Notes on the cars at Kyalami

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While there were a number of new cars in the paddock at Kyalami, the Ferraris were really the only ones that were different, the others being either additions to an existing series, modifications on a theme or distinct backward steps on the design front. While looking at the new Ferraris, someone remarked “Thank God for Enzo Ferrari, without him and his engines we really would be in a design doldrum”. Team Lotus had purportedly a brand new Type 72, number nine in the series, though it did not look sparkling and new, but was said to be the last 72 that will be made, though only time will answer that one. This car, 72/R9 was driven by Peterson, while Ickx used 72/R5, the two cars being to all intents and purposes identical. In addition to Tyrrell’s 007/2 and 007/4 the ELF supported team had a brand new car for Scheckter, which he would have raced had he not damaged it in practice. This was 007/6, the missing 007/5 being back home as a kit of parts. The new car took two steps backwards in design and one step forward in performance, rather indicating that Derek Gardner is wandering in the sea of confusion that a lot of other designers are in. 007/6 had the front brakes mounted out-board on the wheel hubs, instead of inboard as conceived in the original design of the 007 series of Tyrrell cars. The reasons for this move were twofold, to avoid any further troubles and unreliability experienced last year, and there having been no obvious or visible advantages gained from the inboard mounting. The other backward step on 007/6 was the use of coilsprings at the rear in place of the longitudinal torsion bars of the original design layout. Scheckter was convinced of the superiority of the new car over the old ones, and demonstrated the fact by improved lap times, but how much was due to driver psychology we will never know. In all events he won the South African GP with 007/2 a car thought to be obsolete, so the Tyrrell designer should now be well and truly confused. The two earlier cars, 007/2 and 007/4 were modified to coil spring rear suspension, in place of the original torsion bars, the former car being tried briefly on the torsion bar springing before being finally altered.

March Engineering had their 1975 Formula One car out for the first time, this being 751/1 and though it looked similar to the 1974 car it was actually entirely new in design. The monocoque chassis was a tidier and better design than the previous car, the suspension had altered geometry to try and keep pace with tyre design, though the layout was unchanged. The bodywork was slightly different, and hopefully, better in shape, and the rear aerofoil was mounted on a single central stalk with a more conventional shape compared to the vast 1974 structure with huge side-plates. Brambilla drove this new car which has temporary over-size side-mounted radiators and the Italian girl Lella Lombardi, appropriately sponsored by Dorian Hats, drove the 1974 car, 741/2-4. The thinking behind the new March was to design the car down towards Formula 2, rather than up to bigger and heavier Formula One cars. Tests were made using smaller F2 wheels and tyres, hoping to increase maximum speed by reduced drag, but any advantage was lost by a reduction in cornering power on the smaller tyres.

The UOP Shadow team produced their second 1975 car, DN5/2A, for Pryce to drive, Jarier retaining the original 1975 car, and Graham Hill’s Lola team produced a new car which was an improved version of the 1974 Lola Type 370, being a bit lighter and having a different weight distribution. This new car was HU1 in the T371 series, and was driven by Stommelen, while Hill virtually demolished HU3 of the T370 series, in his practice accident. Brabham, McLaren, Surtees, Williams, Hesketh, Penske, Parnelli and Fittipaldi were all using the cars they had raced in South America, while BRM produced another multi-coloured car, this being P201/02.

Finally there were the two brand new Ferraris, numbers 018 and 021 in the 312B3 series, but numbered T1 and T2 to indicate that they were the new transverse gearbox models. They have been referred to unofficially as 312T models, just to confuse the issue. To the casual glance these new Ferraris look like the 1974 cars, but closer inspection reveals that just about every component, major and minor, has undergone a redesign. The two major concepts which have changed are the lowering of the centre of gravity and the moving forwards of the Polar Moment of Inertia, two factors aimed to make the car more “nervous” in its reactions, but able to be driven closer to the limit of adhesion, providing the driver has the necessary ability; also the new car should be capable of changing direction more suddenly, with fewer undesirable reactions. To achieve this end the entire transmission layout has been redesigned, with the gearbox cluster ahead of the final drive gears, instead of behind them, and in addition the gearbox shafts now lie at right angles to the centre-line of the car, instead of parallel. This transverse layout makes for a very compact gearbox between the engine and the final-drive, and accounts for the new model being referred to as T, for transversale. The successful flat-12 engine is retained, with its water radiators at the front end of the monocoque, just behind the front wheels, one on each side, while there is an oil radiator in each side of the monocoque, just ahead of the rear wheels. The “rocker-arm” independent front suspension has undergone a complete redesign, with much longer arms operating the inboard coil-spring/damper units, these units being inclined inwards at their top ends. The spring bases and rocker-arm pivots are on a magnesium casting bolted to the front of the aluminium monocoque, which itself has reinforcing steel tubes inside it, and levers from the rocker-arms operate a tiny anti-roll bar which uses the torsion-bar in a torsion-tube principle to get the greatest effect in the smallest space. Entirely new hubs and wheels are used all round, the hubs running on very large diameter ball races, some six inches in diameter, these large races demanding new hubs, wheel centres, hub nuts and, of course, new large hub-nut pneumatic spanners. The aerodynamic aids to stability were not altered unduly, retaining the separate full-width aerofoil, mounted ahead of the “winklepicker” nose cowling, and orthodox centrally mounted rear aerofoil, while the very tall and thin air collector box was changed only in colour, not in shape, and the cockpit surround now carries a Scuderia Ferrari badge on the side. In practice Lauda crashed 018 and ripped open the left side of the monocoque but it was patched up in time for the race, though 020, the latest of the normal 312B3 cars was available as a stand-by—D.S.J.

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