The pettiness of big business and the sordid side of sponsorship was well illustrated by the complete ban on Marlboro publicity at this John Player Grand Prix, even to the point of leaving off the name Marlboro in the official placing of Beltoise in eleventh position. The sooner cigarettes and smoking is banned by the Government the cleaner and healthier our sport will become.
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When the winning car was put up on the trailer for the lap of honour it was found to have a tyre going flat. Good thing it was only a mini-Prix and not a Grand Prix race.
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When it was all over one or two people were beginning to wonder if they had been too hasty in their condemnation of the Charade circuit at Clermont-Ferrand. They have been so busy criticising other people’s “houses” that they forgot to look at their own, and when they did they found the pits, the paddock, the layout, the track surface and the road edges all badly wanting. But the weather was marvellous.
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When BP and Esso pulled out of racing a lot of people thought the end had come, but this year’s race result read; First Texaco, Second Elf, Third Gulf. The names have changed but the principle is the same, and Cosworth engines won’t run on nicotine or perfume, arid even additives like STP need petrol and oil to be added to.
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Don’t tell John Player but Phillip Morris (Switzerland) inaugurated a nice series of trophies at Brands Hatch; a golden ingot to the driver in each Grand Prix who, in the eyes of an international dury of ten journalists, races in the manner of the late Joseph Siffert. A hard charger who enjoys what he is doing and delights the spectators while he is doing it. The winner at Brands Hatch was Arturo Merzario, and this choice was substantiated by the BP fuel company who also gave him their award for “The Man of the Meeting”.
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The people who complain because I refuge to call a Lotus 72 a John Player Special, and would prefer to see a green Lotus than a black and gold one, were a bit taken aback to see me using a black and gold motorcycle to combat the traffic jams. It did not have a Lotus badge on it, but an all-British Norton one; and there are still readers who don’t think I am biased. — D. S. J.
1977 French Grand Prix in pictures
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