THE MAY MEETING AT SILVERSTONE-which was held in March-wasn't a particularly good race for me. I never like to read columns by racing drivers who write on the theme of 'why I didn't win', yet I think it might be interesting to look at the race at Silverstone because I didn't use the latest MS80 Fl car but chose to race last year's MSIO

At the start of practice I fell that we had the MS80 pretty well set up although no changes had been made from Brands Hatch. In fact in the first practice session where there weren't too many cars on the track the Matra was fastest with a time of 1m 22.0s. This was over 125mph and I think most people were a little surprised that this time had been done because the previous lap record had been held by Chris Amon at 1m 25.1s.

I think the improvement was mainly due to wings in the Silverstone May meeting last year most of us had Ford engines, but none of us had wings, Silverstone being a very fast circuit with lots of curves and important brakirtg distances and certainly great importance on how early you get the power on out of the corners-wings suit it extremely well. And in my case I didn't think the car was handling very well.

In the first practice session my gear ratios weren't right so I felt confident that we could go quite a bit faster. I must admit that I didn't think I could go two seconds faster but as it turned out, I was l.lsec quicker than in the previous session. By this time Jack Brabham and Chris Amon had got to do some fairly quick motoring as well and by the end of the first day J finished up by being fastest by a bare tenth of a second over Black Jack, and in point of fact Chris Amon was only a tenth of a second slower than Jack. So it was obviously going to be a very competitive race, and this was even being done without the Lotuses being there due to some problems in fitting up engines in time. I understand that the engines were in fact delivered to Lotus by Cosworth but in fact had encountered some problems in installation.

At the end of practice I felt sure that I could go faster still, so hoping for good conditions next day I felt that we would probably have to pull out another half a second a lap, and I'm sure this will be done if an FI car does some testing at Silverstone this year.

The race itself was a pretty sad event, because the following day when practice did take place-that was on the Saturday-it was raining. The MS80, even on a proper wet Dunlop compound with grooves and almost everything going for us, just was not competitive. In fact it was something as drastic as nearly six seconds a lap down on the opposition. Now this is an impossible amount of time to catch up; I was willing to take the blame for some of that time, but I didn't think I was that off form! Really, I think we had a tyre compound problem and we had a bigger car problem.

For this reason we decided to use MSIO for the race. This was a gamble; it was a non-championship race, it didn't have the enormous importance that we would normally associate with an Fl event, although of course we were very serious about the race. We felt that our most competitive state would be with MSlO, which at least we knew handled quite well in the rain, and we knew something about it.We chose to do this and forfeited our pole position on the grid, which by this time I had raised to 1m 20.9s which was 130mph. To do this in the rain is itself a fairly terrifying experience, because to have to get through the pack fairly early on, even if there are 50 laps to go, is a major task believe me.

When the flag did drop I managed to follow Jochen through, in impossible conditions, really; murk and fog and very heavy spray so that you couldn't see anything at all. I could see the odd aerofoil from time to time but that was about all. It took me several laps to get clear of the opposition immediately around me, and by this time of course the front runners had disappeared into the distance.

In my case, when I got clear I could see a McLaren very far ahead of me, the full length of Hangar straight but then I could see only one car going down the stretch of road between Stowe and Club. So I unfortunately assumed that Denny was in second place and Jack was in the lead, because J could remember passing two Lotuses and I could remember passing the Ferraris, I was a little bit confused about where all the other cars had gone, but I noticed that there had been one accident at Becketts where Pete Lovely had gone off the road, and at the time I wasn't sure whether this was Lovely or whether it was a Ferrari.

What was disappointing, however, was that I gradually caught Denny up and eventually passed him on the entry to Woodcote, immediately before his engine blew up, and so I thought that I was in second place. But I was getting a minus 60 signal or something like that, some 15 laps from the start of the race, and I wasn't gaining but I still thought I was in second place. All of a sudden I got a plus signal on Jochen, and I could see him catching me up drastically fast in the region of two or three seconds a lap.

He passed me without any trouble at all in fact I found out from him afterwards that my spray was wetting his ignition and he took longer to pass me than he might have done under different conditions, because every time he got close enough to have a stab at me I would throw up some more water and his ignition would go off! So I think Jochen's dice with me was about two laps longer than it should have been.

When he did pass me it was a dear case of the car sticking better and Jochen driving literally inside me. He drew away at an impossible speed for me to match, but it was only after Jochen drew away that I got a signal P5, which was a big disappointment because I thought at this time I was in third place. Anyway, I managed to start catching up Piers Courage and Jacky Ickx, and eventually got onto Piers' tail. He was having the same sort of trouble as me we just couldn't get the power on the road with the narrow tyres we were using. At this time the track was drying somewhat and of course being on the narrower tyres meant that the car was unbalanced and not handling too well and we were having lots of trouble with oversteer.

Jochen had already gone belting past Jacky and Piers and was well out of sight as far as I was concerned. After I passed Piers it took me two or three more laps to get Jacky and I was having difficulty getting past, for no other reason than that he was going as quickly as I was. But I finally squeezed through on the inside at the entry to Abbey, which was a bit of a manoeuvre, because it was still a little bit wet in there.

After that I drew away enough to feel comfortable, but I was still unable to bridge any of the gap between myself and either Jochen or Jack Brabham. So in fact the race finished that way with me still a considerable distance behind, in my opinion in a very poor third place; in fact I think the third place was a much better result than the drive warranted.

We had problems; we had a car which just wasn't set up for Silverstone, As it turned out we didn't have the aerofoil angles anywhere near what they should have been, the braking balance was all wrong, with far too much on the rear, and the spring! and dampers were wrong. . . but we took a gamble and I think our result at the end of the day was better than we would have done witb MS80, because that was so twitchy that I don't think we could have driven it at the same pace.

At this time I don't really know why it should be so; we haven't done any testing since. But I don't think our compound was suited to Silverstone at all, because observers said that the people running on Goodyears and Firestones were able to put their power on the road at a much earlier wint in all the corners,

For sure, though, it's a good thing that this happened, because it has brought everybody back to reality and to realise that we have problems; far too many people were getting excited over our win in South Africa followed by the one at Brands Hatch. I think this is a good time to have some sort of setback so that we can recognise that we don't have a super car. We do have problems, and I know this after Brands Hatch; in fact I didn't think the car did very well at Brands. We won the race, but I don't think the car itself behaved as well as it should have done. When I say that, I mean that the car went perfectly, but its manners weren't right, and in this respect there is still a lot of sorting out to be done before it's perfect.

By the time you read this, we will have done the F2 race' at Thruxton. Unfortunately I am not as happy as I should be in F2; we had a competitive car last year, I think as good as any car on the track, but this year I'm afraid the car is completely unchanged, which is not a good way to go motor racing in the competitive state F2 is in today.

The reason for this is quite frankly that Matra have such a heavy development programme in other fields that they just can't afford the effort necessary to make a new F2 car; they just don't have the technicians and they don't have the drawing office staff. This is mainly due to Le Mans, because they are taking four different cars there - they are in no way alike they are putting a lot of effort into this programme, because it is their main function this year to provide a potential winner with their VI2 engine on their home ground at Le Mans.

Of course, the government and everybody concerned are very keen, that the money they have had from the state should be well spent on a project of tremendous importance to France itself.

This of course doesn't help us very much, certainly not in F2. I am writing this after practice at Thruxton which has proved that I am not competitive at all with the new Lotus; this is a new car, it obviously handles and works particularly well, and I have a situation which I don't like, the new Brabham hasn't been brought out proper]y yet, Piers Courage is still driving last year's car, and we are only' barely keeping up with the opposition-which is not as strong as it's going to be in a matter of weeks' time. The other thing is that in F2 at the moment we certainly are down on tyres; this we ought to rectify in a short time, which is certainly within the realms of possibility. But there's nothing we can do with the chassis and we arcn't going to get a new car this year. We call get a new compound. and Dunlop are working very hard on this. But even they are finding their technical resources stretched, mainly because of the effort they are putting into our FI programme. So we have a problem on either side here, which I'm not enjoying very much which could affect our competitiveness throughout the whole season.

I think that once again Jochen is going to be the man to beat or even keep up with in F2 at this stage; here at Thruxton there is a difference of a second and a half between the best Jochen can do and the best I can do.

As far as our four-wheel drive programme is concerned there is not a lot one can say at this stage. We are planning to have the car racing in the Spanish GP: it's going to be a full Ferguson system. and their people have worked in very close collaboration with Matra. This relationship has basically been very good because they are all boffins together rather than practical racing people. The Matra designers very seldom go to race meetings and look at problems purely on a technical basis.

I hope this car comes off, they are doing it in such a way that the car can be changed if we run into snags, although this is contrary to the normal way of doing things. For instance, Lotus are going to do a full monocoque four-wheel drive car straight away. This we won't do: we won't have a full monocoque, so if there's any cutting and altering to be done at least we shall be able to go ahead and do it. This I think I'm happy about, because we can then find out how the car works. and modify anq adjust it accordingly. If we put all our eggs in a monocoque basket with four-wheel drive, we arc completely committed.Lotus have the advantage of previous experience at Indianapolis which is of tremendous value, so in that respect they start off as ccrtain favourhes in the fourwheel drive stakes. In our case, I think we stand a good chance depending on the relationship between car and road, and this we don't know anything about yet. We've a lot ot testing and development work to carry out yet, but we do have the advantage of having MS80; we have a 1969 two-wheel drive car, which otherwise only the Brabham team have and of course they are going to be competitive throughout the whole season in any case even when four-wheel drive does get under way.

So at least we have a competitive car, whereas Lotus, if their four-wheel drive car does not go, may have a little trouble on their hands, However; Colin Chapman doesn't sleep on his back all that often and I can't believe that he's going to have a major problem in that field.

As I say, our car is scheduled to appear at Barcelona, subject of course to our not hitting any snags: but the programme is up to date at this time, and everyone is reasonably optimistic about the days of testing and development to come. .

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Jackie Stewart's views 1 - may '69