Jim Clark: A Feat Unrivaled 55 Years Later – How His Stats are Still Relevant Today

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Today, Formula 1 racing seasons can have more than 20 races in them. But, Jimmy Clark raced for seven complete seasons with only 10 races per season. It’s amazing that he still holds records and stands out even though he had fewer races compared to racers today.

Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher have all had a lot of success in racing this century. They have won lots of races due to their skill, plus the fact that they’ve had many chances to compete over the seasons, and throughout their careers.

Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton have all competed in a lot of races during their careers – 306, 299 and 313 Grand Prix respectively. But Jimmy Clark has only been in 72 (which is the same as three and a half seasons nowadays), yet he still appears on several ‘Top 10s’ in Formula 1 racing records.

Jim Clark

Let’s take a moment to recognize the incredible performances of legendary racer, Jim Clark. Here are his top 10 greatest race moments! On New Year’s day 1968, Jim Clark won pole position, set the fastest lap and emerged victorious in his very last Grand Prix with his Lotus 49 Ford DFV car at Kyalami.

In 1968, Jimmy Clark won his last Formula 1 Grand Prix race at Kyalami. This was his 25th win, making him the record holder for most wins and giving him a 34.7% winning rate. Even after fifty years, he’s still in 10th place on the list of all-time winners, while his win percentage is third only behind Juan-Manuel Fangio (46.15%) and Alberto Ascari (39.39%).

Clark is one of the top 10 drivers who have won the most races in their season. In 1963, Clark won 7 out of 10 races- that’s 70 percent! That’s only slightly lower than Ascari (6 out of 8) and Schumacher (13 out of 18). It’s even slightly higher than Vettel (2013), Max Verstappen (2022), Fangio (1954), and Hamilton (2020).

Jim Clark achieved an impressive six wins in ten Grand Prix with Team Lotus in 1965 – that makes it the ninth best season ever! He also missed out on competing at Monaco because he and Colin Chapman’s team chose to race (and win!) the Indianapolis 500 instead.

It’s important to note that Clark won five GP races in a row back then, a feat improved only five times since then – once by Ascari and four times since.

The best way to figure out which drivers and cars work best together is to look at pole positions. Qualifying races are short, so it’s much less likely that any mechanical issues like engine problems will mess up the results. That was more of an issue back in the 1960s than it is today.

Jimmy Clark has an impressive track record when it comes to starting from the pole position. He managed to do this 33 out of 72 races – this is a joint fifth best in the entire history, alongside Alain Prost. 45.83% of his races were started with pole positions, making Jimmy second only to Fangio and ahead of amazing drivers like Ascari and Senna!

Jimmy Clark in his Lotus car managed to qualify first position at Rouen in 1962, but his suspension let him down, stopping him from getting a podium. In the end this cost Jimmy the title in that very year.

When thinking about the fastest race laps, Jim Clark is in seventh place with a total of 28. However, when you do not include the Indy 500 from 1950 to 1960, he then comes second after Fangio in terms of the overall amount he achieved in his short career.

When we think of the legendary Formula 1 racer Jim Clark, we often remember him quickly flying off into the horizon. In fact, on 13 different occasions, he managed to be in front for each lap of a Grand Prix race. Only three other racers have ever done this more than him – Hamilton with 23 races, Senna with 19, and Vettel with 15. Even if we consider Clark’s total career achievements as a percentage, he still performed better than any other driver by leading 7 out of his 32 races from start to finish. His greatest moment was in 1963 when he led 71.5% of all laps within a single season – an unbeatable record!

Many people remember Michael Schumacher as the seven-time Formula 1 World Champion, who usually won almost every race. But did you know that he actually only led the entire race in 11 out of the races he participated in? That’s pretty impressive!

Cars used in F1 racing have not been very consistent in performance over the past 70 years, so it’s reasonable to think that the percent of races an F1 driver made it to the lead for at least one lap is a good sign of how well they raced.

Markus Winkelhock has participated in just one race in the Formula One and did really well by leading that race! But, if we exclude him, then legendary drivers like Fangio, Ascari, Clark, Hamilton have led more than 74%, 63% and 59% of their races respectively. This means Jimmy (Clark) was much better than Senna and Jackie Stewart when it comes to taking the lead during a race.

In 1963, a racing car named Lotus 25 driven by Clark won the race at Spa. It was the second of four times that Clark won races here – even though he didn’t like it very much.

Photo Courtesy: F1Flow Images

Jim Clark is amazing because he has the 8th highest number of laps led ever, even though he raced in fewer races than other drivers ahead of him. He’s also in the top 10 when it comes to winning after starting a race from pole position. His stats become even more impressive if you take into account how many times he took pole, fastest lap and finished the race in first place – 11 times which is third best behind Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton. If you measure his success as a percentage, then Fangio and Ascari are above him but he still makes third place!

Jim Clark had the most amazing Grand Prix career: He achieved 8 races where he was the top scorer in every way – from being in pole to getting a fastest lap and then even winning. The only other current driver who has come close is Lewis Hamilton, with 6 wins. But even that’s not enough when compared to the great Ascari. His career unfortunately ended after just 33 races, but out of those 33 races he won 5 in an incredible fashion!

Legendary Jim Clark’s Final Race for the World Championship in 1968

In 1965, Jim Clark won a race at a stunning track in France called Clermont-Ferrand. He was driving a Lotus 33 car when he clinched the victory – and there’s even a photo to prove it!

It can be tough to guess what would have happened if Ascari and Clark had not have bad luck. In 1955, when Ascari died, he was 36 years old. His great rival Fangio, who won the World Championship in 1950 at the age of 39, went on to win more GPs even though he was 46. That makes it clear that Ascari was a true great and may even have beaten Fangio for five titles if nothing had stopped him. He did very well in races before 1950 as well and this should definitely be remembered!

The fans of Clark don’t feel the same frustration as others, but they do share a similar pride- Jimmy’s success rate in the non-championship Formula 1 races. Out of the 53 races he took part in between 1960 and 1967, he won 19 of them for an impressive 35.8 percent success rate (which is close to what he did in official championship events). He also got 28 pole positions which accounted for 52.8 percent of all his races! Even before his 32nd birthday, Clark was already known as being great at Grand Prix racing, not even including all his other achievements such as in Indy cars, touring cars, sports cars, or Tasman cars (he won 15 out of 32 races in this competition and became a three-time champion).

Jim Clark was a two-time F1 World Champion. Even though he had the fastest car throughout his career, mechanical problems stopped him from winning more titles in 1962, 1964, and 1967. During 1967, Clark worked as teammates with Graham Hill from Lotus who already won 10 Grand Prix (GP) races before their collaboration. Despite of competing in the same equipment for 10 championship Races, Hill couldn’t keep up with Jim’s incredible skills and speed.

This picture is from 1967, and it shows three people: Keith Duckworth, Colin Chapman and Graham Hill, who are standing by a Ford Cosworth DFV V8 engine.The photo was taken by Rainer W. Schlegelmilch.

In 1967, the Formula 1 racing team led by Jack Brabham were doing great during the opening two rounds. But Jim Clark of Team Lotus, along with Graham Hill found themselves in a tight spot because they lacked powerful engines. For most of that year they had to rely on 2-liter Climax units and then 3-liter but troublesome H16 units for the last three rounds. However, Jim Clark managed to make one of these work and won in Watkins Glen. But when ’67 started off it seemed like this was their fate again – until the Round 3 came and brought with it the game changing Lotus 49 engine.

The Lotus 49’s engine was really special. The Ford and Cosworth team made a Double Four-Valve (DFV) V8 that produced 408 horsepower which was way more than the V12s of Ferrari, Weslake, Honda, and Maserati or the V8s of Repco. Even BRM’s H16 sometimes had up to 400 horses but not consistently enough to give them an advantage over the others.

Due to tax issues, Clark couldn’t go to the UK and test out the special car designed by Chapman/Maurice Philippe. This job was given to Hill instead, who started first in the car’s debut race at Zandvoort. Meanwhile, Clark had a few mechanical problems that made it difficult for him to practice driving the new car with its sudden power delivery. On the day of the race, he began from 8th place but quickly gained momentum and was in first place after 16 laps. He then held on to this spot until crossing the finish line and won the race.

Jim Clark’s incredible win at the Zandvoort raceway in 1967 was accomplished with the help of a special new car, the Lotus 49. It was driven by an engine called the DFV (Double Four Valve). A photo of him doing so can be found in Rainer W. Schlegelmilch’s collection.

Jimmy Clark was close to becoming a world champion in that year, having won three races. However, some technical problems with the car and engine stopped him from being successful. This was going to be his last race to win the title – it was on New Year’s Day in 1968 and he drove Lotus 49s which had a classic green-and-yellow colour scheme.

In May, F1 restarted for Round 2 and the Lotuses were painted with red and gold colors which represent Gold Leaf Tobacco. Unfortunately, F1’s greatest driver was not around anymore because he had died in an accident on April 7, 1968. While racing in a wet Hockenheim track, his Lotus 48 skidded uncontrollably at 140mph and smashed into a tree causing him to die instantly. Dan Gurney, who was Clark’s friend said that after this happened the world was never the same again.

Jim Clark

Hill won the 1968 Spanish Grand Prix and helped Team Lotus grab the World Championship title. But if Clark had not died, it is likely that he would have done better than Hill and taken the championship for himself. It is interesting to think about what could’ve happened—it’s kind of like guessing a different outcome.

Some people thought that after winning two championships, Clark might have decided to quit racing and go back to his family’s sheep farm in Scotland. His friend and fellow racer Stewart believed otherwise though – he thought Clark was still passionate about racing and enjoying the more luxurious life of a famous sports star living in Paris.

In 1967, Jim Clark (3) was the fastest at the Nurburgring race and was expected to win, but his car’s suspension malfunctioned while he was still leading. As a result, Dan Gurney (9) had to quit the race and Denny Hulme (2) got to take first place and built up many points for the championship.

Jimmy still didn’t like the attention he got for his accomplishments, and he knew racing was dangerous. But his mind hadn’t focused on how it could harm him yet, and overall he enjoyed competing. He was especially eager to race the Lotus 56 turbine car in the 1968 Indy 500. Unfortunately, someone who took over for him crashed in that same car which caused their death. Someone else almost won the race with it too.

Could Jimmy really leave F1 when he knew he was still the best driver – even better than the very fast Rindt, the new and upcoming star Stewart, and Ferrari’s two stars: Chris Amon and Jacky Ickx? Wouldn’t this give Jimmy motivation to stay in F1 to show off his skills against these other drivers?

Jimmy Clark drove in 72 Formula 1 Grands Prix, which is a total of 72 times races, over the course of his career with Lotus. Even though he had a great relationship with them, there was still the chance that Jimmy would switch teams if he felt like his potential wasn’t being used properly due to unreliable cars. Jackie Oliver, who was Clark’s teammate at the time, had lots of car issues all throughout 1968 and even in 1969 the Lotus 49 proved to be weak mechanically. His replacement Jochen Rindt then got five poles but only one win and seven times when he didn’t finish (DNFs). With such bad results it could make any race driver look for other options.

On December 31st, 1967 Jack Brabham and Jim Clark posed together in a photograph. Maybe Jim was going to switch to Jack’s racing team after the 1968 season ended?

Photo by: F1Flow Images.

Brabham’s and Bruce McLaren’s car teams weren’t the fastest, but they had exciting Cosworth V8 engines and were seen to be more reliable than a Lotus car. Jim Clark believed in both of them and so any driver who knew they could handle the cars properly despite their lack of speed would have found it tempting to race with them.

Elf and Ken Tyrrell could have had the money to get two of the best drivers ever, Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart, together. Gurney might have asked his buddy Clark to drive Eagles cars in USAC races during the 1970’s but not all year round. Perhaps Clark wanted more wins at Indy 500, plus some money-making events here and there.

Jimmy Clark had the chance to stay with Chapman and his Lotus brand, but instead he chose to leave Formula 1 racing. The combination of them staying together could have been great because their work would’ve included the iconic Lotus 72 racecar.

Jim Clark won a record-breaking number of races in his last Grand Prix. He would have kept winning even more titles, supplanting Fangio’s record of five World Championship titles if he didn’t miss out on three championships due to some unforeseen circumstances. Lotus 49 and 72 models used by racers like Jochen Rindt, Emerson Fittipaldi and Ronnie Peterson were quite successful after Clark’s achievement which proves it is plausible that he could have broken this record.

In 1974, when Jim Clark was 38 years old and racing Formula One (F1) cars, he had a chance to quit F1 and start farming again. He could have been young and fit enough to make a successful farmer. However, this didn’t end up happening.

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