GOOD RACING rather than interesting technicalities has been the keynote of the current 1600 c.c. Formula Two and things do not look greatly different for 1970.
For the past three years there has been a running battle in the top echelon of the formula between Rindt and Stewart, with Rindt usually coming out on top in the overall analysis, for one reason or another. It looked at the end of the season as though neither the Austrian nor the Scot would be racing very frequently in Formula Two, for Rindt was supposed to be driving a projected Can-Am car from Lotus, and Stewart, who had driven the same F2 Matra for three years, was without a car because of altered fuel tank regulations.
It now turns out that the Lotus Can-Am car was little more than a twinkle in Chapman’s eye and Rindt will once again be undertaking a full season of Formula Two, the type of racing at which he has excelled for so long. The “guts” of the Winkelmann team, in the form of Team Manager Alan Rees and Chief Mechanic Pete Kerr, are now behind the works March Formula One team, but Rindt will continue to have the cars maintained at Winkelmann’s premises in Slough and is taking a more direct interest in the running of the team.
Stewart is known not to cherish the idea of driving a tubular chassised car (as opposed to the safer monocoque design), but has been rumoured to be entered for the first race of the year, the W.D. & H.O. Wills Trophy at Thruxton. This race will have taken place by the time this month’s issue of MOTOR SPORT is published, so it is worthless speculating on the outcome of the negotiations. Nevertheless it is quite possible that Stewart will again undertake a restricted F2 programme in a car supplied by John Coombs, who ran Tyrrell’s F1 Matras in 1968 and 1969.
One thing is sure about this year’s racing and that is the arrival of sundry new faces from Formula Three and elsewhere. And a thoroughly International selection they are, too, for the names of an Australian, a Swede, a Brazilian, a Frenchman, an Irishman and even a Pole are among the “graduates”.
Instead of supporting the Tecno team, as they did last year, Shell France will this year be behind the entry of two Brabhams for Tim Schenken and Francois Mazet. The team will be entered by Sports Motors (Manchester) Ltd., the company which backed Schenken’s successful Formula Three cars in 1968 and 1969, and there will be additional support with the cars from the Brabham factory.
The Brabham BT30 has revived Brabham fortunes after a slow start to the 1969 season and already more than a dozen orders have been placed. Derek Bell, Peter Westbury, Scotsman Graham Birrell, Irishman John Watson., Carlos Reutemann and Benedicto Calderalla (both Argentinians with massive support from their own country), Alistair Walker and new team-mate Widdowa, all are expected to be seen regularly in Brabliam cars. Delays in the arrival of the bag tanks demanded (some say unnecessarily) by the 1970 regulations could delay things, but there is nevertheless a prospect of Brabham supplying a heavy proportion of the entrants.
The Lotus 59B was a particularly effective car in Formula Two in 1969. Extensive modifications to accommodate the new fuel tanks are said to have resulted in some radical alterations to the basic design, but Rindt’s car is basically the same one he used to win five races last year. His team has works (but not Gold Leaf) support and he will have John Miles as his second driver, as in Formula One. Private cars have been ordered by the Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi, the Lombank Formula Three Champion for 1969, and a Polish nobleman, Adam Potocki, who has one famous win and several spectacular accidents to his credit in a short Formula Three career.
The Tecno team which last year had French Shell support is this year backed by anather French oil company, the expanding Motul concern. The 1970 Tecno looks very little different from the one used in 1968 and 1969: drivers will be Cevert (who was a surprised winner at Reims in 1969) and Regazzoni, returned after a brief and unfruitfill spell with Ferrari.
Three years of expensive effort have brought the BMW factory little reward and it is understood that 1970 will decide whether or not the German firm continues its participation in single-seater racing. The existing Dornier-built cars have been seen testing in readiness for the season, designer Len Terry being co-opted (for the first time) to help rectify some of the handling deficiencies which they were unable to pinpoint last year. Ickx has already tested the car and may join the team occasionally, although 1969 drivers Siffert, Hahne and Quester are retained.
Production space-frame cars were intended to supply March Engineering with the bulk of its “customer” car quota this year, but with so many orders for Formula One chassis the space-frame cars are not as numerous as expected. Nevertheless, orders for Formula Two cars are being fulfilled and the first customer to take delivery was Roll Stommelen. It was known that a works team would take part in Formula Two, but it was still a surprise to learn that this would be run under the auspices of Malcolm Guthrie, the wealthy F2 and sportscar amateur whose first year in Formula Two brought some creditable results. Leading the two-car team will be works Formula One driver Chris Amon: Guthrie will drive a second March 702 and Amon’s place will be taken by Peterson when Amon is otherwise occupied.
France has only one remaining Formula Two manufacturer following the enforced withdrawal of Matra, and that is the tiny Pygmee concern at Annecy near the Swiss border. New cars are being built: they will have sponsorship from the Elf petrol company and Patrick Dal Bo, son of the designer, will again be driving. The second driver is yet another Formula Three man in this case Jean-Pierre Jabouille. The Elf petrol company has offered support and there is the possibility of Beltoise or Pescarolo being seen in Pygmees if the cars prove more competitive than in 1969.
There is not much to interest the technically-minded in the 1970 crop of Formula Two machinery. Only the Pygmee and the BMW are monocoque and a March chassis has already been ordered by BMW “for evaluation”. Even so, the four-cylinder BMW is the most interesting engine with its three plugs per cylinder. When the engine was first announced, one wag was heard to remark that “if it needs so many firelighters, there must be something wrong with the fireplace”. Perhaps the BMW will prove not only as powerful as the Cosworth (as used by everybody else) but equally reliable: it certainly deserves to win something this year.
And what of Ferrari? At the end of last June following a demoralising Monza Lottery race, the Dinos disappeared and were not seen again. Lately, however, Brambilla has been seen testing one of them and there is a slim chance that the red V6 car may race again, albeit in private hands, for Ferrari is known to be encouraged by the Tasman Championship success of another Dino in 2.4-litre form driven by Lawrence.
So the 1970 season promises to be a battle of drivers rather than one of marques. There are so many young and “hungry” drivers who. have chosen Formula Two as their stepping-stone to their ultimate Formula One ambitions that this coming season promises to be the most intense struggle ever.—M. G. D.