In last month’s issue we described four new 1971 racing cars, three of them destined for Kyalami where they raced and one, the McLaren M19 driven by Denis Hulme, very nearly beat the Ferraris. But at Kyalami three more new cars also appeared. The most exciting was undoubtedly a brand new Ferrari (although this was heavily crashed a week before the race), a new Tyrrell and the Surtees TS9.
The fact that the new Ferrari was ready for the start of the season was novel in itself for the Italian firm usually like to introduce their new model in time for the home Grand Prix at Monza. The start of the recent Ferrari revival was the flat-12 Ferrari 312B which was scheduled to make its debut at Monza in 1969 but this was delayed when, with Chris Amon behind the wheel, it blew up on a test track a couple of days before. Finally the car did not make its debut until the 1970 South African GP and it wasn’t until several months later that all the bugs were sorted out so that now the 312B has won five of the last six World Championship races.
With such a successful car on his hands the very clever designer Forghieri was obviously not going to alter anything radical for the new car. In fact he has kept very much the same theme (a flat-12 engine slung under a skinned tubular section extending back from the cockpit) but with some new ideas to give the car that little extra edge.
The chassis is now distinctly wedge-shaped with a smaller frontal area than the old car, while at the rear the brakes and the suspension are mounted inboard. The chassis tub is somewhat different to the British built sheet alloy type for it has considerable tubular strengthening. In fact at one time Ferrari used to rivet the sheet to the space frame to give additional strength and as time has gone by the tubes have got less and less but, still, the car has those characteristic rows of rivets. The alloy skin is now 16 gauge to comply with the 1972 regulations.
The front suspension, though of different geometry, follows similar lines to last year’s car with a forged top rocker arm and wide-based lower wishbone with the Koni shock-absorbers mounted inboard. The rear suspension is completely new for it has been moved inboard along with the brakes. The problem of finding space to mount the spring damper units vertically was a difficult one so Forghieri decided to mount them very nearly horizontally across the back of the car. To operate them he devised an interesting bell crank top wishbone while further location for the rear uprights is given by a single top radius rod and a wide-based non-reversed lower wishbone.
Some details have yet to be finalised and the wheelbase is still to be definitely fixed at 90.8 in. or 92.76 in., while the track is at present 54.5 in., although this may be widened at the rear. The new car, called the 312B/2, is slightly above the minimum weight limit at the moment.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the new car is that it utilises a new version of the flat-12 engine which was first tried in the ill-fated Ferrari 312P sports car which crashed at Buenos Aires. Everyone is very cagey about it but it does have roller bearing mains and this enables it to rev to 12,800 r.p.m. Externally the position of the fuel metering unit has been changed so that it is now on the top front of the engine rather than driven directly by a cam low on the left-hand side of the engine. This caused the mechanics a lot of headaches when they wanted to adjust it but now it is easily accessible from behind the rear firewall of the cockpit.
The 312B/2 features various other detail changes to the position of the oil tanks, alterations to the gearbox to take the inboard discs and so on.
The first car had hardly turned a wheel when it arrived at Kyalami for testing and Regazzoni, who had never been to the circuit before, was lapping in it on the first day within two seconds of the best time Stewart had got down to during his hundreds of miles tyre testing. The car has tremendous potential but unfortunately the driver’s enthusiasm got the better of him and he severely damaged it against a bank after losing control on a fast right-hand bend. In fact the wreck was on its way back to Modena before most of the Grand Prix circus had arrived. However by the time this article is in your hands, a new car will have been built and, if everything goes to plan, will have raced at Brands Hatch.
The most recent Formula One manufacturer of all is the Ken Tyrrell Racing Organisation who, unlike the other firms, have absolutely no plans to sell cars other than when the team has finished with them. The first Tyrrell made its debut at the Oulton Park Gold Cup last August after being kept surprisingly secret and since then has proved very fast but unreliable in the hands of Stewart.
After some 1,400 miles of tyre testing at Kyalami in February, a sticking throttle caused Stewart to crash heavily but, by then, a second chassis with several detail differences was already well on the way to completion at the rather cramped workshops in the middle of Ken Tyrrell’s Surrey woodyard. As it happened the original car was repaired in time for the South African GP, where Stewart drove it to second place while the brand new car was raced by Cevert, who crashed it heavily. In fact a third car along the same lines as the new one is already being built for Stewart.
Derek Gardner, who is Tyrrell’s full-time designer, has explained that 002 is some four inches longer in the tub and 1 1/2 inches longer in the wheelbase than the old car, although this is mainly to accommodate the lanky Cevert. However, there are several other changes to the chassis including thicker outer-skinning and a simpler non-tubular front bulkhead upon which the suspension is mounted. At the rear a major change is the large roll-over hoop which circles the outer edge of the monocoque and is both bolted and spigoted to it. The engine then bolts through the hoop and the bracing bars come forward to the cockpit sides rather than back onto the engine’s camshaft covers. This is considered to be an additional safety factor in the event of a major accident.
The front suspension has new lower wishbones and these are cast rather than machined from the solid, front uprights. Otherwise the car looks very much like the original one featuring the same attractive and interestingly styled bodywork. The Tyrrells are finished in a deep royal blue colour and now entered under the name Elf-Team Tyrrell. No doubt, with Stewart and Cevert behind the wheel, these Cosworth-engined cars will prove a challenge to the Ferraris.
John Surtees has worked very closely on the design and manufacture of racing cars for some time now, particularly with Lola, but it wasn’t until 1969 that he turned constructor himself by building the TS5 Formula 5000 cars. Having mastered this art very well and, subsequently, built the TS5A model which was very successful in the USA, his Edenbridge establishment turned to Formula One in 1970 and the first F1 Surtees, the TS7, made its debut at last year’s British GP.
For 1971 Surtees has produced the TS9 which is built along the same lines as the earlier car but incorporates several improvements. Outwardly the TS7 and TS9 look much the same although side by side one can see the new car is lower and squatter. The monocoque tub is now skinned in heavier gauge alloy, a smaller gearbox is used and the suspension geometry has been altered to suit the new lower profile Firestone tyres. The high tensile steel tube bulkheads for the monocoque dictate the interesting and attractive but angular rather than curved contours of the car. The central bulkhead no longer forms the dashboard as it did on the TS7.
Already the car has put up an excellent performance in the South African Grand Prix with John Surtees showing much of his old form and the car obviously working very well indeed. In fact it did not appear until the second day of practice at Kyalami following successful tests in England a week before the race. Two more TS9s will be built before the season is very much older.
While racing tyres at last seem to have stopped their growth sideways the tyre designers are now working hard at lowering the profiles and car designers are having to take this into account. Goodyear are now very keen on 13-in. dia. rear wheels with 24-in. dia. rolling radius although their rivals at Firestone are able to produce a similar rolling radius on a 15-in. dia. rear wheel. At Kyalami both McLaren and Brabham had modified their existing cars’ suspension to take advantage of the low aspect ratio tyres although the gain, if anything, on the Brabham was certainly marginal.
The interesting body on the March 711, which was designed by, amongst others, Frank Costin, did not seem to last too long. Costin says that his exact plans were not followed to the letter and was, apparently, not surprised that the cars were overheating and being starved of air. The large engine covers were discarded before official practice and the side radiator ducts were also left off. Obviously these can be easily enlarged and will no doubt be on the car at the next appearance but it will be interesting to see if the engine cover makes a come-back or whether it will be left off for good. Meanwhile the bulbous nose with its high-mounted wing did appear to prove very effective and gave absolutely no trouble. Although the March 711s did not feature well in the results, designer Robin Herd said a lot had been learned and he felt sure that in the hands of Peterson the car would be ultra-competitive. There is never a lack of confidence from Bicester.—A. R. M.