There is something of a gloom in Holland at the moment for the Dutch Grand Prix has been struck off the list of World Championship F1 events due to financial reasons and the Dutch motor racing enthusiasts feel that without the Grand Prix Zandvoort will find it difficult to survive. Ownership of the Zandvoort circuit has been changing over the past year or two and it is felt that the present owner will only keep it functioning if he can hold a World Championship Grand Prix there. The circuit is in use nearly all the year round, rather like our Silverstone circuit is, and whereas Silverstone is the backbone of club activity in England, but not the only circuit, in Holland Zandvoort is the only circuit they have. Admittedly it is no more difficult for the Dutch enthusiasts to drive to Zolder or the Nürburgring than it is for Scottish enthusiasts to drive to Silverstone or Donington Park, but you cannot escape the fact that Zandvoort is the only racing circuit in Holland, and if it closes down the Dutch will be totally without a circuit within their borders. It is easy to overlook how fortunate we are in Great Britain with Silverstone, Brands Hatch, Donington Park, Oulton Park, Snetterton, Mallory Park, Castle Combe, Lydden Hill and the myriad of hillclimbs venues. If Zandvoort is lost to the Dutch enthusiasts perhaps we should dig up Brands Hatch and ship it over to the Hook-of-Holland! Holland may not be a very big country, but its motor racing enthusiasts are as keen as in any country and by striking off the Dutch Grand Prix from the International list the FISA could be doing more harm than they realise.
Ten years ago, in 1972, there were fourteen events listed on the World Championship series of Grand Prix events and in 1982 there are sixteen. Of the fourteen circuits in use for Formula 1 Grand Prix events in 1972 only six of them are still in use for World Championship races this year. These are Kyalami, Buenos Aires, Monte Carlo, Brands Hatch, Österreichring and Monza. Gone from the list for various reasons such as finance, track suitability, political manoeuvres and so on, are Jarama, Nivelles, Zandvoort, Clermont-Ferrand, Nürburgring, Mosport, Watkins Glen and Mexico City. Other circuits that used to appear on the calendar but are now long gone, are Barcelona, Francorchamps, St. Jovite, Anderstorp and Fuji. On the scene this year that did not feature in 1972 are Rio de Janeiro, Long Beach, Imola, Zolder, Detroit, Montreal, Paul Ricard, Hockenheimring, Dijon and Las Vegas. It is interesting to speculate on what the scene will be like in another ten years, in 1992. How many of this year’s venues will still be in use and what will replace those that are dropped?
In passing it is also interesting to note that in 1972 Emerson Fittipaldi won five Grand Prix races for Lotus and claimed the World Championship, and Jackie Stewart won four races for Ken Tyrrell. Other winners that year were Dennis Hulme, Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Jacky lckx. Of the fourteen scheduled races only twelve took place be Mexico City and Zandvoort were cancelled for financial reasons. Fittipaldi is still in the Formula One game, struggling desperately to keep his team solvent and limiting it to only one car this year, Lotus are still hoping to get back to those winning days and Ken Tyrrell is struggling along with two second-rate drivers and thinking longingly of the days of Stewart and Cevert.
The first Grand Prix of 1982 has already happened and over the winter months there was surprising calm behind the scenes, everyone concentrating on their own personal future rather than trying to alter everything. The infamous Concorde Agreement that was supposed to have cemented the union between FISA and FOCA proved to be a pretty futile document as far as stability was concerned and for this year there are some new rules for Formula One which should ease the path. There will no longer be a check of ground clearance, no the farce at the entrance to pit-lane is gone, thank goodness, and there will be no need for cars to have hydro-pneumatic jacking systems under their suspensions in order to look legal when checked. The new rules do not exactly say that the sides of your car can rub on the ground, but you are allowed protective material along the lower edge of the side-pods. In theory no part of the bodywork may touch the ground but no-one is going to try and check on it, so what it all amounts to is that the bottom edge of your side-pod can act stance but you must not have “skirts”. Whatever you do have must not move relative to the rest of the bodywork. So now we know where we stand. It will be like 1981 but without the unnecessary jacking systems and the stupid ground clearance check.
Starting grids will now be allowed to have twenty-six cars on them, as against twenty-four last year (apart from Monaco which is a restrictive law unto itself with a limit of 20), so that two more back-of-the-grid hopefuls will be able to do some racing this year. Anyone using a 1981 car this year will have to alter the cockpit down by the driver’s ankles, for there is now a minimum width across the inside of the monocoque. Apart from Ligier, whose Talbot cars were used as a yardstick, most teams using their 1981 cars will have to move the front springs outwards an inch or two to comply. The minimum weight has been lowered from 585 kgs. to 580 kgs. but otherwise most things remain unchanged. On the engine front it will still be a straight-forward battle between normally aspirated 3-litre engines and supercharged or turbocharged 1½-litre engines. The Cosworth 3-litre V8 is still soldiering on, so are the V12 Matra and the V12 Alfa Romeo, while in opposition are the V6 Ferrari turbocharged and the V6 Renault turbocharged, the 4-cylinder Hart turbocharged and the 4-cylinder BMW turbocharged. Later in the season we can expect to see the V8 Alfa Romeo turbocharged engine and possibly the V6 Matra turbocharged unit. In 1983 the turbocharged V6 Porsche should appear in a McLaren and it is anyones guess as to where the V8 Honda turbocharged engine will appear and in what.
Having nominated their drivers for the season the teams will only be allowed to make one change of a driver/car combination during the season, but no doubt a car that is totally destroyed in an accident and the driver killed, will come under force majeure, a lovely French phrase that allows any rule to be altered or ignored. It is even better than the great god “safety” which can alter most things. Most people know what they mean by “safety” but only the French really understand force majeure.
At the time of writing, before the South African Grand Prix on January 23, the Brabham team assure us that they will not be using any Cosworth V8 engines, only the turbocharged BMW in the new BT50 cars, Williams will not be racing their six-wheeler and Lotus are to run a “simple and conventional” car. Only time will tell on the accuracy of these statements.
After the South African race there is a long pause before the next event, which is at Buenos Aires on March 7th. Already the calendar we were given by FISA which appeared in the January Motor Sport is being amended. The Las Vegas race has been brought forward from October 16th to September 26th just two weeks after Monza and it now seems possible that the Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama might be re-instated on June 27th as it would appear they have settled their financial debts. This would make Holland (Zandvoort) now “first reserve” always assuming they pay their debts and can afford the 1982 Formula One fee. — D.S. J.