Jackie Stewart completely dominated the Grand Prix of Germany and Europe at the Nurburgring last Sunday to win at an average speed of 86.87mph, giving Ken Tyrrell's Matra-Ford its second grand prix win in the wet this year. Stewart, who was still driving with one hand in its special support, took the lead halfway round the first lap, and held it right through to the finish, setting the fastest lap in the process.
One of the features of the race, which was run in atrociously wet conditions, was the battle for second place between Graham Hill's Lotus 49B and Chris Amon's Ferrari, which was resolved when Amon suffered differential trouble and spun with only three laps to go.
Jochen Rindt took third place in a four-cam Brabham ahead of Jacky Ickx in the second of the works Ferraris. Hill still leads the World Championship with 30 points, although Stewart has now moved up to second place ahead of Ickx.
The vast expanses of the Nurburgring need no restrictions on size of entry, so it wasn't surprising to find that the AVD had gathered together the biggest entry of the season. In typical teutonic fashion they had included Kurt Ahrens in a third Repco-Brabham and Hubert Hahne in a 2.1-litre Lola-BMW, requiring Vic Elford, Jackie Oliver, Piers Courage and Silvio Moser to compete for the three remaining places on the grid, despite the fact that all four have already gained championship points - a ridiculous situation. Although Jo Bonnier was entered, he decided not to run, as his McLaren-BRM is at the moment still uncompetitive.
Most formidable among the contenders were the Ferraris. SEFAC had brought along three cars as usual, including a brand new car, 0015, for Ickx. Amon was to drive the same car he used at Brands Hatch (0011), but old 0007 had been left at Maranello and Ickx's Rouen-conquering car, 0009, was the spare on this occasion.
The two veteran cars had been stripped and rebuilt, but the specification of all three remained identical. The gap in the chassis number progression is accounted for by the Formula 2 Dinos, which have even numbers in the same sequence; 0013 was not used.
Hubert Hahne in the 2.1-litre Lola-BMW © LAT
After their initial total domination of the British Grand Prix, the Team Lotus cars were basically similar, although Oliver's old-type ex-Tasman, ex-Jo Siffert 49 had been brought up to 49B specification, using bits off the car he demolished at Rouen. The only thing still original was the monocoque centre section, which had been cut about to take the rear suspension, and now carried a Hewland FG 400 gearbox.
Hill's car had needed new rear uprights and driveshafts after the British Grand Prix, and Lotus had made up some shafts using parts from Mercedes and BRD bits in an effort to find transmission joints that could take the increased loads incurred by the use of the wing. Both Lotuses were fitted with steel-braided brake lines to give a harder pedal.
Siffert's British GP-winning Rob Walker Lotus 49B had also had its transmission strengthened, and all three cars had been fitted with struts from the bottom of their bell-housing adaptor plates to the cross-member to try to distribute the loads more evenly.
The McLarens appeared in their usual form, Denny Hulme's unaltered since Brands save for the omission of the rear aerofoil. Bruce McLaren's car was the original M7A/1, which had been fitted with 13 inch wheels and the original front suspension geometry. M7A/2 had been brought along as a spare, easily recognizable by its extra lines of rivets down the sides of the monocoque.
Brabham had joined the three-car set, arriving with Rindt's and Black Jack's usual BT26s as well as a brand new but incomplete four-cammer as a spare. They also had the old BT24 twin-cam for Ahrens to drive under the Caltex Racing banner. Brabham has been busy testing at Goodwood and the fuel system has now been changed as a result, with altered pick-ups and a new catch tank for the overflow; the wings on both cars were also higher.
Completely unchanged since they last appeared, except for wider wheels, were the BRMs for Pedro Rodriguez and Richard Attwood, although Courage's Parnell car had grown an aerofoil above its engine. John Surtees' Honda featured a longer exhaust system and a brand new engine, RA301 E803. The car was sitting higher than before to allow for the 'Ring's bad bumps, and a new aerofoil had been added. Contrary to popular belief the old aerofoil on the Honda had been rubber mounted, and its failure was due to poor materials.
Matra Sports arrived with their usual pair of MS11s for Jean-Pierre Beltoise. The newer of the two was fitted with an aerofoil whose pitch was controlled by a small electronic motor coupled to operate when the brakes were applies; there was also an override switch. The older car was still running with the original six-pipe exhaust system and a mass of rather untidy plumbing over its gearbox, indicating that they haven't had time at Velizy to update it.
Ken Tyrrell's Matra International MS10 for Stewart featured some new magnesium front uprights designed to reduce camber change on lock, but was otherwise unchanged. A second car was brought along as usual, and Johnny Servoz-Gavin had been busy learning the circuit all week, although there was no official entry for him. Tyrrell tried to get another entry accepted, without success.
Official lap record holder Dan Gurney brought along the Eagle, unaltered since Brands Hatch, although a brand-new engine had been fitted. The Eagle also had the honour of having the widest rear wheels in the race, measuring 16.25 inches across and shod with Goodyear's widest tyre yet - a 13.2 inch footprint.
Cooper-BRMs appeared for Lucien Bianchi, who knows the 'Ring well, and Elford, who is in an equally knowledgeable position. The Coopers were unchanged except for the addition of the large aerofoils above the engines. Hahne was entered in an official BMW 2.1-litre car; this was basically a Lola T100, reworked somewhat and fitted with the old Apfelbeck 16-valve F2 engine, bored and stroked to 2.1 litres and fitted with a Hewland gearbox.
Graham Hill shelters from the rain © LAT
The ever-changeable Eifel weather made a mockery of practice. In theory there were three practice sessions, two on Friday and one on Saturday, but the little weathermen excelled themselves. Friday's morning session was reduced to a fog-shrouded farce, while the afternoon session had to be called off because of lack of visibility.
On Saturday it rained and the mist was thick round the circuit, and it looked as if there would be no practice at all; but towards the end of the afternoon the mist lifted slightly and the organisers decided, after consulting the GPDA, that the cars could go out after all.
The AVD then decided to run a further practice session on Sunday morning. Conditions for this were no better, for although the visibility had improved, the track was virtually awash after heavy overnight rain, and it continued to fall steadily.
In the first session on Friday the track was damp and patches of mist made the drivers doubly cautious. Little were they to know that these were the best conditions they would experience. Ickx, who knows the 'Ring inside out, soon showed his worth to Ferrari by getting round in 9m04s, over 10s faster than team-mate Amon, who was next fastest. Chris had the benefit of a full day's testing on this circuit the previous month and it was serving him well, for he only did one complete lap!
After the Ferraris came Rindt in the four-cam Brabham, who only did a few laps before deciding that his engine needed changing; nevertheless his time of 9m31.9s made him third quickest, just ahead of Hill, who also did few laps.
The Honda gave Surtees a nasty moment when the throttle stuck open thanks to the return springs failing. Big John brought the Japanese car back to the pits on the ignition switch and had no further opportunity for practice; however his time of 9m53.8s made him sixth fastest - much to his surprise. Elford was the one to astound the pundits, getting the Cooper-BRM round 0.8s quicker than Surtees - yet another to demonstrate the value of an intimate circuit knowledge.
Courage was by far the fastest of the BRM drivers; his time of 10m00.1s was 19s faster than Rodriguez and over a minute quicker than Attwood in the works cars. Siffert got round in 10m03.4s in the Walker Lotus, but Oliver's car was still being screwed together in the paddock.
Brabham had no reason to hurry at this stage, as his time of 10m38.4s indicated; neither did Gurney, who just wanted to make sure that the Eagle was on all twelve. Ahrens, having his first F1 drive for Brabham, very sensibly took it easy and his time was not indicative of his ability. Both Bianchi in the Cooper-BRM and Beltoise in the Matra V12 doddled round, as did Hahne in the Lola-BMW.
The first practice session did not give a fair indication of what we could expect, for everybody was anticipating better conditions. Stewart, Hulme and McLaren did not even bother to do a complete lap - they must have been kicking themselves the following day. The Friday afternoon session was finally abandoned after the cars had sat waiting in front of their pits for the weather to clear.
On Saturday morning the cars didn't even get as far as the pits, and it wasn't until 3pm that the word came through that the circuit was open for practice. Once again the drivers were disinclined to have a real go, still hoping that Sunday morning would provide a dry track that they could actually see.
Stewart decided he had better get in a few laps and, on a soaking track, set fastest time in 10m00.4s in the Matra-Ford, on the same type of grooved Dunlop tyre he used to win at Zandvoort. Next quickest was Ickx in the Ferrari, whose time was almost exactly a minute slower than his previous day's best and 4s slower than Stewart - the Ferrari was on grooved Firestone YB11s.
Both Rindt and Gurney looked very spectacular, their cars sliding wildly on the slippery track, but both got down to exactly the same time - 10m13.9s. Rindt tried out the new car just in case he or Jack were forced to use it for the race. The Eagle's handling was not pleasing the Californian, who was also troubled by damp ignition, which made the engine sound flat.
Oliver was having an unhappy time with what was virtually a new Lotus 49B, and came in to comment after being black-flagged: "As if the mist and rain aren't enough, some bastard has dropped oil all round the track," he lamented. Then he found out he was the culprit, as his catch tank was filling up and pumping oil out through its breather. Team-mate Hill was more fortunate, and his time of 10m 14.6s made him fifth fastest.
Surtees was finding even less traction with the Honda than his competitors, and was once again wondering whether his limited-slip was the culprit, for Hill on identical tyres had succeeded in out-accelerating the Honda from one corner while John just got wheelspin. When asked what he thought of the conditions by a newsman, John's reply was the understatement of the year. "It's not very nice out there," he said. Amon certainly didn't like the wet, yet his time of 10m17.4s in the Ferrari was nearly half a second faster than Surtees.
Vic Elford takes flight in the Cooper © LAT
Brabham tried hard in his four-cam, but the conditions were against him and he was half a dozen seconds slower than Surtees, and only just faster than Elford, who was thriving on the difficult track.
Jack's engine eventually ran out of oil, and the spare engine from the new BT26 had to be fitted to his car. Elford had a big spin going in to the South Curve but, although he left the track, the car was undamaged. Both he and Bianchi tried the large aerofoils Cooper had brought along, and commented on the improved stability, although Bianchi didn't go that quickly as he only did a couple of laps.
There was quite an appreciable gap in the times after Elford, with Siffert and Rodriguez next up. Attwood was only 7.5s slower than Pedro with a time of 10m48.2s, but Courage, already assured of a good place on the grid, didn't bother to try hard. BRM tried various roll bars and damper settings but conditions made it impossible to appreciate any improvement.
The McLaren pair were very unhappy. Hulme was the faster with 10m52.9s, but Brucie couldn't set a time, his Ford engine sooting plugs all the while. Hahne tried some very narrow Dunlop tyres on the Lola-BMW and recorded a creditable 10m56.5s, although compatriot Ahrens had trouble with the twin-cam Brabham and was not competitive. Unhappiest of all however was Beltoise, who only did a couple of laps in the Matra, which doesn't seem to be showing its Zandvoort form these days.
The question of qualification never came up for Moser, for the oil pump seized on his Vogele Brabham and damaged the bearings.
For the additional practice session the track was awash, with deep water lying in places, and mud washed across the circuit making it all the more slippery. The Ferraris, Cooper-BRMs and Siffert decided the session would serve no useful purpose and didn't go out.
Despite the near impossible conditions, Stewart hurried the Matra-Ford round, eventually getting down to 9m54.2s, a pretty impressive performance. The Tyrrell team even found time to try out a wing, but Jackie said he couldn't feel any great difference. However, Friday's times meant that Ferrari had the pole position, with Rindt also on the front row. Hill's time put him on the second row with Elford, and Surtees. Courage shared the third row with Stewart.
Graham Hill attacks the attrocious conditions © LAT
Hulme and Beltoise both improved their times, Denny getting down to 10m16s for a place on row five, while JPB managed 10m17.3s on the very last lap of practice. That moved him up from the rear of the grid to the same row. Oliver, worried that everybody else was going quicker, got down to 10m18.7s and then, in one last final fling, put the Lotus into the hedge on the third of the fast right-handers going down to the bridge before Adenau Crossing, tearing off two wheels. Although the race was due to start only two and a half hours later, somehow or other the Lotus boys managed to repair the Lotus in time.
Gurney's Eagle still seemed to be handling oddly and the American driver was unable to improve on his Saturday best, but McLaren used the extra session to good purpose, improving his time by nearly 30s. Neither Hill nor Rindt could improve on their times, while Surtees contented himself with trying out a variety of wet-weather tyres. Hubert Hahne was again impressive and improved to 10m42.9s in the Lola-BMW.
Undeterred by the atrocious weather, the crowds still flocked to the circuit, their enthusiasm apparently undampened. Because of the morning practice the start was delayed by 45 minutes. Despite reports that the weather was lifting there was no sign of a break, and the starting area was still covered by a white and very wet blanked of mist and rain. There was hardly a spectator to be seen, for they were all hidden under an undulating mass of multi-coloured umbrellas.
At 2.30pm the cars lined up on the dummy grid, which was a bit of a shambles. The starting procedure had to be seen to be believed; the order to start engines came two minutes before the start and, by the time the cars moved forwards onto the proper grid, most of them were on the boil.
When the flag finally dropped and the cars roared towards the South Curve, sending up great white plumes of spray. Poleman Ickx was a trifle heavy on the throttle and provoked too much wheelspin, and it was Hill's Lotus, coming through from the second row, which took the initiative. Amon's Ferrari and Stewart's Matra were close behind the Lotus as all three tore in to the North Curve, while behind them Gurney, Rindt and Ickx were dicing furiously. Stewart was determined to get the lead, and as they went into Adenau Crossing, he had passed Amon's Ferrari and was right on Hill's tail. By the Schwalbenscwanz the young Scot had taken the lead, and as they roared past the pits at the end of their first lap the Tyrrell Matra-Ford was already 8s ahead.
Bruce McLaren navigates the Karussell © LAT
Amon was now locked in combat with Hill, while behind them Rindt was leading Gurney and Ickx in the second Ferrari. Surtees had been behind the Gurney Eagle, but his engine was off-song and when Ickx's Ferrari had passed him he came in to the pits for a plug change. Courage lay seventh ahead of Brabham and Hulme, who was leading Siffert, Rodriguez, Beltoise, Ahrens, Oliver, Bianchi, McLaren, Hahne and Attwood. Elford went off the road at Schwalbenscwanz when he was blinded by spray, the Cooper-BRM spinning into a couple of stout posts and wiping off a front and rear wheel; Vic however was unhurt.
By the second lap Stewart had pulled a further 25s ahead, the blue Matra looking solitary but secure at the head of the field. Amon was no closer to Hill's Lotus, and both were drawing away slightly from Gurney and Ickx. Brabham had passed Courage's BRM, which was now being challenged by Hulme's McLaren. Siffert in the Walker Lotus was having a hard time staying ahead of Rodriguez, who was pushed along by JPB's Matra V12. Ahrens, Oliver, and Hahne were some way further back, leading Bianchi, McLaren and Attwood.
By lap three Stewart was 37s in front, with Hill plus three on Amon; Rindt's four-cam Brabham still lay fourth, but Ickx's Ferrari was now in fifth place having passed Gurney at the Flugplatz. The Eagle then punctured a front tyre at the Karussell when the Californian got a wheel on the grass and hit a sharp rock, which gashed the sidewall. Gurney continued round to the pits to change the wheel, and when he restarted he was behind everybody but Surtees, who was in at the pits again trying to find out what was wrong with the Honda's engine.
Hulme had got past Courage to claim seventh place, slipping by the BRM as they went into the North Turn, while further back Siffert was in imminent danger of being taken both by Rodriguez's BRM and the French Matra. Ahrens, Oliver and Hahne were circulating in close company, the works Lotus slowed drastically by its accident; although it had been rebuilt in time for the start, the geometry was way out and Oliver had 10 degrees of negative camber on the left-hand rear wheel.
Still the two Ford V8-engined cars of Stewart and Hill continued to lead, but the gap between them had now grown to 59s. All eyes were now on Amon, who was having a big go to get by Hill and had closed to within 1.7s of his rival. Ickx in the second Ferrari was pressing Rindt hard, and both were moving up towards the leaders. Jack Brabham now lay sixth from Hulme and Courage, with Rodriguez now in ninth as Siffert was in the pits with engine trouble. The Walker mechanics changed the plug, but to no avail, for like Surtees' Honda, the car had boiled on the line. Both Siffert and Surtees did a few more laps before retiring.
With five laps completed the scene looked set for another Stewart victory, for the Scotsman's lead was now 67s and there was no-one to challenge him in the entire field. Hill seemed well able to hold Amon at bay, while Rindt's lead over Ickx suddenly lengthened dramatically when the Belgian, whose visor was completely misted up, arrived at North Turn quicker than he expected and spun away valuable seconds.
Jean-Pierre Beltoise would crash out © LAT
However the second Ferrari was in little danger from Brabham, for the latter was nearly two minutes in arrears, still leading the group consisting of Hulme and Courage, who were fast being joined by Rodriguez. Oliver, despite rear-wheeled steering as a result of his unorthodox geometry, had passed the German pair of Ahrens and Hahne who had suddenly reversed positions. Bianchi retired the second Cooper at this stage, as a leaking fuel bag had covered him in petrol and he decided he had had quite enough.
By half-distance there was no doubt that Stewart was master of the situation. The Ford-engined Matra was sounding as strong as ever and was now 90s ahead of Hill and Amon, who were still scrapping furiously for second place, and still running virtually nose to tail. Rindt was now a solitary fourth, for Ickx had lost further time by coming in to the pits to discard his misted visor; he arrived too quickly to stop and continued without protection for his eyes. Brabham was being made to work hard for sixth place by the scrap behind him, still led by Hulme from Courage, Rodriguez and Beltoise, all of them fighting every inch of the way.
With eight laps completed and only six to go Stewart set the seal on his total domination by again setting fastest lap, circulating in 9m36s and drawing away still further from the Hill/Amon battle.
Further down the field Brabham, despite problems with a sticking throttle, had drawn away from Hulme, who was now being pressed really hard by Rodriguez who had passed Courage. Gurney was coming up fast through the backmarkers and was now in 13th place, about to pass Oliver's Lotus.
Out in the lead Stewart continued his relentless pace, 1m52s now his advantage. Amon was still very close to Hill with Rindt catching both of them, sliding the four-cam Brabham wildly out of the chicane.
The hottest battle was still between Hulme, Rodriguez and Courage; Beltoise had left the road just before the right-hander below the Karussell, the Matra's fuel system being damaged when the car struck a bank. Apparently JPB had been trying to pass Courage and left his braking too late. Ickx, who was still lying a secure fifth, had been into the pits again to collect his now clean visor, for the rain was still coming down hard and the young Ferrari driver was almost blinded.
With only three laps to go Stewart's engine sounded as healthy as ever but he still didn't ease up, although he was now over two minutes ahead of the Lotus/Ferrari duel. As they went in to their 12th lap Amon looked as if he was going to pass the Lotus at any moment, for he was only a length behind and pulling out of the spray as if to pass. But the cruel luck which has dogged Amon throughout the season struck again. Something was apparently amiss with the limited-slip diff, and going in to the second part of the North Turn the Ferrari spun wildly on the slippery surface, finishing up on the grass bank completely undamaged but stuck firm in the mud. However, Amon's pursuit of the Lotus had confirmed his ability as a wet-weather driver.
Hill, not realising Amon was no longer behind him (all he could see in his mirrors was spray), continued to press on, and in his efforts spun in the Esses after Hohe Acht, stalling the Lotus in the middle of the road. Glancing nervously over his shoulder, expecting Amon's Ferrari to come hurtling out of the mist at any moment, the Londoner got out of the car - which had refused to start on the button - turned its nose down the hill, engaged the starter and a gear at the same time and rejoined the race. This series of manoeuvres cost him a minute and probably gave him a few grey hairs to boot.
Dan Gurney fights his way back through the field © LAT
There had been other place changes that lap, for Rodriguez had caught and passed Hulme as they went down to Adenau Crossing, the McLaren driver letting the Mexican through as until then he had been unaware of the speed at which he was being caught (he couldn't see his own pit signals).
As Stewart started his last lap he had it in the bag, for his lead over Hill's Lotus was only a fraction under four minutes. Hill, on the other hand, had Rindt hard on his heels, and was having to work overtime to hold his place, but the Australian's efforts came to nought for the enormous sheet of spray created by Hill's Lotus made it far too dangerous to pass. Rodriguez had closed right up on Brabham, but he too found the spray too much and decided it was safer to stay where he was.
Shortly before the finish Stewart came up to lap Oliver just before Adenauer Forst; he didn't see the Lotus until he was almost on top of it and suddenly saw the wing emerging from the spray ahead; he had to brake violently and gave himself a nasty moment.
As the final minutes ticked by the tension was unbearable, but the Tyrrell team need not have worried, for Stewart is not one to make foolish mistakes. As the Matra appeared over the brow, hats shot into the air in triumph - they had won again. Now all the attention turned to Hill - could he hold off Rindt or not? Four minutes after Stewart had crossed the line Hill flashed across too, still 6s ahead of Jochen. Ickx took a lonely fourth place for Ferrari, but only 10s separated Brabham, Rodriguez and Hulme, who filled the next three places.
Hill still leads the World Championship with 30 points, although Stewart has now moved up to second place with 26, three more than Ickx. Brabham's fifth place gained him his first two points of the season.
Dunlop were delighted with their second grand prix victory of the year; the 226 compound seems an ideal wet weather tyre. They are fortunate that Stewart demonstrates its potential so convincingly. The last time anyone could remember this race being run in such dreadful conditions was in 1936, when Bernd Rosemeyer won in an Auto Union.