Notes on the Cars at Dijon

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With the cancellation of the Swedish GP the Formula One teams had quite a long respite, and while some fitted in a lot of test driving, others built more cars, or new cars. Team Lotus had four cars in the pit lane, a pair of Lotus 80 models for Andretti and a pair of Lotus 79 models for Reutemann. The Lotus 80/1 was the car already raced and modified, while Lotus 80/2 was a new car, only test run, and with so many modifications that it was virtually a Mark 2. The whole underside of the car has been reshaped, the suspension members have been angled backwards, to move the centre of gravity forwards, the nose has been reshaped, and the upper aerofoil at the rear has been dispensed with. The sides of the car are still in the form of an elongated ess, which still makes the sliding skirts quite a problem, but they still run to the very end of the car. In testing this new car showed a tendency to “porpoise”, a phenomenon caused by the air flow under the car, but further alterations to the aerodynamics eliminated this undesirable characteristic. While Andretti was happy to continue with the development of the Type 80, Reutemann was disillusioned and was keeping out of the way until the Type 81 was designed! In the meantime he had Lotus 79/4 as his race car and Lotus 79/5 in reserve. Team Lotus being virtually divided into two separate camps. through force majeure.

In the Tyrrell team Pironi’s crashed car from Monaco was replaced by a brand new car, 009/6, to the same specification, with Jarier using 009/3 and 009/1 as the team spare. The Brabham-Alfa Romeos had undergone a lot of test work, with encouraging results at Silverstone, and the most notable alteration was the shortening of the sidepods, removing a fair chunk from the front end. The four exhaust tail pipes had little cowls attached to them to deflect the gases downwards, away front the rear aerofoil. The cars have caught up with the rest of the world by providing the driver with controls to aim the anti-roll bar settings. Lauda was still with BT48/04, Piquet with BT48/03 and the communal spare was BT48/02. A fourth car was nearing completion back at the Chessington factory.

While work was proceeding flat out on a totally new design at the McLaren factory, the existing cars were updated and Tambay’s car was brought up to the C-specification that Watson had used at Monaco. Watson was in M28/3C and Tambay was in M28/2C, and in case of dire emergency M26/7 was available. As well as doing a lot of testing the Ferrari team had built another T4 car, this one being 041 which Villeneuve was using. Scheckter retained 040. Fittipaldi was still limited to his sole remaining car, F5A/1, the Bellamy designed F6A not reappearing.

In the Renault camp there was an air of satisfaction after a great deal of test running with the new twin-turbo-layout cars, and a third car was completed. Since their inception the Renault chassis numbering has been reworked and the twin-turbo, “ground-effect” cars are numbered 10, 11 and 12. Rene Arnoux had the brand new RS12, it having done only a few miles on test at Montlhery, while Jabouille had RS11. The original twin-turbo car RS10 was a stand-by for the lanky team leader The new Renault numbering is RS10 (formerly RS10/01), RS11 (formerly RS10/02) and the third car is RS12 (which would have been RS10/03 in the old sequence).

Like many teams the Shadow team found having one spare car for two drivers was always causing problems, so they took the time-off period to build a new DN9B, number 4 in the series, not counting rebuilds around damaged components from the regular three cars. Lammers had DN9/2B as his race car with DN9/1B as his spare, while de Angelis had DN9/3B-2 to race and the new car DN9/4B as his spare. The former three cars had dispensed with their aerodynamic “chimneys” just in front of the rear wheels, a riveted panel covering the place where they had been. The new car was built without these vertical tubes rising up from the side-pods.

With Hunt leaving the Wolf team their major problem was adapting W87 and WR8 to accommodate Rosberg, and the Ensign team were starting all over again with the Frenchman Gaillard replacing Daly, though MN09 had undergone further alterations to its suspension geometry, in an attempt to make it handle a bit better. The Ligier team were out in force, with four JS11 cars and an old JS9 on show in the public enclosure. The four team cars were designated as follows: JS11/01 for Jacky Ickx, replacing the injured Depailler, JS11/02 as the test and experimental car, JS11/03 as the team spare, and JS11/04 (as yet unraced) for Laffite. Frank Williams’ crisp-looking FW07 cars were assembled in logical order, with Jones in 003, Regazzoni in 002 and the original car 001 as the team spare.

The Arrows team had once again done an enormous amount of work and built two entirely new cars to a totally new design by Tony Southgate. If there was a prize for effort without success the Arrows team would win it hands down. The A2 design broke new ground on many points, but principally was “different” in its approach to aerodynamics and “ground-effects”. In contrast to the Arrows A1 the monocoque was fat and chunky, but a clean air-flow into the side radiator openings and under the side-pods was afforded by no front aerofoils in the conventional manner, the nose cowling being somewhat bulbous. The upper suspension members are enclosed in aerodynamic sponsons with adjustable trailing edges, and these flow into the upper surface of the side-pods. Side-skirts are fitted between the wheels on each side of the car, and a second skirt on each side, mounted inboard, runs along the rear of the car, from the engine to the tail. The engine (Cosworth V8) and gearbox (Hewland) are slightly canted up at the rear to provide more exit area for the air under the car. There is no rear aerofoil as such, it being incorporated in the tail of the car between the very large side plates that run down to the ground behind the rear wheels. Tiny rear-view mirrors are mounted high on thin stalks, one each side of the cockpit, making the car look like some strange insect. If the new Arrows is not better than the other Cosworth-powered cars at least it is different. In case of emergency the team had the older car A1/05 previously raced by Jochen Mass as a stand-by.

Alfa Romeo reappeared with their experimental car, for Giacomelli to drive once again, still using the flat-12 engine and trying a different nose cowling of the wedge-with-fins layout, though they found the original full-width nose was better. The remaining entries of ATS, Merzario and Rebaque all had their usual cars. — D.S.J.