Lewis Hamilton declared at the FIA Prize Giving that he had had the best season of his life. This was a season which as well as giving him yet another world title also saw Hamilton score a 6th career Grand Chelem. These are the Grand slam of race weekends – pole position, fastest lap and race victory. As impressive as this feat is, the record for Grand Chelems is held by Britain’s much missed double F1 Champion Jim Clark. Many similarities can be made between these two exceptional racers.
Britain’s double F1 Champion, Jim Clark, amassed a total of 8 Grand Chelems in 32-races over a timespan of just three years. Jim Clark was not just a Formula One racer seeing how he also competed in Formula 2 as well as F1 and other categories of motorsport. Prior to entering what would be his final event, Jim Clark’s records were a total of 25 Grand Prix victories from just 72 starts. Within these 72 starts were 33 pole positions and 32 podiums. These records were prevented from further extension following the tragic crash which took Clark’s life on Sunday April 7th 1968.
On this day, over 50 years ago, Jim Clark was competing in the F2 event during a four-month gap between his final Grand Prix in South Africa. Jim Clark would never compete in another Formula 1 Grand Prix due to the fact that in what would be his last race, Clark’s Lotus had a tyre failure. This occurred in a Formula 2 race at Hockenheim in Germany and he was killed. Motorsport features tragedy throughout the years and Anthoine Hubert’s tragic passing at Spa-Francorchamps was an unwanted reminder of how dangerous motorsport is. Fortunately, in the modern era of racing, such tragedies are rare but no less painful. Motorsport is so safe that we can expect many more records to be broken by Lewis Hamilton.
As well as fans mentioning Lewis Hamilton and Jim Clark in the same sentence, there should also be room for Fernando Alonso seeing how, like Jim Clark, the Spaniard is also an all-rounder having found World Championship success in WEC as he recalled at the recent FIA Prize Giving recorded by fia.com
“I remember every lap of this championship, which was strange as it lasted one year and a half! In 2018 I was combining two World Championships – F1 and Endurance – which was very intense, but I loved the experience. Every World Championship is unique, and it’s nice to sit here as World Champion again. My first Prize Giving was in 1996 when I came with an FIA Karting World Championship, and now 23 years later, I’m sitting here with the FIA World Endurance Championship. It’s been a long career but, as long as you love what you do and you are performing at your best level, it doesn’t matter which category you are here for. The spirit and atmosphere you find in endurance racing is quite special – the friendship you have with your team-mates in both cars – all this is unique and you can’t compare with the experiences I had before.”
Whereas, Jim Clark’s path of success was tragically cut short – Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso appear to have only just begun.
We must remember the greats but not look to compare them.
Different eras of motor racing are exactky that - different. They were extremely different due to safety, speed, protection - not to mention the allocation of points for victories. The Grand Prix Calendar continues to increase in 2020 but it is due to the talent, skill, passion and sacrifice of legendary racers like Jim Clark that it is able to do so. We may not need to compare the racers of yesteryear with those of today but we should always be sure to remember them.