CLARK VS. HILL
INTO THE LION’S DEN...
It took a bold man to take on Jimmy Clark in his
prime within Team Lotus...and Graham Hill was one
hey weren’t the two best Formula 1 drivers. Jimmy Clark was the standout alent of the era, but Dan Gurney, John Surtees and, arguably, Jack Brabham were ahead of Graham Hill when it came to natural talent – with an emerging Jackie Stewart showing Clark-like flair, too. But Hill was the only one of Clark’s rivals who had sustained success over the six seasons Jimmy had a frontline car. Englishman Hill was at his best as the
hunter, wringing the neck of his BRM.
Scotland’s Clark was an absolute natural,
whose blend of peerless speed and a
delicate touch made him the ideal driver
of the more fragile Lotus cars. He tended
to destroy the opposition from the front,
as his 33 pole positions, 25 wins, but only
one runner-up finish starkly indicate.
Hill beat Clark to the win at Indy (although
many still dispute that…).
In 1962, unreliability ruined Clark’s
challenge to Hill and BRM, but with the
Lotus 25 more willing to go the distance
in ’ 63, he was nearly unbeatable. In ’ 64,
both were beaten by Surtees in a bizarre
finale in Mexico that saw Clark’s Lotus
expire while leading in the closing stages
But then a peculiar thing happened:
Hill left BRM and walked into the lion’s
den at Lotus to partner Clark. Graham
logged the Cosworth DFV’s first pole in
the Lotus 49 at Zandvoort, but by race
day Jimmy had adapted to the engine’s
all-or-nothing power characteristics and
took the win. He’d score three more that
year, but Denny Hulme sneaked the title
with his more reliable Brabham.
Bandini knock Hill out of contention. Clark
regained the upper hand in ’ 65, the same
year he triumphed in the Indy 500. In
’ 66, both were hampered by 2-liter
“stand-in engines” in the 3-liter era, but
In their final F1 race together, the
opening round of the 1968 season, Clark
and Hill qualified 1-2, with the Scot ahead
by one second, and finished 1-2 with
Clark ahead by 25sec. There was no
question who’d won the closing stages of
their rivalry. But it seemed right that,
following Clark’s death in a Formula 2
race in April, Hill would be the man who
won the World Championship.
This rivalry lasted just two years, but it was
a tasty one. Tyrrell’s Jackie Stewart had
two World Championships by the time
Emerson Fittipaldi had a championship-caliber car, but given that Emmo had won
in his fourth F1 start, JYS well knew how
strong the Lotus driver was.
A duodenal ulcer kept Stewart out of
one of the 1972 grands prix, blunting his
title challenge; but even if he had won that
race and Fittipaldi finished second (in fact,
Emmo won it), it would still have been the
Lotus driver who won the championship.
In ’ 73, Stewart fought back to win his third
title, the pair of them also having to deal
with the distraction of Ronnie Peterson in
the second Lotus. At season’s end, Stewart
retired, and Fittipaldi switched to McLaren.
The apex of the Michael/Mika rivalry
came at Spa in 2000, when the German
tried to usher the McLaren toward the
grass at almost 200mph. Next time
around, Hakkinen swept past Schumacher
and a backmarker in the exact same
place. Nine wins (to Hakkinen’s four)
ensured Schuey the title, however, and at
the end of ’01, Hakkinen retired.
Iceman Hakkinen saw Schuey’s best and raised it to win at Spa in 2000. Afterward they agreed to disagree about the merits of the move (LEFT).
Ill health, morphine addiction and World
War II cost Achille Varzi some of his best
years, but in his greatest period of the late
1920s to mid ’30s, he was Tazio Nuvolari’s
strongest rival. And Nuvolari is considered
by some the greatest grand prix driver of
all time. Nuvolari and Varzi were fire and
ice, respectively, but had huge respect for
each other. Nuvolari won a famous duel
with Varzi at the 1930 Mille Miglia when he
caught him by surprise near the end,
having followed Varzi for hours with his
headlights turned off.