Jochen Rindt capitalised on a last-bend error by veteran Jack Brabham to win the Monaco Grand Prix. Brabham, who led Rindt by 14 seconds with ten laps left, was a second ahead when he braked too hard on the final bend and slid into straw bales.
The March pair of Jackie Stewart, the championship leader, and Chris Amon were on the front row, but the pre-race controversy came after a series of meetings to try to settle who would take part. As it stood, all world champions and team leaders were guaranteed a start place, with the remaining six originally coming from a qualifying session on Saturday. The drivers disliked that, preferring to stick with the six fastest in practice completing the grid. On this occasion the drivers were successful and the qualifying idea was dropped. As it was, the Saturday practice session was rendered almost pointless by torrential rain.
Rindt's build-up was almost scuppered by a severe handling problem with his new Lotus 72, forcing him to revert to the old Lotus 49, and he started from the fourth row of the grid.
Stewart led until the 27th lap when he was forced to make a lengthy pit stop with engine trouble, and although he resumed he eventually retired with the same problem. That allowed Brabham to sweep into the lead, while Rindt had worked his way through the field into second by the 41st lap.
Slowly Brabham's lead was eaten away until by the last lap Rindt was all over him. Even so, on the twisty streets of Monte Carlo, Brabham was almost impossible to pass until his uncharacteristic error. "I came up behind two slower cars and decided to go inside, but left braking a fraction late, the wheels locked and that was that," Brabham said. "I would have held [Rindt] off but for the crash. It's one of the biggest disappointments of my career." Brabham, who also revealed he had driven much of the race without a clutch, was able to get going again to take second.
Graham Hill, five times winner at Monaco, also had an eventful weekend. He crashed his Lotus 49 in practice, and was obviously shaken, but took fifth after starting from the back of the grid.