Graham Hill


Drivers World Championship

Lotus Manufacturers Championship

FOR the second time in his career Graham Hill has won the right to wear the World Champion's crown; that six years have elapsed between his two titles is a tribute in itself to his dogged determination and dedicated, businesslike approach to his chosen profession.

In terms of sportsmen, he is, at the age of 39, no ,chicken; but his 13 years of motor racing - experience have given him a style and finesse of driving which, though he does not stand out as a "natural", reflect his meticulous attention to detail and make him one of the fastest and most polished performers of the present era. It might al most be said that rather than driving a car, he compels it into submission by imposing his will on it, making it do what he wants it to do. His rigid self-discipline and singleness of purpose are so effective that he rarely makes a mistake or is caught out by the car. His accidents have been few, and of those in which he has been involved, the cause could usually be laid at the door of mechanical failure.

It could be said of Graham's 1962 Championship that he won it when a mechanical failure in Clark's car robbed Jim of the title in the last race of the series. But no such thing may be said this time for, although mechanical failure in Stewart's car eased the pressure in Mexico, Hill has been leading the points standing throughout the season. For Team Lotus, who have won the Manufacturers' Championship, Hill's title is the crowning glory to a season that had such a disastrous opening. To understand why or how a chap wins such a title these days, one has to understand the make-up of the person. One of the most important factors is to have a shrewd knowledge of which car to be in at the right time. Graham had his first works drive in formula 1 with Team Lotus, but after two disastrous seasons he left them at the end of 1959 to join B R M saying he would never drive for Lotus again. His first two years with that team were not exactly brimming over with success and there were many who said that he had jumped out of the frying pan into the fire. But by dint of perseverance, hard work and his not inconsiderable mechanical aptitude,

Graham did much to establish the BRM as a world-beater. This came to fruition in 1962 when BRM won the Manufacturers' Championship.

The announcement that Graham was to team up with Lotus in 1967 came as a great surprise to the racing world, and the pundits once more shook their heads. At the end of the year it began to look as if they may have been right, for he finished in only three of the 11 races of the series. Graham's pertinent comment was that if he had wasted a year by changing to Lotus, he would only be wasting another year by changing to someone else for 1968.

That he stayed with Lotus demonstrates the tenacity of the man, for there can be little doubt that he had been greatly disillusioned about his cars' reliability throughout the season. But stay he did, to find that, although not perfect by a long way, his reliability record was greatly enhanced by three wins and three second places.

Graham is the best known to the general public of the Grand Prix drivers and must be the most popular. One of the functions of the World Champion these days is to be an ambassador for the sport and help to give it a good image in the public eye. Motor racing depends more and more on this appeal for its financial support through the medium of advertising. In this role one could not hope for a finer ambassador, for Graham is a 'tireless worker in the interests of the sport.

He is acutely conscious of his responsibilities in presenting a good face for motor racing to the outside world and realizes that only by so doing will the drivers be able to secure their position for the future. He devotes much of his spare time to these ends and in ceaseless demand for a variety of functions. The content, and particularly the timing, of his speeches make him a most sought-after dinner speaker and although he sails a bit close to the wind at times, he is always extremely amusing.

Graham's diary has never had many vacant spaces, but one can be sure that in the ensuing year it will be packed to capacity; and he, of all World Champions, will not be the one to shirk his duties. Although it has its rewarding moments, the mantle of success is not always an easy one to wear.

But now let us take a look at the car that has carried Hill through the season. The Lotus 49 that started the season has gone through a metamorphosis of body style as well as being. re-named the 49 B after suspension modifications were introduced for the Grand Prix of Monte Carlo. Basically the machine is the same as that raced during 1967, from a chassis and engine point of view. The body styling, if it may be called such, first adopted a high tail which was followed by the fashion of an elevated negative lift aerofoil at the rear and similar purpose protrusions on either side of the nose cowl.

One has become accustomed in past years to find that Lotus Grand Prix cars have had a decided edge on the opposition in terms of speed but this has not been the case during 1968. The main reason, of course, is the Ford policy of allowing Cosworth to sell their vee-8 Grand Prix engines to other competitors, McLaren and Ken Tyrrell. This has evened out the competition greatly and it has been reliability that has won the day more often than out-and-out performance.                                                        .

But in summarizing the 12 chief events of the year the main weakness has been in the Lotus components and transmission, on one occasion the offending part being a wheel which sheared its spokes. This same experience also occurred on a formula 2 car Graham was driving at Crystal Palace, and team mate Oliver had a recurrence of the failure at Watkins Glen.

In South Africa, Hill was placed second after Stewart dropped out; he won the Spanish race, but only when the leading bunch of Rodriguez, Beltoise and Amon retired one by one; but at Monaco he dominated the race and won. this classic for the fourth time. He was never really in the picture at Spa, and retired when an overheated universal joint gave up the ghost, while at Zandvoort he was unable to stay with Stewart and Beltoise and their wet-weather Dunlops, but placed 9th in spite of making one of his rare mistakes and having an accident.

Once again the drive shaft department let him down in France and a broken universal joint put an end to his winning run in the British GP.

The German was noted for its appalling weather conditions, but Graham drove to a well deserved second place. In Italy the spokes of a rear wheel sheared and in Canada he had perhaps the most unusual ride of all. The car started to break in two, and although he had never been with the leaders it was only his perseverance in carrying on that gave him a fourth place; most other drivers would have given up and gone home. Two weeks later he scored another second place at Watkins Glen after his team mate Andretti dropped back to repair a damaged nose section. The final race, and the one upon which the Championship hinged, he won in fine style, although he may not have done so had Siffert not experienced trouble.

Motor racing, however, is full of "ifs" and "buts" with the laurels going to the chap who has the fewest "ifs" and "buts". There is no denying that luck plays an important part-it would be a dull business were it not so.

Graham Hill's triumph will be acclaimed the world over, and rightly so, for it has taken a great deal of courage and determination to achieve. We wish him well, and a successful year in the "chair".

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