July 8, 2009

German Grand Prix: what did it look like 40 years ago?

After all the Mosley-Ecclestone stupidity of the past few weeks, it's nice to get a little historical prospective. Here is a more complete version of a clip that has been floating around YouTube for a while. In 1969 the race was won by Jackie Ickx over 14 laps of the Nordschleife. It was certainly not a small grid by modern standards but of the 21 F1 cars that took the green flag, 11 retired, mostly because of mechanical failures.

Failures have essentially been eradicated from modern F1, they still happen but nothing like back then when engines failures were only slightly more common than suspension failures. A suspension failure during qualifying killed Gerhard Mitter, the European Hillclimb champion who was driving a BMW F2. BMW retired all their cars from the race. John Surtees flat out refused to start the race saying his BRM P139 was unsafe.

Many crashed during the race, Andretti in the four wheel drive Lotus 63, Vic Elford, Piers Courage. Jo Siffert had his suspension collapse during the race and ended up crashing after the Karussel.

In the clip you see Jo Siffert and Johnny Savoz-Gavin hanging out next to their busted cars at the Karrusel, typical of the times, after getting out of their F1 cars the driver's first instinct was to find someone to give them a smoke!

(Race stats after the jump courtesy of Grand-Prix.com)

1 6 Jacky Ickx Brabham-Cosworth BT26A 14 1h49m55.400s 1
2 7 Jackie Stewart Matra-Cosworth MS80 14 1h50m53.100s 2
3 10 Bruce McLaren McLaren-Cosworth M7C 14 1h53m17.000s 8
4 1 Graham Hill Lotus-Cosworth 49B 14 1h53m54.200s 9
5 26 Henri Pescarolo *Matra-Cosworth MS7 14 1h58m06.400s (1st F2 Section) 17
6 29 Richard Attwood *Brabham-Cosworth BT30 13 20
7 20 Kurt Ahrens Jr *Brabham-Cosworth BT30 13 19
8 22 Rolf Stommelen *Lotus-Cosworth 59B 13 21
9 31 Peter Westbury *Brabham-Cosworth BT30 13 18
10 30 Xavier Perrot *Brabham-Cosworth BT23C 13 22
11r 11 Jo Siffert Lotus-Cosworth 49B 12 Suspension 4
12r 8 Jean-Pierre Beltoise Matra-Cosworth MS80 12 Suspension 10
r 15 Jackie Oliver BRM P138 11 Oil Sump 13
r 9 Denny Hulme McLaren-Cosworth M7A 11 Transmission 5
r 2 Jochen Rindt Lotus-Cosworth 49B 10 Ignition 3
r 28 Francois Cevert *Tecno-Cosworth TOO 9 Transmission 16
r 27 Johnny Servoz-Gavin *Matra-Cosworth MS7 6 Engine 15
r 16 Jo Bonnier Lotus-Cosworth 49B 4 Fuel Tank 14
r 17 Piers Courage Brabham-Cosworth BT26A 1 Accident 7
r 12 Vic Elford McLaren-Cosworth M7A 0 Accident 6
r 3 Mario Andretti Lotus-Cosworth 63 0 Accident 12
ns 14 John Surtees BRM P139 Suspension 11
ns 23 Hubert Hahne *BMW-BMW 269 Withdrew 23
ns 25 Dieter Quester *BMW-BMW 269 Withdrew 24
ns 24 Gerhard Mitter *BMW-BMW 269 Fatal Accident 25
ns 21 Hans Herrmann *Lotus-Cosworth 59B Withdrew 26

German GP, Nurburgring, August 3, 1969, Round: 7, Race Number: 180



  1. interesting in that the average lap time of Jacki Ickx was 7 minutes, 51 seconds according to my calculations. Didn't the latest GT3 beat that time @ 7:42 at the hands of Walter Rohl in 2006?

  2. it was a different, longer track configuration, but yes, it's amazing what progress has been made especially in terms of tires in 40 years. Ickx's pole lap was 7:42.

  3. I like how that was better than todays race. Looks like it would be more fun to watch. A lot more hapening with the car with out all the computer controls they have now.

    Local Abington tracktard

  4. Well, old timers always said GP racing was no good ever since drivers stopped wearing polo shirts and cloth helmets...

  5. what did it look like? it looked a hell of a lot better than it does today! That's what it looks like!


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