18 September 2013
Singapore Grand Prix: Six of the Best: Attritional Races
The opening round of the 1966 season, Monaco was also the first race for the more powerful 3.0-litre engine capacity regulations. Few teams were prepared for the new rules though, so most started the season with 1965 engines or rapidly adapted - and heavy - sportscar-spec motors.
The 1966 Monaco Grand Prix was also the first race to run with a 'classified finishers' rule – meaning that all entrants had to compete 90% of the race distance in order to be classified. Allied to these unique variables was the then traditional 100-lap race distance around Monaco's exacting streets and ever-present barriers - extending the race time to over two-and-a-half hours.
Little wonder then, with so much upheaval, that the race saw so few finishers. Despite starting from pole position, Jim Clark headed a luminary list of drivers who fell foul of mechanical gremlins, including John Surtees, Denny Hulme, Jack Brabham and Jochen Rindt.
Unperturbed through all of this was BRM's Jackie Stewart, who took a second Grand Prix win by 40 seconds from Lorenzo Bandini. 'Mr. Monaco', Graham Hill, finished a lapped third after a spin, and was followed home by only one further runner, Bob Bondurant, who finished five laps down for his first and only career points. Guy Ligier and Jo Bonnier were still running as Stewart crossed the line, but, at more than 25 laps behind the Scot, ended the race with the ignoble distinction of being F1's first non-classified finishers.
1979 US GP
(6 running at flag, 7 out of 24 starters classified finishers)
The final race of the 1979 season saw Gilles Villeneuve cruise to victory at a dismally damp Watkins Glen in the crab-like championship-winning Ferrari 312T4.
The grey autumnal fug permeating the Glen that weekend was well at odds with its traditional splendour of sun-kissed New England fall foliage, but the wet weather did give license to one of Formula One's most legendary performances. In a torrentially sodden Friday practice session, Villeneuve lapped eleven seconds quicker than the rest of the field, headed by his team-mate, newly crowned world champion Jody Scheckter.
Alan Jones took pole position on a dry Saturday, but a downpour before the start of the race turned conditions back in Villeneuve's favour. The initial start was clean, with Villeneuve leading Jones, but the retirements came thick and fast during the early stages, with Keke Rosberg, Bruno Giacomelli, Jacky Ickx, Jacques Laffite, Carlos Reutemann and Mario Andretti among those to fall foul of the slippery circuit.
The Michelin tyres on Villeneuve's Ferrari were the stronger wet weather rubber but, as the track began to dry, the Goodyear-shod Williams of Jones closed the gap, and passed easily on lap 31. Villeneuve quickly pitted to change to slick tyres in a then handy time of 20 seconds, forcing Jones to retaliate. Unfortunately for the Aussie, a bungled stop led to the right rear tyre parting company with the Williams soon after leaving the pits – forcing Jones into retirement.
After Scheckter dropped out from second with a puncture, Villeneuve coasted home unchallenged, winning by 48 seconds from Rene Arnoux and Didier Pironi. Elio de Angelis took the Shadow team's first points of the season ahead of Hans Stuck and John Watson in sixth, the final runner of the 24 who started.
1984 USA GP
(6 running at flag, 5 out of 26 starters classified finishers)
Perhaps the least remembered of the 'glasscrete' urban jungle circuits that adorned the US in the 1980s, Detroit was a notoriously tricky car-breaker set in the heart of Motor City.
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