After dominating the previous season, 1966 proved to be somewhat disappointing for Team Lotus. The catalyst behind this had been a result of the introduction of new rules which had saw the restricted 1.5-litre engine regulations replaced to allow power plants of up to 3-litre non-supercharged or 1.5-litre supercharged.

To counter this, the team had managed to purchase a set of works BRM engines. However this solution proved futile when it was discovered that they were not really adaptable to fit the Lotus 33. Therefore whilst work took place on a replacement car team boss Colin Chapman opted to run Coventry-Climax units for the start of the season, a decision which would ultimately hurt the team’s competitiveness with the engine omitting only around 240bhp – much less that the desired 400bhp.

While Team Lotus’s form would pick up with the arrival of the BRM-fitted 43 in Italy, the damage had already been done which made it even more imperative for 1967 to be a success.

Central to this resurgence would be the brand new Ford Cosworth Double Four Valve engine, which Chapman had managed to secure the exclusivity of for the year. At a 90 degree angle, with a twin-ohc and aluminium shell, the V8 DFV could initially roar to 400bhp per 9000rpm, giving the team plenty of power to play with. To maximise this, Chapman entrusted designer Maurice Phillippe to incorporate the engine as part of the chassis design – the first time Lotus had opted for this route.

What resulted was the Lotus 49; a straight forward aluminium monocoque with the traditional rear suspension fitted to the engine through triangulated frames. But while on paper the car looked promising, enough to tempt Graham Hill from BRM, it would still take time to iron out the initial teething problems – meaning that the Englishman would have to start the season alongside Jim Clark in the older car and, importantly, without the DFV.

Ultimately this resulted in a difficult start to the year for the British duo, with Brabham’s Denny Hulme shooting off into a tight lead over Pedro Rodriguez in the Cooper. However fortunes would be about to take an upturn by the time the teams reached Zandvoort in the Netherlands for round three of the season – with the 49 was now ready to make its first bow.

Nevertheless Lotus would not be alone in bringing new machinery, with Brabham bringing its BT24, BRM bringing a lighter P83 and Ferrari entering its new Tipo 312 for the third car of Ludovico Scarfiotti.

All this meant that the opening day of practice proved to be pretty quiet, with the only real action happening in the final few hours. Immediately Hill got to grips with the new 49 and began to show its potential, topping the standings with a time of 1:25.6, 0.2 of a second faster than Gurney.

However it was not an easy induction for Clark, who was irritated by the unpredictable handling of his new vehicle and could only set a time good enough for eighth. The Scotsman’s woes would be further compounded on Saturday when his car’s rear hub was split due to a ball-race failure. This forced him to sit out the rest of the day as his team-mate cemented his pole position by shaving a second off his earlier effort.

Sunday opened to dry and bright conditions as the drivers lined up to tackle the track nestled between the sand dunes. However, as Hill managed to out drag Gurney and Brabham off the front row off the line, there was commotion as an over-eager official stood in front of the Cooper-duo of Jochen Rindt and Rodriguez and temporarily boxed up the rest of the field.

Thankfully all of the driversand the flag bearer would be unharmed as Hill completed the opening tour around two seconds clear of Brabham with Rindt, Gurney, Amon and Clark following slightly further behind.

By lap 3 Gurney and Rindt were locked in a fierce duel, with the former being passed and then being forced to surrender the position back to the Austrian as the Westlake engine in his Eagle began to slow and forced him into the pits with a faulty fuel metering unit.

While Gurney would return for a brief spell before being forced to park his car, Clark had found his way by Chris Amon’s Ferrari to move up to fourth. However it was tragic news at the front for the leading Lotus when on lap eleven Hill’s DFV engine suffered a camshaft failure, forcing the Englishman to pull over to the side of the track.

This allowed Brabham into the lead, with Clark now fully in his stride and moving up into second past Rindt on lap fifteen. One lap later and the Scotsman moved into the lead and pulling away, as he swiftly disposed of the reigning champion. Meanwhile Clark’s compatriot Jackie Stewart had moved his BRM up to sixth ahead of Rodriguez, before closing down the twenty-second gap to Rindt by lap thirty to fifth.

Rindt’s problems would be compounded when he was forced to retire a lap later with poor handling, while Rodriguez also ground to a halt with a broken gearbox.

Meanwhile at the front Clark had managed to open up a considerable gap over Brabham and continued to pull away until he crossed the flag, some 23.6 seconds ahead and delighting those on the Team Lotus pit wall. Some two seconds later Denny Hulme led home his fellow Kiwi Amon, with the other two Ferraris of Mike Parkes and Scarfiotti securing the final points positions.

Although Clark’s victory would be the first of many for the DFV, an engine which would go on to dominate the sport up until the early 1980s, it would not allow the revered Scot to clinch his elusive third crown. Neither would it deliver much success for Hill, as the 49 suffered constant teething problems handing the initiative to Jack Brabham and eventual champion Denny Hulme.

Nevertheless the 1967 Dutch Grand Prix would be yet another demonstration of Clark’s brilliance, Team Lotus’s innovation and the unpredictability of the sport at the time.

1967 Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort  (June 4):

1. Jim Clark (Lotus-Ford) 2:14:45.1
2. Jack Brabham (Brabham-Repco) + 23.6
3. Denny Hulme (Brabham-Repco) + 25.7
4. Chris Amon (Ferrari) + 27.3
5. Mike Parkes (Ferrari) + 1 Lap
6. Ludovico Scarfiotti (Ferrari) + 1 Lap
7. Chris Irwin (Lotus-BRM) + 2 Laps
8. Mike Spence (BRM) + 3 Laps
9. Bob Anderson (Brabham-Climax) + 4 Laps
10. Jo Siffert (Cooper-Maserati) + 7 Laps
Ret John Surtees (Honda) Throttle
Ret Jackie Stewart (BRM) Brakes
Ret Jochen Rindt (Cooper-Maserati) Suspension
Ret Pedro Rodríguez (Cooper-Maserati) Gearbox
Ret Graham Hill (Lotus-Ford) Engine
Ret Dan Gurney (Eagle-Weslake)

References:

Lang, M. Grand Prix: Volume 2 (Haynes, 1982).

Tulloch, A. Jim Clark: Grand Prix Legend (Orion, 2008).

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