the XVI RAC British Grand Prix, Scottish racer Clark had the rare experience of being beaten off the line, with Dan Gurney and Jack Brabham sweeping ahead. In front of a huge home crowd, Clark muscled the Team Lotus machine to the lead of the race on lap four, before Brabham retired from third with an engine failure.
The Scot gradually pulled away at the front of the field ahead of Gurney, while the crowds were entertained by a British brawl for third, with Graham Hill defending from John Surtees. This soon became a battle for second once Gurney dropped out with an engine failure like his team mate, before Surtees snatched the position away from Hill on the last lap, the latter running out of fuel on the run to the line. Clark led home a British one-two-three to secure his fourth win in a row and extend his Championship lead.
With two and a half weeks passing since the French Grand Prix, almost the entire Formula One family descended on Silverstone ready to race. BRM arrived with their 1962 cars, having spent most of the fortnight testing the new stressed-skin car for lead driver Graham Hill. They also brought a third car, which would be run on behalf of Scuderia Centro Sud for Lorenzo Bandini.
Team Lotus arrived without issue, although Trevor Taylor would have to drive with a carburettor engine after a series of failures. Cooper-Climax arrived with no issues, also providing a brand new T66 for lead driver Bruce McLaren, his old car passing to privateers RRC Walker Racing Team. Brabham-Climax rebuilt their cars after the Reims race and so were fighting fit for Silverstone, while Ferrari only brought one driver in the form of John Surtees, but the two cars caused rumours to flurry that one car had been set up as a "special" for Surtees to take pole in before racing in the other.
One of the only absentees, despite appearing in the entry list, were ATS whose driver Phil Hill was to be found around the Silverstone paddock regardless. BRP-BRM, in contrast, were out with their own machine once again, Innes Ireland covering a lot of mileage over the break as they looked to redesign the rear suspension. Scirocco-BRM were also out for their home race, both cars being prepared in time for second practice allowing Ian Burgess and Tony Settember to finally do battle.
Into the privateer field, and familiar face Reg Parnell Racing fielded three cars, one Lola-Climax for Chris Amon, while Masten Gregory and motorcyclist Mike Hailwood would do battle in 24s. Parnell's son Tim was also an entrant, preparing a second Lola for John Campbell-Jones, while an even older car would be run by the XV Gran Premio di Roma winner Bob Anderson. Jo Siffert was back with his "Siffert Special", while Ian Raby obtained a Gilby 62 for the weekend, with Carel Godin de Beaufort still fielding his 1961 718. De Tomaso were also on the entry list, but continued their consistent form by failing to arrive.
It had been a hat-trick of victories for Jim Clark in France, his three wins in a row meaning the Scot was fifteen points clear ahead of his home race. Dan Gurney laid claim to being his nearest challenger, the Californian having been a consistent finisher in the first few races, a factor which also meant that Richie Ginther and Bruce McLaren were in the top five. It also meant that Hill, defending Champion and the only man to have denied Clark victory all season, was down in fifth, the FIA confirming that he had had his points from France revoked.
Lotus-Climax were beginning to break away from the rest of the pack in the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers, with Silverstone marking the halfway point in the season. They led by twelve points from Cooper-Climax before their home round, with BRM heading Brabham-Climax for third, but only two points behind Cooper. Ferrari were an increasingly lonely fifth ahead of BRP, while Lotus-BRM and Porsche rounded out the table.
The full entry list for the 1963 British Grand Prix is outlined below:
The two outright lap records for Formula One cars at Silverstone were both held by Innes Ireland ahead of the first World Championship race at the circuit since the 1.5 litre era began. Ireland's 1.5 litre record, set earlier in the year at the non-Championship XV BRDC International Trophy stood at 1:35.4, while his outright record stood in the 2.5 litre days at 1:34.2. Ahead of qualifying, the target for the top drivers would therefore be to break the 1:35.0 barrier, with numerous sessions on Thursday and Friday ahead of the Saturday race all of which were held in glorious sunshine.
Thursday morning would be dominated by BRM, with Graham Hill ending the first session joint fastest with Jack Brabham at 1:36.0, only a second off the target time and well before the drivers really began to push. Jim Clark, in contrast, spent almost the entire session in the pits, a waterpipe having burst which ultimately caused the engine to destroy itself early on. He would have to wait for the support programmes to practice, headlined by Formula Junior and the British Saloon Car Championship.
It was late afternoon on Thursday by the time the Grand Prix cars returned, and Clark was among the first to get out on track, joined by both Scirocco-BRMs, the first time that Ian Burgess and Tony Settember had run together. There was a distinct pace difference, however, between the green-gold Lotus and the white Sciroccos, with Clark quickly setting a stunning time of 1:34.4 to smash Ireland's 1.5 litre record. By the end of the day only one man had got within a second, naturally being his arch-rival Graham Hill, while the Sciroccos found themselves near the bottom of the order.
Friday's running would be restricted to the morning, with most of the field improving. Everyone that was bar Team Lotus, with Clark unable to match or better his Thursday time, while Trevor Taylor sat around with a gearbox problem. Ireland was also having a poor day, his BRP-BRM destroying its engine before the Englishman could hussle a strong lap time out of the car.
Clark's time remained unbeaten, but there was an interesting four-way tussle that shifted second place everytime a lap was completed. Dan Gurney, Hill, Brabham and John Surtees, the latter striking the earliest blow by setting a 1:35.2, before Hill squeezed into the sub-1:35.0s. Gurney then matched Clark's best time of the session at 1:34.6, while Brabham set a 1:35.0 dead, the order staying the same as time ran out. The Clark on pole and Bruce McLaren, who was not involved in the tussle after an issue mid-session, stood at a second, although the individual gaps may have been closer if the timekeepers at Silverstone timed to less than a fifth of a second.
The full qualifying results for the 1963 British Grand Prix are outlined below:
|21||23||Carel Godin de Beaufort||Porsche||1:43.4||+9.0s|
|WD||27||Nasif Estéfano||De Tomaso||Withdrawn|
|Carel Godin de Beaufort|
Despite the Grand Prix start being scheduled for 2:00 in the afternoon, Silverstone was at capacity by 10:30 thanks in part to the B.R.D.C.'s support programme. The British Saloon Car Championship kicked off the day, with sports cars and Formula Junior all providing a spectacle before the F1 cars were rolled out on the grid. All 23 starters were allowed a single reconnaissance lap before the start, with the grid cleared in good order for the start.
With a huge roar of engine, tyres and crowd, the flag dropped to start the British Grand Prix of 1963, with most of the field having dodge around Tony Maggs who had stalled before the start. As the cars behind neatly swept by the Cooper-Climax without issue there was a shock at the front, for pole sitter Jim Clark was not leading. For once in 1963, the Scot had made a poor start, allowing Dan Gurney, Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren and Graham Hill to get in front before the first corner. Indeed, Clark's poor start further enhanced the suberb getaways by the two Brabham-Climax cars, with Gurney trailing team owner Brabham for a one-two on the opening lap.
However, Clark had previously proved to be as much of a fighter as he was a leader, and before the end of the second lap, Hill and McLaren were behind the green-gold Lotus. Next time through, Gurney had fallen to the Scot's charge, which carried Clark to the lead before the end of the next lap, Brabham also falling two seconds behind in the process. To those who had not seen the start, the order after four laps would have resembled their predictions, as Maggs screamed out of the pits to begin his race three laps down, just as John Campbell-Jones limped in.
There were three battle packs behind the leading Lotus in the early stages of the race, the most action packed being the battle for second. Brabham still led from Gurney, with the American fending off McLaren and Hill, while John Surtees was an ominous presence behind in the only scarlet Ferrari in the field. A few seconds back came the second pack, Trevor Taylor heading Jo Bonnier, Innes Ireland, the other two BRMs, Jim Hall and Chris Amon. Bob Anderson was a further few seconds back in the lead of the privateer brigade.
Mechanical gremlins, however, were never far away from the Grand Prix cars of the 1960s, and so it proved when McLaren's engine expired through Chapel on lap seven. Taylor was the next man to disappear, the Englishman stopping in the pits with a fuel pump issue, moments after Ireland had charged past to sprint after the brawl for second. Ireland's pursuit was over before it began, however, as the BRP-BRM developed an ignition fault and so had to stop for repairs.
With Clark beginning to disappear, six seconds clear before the end of the eleventh lap, Brabham, Gurney, Hill and Surtees became the centre of attention, the quartet running nose-to-tail through the sweeping Silverstone bends. A rather more bruising scrap was being fought behind, Bonnier battling with Richie Ginther and Lorenzo Bandini in the other two BRMs, although all three kept running. Elsewhere, Formula One's trio of privateer motorcyclists Jo Siffert, Anderson and F1 débutante Mike Hailwood engaged in a private truel which was well more well mannered than the battles above.
The dancing Lotus did indeed vanish over the horizon a few laps later, with Gurney and Brabham swapping as Hill lost time by being taken by Surtees. The scarlet car was ahead of the BRM, featuring an orange band across the nose for their home race, for two laps before the counter response came, as Maggs claimed the first victim of his charge from the back, Jim Hall neatly tucking into the wake of works Cooper-Climax to drag himself back into contention. Bandini was coping well with Ginther and Bonnier, the latter pair's experience not quite enough to deal with the former's youthful exuberance, while Siffert dragged Hailwood away from Anderson as the latter looked to preserve his privately owned Lola-Climax.
With all of the on track action, the early mechanical issues were almost entirely forgotten, Taylor and Ireland having already rejoined, pitted and subsequently rejoined again although both were under investigation. Both were noted to have been push-started from the pits, illegal according to FIA rules, and while that was being discussed, Gurney came past the pits on his own with a small gap to Hill and Surtees. Brabham's engine had expired round the back of the circuit, leaving team mate Gurney to fight on alone, although as news of this filtered to the pits, Ireland and Taylor were disqualified.
By the halfway point, Clark was beginning to ease his pace, the dancing Lotus now twenty seconds clear of Gurney who was now running on his own. Hill and Surtees continued to scrap together, meaning they had lost more and more time to Gurney ahead, although they were in no danger from behind as they were thirty seconds ahead of another scrap. Ginther was now ahead of Bandini and Bonnier in their latest shuffle, with Amon and Hall the last of those on the lead lap, the latter pair well away from the rest and about to fall a lap behind.
There was more drama to be had on lap 42, with Bandini suffering a gear level failure, selecting neutral instead of any driving gear at all on the fast run to Stowe, with the BRM throwing itself into a spin. The Italian reacted quickly to bring the car back under control and continue with hampered changes, but was left frustrated as Clark came sweeping through to leave him a lap down, Ginther and Bonnier having disappeared from the scene unhampered. Gurney, Hill and Surtees were beginning to close up again, the American getting caught in heavy traffic and so the two Englishman could close the gap, with Siffert and Maggs using the leaders' charge to drop their nearest challengers.
Once clear of the traffic, Gurney was able to build the gap back up again, and soon the race became fairly tame, although Surtees remained a persistent threat to Hill, causing both to lose time as they exchanged blows. Then, with just twenty laps to go, their scrap became a duel for second, Gurney's Climax deciding to dump all of its oil on the exit of Stowe with a cloud of blue and white smoke pouring from the bottom of the car. Late issues also hit Anderson, Amon, Bonnier and Siffert, with the race now well and truly done.
Clark began to wind the Lotus down to a bare minimum pace, running in top gear for the final few laps to preserve his fuel after an issue before the race cost the Scot some fuel in one of the rubber fuel tanks. The same could not be said for Hill, with the BRM still dancing infront of the Ferrari on the last lap. Hill was doing all he could to keep fuel in the tank and the Ferrari behind, but on the final run to the line the BRM engine drained the tank and died, allowing Surtees to dart past for second and leave Hill to coast home for third. Regardless, it was a British one-two-three at Silverstone with Clark making it four wins from the opening five races, and his fourth in a row as the season hit the halfway mark.
The full results for the 1963 British Grand Prix are outlined below:
|4||2||Richie Ginther||BRM||81||+1 lap||9||3|
|5||3||Lorenzo Bandini||BRM||81||+1 lap||8||2|
|6||12||Jim Hall||Lotus-BRM||80||+2 laps||13||1|
|7||19||Chris Amon||Lola-Climax||80||+2 laps||14|
|8||20||Mike Hailwood||Lotus-Climax||78||+4 laps||17|
|9||7||Tony Maggs||Cooper-Climax||78||+4 laps||7|
|10||23||Carel Godin de Beaufort||Porsche||76||+6 laps||21|
|11||21||Masten Gregory||Lotus-BRM||75||+7 laps||22|
|12||22||Bob Anderson||Lola-Climax||75||+7 laps||16|
|13||24||John Campbell-Jones||Lola-Climax||74||+8 laps||23|
|Ret||14||Jo Bonnier||Cooper-Climax||65||Oil pressure||12|
|WD||27||Nasif Estéfano||De Tomaso|
- * Ireland and Taylor both disqualified for receiving push starts.
- 100th World Championship entry for Ferrari.
- Jack Brabham started his 50th Grand Prix.
- Tenth pole position for Jim Clark.
- Fourth victory in a row for Clark.
- Also the Scot's tenth career podium.
- 20th podium for Team Lotus.
- 10th podium for Graham Hill.
Five races in and the Championship already looked to be in the hands of Jim Clark, the Scot having taken victory in four races in a row as the season hit the halfway mark. His tally of 36 meant he was an incredible 22 points clear of second placed Richie Ginther, meaning the Scot could now afford to miss two races and still retain the lead. Graham Hill's first points since the season opening Monaco saw him climb back into the top three level on points with John Surtees. Dan Gurney rounded out the top five with just two points covering second to fifth.
Another triumph for lead driver Clark saw Lotus-Climax pull ever further ahead in the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers standings, leaving their home race 19 points clear. BRM led the chase, keeping Cooper-Climax at bay by a couple of points, while Brabham-Climax stayed in fourth, level with Ferrari. BRP-BRM, Lotus-BRM and Porsche rounded out the scorers with all of the major constructors represented among the scorers.
Images and Videos:
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: BRITISH GP, 1963', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr116.html, (Accessed 05/06/2016)
- ↑ 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 D.S.J., 'XVI British Grand Prix: Clark (Lotus-Climax) uncatchable', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport Magazine, 01/08/1963), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/august-1963/14/xvi-british-grand-prix, (Accessed 05/06/2016)
- ↑ 'Britain 1963: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1963/grande-bretagne/engages.aspx, (Accessed 05/06/2016)
- ↑ 'Britain 1963: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1963/grande-bretagne/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 06/06/2016)
- ↑ 'Britain 1963: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1963/grande-bretagne/classement.aspx, (Accessed 06/06/2016)
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