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From the Motor Sport Archive
A climatic catastrophe
Brands Hatch, March 16th
This year the annual season-opener run by the B.R.S.C.C. broke new ground in Formula One racing, for instead of the usual uncontrolled and chaotic practice sessions before the race an attempt was made to produce some semblance of order and provide a more interesting spectacle for the paying customers. Unfortunately the unreliability and poor preparation of most of the Grand Prix teams, coupled with appalling weather conditions, saw the whole idea fall flat, though Graham Hill did a splendid job which saved the day on Friday. The intention was that everyone should practise freely from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Friday and get all their testing and experimenting completed, for few drivers need to learn the way round Brands Hatch, and at 2 p.m. qualifying trials would begin. Each driver would start off from the pits on his own on a clear track, do one lap for warming up and then two flying-start laps which would be timed, and then slow down and return to the pits from the lower part of the circuit, at which moment the next driver would be starting off on his warming-up lap. If a driver felt that all was not well with him or his car during the warming-up lap he could pull into the pits and nullify his qualifying attempt, and try again later. It was expected that this arrangement would produce an afternoon of record or near-record laps, especially by the stars of the meeting, that would be well worth watching. Each driver's fastest individual lap would count for his position on the starting grid. The order of running for qualifying was decided by the best lap times recorded during the morning free-for-all practice, and this was a bad mistake that the B.R.S.C.C. made. Without question they should have made the qualifying order by ballot so that the fastest drivers would almost be certain to be spread throughout the field. A worse mistake the B.R.S.C.C. made was to give the drivers the choice of going in order of morning practice times, instead of adhering to a rigid and strict schedule whereby you forfeited your run if you were not ready. The plan was to repeat the arrangement on Saturday afternoon after another session of free-for-all practice, and any lap time that improved on Friday afternoon times could be taken for the starting grid.