Formula One racing has witnessed many dramatic finishes over the years, but in terms of sheer shock value, few come close to matching the end of the 1970 Monaco Grand Prix.
Starting his final lap, long-time race leader Jack Brabham knew he merely had to snake his way around the twisting 3.1 kilometres of harbour-side tarmac without incident to be guaranteed victory. Second-placed Jochen Rindt was right on his tail, but with overtaking so notoriously difficult at the street track - and Brabham so metronomically consistent in his driving - there seemed to be nothing standing between ‘Black Jack’ and his 15th Grand Prix victory…
Coming into the weekend, the formbook had suggested that the Tyrrell team’s Jackie Stewart would be the man to beat. In the opening two rounds of the 1970 season the reigning world champion had claimed pole and third place in South Africa and an utterly dominant victory in Spain. As such the Scotsman headed to Monaco with a four-point lead over Brabham in the standings, the 44-year-old Australian having won at Kyalami in his eponymous BT33.
Sure enough, after three days of practice, it was Stewart who emerged with the fastest time and top spot on the starting grid. Brabham, who during Friday’s sodden session had remarkably lapped the circuit with an umbrella hoisted over his cockpit, would start fourth behind Chris Amon’s March and Denny Hulme’s McLaren. Rindt, in his distinctive red and gold Lotus 49C, qualified down in eighth.
At the start, Stewart streaked away from the field and had built up a comfortable lead before being forced to pit at the end of the 27th tour when the V8 Cosworth in the back of his March developed a misfire. His misfortune was Brabham’s gain and the three-time world champion gratefully assumed the lead of the race ahead of Amon and Hulme, with Rindt further back in fourth.
Amon, so often the victim of cruel luck, would gamely keep the pressure on Brabham until lap 60 when, yet again, the New Zealander...
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