Four Wheel Drive
The four-wheel drives fatal flaw started at the front differential. On right hand corners the load would be primarily on the left front tire with hardly any load on the inside one. This caused the free wheel to spin madly on tight corners and resulted in terminal understeer. On the Cosworth a limited-slip differential was tried at the front but this proved tremendously heavy to drive. Torque-splitting was tried with 25% to 40% at the front. This alleviated some of the problems but resulted in minimizing any advantage of the four-wheel drive layout. In fact most drivers found no discernable advantage to compensate for its side effects. Rindt who had claimed pole position understandably refused to even bother with the Lotus 63 but Hill after qualifying another 49B took the 4-wheel drive car and recorded a time of 1:28.3 which was 7 1/2 seconds off the pace. Stewart in the Matra MS84 was able to better that time by recording a 1:26.68 but that took all the considerable skill that he had. Neither car actually entered the race as each would require additional development.
After Rindt's early lead from pole he was overtaken by Stewart who went on to win his third race of the year followed by Jo Siffert in a private Lotus and Chris Amon in the Ferrari. For the French Grand Prix Lotus appointed new driver John miles to drive the 63 only to see him retire on the second lap due to a broken fuel pump. Stewart repeated again in France. For the British Grand Prix the four-wheel contingent was joined by McLaren and their M9A, but once again none of them finished in the points and the race was won by Stewart driving a borrowed car. Mario Andretti drove the Lotus 63 at the German Grand Prix and actually put up some respectable times even though he had never been to the Nurburgring before. Unfortunately the race was another matter, which saw him leave the track. Stewart's victory parade was finally broken at the Nurburgring with Jacky Ickx driving a Brabham-Ford to victory only to see Stewart again in the winner's circle at Monza. Amazingly Stewart showed that he too was human when he left the track in Canada giving the victory to Ickx who was followed over the line by his boss Jack Brabham. Jochen Rindt finally tasted victory in America, at Watkins Glen but the race was marred by a serious accident that broke both the legs of his teammate Graham Hill.
The last race of the season was in Mexico but the victory of Denis Hulme did little to change the outcome of the World Championship. Jackie Stewart claimed what everyone knew one day would be his. At 63 points he was way ahead of his nearest rival Jacky Ickx with 37. The four-wheel drive cars were slowly abandoned by all of the manufactures save for Lotus who continued to work on their car, their best result being Rindt's second place at Oulton Park. In 1971 Lotus brought out their four-wheel drive turbine car and during the wet Dutch Grand Prix of that year it began to make some noise. Driven by novice David Walker, as the conditions worsened he began to pick off his rivals one by one only to overdue it and crash later in the race. Colin Chapman would remark later that "that was the one race that should, and could, have been won by a four-wheel drive."
This was to be Jack Brabham's last season driving as he would retire at the end of the year. To show the younger drivers that there was still some fire in the old man he won the first race of the season in South Africa braking a three year drought. At Jarma, the current World Champion Jackie Stewart won the first race for the new car by March Engineering. This British team founded by Max Mosley, Alan Rees, Graham Coaker and Robin Herd prepared their own team cars as well as providing cars for Tyrrell. Having the World Champion driving one of their cars albeit for another team, was a big coup for the new company. Unfortunately the team's resources were stretched thin and their cars was soon overshadowed by the new Lotus. Chris Amon had joined the team with the understanding that they would start slowly fielding just one car initially. Imagine his surprise in finding four other cars just like his on the grid. Monaco proved to be the greatest race of the year when Jochen Rindt passed Brabham on the last corner of the race. The race looked like Brabham had it in the bag but some minor mechanical problems and lapped traffic gave Rindt the opening he needed. The sight of the old Lotus 49, the 72 was still not ready, being thrown around the tight city circuit was a something not soon forgotten by those lucky enough to witness the event. Younger readers from the United States should be reminded that the race was shown on ABC television in those days as part of the "Wide World of Sports". In fact it was just such a telecast eight years earlier that got this writer interested in the sport. The next race was Spa, and another fantastic race was held, this time between the BRM of Pedro Rodriguez and the March of Chris Amon. Rodriguez was just able to hold off a determined Amon.
The Championship moved to Monza the home of Ferrari and the unthinkable happened when Jochen Rindt was killed during the second practice session. Several investigations were conducted but with conflicting results. In the end it was though that a brake shaft had failed. The air had momentarily gone out of the World Championship though Ferrari would achieved victory not through Jacky Ickx but with his teammate Clay Regazzoni in only his fifth start. Ickx still trailed by 17 points but with a possible 18 still up for grabs in the US and Mexican GPs. While Ickx had a mathematical chance to win the World Championship it was something he didn’t want, at least not this way with Rindt unable to defend his lead. There was some consideration on whether Rindt would be awarded the title if no other driver surpassed his point total. Thankfully this was the case when Emerson Fittipaldi won the US Grand Prix with new driver Wisell finishing third. Lotus won their fourth Manufacturers' Cup but under very sad circumstances.