So F1 fans chin up! The new season starts four months today in Australia. Time will fly by. So to help fill the void in your life caused by lack of racing here is a quick trip back to the golden early days of Formula One in the 60s and 70s.
In some ways it is a bitter sweet journey for many of the stars of these images met awful premature deaths. You look at Jim Clark winning the US Grand Prix in 1967 knowing that a few months later his life would be claimed by a tree at the notorious German Hockenheimring circuit. Then there’s the fresh faced Jochen Rindt, the man many predicted would dominate F1 in the 70s who lost his life while practising for the Italian Grand Prix in 1970. He was just 28 years old.
I am also reminded of the really stupid deaths like that of British driver Thomas Pryce who was killed after a collision with a marshal who stepped on to the track at the 1977 South African Grand Prix.
Heaven knows what kind of impact these deaths must have had on the other drivers. And spurred on by a public, who were now getting sick of seeing images of grieving girlfriends with tear-filled eyes tucked behind their shades and the staff of constructors teams with ever more furrowed brows, Jackie Stewart and other drivers embarked on a long journey to make the sport a safe one.
In spite of the tragedies though,there is something incredibly glamorous about F1 in the 60s and 70s. Maybe it is clothes, the hair (or the sideburns as a certain person got bang on here), the curved shape of the cars or the stunning backdrops of circuits like Monaco (when they weren’t only a quick and cheap Easyjet flight away), but it just seemed way more sophisticated, elegant and classy back then.
Much of that elan was captured in the 1966 John Frankenheimer-directed film Grand Prix in which an American driver played by James Garner battles it out with French counterpart Yves Montand . The film wast a staple on TV in the 70s and 80s but doesn’t get screened as much now. It is worth watching for a gripping story line, some gorgeous photography and the cameo appearance of French singer and style icon Francoise Hardy.
So enjoy these images and let’s celebrate the all too brief lives of some of F1′s true giants.
Pics from PA
Classic Silverstone pic from the 50s
Line-up for the W.D. & H.O. Wils Trophy at Silverstone, Northamptonshire