The unstoppable Jim Clark
The year proved to be a memorable one for Jim Clark and Lotus. Clark won seven races in all. It was the most devastating display of craftmanship by a single driver since the great triumph of Alberto Ascari 11 years previously.
Absent from the tracks in 1963 was the Porsche team, which had withdrawn to concentrate on sports car racing. The German marque would be back as an engine-supplier more than 20 years later. The Lotus, BRM and Cooper line-ups were unchanged but, as usual, the off-season had been busy. Having lost his Porsche ride, Gurney teamed up with Jack Brabham to drive the double champion's own cars. The promising Bowmaker/Lola team withdrew, and the cars were bought by Reg Parnell for young Kiwi, Chris Amon.
With Bowmaker out, Surtees moved to Ferrari. He joined Belgian Willy Mairesse, who had shown some promise in the past. The Ferrari breakaway had spawned a new team, ATS, and a pair of works Ferrari drivers, Phil Hill and Baghetti, both jumped ship. They would come to regret their decision.
Clark led the opener at Monaco, but retired when the gearbox broke. It was to be his only retirement in an exceptionally reliable year for Lotus. With Clark out, Graham Hill and Ginther scored a one-two. Clark's luck changed at Spa, and he took a memorable win in the rain, ahead of McLaren and Gurney (scoring the Brabham team's first top three finish).
It was the same story at Zandvoort, where Clark led all the way to win from Gurney and Surtees, and at Reims, where even a misfire could not stop him. Clark scored his fourth win in a row at Silverstone, while Surtees took second after Graham Hill ran out of fuel on the last lap. Surtees had threatened to win for a couple of years, and he finally came good at the Nurburgring, scoring Ferrari's first success since Monza in 1961. Clark took second, ahead of BRM's Ginther.
At Monza Ferrari had a new chassis, which was designed to accept the forthcoming 1964 spec V8 engine. Clark headed home Ginther and McLaren, and clinched the champ- ionship - even though there were still three races to run. Graham Hill headed Ginther and Clark home at Watkins Glen. Clark was stymied by a flat battery, and had to start from the back.
The Mexican Grand Prix was in the championship for the first time, and Clark scored his sixth win of the year. He added a record seventh in South Africa in December to cap an amazing season. Before dropped scores were taken into account, he had amassed 73 points.
Brabham finished second in Mexico and then team-mate Gurney repeated the feat in South Africa, showing that "Black Jack" had got his sums right, and would be a force to reckon with.