1964 Mexican GP: Breathtaking title´s decision
Graham Hill set off for the final GP of the season leading with five points over John Surtees and nine points over Jim Clark.
Despite his favouritism for winning the title, Hill extolled the camaraderie that existed between the competitors on the day before the Grand Prix, as he said:
"I have known and raced against Jim Clark and John Surtees for five years," …"Although we may give the appearance of being deadly enemies once the flag has dropped, we are in fact good friends.
"There is a very high sporting code in grand prix racing. We, all of us, at some time or another, put our lives in the other chap's hands: In any tight situation our life will depend on the other man's skill and this knowledge means there has to be a rigid code of chivalry among us."
That said, Hill admitted that: "The world championship is worth far more than money: to win it is the ambition of every grand prix driver."
At qualifying Clark gets the pole, while Surtees and Hill were 4th and 6th, respectively, on the grid. At race beginning, Hill and Surtees lost positions and Clark could be champion. But Hill recovered and on lap 12 he was 3rd, which would give him the title. However, on lap 30, Hill's car exhaust is touched by Bandini's Ferrari and started to lose power, which delays him irremediably. Meanwhile Surtees gained positions. At the entrance to the antepenultimate lap, Clark was the virtual champion because Surtees was only 4th and Hill was 11th. Then it happened a huge “coup de théâtre”, when Clark's Lotus engine failed and he lost the first position and any chance of being champion, passing that possibility to Hill because Surtees was only 4th. But drama hadn´t finished yet and at the entrance of the last lap, Ferrari team manager, realizing that Surtees could be champion if he reached the 2nd place, beckons to Lorenzo Bandini to slow down and to let his teammate pass. And so it happened, becoming John Surtees, the 1st and only champion to date, in the maximum categories of racing car and motorcycling.