I always enjoy your old circuit retrospectives, but please don’t try to rewrite history after your visit to Clermont-Ferrand. Jochen Rindt did not scorch “from pole position to victory” in the 1970 French GP; he had a very lucky win after a lacklustre weekend. Rindt had a poor practice and was only sixth on the grid in the Lotus 72 ‘wonder car’, fully one and a half seconds slower than Jacky Ickx’s pole-winning Ferrari 312B.
Unfortunately, one of those Clermont stones had found its way down one of the Ferrari’s inlet trumpets and had chipped a valve. Not discovered until pre-race warm up, there was no time to change the engine and Ickx elected to start the race with the damaged engine rather than use the spare car which didn’t handle as well. The Belgian stormed off into a big lead only to suffer the inevitable engine failure after 15 laps, whereupon local hero Jean-Pierre Beltoise, second fastest in practice in the V12 Matra MS120, took over at the front Sadly for the French however, Beltoise had picked up a slow puncture and his big lead began to dwindle until, on lap 26 out of 38, Rindt took the lead and went on to win by seven and a half seconds from Chris Amon’s awful March 701.
Two weeks later Rindt had an even luckier win at Brands Hatch, after being comprehensively blown off by Jack Brabham, when the Australian ran out of fuel on the last corner of the last lap (the second time that year, after Monaco, that Rindt was the beneficiary of Brabham’s misfortune).
If the Ferrari 312B had come fully on song earlier in the season, or if Jackie Stewart had had the Tyrrell 001 for more than the last couple of races, I feel that Mr Rindt wouldn’t have seen which way they went that year.
I AM, YOURS, ETC
Alan Baker, Harlow, Essex