It was perhaps the most dramatic finale in the history of the Formula One World Championship. Championship points could only be scored by the first six place finishers (9-6-4-3-2-1). Arriving to the race, three drivers had a chance of winning the title: Graham Hill (BRM) with 39 points, John Surtees (Ferrari) with 34 points and Jim Clark (Lotus-Climax) with 30 points. In order to win the title Clark had to win the race and hope that John Surtees would finish not higher than third and Graham Hill not higher than fourth. Surtees could only win the title by finishing first, in each case, or second, unless Hill finished as high as third.
The race began with Clark leading from pole position with Dan Gurney running second in the Brabham-Climax (Gurney had only ten points going into this race having won the French Grand Prix and scored a sixth place at the Belgian Grand Prix). Hill and Lorenzo Bandini, Surtees' teammate at Ferrari, were duelling for third place with Surtees running a distant fifth, seemingly with no chance at winning the title. Then Bandini ran into the back of Hill's car causing him to spin and lose a few places. Thereafter Hill's car ran with a crimped exhaust pipe causing him to lose power. The championship was now firmly in Clark's grasp. If the positions remained the same, he would be champion with four victories to Hill's two victories, although they would be tied on points at 39. But on the penultimate lap, Clark's engine seized and the positions were now Gurney-Bandini-Surtees. The title was back in Hill's grasp. Realizing that Surtees could win the title by finishing second, the Ferrari team manager frantically signalled Bandini to slow down as he passed the pits to enter the last lap so as to let Surtees through. Bandini dutifully did so and Surtees finished second, thus winning the World Championship by one point over Hill (40 to 39).
Notes: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings. Only best 6 results counted toward the championship. Numbers without parentheses are championship points, numbers in parentheses are total points scored.
^Hill had already scored points in six races and only the best six scores counted; he would have to drop the points for his weakest four finishes. If he finished fourth or higher he would have to drop three points scored for the Dutch Grand Prix. Neither Clark nor Surtees had scored in six races thus far.