Well, this year marks the 40th anniversary of Jim Clark`s untimely death at the wheel of a Formula 2 car. The American Racer magazine published a 'what if' article, speculating what would have happened to Clark, had he not died so early, at 32 years of age.
'What if' scenarios for dead drivers are one of those wonders of life. Nice to put together, but totally useless. I tried a few of these with Ayrton Senna, and in the end, the experience is more painful.
The article concludes, like I did with some of my Senna scenarios, that Clark might have ended world champion in 1968, 1970 and 1972, in other words, replacing Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt and Emerson Fittipaldi. It is based on the premise that Clark would remain a Lotus loyalist to the end of his career, concluding that perhaps Clark would have retired after his fifth world title in 1972. It saw a 1973 title as a possibility.
Clark had won the South African GP of 1968, the first race of the year, before death took him away in Germany. The race was significant not only because it was Clark's last GP, and the one in which he overtook Fangio's record of 24 wins. It was also the end of sponsorless Formula 1.
Curiously, it was the very Lotus team that began the trend of carrying conspicuous non-racing related commercial sponsorship in cars, when the Lotuses came in Red, White and Golden livery as of Spain.
You might say, so what? I think this is important, considering the long term Clark career. For Clark was not your regular Jackie Stewart or Graham Hill, who did OK under the spotlights of TV, or talking to throngs of fans, and chatting on the radio. Clark did not fully adapt to fame, and in my analysis, he would not have taken too well to the age of commercial sponsorship.
Sure, in formative years sponsors did not milk dry drivers like they do today, but I believe two years of sponsor commitments would have damaged Clark's desire to continue in the game. I basically think that yes, he might have won the 1968 title, but Stewart would still come out on top in 1969, which might have been Clark's last season. I do not see him going on to 1970 and forward.
Whether Clark would have moved to another team, I do not know. Full commercial sponsorship was widespread only around 1972, so there may have been a few teams around in which Clark would probably feel less pressured.
Thus, in my scenario, we would still end with a 3-time Clark champion, with probably 30-32 victories under his belt. And still alive today.
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Artigos de autoria de Carlos de Paula, tradutor, escritor e historiador de automobilismo baseado em Miami. Articles written by Carlos de Paula, translator, writer and auto racing historian based in Miami.
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