GRANDPRIX247 Formula 1 News Website Title Partner BCGAME

Graham Hill was the first King of Monte-Carlo

Note the fifth, the sixteenth, and the twenty-first photographs are Photographs by Dr Brian Watson

In honour of the Formula 1 legend that Graham Hill will always be, we run this piece; an incredible tale of Monaco and the double World Champion that spanned, and was synonymous with, the late fifties and throughout the sixties.

This weekend at the Goodwood Revival, on show and in parades, will be more than 30 of Graham Hill’s racing cars, 60 years after his first F1 world championship with son Damon Hill – 1996 F1 World Champion – on hand to drive his father’s cars.

Happy 62nd Birthday to Damon from the crew.

Records show that Ayrton Senna has six Monaco Grand Prix victories to his name more than any other driver in history, with Michael Schumacher and Graham Hill sharing five wins each at the sport’s most famous venue, but it is the latter who was Formula 1’s first King of Monte-Carlo.

At the age of 29, Graham made his Formula 1 debut at the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix in a Lotus-Climax but retired with an engine problem.

It took another five attempts and an F1 world championship title (1962) before he finally stood on the top step of the royal podium, winning the 1963 Monaco Grand Prix from second on the grid and heading home teammate Richie Ginther to make it a BRM one-two on the day.

A year later Hill was up against Jim Clark in the Lotus who qualified on pole for the race, Hill lined up third on the grid.

Hill versus Clark had epic F1 duels when they raced together

At the start, Clark led but the Lotus was trailing an anti-roll bar from early on in the race and he pitted for repairs which compromised his afternoon. By then Hill was up to second behind Dan Gurney, but the American’s Brabham-Climax was leaking fuel and on lap 53 the BRM took the lead.

Clark who returned to the action with a repaired car could not make an impression on Hill’s lead. Eventually, the Lotus packed up with engine problems and Hill headed home another one-two for BRM, with Ginther second again albeit a lap adrift of his teammate.

Although a second title eluded him at that point, Hill owned Monaco and in 1965 made it a hat-trick with arguably his most dominant performance. Qualifying on pole a full second faster than Ferrari driver Lorenzo Bandini and 1.4 seconds better than his own BRM teammate Jackie Stewart.

The two BRMs made strong starts, with Hill leading Stewart early on in the race. On lap 25 Hill was forced to go off the road to avoid an ailing car, which dropped him down to fifth.

He recovered and clawed his way back towards the front, overtaking Stewart and chasing down Bandini to take the lead where he stayed until the end of the 100 laps race, over two and half hours of hard graft in the cockpit.

Hill would rate that victory as one of the greatest of his F1 career.

Monaco trophies appeared to have Graham’s name etched on them before the race even started

At this point, with three victories at Monte-Carlo, Hill had surpassed Juan Manuel Fangio’s two wins and matched the three wins by Stirling Moss at the street venue.

The fourth victory did not come until 1968 when Hill qualified Gold Leaf Lotus 49B on pole by over half a second, lost the lead briefly at the start of the race but by the fourth lap he was at the front where he stayed until the end. He also claimed his second and final F1 world title at the end of that season.

The Englishman’s fifth win came a year later, again in the Lotus 49B. He qualified fourth behind the Matra duo of Jackie Stewart and Jean-Pierre Beltoise and the Ferrari of Chris Amon

Stewart roared off into the distance while Hill picked his way up the order. Half an hour into the race both Matras suffered driveshaft failures and the Ferrari blew its gearbox.

Hill was left in the lead where he stayed to claim his fifth Monaco victory, which also happened to be his final victory at the pinnacle of the sport.

Stewart has always had a very high regard for his former rival, “When Graham was winning in Monte Carlo it was considerably more difficult. You had to be right in focus all of the time in those days. We had 2,800 gearshifts – that was pretty hard on the hands (and) it was a physical race – 100 laps at that time.”

Graham drove in an era of some great F1 drivers but also a time when too many perished

Sir Jackie continued: “His greatest asset was his humour, the second was his driving. He was a great character. There were some great drivers around when Graham was racing – Jack Brabham, Innes Ireland, Jim Clark, at that time the crème de la crème – and he won the world championship.

“Graham Hill was one of the best drivers of his time, there’s no question about that,” added Stewart.

Asked in an interview about the challenges of racing at Monaco, Hill responded at the time with his typical dry humour, “Well, it was bloody hard! You get everything that you meet on a public road: Lamp posts, trees, nightclubs, houses, hotels, kerbs, gutters.”

“It’s a proper road race and in the true meaning of the word – when motor racing was first originated, it was on public roads,” added Formula 1’s first King of Monte-Carlo, whose last grand prix was at the 1975 edition of the world’s most famous street race.

Thanks to his Monaco victories combined with his triumphs at the Indianapolis 500 (1966) and the Le Mans 24 Hours (1972) he is the only man to have won the Triple Crown of Motorsport.

Watch the 2022 Goodwood Revival live stream here>>>