The 1963 German Grand Prix, hosted by the Nürburgring on the 4th of August 1963 as the XXV Grosser Preis von Deutschland, was the sixth round of the 1963 FIA Formula One World Championship. In a race noted for the career ending accident of Willy Mairesse which claimed the life of Red Cross volunteer Günther Schneider, it was the Belgian's team mate who became only the second man to deny Jim Clark a victory in 1963.
Indeed, the Scot with the green-gold Lotus 25 seemed to be in imperious form once again, taking pole by a little under a second from John Surtees with a new circuit record. Clark immediately swept into the lead of the race at the start, but by the end of the lap his engine was misfiring, allowing Richie Ginther and Surtees to surge past. Once Ginther dropped back with a gearbox issue, the Englishman and the Scot were left to duel for the lead, the misfire in the Climax only appearing intermittent.
As they battled, Mairesse came charging through the Flugplatz, got airborne and clipped a ditch, sending the Ferrari into a barrel roll into the trees. A shattered arm resulted from the accident for Mairesse, although a wheel was torn lose from the car and hit Schneider as he stood by the side of the circuit. There was also another scary accident involving Bruce McLaren, whose Cooper-Climax suffered a steering failure through the very same corner and disappeared into the trees leaving the New Zealander unconscious, although he would suffer no long term injuries.
Eventually, Clark's issue became too severe for him to drive around, meaning he slipped away from Surtees in the closing stages. Ergo, the Englishman was able to cruise home to a maiden win from the Scot, who claimed second in a race for the first (and ultimately only) time in his career. Ginther completed the podium after fighting back from his gearbox problem, while Gerhard Mitter and Jim Hall claimed the first career points, with Jo Bonnier rounding out the scorers.
A harsh winter had hit the Nürburgring after the 1962 race, leaving the circuit torn and causing bumps that could get a Grand Prix car airborne. With a limited budget, and a huge amount of circuit affected, there was little that could be done to resurface the Nordschleife by the organisers. Furthermore, these were issues not be seen before the Grand Prix weekend, with earlier races featuring heavier sports cars unaffected.
A fortnight had passed between the British Grand Prix and the German race, although most of the teams had been in Germany for over a week. The XIII Großer Preis der Solitude had been staged in the middle weekend, a race that saw a breakthrough for Brabham-Climax. Jack Brabham had taken the honours in the race, with his team building a new chassis for him to use in time for the German race.
The Solitude race had produced an unexpected result, for Jim Clark had dominated the season, and that race too, before a familiar Lotus fragility reared its head once more. A gearbox failure had ended the Scot's race when he was leading at record pace, although the unit was rebuilt and a spare sent in time for the World Championship race. Trevor Taylor in the second Team Lotus entry would run as normal, although he would have the "air-stream" windscreen fitted during the weekend.
BRM had also been busy in the break, finishing off their new "stressed-skin" car for Graham Hill which would finally début to challenge the dominant Lotus 25. Richie Ginther continued to use his familiar challenger, although this also featured updates such as redesigned front suspension components. They would also provide support for Lorenzo Bandini with Scuderia Centro Sud as the official entrant for the Italian.
Elsewhere, Ferrari continued to make minor changes to their challengers, with Willy Mairesse returning from his 24 Hours of Le Mans accident now fully recovered. ATS were also included on the entry list, but their cars would never arrive after the transporter crashed in Austria, damaging both Grand Prix cars. The Italian contingent would be completed by Scuderia Centro Sud, with Bandini in the "semi-works" BRM, while Mario Araujo de Cabral drove a Cooper-Climax.
The factory Cooper-Climax team was also in Germany, their cars identical to their last run out at Silverstone, although Ken Tyrrell was back in-charge after complications in John Cooper's recovery. BRP-BRM had lead driver Innes Ireland invited to the race, the car impressing in Solitude, although their two Lotus 24s would also be in attendance, Jim Hall needing to qualify although there was little doubt he would. Scirocco-BRM were back too, hoping to get more solid running in their cars, ahead of a privateer list headlined by Jo Bonnier with the RRC Walker Racing Team and Carel Godin de Beaufort as he continued to be Porsche's last outpost in Grand Prix racing.
Unsurprisingly given that Clark had dominated most of the 1962 season, it was the Scot who arrived at the Nurburgring in total command of the Championship. His tally of 36 meant he led Ginther at the halfway point of the season by 22 points, the Scot now out to win the title with maximum points (54). Hill was down in third with only a third as many points of his rival, while John Surtees and Gurney completed the top five.
Like their driver, Team Lotus were in complete control of the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers, leading BRM by nineteen points as they hunted down their first triumph. Cooper-Climax and Brabham-Climax were a bigger threat to the defending Champions, while Ferrari were having another dismal season down in fifth. BRP, Lotus-BRM and Porsche rounded out the table.
The full entry list for the 1963 German Grand Prix is outlined below:
Friday morning saw the start of the practice sessions for the Grand Prix, although with only one and a half hours scheduled for that morning there was some dissent among the teams. A further hour and a half would be held in the afternoon, although with rain affecting various parts of the circuit times were difficult to chase. The final session on Saturday was dry and warm, with the best drivers hoping to best Dan Gurney's qualifying record of 8:47.2.
The earliest running of the practice/qualifying session saw most of the drivers attempt to set "banker" laps on the damaged circuit, for an early issue on Friday, with so little time to run and the likelihood of being recovered before the end of the day low, could completely end a driver's weekend. Jim Clark and Innes Ireland were first onto the circuit, although it was clear that the two were taking different approaches to the opening session. Clark opted to do the smart thing, wind up his pace throughout the three sessions, where as Ireland pushed, slid into the trees and damaged the BRP-BRM. The Englishman was fortunate to drag the car back to the pits, but he would have to use his Lotus-BRM for the rest of the weekend.
With the afternoon session written off with the wet, only allowing the field to complete development and test runs, all of the quick times were set in the morning of Friday. John Surtees was among them, the Englishman using his knowledge of the circuit from his victory at the 1000km sports car race earlier in the year to get his mechanics to tune the car for bumps. His experience proved valuable, for the Englishman ended the day, not only fastest, but quicker than Gurney's record, and the only man bar Lorenzo Bandini to set a time under 9:00.0.
Having gone quickest in the damp session on Friday afternoon, Clark proved to be in fine form on Saturday, taking on Surtees' decision to set the car up for bumps. A stunning time saw the Scot find a second on the Englishman with Surtees unable to respond, his session ended early by a chassis crack. Bandini ended the session as the best BRM driver, the Italian, beating Graham Hill and Bruce McLaren who were the only other men under 9:00.0.
The full qualifying results for the 1963 German Grand Prix are outlined below:
|17||17||Carel Godin de Beaufort||Porsche||9:25.1||+39.3s|
|20||22||Mario Araujo de Cabral||Cooper-Climax||9:53.1||+67.3s|
|18||Carel Godin de Beaufort|
|21||Mario de Araujo Cabral|
Raceday dawned bright and warm, although the rough going through the practice/qualifying sessions meant that many of the mechanics had worked overnight to get the cars prepared for the fifteen lap race. It was also the 50th anniversary year of the first German Grand Prix, with the organisers arranging a parade of the surviving winners, including Graham Hill and Jo Bonnier. Once the parade around the circuit had been completed the race was set to start, Hill and Bonnier having to scramble back to theirs cars.
The flag dropped to signal the start of the race, with twenty of the twenty-two drivers leaping into battle. Only Jack Brabham and Ian Burgess remained, both suffering ignition faults just as the flag was prepared. They were back in action before the leaders completed the opening lap after being pushed into the pits, although they had their work cut out to catch the pack initially led by Jim Clark.
An excellent launch for the Scot saw him immediately convert pole to a lead, Richie Ginther and Tony Maggs leading the chasing pack. Lorenzo Bandini and John Surtees, in contrast, found themselves in a swarm of cars after they made poor starts although by the time the field got to the winding run after the Flugplatz, the Englishman was among the leaders. Bandini found himself stuck behind Innes Ireland, their race soon coming to an end when they made contact at the Karusell.
As they battled, it became clear that Clark had an issue, for the Team Lotus clad car was being harassed by Ginther through the corners, where the Lotus 25 was by far the dominant car. Off camera, the American forced his way through to take the lead before the end of the first lap, with Surtees also sweeping around the back of the Scot. Brabham, meanwhile, screamed back into the race as the leaders came flying down the start/finish straight, with Ginther leading from Surtees and Clark, with Hill battling with Bruce McLaren for fourth although all five were running together.
The group promised to be a raging battle, but it was not long before Surtees and Clark broke free after taking Ginther. The second group, battling for sixth, featured Willy Mairesse, but it was not long before he hit strife in a horrifying accident. As the second pack came charging through the Flugplatz for a second time, the Ferrari got airborne before slamming back down onto a bump that threw the car off the circuit. The scarlet car slid towards the woods, clipped a ditch and spiralled into the air before landing back in the ditch.
Mairesse was freed from the wreck with a badly broken arm which would ultimately end his career, although there was a far more horrendous injury sustained. A young Red Cross volunteer named Günther Schneider was stationed at the Flugplatz, and so saw the Ferrari tumble into the ditch. Unfortunately, a wheel was torn from the car and thrown straight at the young German, killing him on impact although this was not known until the end of the race.
As the accident was pieced together, the battle for the lead was becoming more intense, with Hill falling away halfway through the second lap. That left Surtees and Clark on their own, Ginther now battling McLaren for third until the New Zealander suffered a suspension failure through Aremberg on lap four. With the cars travelling through the left-hand curve at high speed, McLaren's car was sent straight into the woods, wrapping itself round a tree and leaving the New Zealander unconscious. Otherwise, the Cooper-Climax driver was unhurt, and would be released from hospital a few days later with no signs of serious, or even minor, injury.
Back with the lead battle and Clark managed to get by Surtees numerous times, although every time he did so the Climax engine spluttered and allowed the Ferrari to draw itself back ahead. From the pits the engineers diagnosed a misfire, although the intermittent nature and Clark's ability to drive around the issue meant he was not called in. By lap five the Scot was motioning to the pits that the car was beginning to get worse, but he fought on regardless with Surtees just keeping the Ferrari dancing enough to prevent the green-gold Lotus behind when the latter was running healthily.
As they battled a few more retirements were reported, the most worrying being an accident for Tony Settember, although it was quickly established he had escaped without injury. Dan Gurney, meanwhile, was forced to limp into the pits with a gearbox issue, while Portuguese débutante Mario Araujo de Cabral was out with a similar issue. Maggs was also in strife, an increasingly poor sounding engine dropping him further behind Ginther before ultimately retiring.
By the time the halfway mark was passed, the battle for the lead was over, Clark deciding it was not worth risking his life in the injured Lotus to try to force Surtees into a mistake. The Englishman quickly built twenty second lead over the Scot in a couple of laps before easing off himself, before the green-gold Lotus began to suffer with a gearbox issue with Clark dropping his pace even more. Surtees had taken the lap record just before Clark ended his fight, the new record now set at 8:47.0, set with still half a race's worth of fuel.
With that the race became a battle against mechanical attrition, the racing action coming to an end once Gerhard Mitter elbowed his way passed Carel Godin de Beaufort and Jo Bonnier. Bonnier would manage to respond once he had found a way past de Beaufort, although the Dutchman was having to cope with an issue through right-hand bends. A brief diagnosis in the pits determined a bearing failure causing a fair amount of play on the left rear wheel, with de Beaufort heading back out to get to the end. Unfortunately, as the car came through the Adenau-Forst, the hub sheered off the axle having cracked around the pierced holes in the hub, with the Dutchman at that point travelling at 100 mph. However, the road was largely clear of the woods at that point, and so the Porsche was able to stop off the circuit without further damage or an accident.
Jo Siffert ran in a well earned fourth place as the retirements flashed by, until the Swiss racer succumbed to a differential failure. That left Bonnier and Mitter in a fight for fourth and fifth, until the Swede limped into the pits with a chassis problem. With only a lap to go the Cooper-Climax car was sent back out to claim the final point, with a large gap behind to the recovering Brabham. As Surtees stormed onto the final lap a light drizzle began to fall on the circuit, but with just a few minutes left and only nine cars left running, there was little chance of the rain affecting things.
So it proved, for a little over nine minutes later the scarlet Ferrari flashed across the line, Surtees adding his name to the Grand Prix winners list for the first time. Clark, meanwhile, nursed the Lotus across the line now over a minute behind, most of the time being lost once he was signalled by the pits that Ginther was too far behind. Indeed, it was a further minute and a half before the American appeared to claim third, before a long pause before Mitter swept home to take his first points finish. The German was also the last man on the lead lap, with Jim Hall and Bonnier completing the scorers.
The full results for the 1963 German Grand Prix are outlined below:
|5||20||Jim Hall||Lotus-BRM||14||+1 lap||16||2|
|6||16||Jo Bonnier||Cooper-Climax||14||+1 lap||12||1|
|7||9||Jack Brabham||Brabham-Climax||14||+1 lap||8|
|8||4||Trevor Taylor||Lotus-Climax||14||+1 lap||18|
|10||28||Bernard Collomb||Lotus-Climax||10||+5 laps||21|
|Ret||17||Carel Godin de Beaufort||Porsche||9||Wheel||17|
|Ret||22||Mario Araujo de Cabral||Cooper-Climax||6||Gearbox||20|
- * Siffert was still classified despite failing to complete the final lap.
- 50th World Championship start for Jo Bonnier.
- Last start (out of total of twelve) for Willy Mairesse.
- Maiden victory for John Surtees.
- Ferrari claimed their 36th victory.
- Also the Scuderia's first win since the 1961 Italian Grand Prix.
- First and only time that Jim Clark finished second in a World Championship race.
Although John Surtees had stolen a win from Jim Clark to deny the Scot victory for only the second time all season, the result did little to affect the World Championship standings as the field left for the final European round in Italy. Clark had seen his Championship lead drop by two points to lead by twenty points, with Surtees now his closest challenger, having overtaken Richie Ginther who was a consistent scorer for BRM. Graham Hill's title defence now looked to be over, the Englishman dropping to fourth and now 29 points behind, while Dan Gurney completed the top five.
Again, there was little movement in the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers, although Surtees' victory did promote Ferrari into third, level on points with second placed BRM. Lotus-Climax continued to dominate in the final round before drop scores were applied, while Cooper-Climax were displaced by Ferrari and dropped to fourth. Brabham-Climax had also lost out to the Scuderia, dropping to fifth, with Porsche, Lotus-BRM and BRP-BRM rounding out the scorers list.
Images and Videos:
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: GERMAN GP, 1963', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr117.html, (Accessed 08/06/2016)
- ↑ 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 2.67 2.68 2.69 2.70 2.71 2.72 2.73 2.74 2.75 2.76 2.77 D.S.J., 'The 25th German Grand Prix: A well-deserved win', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport Magazine, 01/09/2016), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/september-1963/28/25th-german-grand-prix, (Accessed 07/06/2016)
- ↑ 'Germany 1963: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1963/allemagne/engages.aspx, (Accessed 07/06/2016)
- ↑ 'Germany 1963: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1963/allemagne/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 07/06/2016)
- ↑ 'Germany 1963: Results', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1963/allemagne/classement.aspx, (Accessed 08/06/2016)
|V T E||German Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Nürburgring (1951–1954, 1956–1958, 1960–1969, 1970–1976, 1985, 2007–2013*), AVUS (1959), Hockenheimring (1970, 1977–1984, 1986–2006, 2007–2014*, 2016, 2018)|
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|* Nürburgring and Hockenheimring alternated between each other during these years.|
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