Jack Brabham and Jochen Rindt jostle for the lead in the final laps of the 1970 Monaco Grand Prix. In front of the mixed Monagasque crowd of kings, emperors and motor-racing enthusiasts, the three-time World Champion and the champion to-be shave the guard rails in their unrelenting pursuit of Monaco’s highest racing honour. Spectators anticipate the pair’s arrival through both the screams of the pair’s Ford engines and the rumble in the ground that grows as the pair close in.
As they speed by, Brabham, in his blue and yellow car of the same name, attempts to control the charging Chapman-era Lotus 49C trailing just moments behind. Despite fighting for the race lead, the Austrian’s soon-to-be fastest lap time will eclipse the race’s second-fastest by nine tenths and will beat his Australian rival’s by 1.2 seconds. A mistake by the lead car with four laps remaining opens up to Rindt the opportunity to strike.
Through Sainte Devote and up the steep Beau Rivage the number-3 Gold Leaf Lotus pursues, downshifting through an entire gearbox and then doing the opposite as the pair wind through Massenet and Casino.The crowd wave in excitement as the pair of vehicles scream past, Brabham’s mostly-white and black helmet followed by the mostly-black and white helmet of his pursuer. Like a cheetah chasing his prey, the smallest mistake means a lost cause.
But Jochen Rindt doesn’t easily make mistakes.
And Joch is hungry.
The twin screams of two Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 engines brings the Monte Carlo air alive. Mirabeau, Station, Portier. The iconic Chicane du Port follows. Tabac and a single corner remain until the chequered flag. 80 laps of driving around the the world’s toughest street circuit is almost over for the leading Australian. The Gazometre hairpin appears as the cars curve around the city’s harbour. Down, down, down through the gears. But for a mistake, victory for Jack Brabham would’ve been a certainty. Off-line and, perhaps, exhausted after 251km of the toughest racing the 1970 season had seen so far, Brabham’s eagerness gets the better of him. He locks the front-left corner. Turning the steering wheel to the apex in vein, the number-5 Brabham skids into the hay bales lining the circuit’s final corner. Though the impact is soft enough to allow the Australian to reverse and return to finish the race in second, Jack takes the flag 23 seconds adrift of his Austrian rival. The waver of the chequered flag, expecting a Brabham to pass in the lead, is completely unaware that Rindt has taken victory as the Lotus screams across the line. Fortunately for the embarrassed Australian, his pride is all that is needed to be repaired after the race.
For Joch, this surprise victory is the first of five victories for 1970. The season will be both Brabham and Rindt’s final. While Brabham won’t record another victory in Formula One, and will retire at the end of the year, Jochen Rindt will be killed in an accident during practice for the Italian Grand Prix. Despite not taking part in the final four races of the season, the Austrian will be posthumously crowned World Champion for 1970 after winning five of the last seven races before his death.