The 1964 Belgian Grand Prix, staged at Spa-Francorchamps circuit on the 14th of June 1964, was the third round of the 1964 FIA Formula One World Championship. Officially known as the XXIV Grand Prix de Belgique, the third round of the 1964 Championship would be remembered for a dominant display by Dan Gurney, only for the New Yorker to miss out on victory in the closing stages.
The Brabham-Climax racer had claimed pole over the two days of practice/qualifying, although he did have some work to do after the start as Peter Arundell snatched the lead. A strong start from the second Team Lotus driver had seen him leap into the lead from fourth on the grid through Eau Rouge to lead a Grand Prix for the first time. Yet, the Englishman's joy was to be short lived, with John Surtees sweeping into the lead before the end of the opening tour.
As Arundell slipped down the order after his moment in the sun, Surtees began to push his Ferrari in an attempt to build a lead. But, he too was to lose out as the scarlet car ground to a halt on lap four with engine failure, allowing Gurney to slither into the lead. He was able to build up a lead, as Jim Clark and Graham Hill, the leaders in the World Championship, cost themselves time by duelling for second as the New Yorker danced on ahead.
A rare triumph for Hill over his rival saw the Englishman pull clear, leaving the Scot to fall into the clutches of Bruce McLaren, while Gurney continued to dance around in the lead. Yet, as the race entered its closing stages, Gurney's Climax coughed and died on the run into La Source, the car running out of fuel, although he was able to slip into the pits a few seconds later. He was sent straight back out as the team had no spare fuel, meaning he would be out of the race with just half a lap to go, handing victory to Hill.
Yet, as the Englishman cruised through Blanchimont to start on the final lap, the BRM spluttered too, the fuel pump draining the last of the fuel in the tank. McLaren then inherited the lead having battled his way past Clark earlier on, but his Cooper-Climax was in a sorry state, suffering an intermittent engine issue. On the run to La Source on the final lap, the Cooper's engine finally cut out and refused to start, with the New Zealander left to roll out of the tight right hander and fall to the line. As he did so, Clark came charging through the final corner to snatch the lead from the powerless Cooper, a shock victory for the Scot whom had been off the pace all weekend.
A busy few weeks since the Dutch Grand Prix had allowed the major manufacturers to build, or in some cases rebuild their challengers. Lotus-Climax were among them, with both Jim Clark and Peter Arundell opting for their Zandvoort challengers rather than the newly rebuilt Lotus 33. All three cars would be tested over the Belgian weekend, with the 33 held in reserve and for spares for the upgraded 25s.
BRM had been doing some experimentation to cure their vapour lock problems in the Netherlands, with a freshly built third car ready to race. Like Lotus, they would also be helping privateers with older ex-factory equipment, while their engineers would also be busy supporting the numerous runners using BRM engines. Brabham-Climax also arrived with a few privateers to support in Spa, alongside their race ready factory cars with Dan Gurney and Jack Brabham both surviving the deadly 1964 edition of the Indianapolis 500.
Elsewhere, BRP-BRM were back, although second driver Trevor Taylor would run the brand new BRP Mk2, while Innes Ireland chose the established Mk1. Ferrari had few worries with their new cars, both John Surtees and Lorenzo Bandini happy with the new car, while Cooper-Climax had no issues or updates for their new challengers. There was just one other interesting factory effort in the entry list, although the car itself would never turn up.
Rumours had been rife throughout the early 1960s that Honda were about to join the F1 world, with the Japanese manufacturer even developing a potential racer for 1963. That car never raced, but their new creation, the RA271 was extensively tested, documented, and based on Colin Chapman's revolutionary "monocoque" Lotus 25. The new car, featuring a red spot on the nose to symbolise Japan, also had a V12 engine mounted in the back, the Japanese engineers hoping the exploit lighter moving parts with an extra two pairs of cylinders.
Ahead of the Spa weekend, Clark arrived level on points with old foe Graham Hill, the Englishman adjudged to be ahead for reasons unknown to all bar the FIA. Arundell was in a surprise third place after two strong weekends, while Richie Ginther and John Surtees completed the top five tied on six points. Nine drivers in total had secured points in the opening two rounds, with Mike Hailwood and Bob Anderson among those on the board for the first time.
The Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers saw Team Lotus arrive at the top of the standings, one point ahead of BRM courtesy of Arundell's podium in Monaco. Ferrari were also on the board, sitting in third after their first points in the Netherlands, while Team Lotus appeared for a second time through the efforts of Reg Parnell Racing. Cooper and Brabham completed the table.
The full entry list for the 1964 Belgian Grand Prix is outlined below:
A glorious Friday evening would play host to the opening session of practice/qualifying among the woods of Francorchamps, with warm temperatures and low wind speeds meaning many would expect strong times. Saturday saw the second session of the weekend staged earlier in the afternoon, although the hotter conditions would cause problems for some of the runners. Only three drivers would not take part in any session, with Mike Hailwood ill, Maurice Trintignant racing elsewhere, and the Honda of Ronnie Bucknum failing to materialise.
Early runners BRM allowed Graham Hill and Richie Ginther to test out the new car, as well as updated gearboxes which had been bolted into the back of all three cars. BRP were also out early, both Innes Ireland and Trevor Taylor getting valuable track time in the British outfit's newly built machines. This was in stark contrast to Team Lotus, whose usual efficiency seemed to be absent, with Jim Clark swapping between cars for much of the session as Peter Arundell had to learn the circuit.
Also in a certain amount of strife were Ferrari, with both of their cars suffering from vapour lock problems due to the early evening heat (causing fuel to evaporate before it reached the engine, hence causing a misfire). This was a fate shared by many of the Climax powered runners, although Brabham seemed to be running without issue. Indeed, Dan Gurney was having an excellent evening, the New Yorker immediately getting under the two minute mark, before ending his session with a 3:50.9, five seconds faster than the next best.
With temperatures on the rise through Saturday, few doubted that Gurney's time, a little under a second off of the outright record set by his team mate Jack Brabham at the 1960 Belgian Grand Prix, could be beaten with vapour issues almost certain to arise. Ferrari were a number of teams to remove lower body panels in an attempt to cool their fuel, while BRP made the effort to mount their pumps outside of the engine bay entirely, just to the left hand side of the cockpit. Hill, meanwhile, was one of a number of drivers to have their car cut out during the session, although the Englishman managed to get a lift back to the pits to get into the cockpit of the spare.
By the end of Saturday, Gurney had indeed remained unchallenged meaning he had his second pole in as many races. Hill had improved throughout the day to claim second, just a tenth ahead of the second Brabham in the hands of the Australian team owner. Arundell was an impressive fourth, matching the double World Champion's time at a circuit he had never raced at before, while John Surtees completed the top five. Clark's terrible session left him down in sixth, although he would at least start the race, unlike Bob Anderson and Tony Maggs who had both destroyed their gearboxes.
The full qualifying results for the 1964 Belgian Grand Prix are outlined below:
- * Maggs and Anderson were unable to start due to a lack of parts.
Saturday night had seen heavy rain fall across the Spa circuit, although when Sunday afternoon arrived the track was dry and the temperature cool. With Bob Anderson and Tony Maggs withdrawn from the start without the ability to repair their cars, only eighteen cars were wheeled onto the dummy grid. Yet, there were no issues when the engines were started with two minutes to go before the start, and all of the cars pulled onto the proper grid ready for the start.
When the flag dropped all eyes were on Peter Arundell, the Englishman flicking his Lotus 25 around the front row after a perfect start. In only his third start, and his first at Spa, Arundell charged through Eau Rouge in the lead of a Grand Prix, Dan Gurney and Graham Hill slotting in behind. As Arundell flew, Jack Brabham tumbled, the Australian team owner/driver losing out to Jim Clark and John Surtees, while also being harassed by Bruce McLaren in the early stages.
Yet, as the field came through La Source at the end of the lap, it was Gurney leading, while Surtees and Clark elbowed their way past Arundell through Blanchimont. Hill had lost out in the counter charge against Arundell, falling behind his British rivals, and so had to wait until the cars steamed out of La Source to take the inexperienced Englishman. Arundell's moment in the sun was now over, with Brabham and McLaren drawing in the second Team Lotus racer as the second lap began.
Into Malmedy on the second lap and Surtees was leading, the Englishman darting down the inside of Gurney before building a small gap behind as the field completed the lap. Yet, like compatriot Arundell, Surtees' glorious display would be short-lived, with the Ferrari destroying its engine on the run to Stavelot to put Surtees out of the running. Gurney was back in the lead with Clark promoted into second, but the New Yorker already had a significant lead over the Scot whose Lotus could not match the speed of the Brabham-Climax.
Clark was soon under pressure from Hill, the latter having to shake off a counter charge from Arundell for a time before he could chase down the leaders. McLaren had also managed to slip past Arundell to join the hunt, leaving Brabham to battle with the rookie, while the second Cooper-Climax of Phil Hill battled outside the points. As Surtees dragged his ruined Ferrari back to the pits, a cylinder having melted due to the fuel mixture being too weak, Gurney ramped up the pace out ahead, running at lap record pace as he stretched out his lead.
Now began a much anticipated duel, as Clark and Hill did battle for second on lap six. The nimbler Lotus had the advantage through the run out of La Source and through the difficult Eau Rouge run, but the more powerful BRM of Hill could blast past around the back of the circuit. As the cars came through La Source at the end of the lap, Clark would dart down the inside of his English rival to snatch second back to repeat the process, although the effort was beginning to show. The Scot was having to work hard to keep with the BRM, sweat pouring from his face in complete contrast to Hill who looked in total and icy-cool control.
The intensity of their battle allowed McLaren to draw up to the back of them, and on lap nine the New Zealander had slotted in between the battling Brits. They were just one trio entertaining the local fans, although other battles were being broken up by mechanical failures. Phil Hill had been battling with Richie Ginther and Lorenzo Bandini, the latter having to struggle with a leg injury, until his Climax and Bandini's Ferrari engines destroyed themselves within a few seconds of each other. Jo Siffert, Giancarlo Baghetti and Trevor Taylor were also enjoying an exciting tussle, but it would be the Swiss driver who ended up without reward when his engine died on lap fourteen.
Back with the leaders and the British battle for second was back on, Clark having taken McLaren and resumed the pattern of pass and counter pass with his rival. Yet, as half distance approached and Gurney pulled out a thirty second lead, Hill finally managed to deny Clark the chance to get past through La Source and Eau Rouge, meaning he now had the advantage over the Scot. With Clark now facing a (literal) uphill battle to keep with the BRM and stay in its slipstream, Gurney put in a new circuit record at 3:49.8, over a second quicker than his pole time.
The pace of the second placed battle was also ramping up, Hill, Clark and McLaren all running at 3:51.0s for the first time all race, although the Scot made a mistake into La Source. The mistake almost worked to his advantage, as his lockup forced Hill wide and gave Clark the advantage once again, meaning he held the better line through Eau Rouge once again. It was an epic dice between the two, with McLaren just a fraction too far back to get involved until the second placed battle came across another duel.
On lap 21 the trio came across the Taylor/Baghetti battle at the back of the field, Gurney having already danced past the pair a few laps earlier. Hill got the job done through Blanchimont with his superiour power, but Clark and McLaren had to wait until the quartet came through La Source. They lost the tow, and despite Clark allowing McLaren temporarily by to try to drag himself back into contention, the epic duel was over.
The following laps saw Gurney push his pace up to a 3:49.2, another lap record, while Clark dropped McLaren in his attempts to hunt down Hill. Yet, the strain was beginning to show on the Climax in the back of Clark's car, and on lap 28 he slithered into the pits to take on more water. Impressive work from Lotus, who had possibly anticipated the Scot's troubles and had water ready to put into the car, saw the car topped up and sent back into the race, with the Scot emerging ahead of Brabham.
Yet, that was not to be the only drama at the front of the field, and on lap thirty Hill appeared in the lead of the race, Gurney limping through La Source after his engine cut out duel to a lack of fuel. The New Yorker could be heard shouting for fuel as he came to a halt outside the Brabham mechanics, while McLaren cruised past into second, signalling that he had an ignition problem. However, McLaren was waved by, and once Brabham confirmed they had no fuel, Gurney was sent back out for a late charge, going out ahead of Clark who was now cruising to the finish.
Into Stavelot Gurney's race was over, the New Yorker having just got McLaren in his sights when the fuel pumps drained the last of his fuel. Moments later, Hill came to grief in the same place, the BRM's fuel pump not drawing fuel from its reserve tank properly and so the engine cut out. McLaren was also in trouble, his engine constantly spluttering and cutting out only to reignite itself, while Lotus signalled to Clark to press on, with a race win suddenly materialising in front of his eyes.
The final lap was led by Hill, but when he failed to get back underway from Stavelot, McLaren inherited the lead while Clark charged past moments later. The time keepers, by this stage were in turmoil, having incorrectly given the chequered flag to both Ginther and Arundell despite them being on the lead lap. When McLaren appeared at La Source all looked to have been resolved, until the Cooper-Climax spluttered one last time and died, leaving the New Zealander to roll to line.
It was a painfully slow crawl, and as the Cooper hit 15 mph, Clark came charging out of La Source and onto the start/finish straight. The Lotus screamed past the Cooper at full tilt to earn the Scot an unlikely win, although he would not be aware of his triumph until he ran out of fuel on his slowing down lap at Stavelot, finally seeing Hill's stricken BRM. Arundell brought the race winner back having fallen several laps down, as McLaren and Brabham completed the podium after immediately stopping in the pits.
The full results for the 1964 Belgian Grand Prix are outlined below:
|5*||1||Graham Hill||BRM||31||Out of fuel||2||2|
|6*||15||Dan Gurney||Brabham-Climax||31||Out of fuel||1||1|
|7||4||Trevor Taylor||BRP-BRM||31||+1 lap||12|
|8||6||Giancarlo Baghetti||BRM||31||+1 lap||17|
|9||24||Peter Arundell||Lotus-Climax||28||+4 laps||4|
|10||3||Innes Ireland||BRP-BRM||28||+4 laps||16|
|Ret||21||Phil Hill||Cooper-Climax||13||Connecting rod||15|
|Ret||27||Chris Amon||Lotus-BRM||3||Connecting rod||11|
- * Hill and Gurney were still classified as they had completed enough of the race distance.
- † Revson disqualified for a push start.
- First entry for Honda as a manufacturer.
- Debut for Peter Revson.
- Third and final pole position for Dan Gurney.
The shock victory for Jim Clark saw the Scot surge ahead of the rest of the pack in the World Championship standings, leaving Belgium with a seven point lead. Graham Hill added two to his total to remain as the only driver within a win of the leader, while also establishing a five point gap behind. The first of the chasing pack was Hill's team mate Richie Ginther, while Peter Arundell and John Surtees completed the top five, although the latter was level on points with Bruce McLaren.
Lotus-Climax also stretched their legs at the top of the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers, taking away a seven point advantage over BRM. They were a further seven ahead of their nearest challengers Cooper-Climax, as the Cup already looked like a two horse race after only three races. Ferrari led Brabham-Climax by a single point, while Lotus-BRM rounded out the scorers.
Images and Videos:
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: BELGIAN GP, 1964', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr124.html, (Accessed 24/06/2016)
- ↑ 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 D.S.J., 'Belgian Grand Prix: An Unsatisfactory Finish', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport Magazine, 01/07/1964), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/july-1964/19/belgian-grand-prix, (Accessed 24/06/2016)
- ↑ 'Belgium 1964: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1964/belgique/engages.aspx, (Accessed 24/06/2016)
- ↑ 'Belgium 1964: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1964/belgique/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 24/06/2016)
- ↑ 'Belgium 1964: Results', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1964/belgique/classement.aspx, (Accessed 25/06/2016)
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