The 1969 Monaco Grand Prix took place on May 18th. This is a nice photo of Chris Amon with the Ferrari 312 practice car (hence the “T” on its nose) rounding Portier on the Grand Prix circuit during Saturday practice with the signposts at the apex before entering the tunnel. This car is in its “wingless” form as after Friday’s practice it was ruled that new times had to be set without the high wings which had failed and caused serious crashes at the Spanish Grand Prix at the Montjuic city circuit in Barcelona two weeks before. Wings would be ok now only if they were part of the bodywork. All Amon now had were those little front winglets.
The Ferrari 312F1 was now becoming rather long in the tooth, being a design which was in essence then three years old, an eternity in Formula 1. As a result, by 1969 Ferrari was in one of their F1 doldrums, with only Amon’s superb and often unrecognized talents to give them a shot at a win. For 1970 Mauro Forghieri would design a new 312, the 312B, with a flat 12 motor, both lighter and offering a lower center of gravity, which would lead to new successes for the Scuderia. Of course, unlucky Chris Amon had chosen to leave the team at the end of 1969…
Nevertheless, Amon set the second fastest time at Monaco and started on the front row next to Jackie Stewart’s Matra MS80. This was in itself a notable achievement, given the heavy weight and rather limited power of the Ferrari motor. The fine New Zealand driver ran second to Stewart until his differential failed on the 17th lap. But Stewart’s day would also end only six laps later with a broken driveshaft. This let Graham Hill’s Lotus 49 into the lead which he retained to the finish.
This was just another in the long line of unexpected retirements for competitive cars well driven by Chris Amon.
Photo by Günther Molter ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com