The 1967 Belgian Grand Prix, officially known as the XXVII Grote Prijs van Belgie, was the fourth round of the 1967 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit on the 18th of June, 1967. The race would be remembered as the first triumph for Dan Gurney in his self-built Eagle-Weslake, a week after he helped Ford to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The New Yorker's weekend had started brightly when he put the Eagle on the front row, although he was three seconds off of Jim Clark in the new Lotus 49. Graham Hill sandwiched the Eagle in the second Lotus 49 by taking third, while Chris Amon would start fifth as the best of the Ferraris who had been beaten badly at Le Mans a week earlier.
At the start it was Clark who shot into the lead of the race while Gurney forgot to get his car into first gear, meaning he plummeted down the order. Jochen Rindt, Jackie Stewart and Mike Parkes, although at the end of the opening lap there would be a huge accident at Blanchimont that reduced the field.
Stewart's BRM had started to drop oil on the circuit as the field began to make the return run to the pits on the opening lap, and it was Parkes who was first to hit the oil slick on the flat out Blanchimont corner. The Englishman lost control on the slick and was sent into the trees at over 150mph, the resulting impact writing off the car while Parkes would be thrown from the car with broken legs, a broken wrist and a nasty head injury which would end his F1 career.
Parkes' accident promoted Gurney back into the top five, and when the New Yorker claimed both Amon and Rindt ahead, the latter being well off the pace, the Eagle was on for a podium. Stewart, meanwhile, was hunting down Clark for the lead until the Lotus stopped to have its spark plugs changed.
That left Stewart in the lead from Gurney, the New Yorker having slowed in the pits when Clark stopped to report a fuel pressure issue. The twelve second gap that had opened was steadily coming down, until Stewart hit gearbox problems, requiring him to hold the lever in position to maintain the gear, allowing Gurney to close even more.
The battle between them was short and decisive, with Gurney taking the lead on lap 21 and never looking back, crossing the finish line over a minute in arrears. Stewart claimed second despite having to run for half the race one handed, half a minute clear of third placed Amon. Rindt was the last man to stay on the lead lap, with Mike Spence and Clark completing the points.
Spa-Francorchamps had long since established itself as the home of the Belgian Grand Prix, and despite the huge accidents in the 1966 race, nothing had changed. The 14 kilometre circuit was known for its sweeping corners, most of which were taken with the throttle wide open to produce an average speed of 140 mph or more. The entry list would be the same as it had been for the Dutch Grand Prix two weeks earlier, although most of the drivers would be making their way to Belgium after battling in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
One of those teams to have had a busy week over in France were Ferrari, who brought their usual trio of drivers who had all been denied victory at Le Mans. Ludovico Scarfiotti and Mike Parkes had shared a car on their way to second in the Great Race and would race in Belgium too, joining F1 team leader Chris Amon, who had gone out early on. The three Ferrari cars on offer for their drivers would be the same as those issued to the drivers in the Netherlands, with Parkes getting the long wheel-base car as usual.
There were also no changes at Honda, where John Surtees had the familiar pair of cars to choose from, their efforts being thrown at a new design still being developed in Japan. Cooper-Maserati had a B-spec version of their T81 for Jochen Rindt, supported by Pedro Rodríguez in the factory effort. The Cooper compliment was supported by Jo Siffert (Rob Walker Racing Team), Guy Ligier (Privateer) and Jo Bonnier (Ecurie Bonnier) who were all happy to run the older cars.
Lotus-Ford Cosworth were back with their triumphant Lotus 49s, with both Jim Clark and Graham Hill getting new engines. Brabham-Repco had the same quartet available for Jack Brabham and Denny Hulme, although the development BT19 had a new gearbox design to compliment the new Repco engine. BRM decided to mix and match their cars, Jackie Stewart given the H16 car to pair with a Tasman Championship V8, while Mike Spence got a Tasman car and the new P115 to test.
Anglo American Racers, meanwhile, looked to be out to compete, fielding two cars for Dan Gurney, fresh from his Le Mans victory with Ford, and for Bob Bondurant. They also entered a car for A. J. Foyt, but this was soon switched for Bruce McLaren, until engine problems made it impossible for the third car to run. McLaren's own car was away being rebuilt, while the privateer field was expanded to include Chris Irwin (Reg Parnell Racing) and Bob Anderson to battle the Cooper privateers.
A first victory of the season in Holland had launched Clark into the top three of the Championship, although he was seven points off of early leader Hulme. Pedro Rodríguez split the two as the other race winner of the season, although he looked more likely to slip down the order than put up a title fight. Brabham and Amon completed the top five, both sitting on seven points but with Brabham ahead courtesy of his second place.
Brabham-Repco were still leading the way in the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers, leaving Zandvoort with a healthy seven point advantage over Cooper-Maserati. Lotus-Ford were in third thanks to Clark and the new Lotus 49, their points from running the BRM engine not added to their tally under FIA rules. Ferrari were up to fourth, with the next factory effort being Honda down in seventh.
The full entry list for the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix is outlined below:
Practice/qualifying were scheduled Friday and Saturday, with both sessions held in the afternoon, between 4:00pm and 6:00pm. Both sessions were held in perfect conditions, a rarity for Spa, with the Saturday session seeing a steady rise in temperature. The target time for the fastest drivers would be a 3:38.0 set by John Surtees to grab pole in 1966.
First out onto the circuit was Jim Clark in the Lotus 49, which was noted for featuring small winglets on the nose. Colin Chapman believed that the 49's sleek body would cause the front end to generate lift at 190 mph, the maximum expected speed at Spa, so the winglets would be used to deflect air to push the front of the car back onto the circuit. After spending most of the Friday session at a cruise to test the principle, Clark and Graham Hill were sent out to push, with the Scot recording a stunning time of 3:29.0, although Chapman believed there was more time to be found.
The only pretender to the Lotus wings seemed to be Dan Gurney in the sole running Eagle-Weslake, although he had to rely on bravery rather than innovative aero. On the New Yorker's final lap the timekeepers recorded his car as the second quickest in the session with a 3:31.2 lap. The Anglo-American effort was looking in good shape, and significantly better than the Anglo-Australians Brabham-Repco, who had handling problems.
Saturday saw the first hour dominated by Ferrari, who allowed Chris Amon to go out and push having run in a fresh engine on Friday. Ludovico Scarfiotti and Mike Parkes were also running well, the Italian pushing slightly harder to beat the Brit by over half a second. They were also quite content to be ahead of ex-Ferrari racer Surtees, who was struggling in the Honda which looked fairly dated as work continued on its replacement in Japan.
The final hour of practice saw the times plummet once again, started by Clark when he left the pits with Scarfiotti and Amon in his wake. The Scot decided to back out of his lap when he noticed them, allowed them to get well ahead, and then stroked out a stunning time of 3:28.1. Gurney cemented second place by matching his Friday time, aided by the fact that Hill was denied a chance to improve with an oil leak, while Jochen Rindt pushed the B-Spec Cooper-Maserati into fourth ahead of Amon.
The full qualifying results for the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix are outlined below:
|1||21||Jim Clark||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||3:29.0||3:28.1||—|
|3||22||Graham Hill||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||3:32.9||3:33.4||+4.8s|
|14||26||Denny Hulme||Brabham-Repco||No Time||3:40.3||+12.2s|
The Belgian Grand Prix was scheduled to start at 3:30pm on Sunday afternoon, with the Grand Prix drivers taken on a pre-race parade by the locals, before getting a single lap in their Grand Prix cars. They were then assembled on the dummy grid before the start proper, although there would be an issue for Graham Hill on the front row, who was left on the dummy grid with a flat battery. Everyone else was ready to go, with Jim Clark and Dan Gurney going to battle from the remains of the front row.
When the flag dropped it was the green-yellow Lotus that surged ahead of the rest, leading the plunge into Eau Rouge and Radillion. Gurney, in contrast, had hesitated as the flag fell, and so tumbled down the order, with Jochen Rindt, Jackie Stewart, Mike Parkes, Chris Amon, John Surtees and Pedro Rodríguez all ahead before the hill climb. Speaking of hills, Graham Hill was finally able to freewheel into the pits for a fresh battery, but by the time he was back up to speed the field were two thirds of the way round, thundering through Stavelot.
End of the opening lap and Clark was sprinting away at the front, already a couple of seconds ahead of the next bunch. Behind him came Stewart, who had put a late move into La Source on Rindt to move into second, with Amon also slipping through. There was a car missing from this group, however, with Amon not looking too happy despite moving into a podium position.
The missing car proved to be Parkes in the #3 Ferrari, with news of the accident only coming through when Surtees retired with a broken camshaft at the end of the lap. While coming through Blanchimont, Stewart's BRM had started to drop oil, onto which Parkes, as the next car on the circuit, drove straight into and was sent into a slide. There was little the Englishman could do to slow the car before it went onto the grass, with the car getting wrapped around a tree after Parkes had been thrown out of the car during a barrel roll. Having hit the ground at 150 mph, the Ferrari driver's racing career would be over, with two badly broken legs, a broken wrist and a nasty looking head injury, although many were glad to see that he had survived.
With the circuit ambulance enroute to the Parkes accident, Clark was pressing on out front, recording a new lap record at 3:35.9 on the second lap. Stewart was just about hanging on in second, although he was more underthreat from Gurney, who had pressed on during the second lap to take Amon, Rodriguez and Rindt. The New Yorker's surge had also aided Jack Brabham in rising through the order, the Australian now sat behind Amon after a disappointing qualifying session in the experimental Brabham-Repco.
The back runners were enjoying a terrific scrap, with Jo Siffert and Jo Bonnier going to battle in a fight that also featured Denny Hulme. The Championship leader was having a miserable time in Belgium, his 1966 car simply off the pace, and only just ahead of the low budget privateers Bob Anderson and Guy Ligier. They were still ahead of Hill after he was forced to make another stop on the second lap, before ending his race on lap three with a clutch problem on lap three.
The leading trio were soon well clear of the rest of the pack, and as Parkes arrived at the circuit medical station on lap five, Clark, Stewart and Gurney were over thirty seconds ahead. The leading Scot then began to push his Lotus 49, without the winglets, to the limits to try and pull clear of his countryman. The surge resulted in a twenty second lead for Clark by the time the field completed lap ten, with Stewart still being stalked by Gurney in third.
As Clark pushed on, more news on Parkes was emerging from the circuit medical station, with the Ferrari team told the Englishman only had a broken leg and wrist. The message "PARX OK" was displayed on a board as Amon and Ludovico Scarfiotti came past on lap eight, the Ferrari management hoping this would raise the hearts of their drivers who had seen the huge accident. Both of them needed a boost, as Amon had since fallen behind Rodriguez, whose Maserati engine was spraying oil into the face of the New Zealander.
Suddenly, the Lotus garage became a hive of activity, as Clark stopped on lap twelve, his Ford Cosworth engine only running with seven cylinders. The Scot would require a new spark plug to be fitted after one had been over-tightened and hence failed during one of the long full throttle runs. Stewart went sweeping by as the Lotus came to a stop, but the silver-blue Eagle of Gurney would make a detour before going ahead, the New Yorker shouting to his crew about having low fuel pressure before storming off after the new race leader.
By the time Clark rejoined he was behind Stewart, Gurney, Brabham, Rodriguez, Amon and Rindt, but was fortunate to avoid a scrap between Scarfiotti, Spence and Hulme. Stewart, out front, now held a fourteen second lead over Gurney as the race reached half distance, before a huge gap back to the third placed group, being led by Rodriguez once Brabham hit trouble. Clark was back in the pits with a second spark plug problem, while Hulme was out of the race on the same lap as teammate Brabham when their two Repco engines expired.
Clark re-emerged a lap down and refused to stop again when his clutch began to stick, damaging the gearbox everytime he went to change gear. The Scot would have to run for most of the second half with only two gears, third and fifth, although he was not the only Scotsman with gearbox trouble. Indeed, race leader Stewart was having to battle with his car as much as he was with Gurney, when the H16 BRM rediscovered its ability to damage gear linkages, meaning Stewart would have to hold the lever in position to keep the car in gear.
One handed driving was not the way to get quick times around Spa, and Gurney began to really cut into the lead, gaining four seconds a lap as soon as the BRM began to struggle. The result was a dead heat on lap 21, with Gurney and Stewart side-by-side across the line to start the lap, before the New Yorker swept ahead through Burneville. The question now was whether Amon could claim snatch second, as the New Zealander had finally managed to clear the two factory Coopers and left them for dead.The final laps were tense for the BRM team, with Stewart's pace falling further and further below Amon's, while Gurney danced away up front. Their only hope for victory would now be if the Anglo-American Eagle hit mechanical trouble, although those hopes were slim despite the small amount of blue smoke emitting from the exhausts. Elsewhere, Rodriguez's race was ended by an engine failure, a shame for the Mexican as he had been having a strong race, just ahead of teammate Rindt in the B-Spec Cooper.
Finally, Gurney was able to round La Source to collect a first win for his Eagle-Weslake effort, a huge boost to the team who finally looked to have the car sorted out. Stewart was a tired second, well received by the BRM team, who were pleased to see the Scot finish with the troublesome H16 car, despite the fact he had been leading. Amon ended up forty seconds back in third after another difficult day for Ferrari, who looked to have lost another driver, while Rindt was the last driver on the lead lap. Spence brought the second BRM home in fifth, while Clark put together a spirited performance to pass Scarfiotti and Siffert after his second stop to claim the final poit.
The full results for the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix are outlined below:
|5||12||Mike Spence||BRM||27||+1 lap||11||2|
|6||21||Jim Clark||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||27||+1 lap||1||1|
|7||34||Jo Siffert||Cooper-Maserati||27||+1 lap||16|
|8||19||Bob Anderson||Brabham-Climax||26||+2 laps||17|
|10||32||Guy Ligier||Cooper-Maserati||25||+3 laps||18|
|NC†||2||Ludovico Scarfiotti||Ferrari||24||+4 laps||9|
|Ret||22||Graham Hill||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||3||Clutch||3|
- * Rodriguez was classified as a finisher despite retiring.
- † Scarfiotti, in contrast, could not be classified as he failed to complete 90% of the race distance.
- Fourth career win for Dan Gurney.
- Maiden victory for Eagle as a constructor.
- Also their first visit to the podium.
- First and only victory for Weslake as an engine builder.
- Weslake also had their maiden visit to the podium.
- First fastest lap for Eagle-Weslake.
Victory for Dan Gurney, the fourth different winner in the first four races, launched the New Yorker into the top five, just a point behind Jim Clark. Leading the way was Denny Hulme, who had failed to score for the first time at Spa, although he maintained a five point gap back to second. That position was being held by Pedro Rodríguez, although he was level on points with Chris Amon, who was the only member of the top five not to have won a race.
Brabham-Repco still lead the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers despite failing to score, with Cooper-Maserati continuing to tick off points in second. Ferrari remained in third, seven points behind, with Lotus-Ford Cosworth in fourth. Gurney's win put Eagle-Weslake into fifth ahead of BRM, before two privateer entries found themselves ahead of Honda and McLaren-BRM.
Images and Videos:
- YourSaviour, 'The Exciting Racing Sounds of Grand Prix - Spa Francorchamps (F1, 1967, part 4)', youtube.com, (YouTube, 23/04/2013), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1KfPVy-10E, (Accessed 14/08/2016)
- ↑ 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 1.15 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: BELGIAN GP, 1967', grandprix.com, (Inside F1, 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr154.html, (Accessed 13/08/2016)
- ↑ 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 D.S.J., 'THE BELGIAN GRAND PRIX: Grand Prix Reality', motorsportmagazine.com, (MotorSport Magazine, 01/07/1967), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/july-1967/22/belgian-grand-prix, (Accessed 14/08/2016)
- ↑ 'Belgium 1967: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1967/belgique/engages.aspx, (Accessed 13/08/2016)
- ↑ 'Belgium 1967: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1967/belgique/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 14/08/2016)
- ↑ 'Belgium 1967: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1967/belgique/classement.aspx, (Accessed 14/07/2016)
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