The 1968 Canadian Grand Prix

1968 Canadian Grand Prix
Swedish racing driver Jo Bonnier (1930 - 1972) in a McLaren B.R.M M5A, at the British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch, 20th July 1968. Bonnier was forced to retire with engine trouble after six laps. (Photo by Dennis Oulds/central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The morning of September 22, 1968, started out a bit chilly, however, the sun was shining brightly and promised to warm up the Circuit Mont-Tremblant in Quebec, Canada.

The Formula 1 season was in the middle of a huge battle for the championship that included some of the greatest names in racing.

The 1968 Canadian Grand Prix

Graham Hill was leading the fight with 30 points, in front of Jacy Ickx (27 points), Jackie Stewart (26), and defending champion Denny Hulme (24.)  The 1968 Canadian Grand Prix promised to have everyone on the edge of their seats.

Qualifying

Qualifying alone was an exciting event. Jochen Rindt nabbed the top spot after his Repco engine finally decided to work. Chris Amon put his Ferrari next to Rindt, and Jo Siffert sat next to Amon in his Lotus 49B to round out the front row.

The second row saw the fastest McLaren in the field, which ironically didn’t belong to championship contender Denny Hulme or his teammate Bruce McLaren (who could be found in row three), but instead to Dan Gurney.  Next to Gurney was championship leader Graham Hill and his Lotus. This promised to be a tremendous race.

Race Day

The race consisted of 90 laps that stretched across the lengthy circuit in St. Jovite.

Amon jumped to the lead in his Ferrari with Siffert chasing after him. Rindt thundered after them after a less than stellar start. Gurney came next with a very hungry Graham Hill behind him.

Gurney had a radiator break and on lap 26, but Hill had already passed him two laps earlier.

Siffert fell to an oil leak on lap 29 and Rindt was able to use his demise to move into second.  The new position was short-lived, however, as Rindt soon had to retire with engine failure himself.

Things looked good for Hill as he moved into second place, his prospects for some good championship points looked promising.

Unfortunately, Hill developed a serious vibration and was soon passed by both Denny Hulme and Bruce McLaren.

Hill continued to fall backward and would end up finishing fourth. Chris Amon’s Ferrari had a transmission failure and he ended up finishing ninth overall.

The McLarens continued to lead the field and the race finished with Hulme taking the checkered flag, Bruce McLaren coming in second (a full lap behind Hulme), and Pedro Rodriguez rounding out the podium for BRM.

The victory in the 1968 Grand Prix gave the defending champion in Hulme the boost he needed to sit level with Graham Hill in points.  The race for the World Championship was tighter than ever and each race, much each lap could make the difference between capturing the title or trying again next season.

Week in and week out, no driver thought they could afford to go home empty-handed.

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