The FIA calendar of International racing events shows no abatement in the overall enthusiasm for motor racing, all the regular races being listed, together with some new ones, while a number of races have been upgraded from “National with limited foreign participation” to full International events. The FIA recognise a number of championships, to be competed for in selected events, and these are the Drivers’ World Championship, the Manufacturers’ Sports-Car Championship, the F2 European Trophy for non-graded drivers, the European Touring Car Championship, the European Hill-Climb Championship, the European 2-litre Sports-Car Championship, and for the first time, a Can-Am Championship. It’s rather typical that just as the Can-Am series looks like dying and being changed, the FIA recognise it with an official Championship!
Activity starts almost at once, with the 1,000-kilometre sports-car race in the Argentine on January 10th, followed by the Daytona 24-hour race on January 30th/31st. Grand Prix racing gets under way on March 6th with the South African GP at Kyalami and the F2 European Trophy starts on April 4th at Hockenheim, with the mountain hill-climbs beginning on April 25th with a climb in Austria, while the 2-litre sports-car series starts at the Paul-Ricard circuit on April 18th. This new sports-car category had its first season in 1970 and proved highly successful, with keen battles between Lola, Chevron, Abarth and Porsche, and 1971 sees a round in the championship being held at Silverstone on June 5th. The Can-Am series starts as usual in Canada, with a race at Mosport on June 13th.
Starting with this season certain new FIA rules come into force, principally with sports cars and Formula Three. The Group 5 sports cars no longer have to be built in a series of 25 cars, as previously, and done by Porsche and Ferrari, but they can be a one-off still with 5-litre engine. “Road Equipment” such as spare wheel and full-width screen and lights are no longer needed, which brings the 5-litre Group 5 cars in line with the Group 6 cars of 3-litres, but this is merely a swan-song, for as from 1972 all sports cars are to be amalgamated into one category with a limit of 3-litres, which means that the Porsche 917 and the Ferrari 512S will become obsolete and relegated to National club-racing.
Formula Three is to change completely, with the engine limit being raised from 1,000 c.c. to 1,600 c.c., but with a very severe throttling flange in the induction pipe, which should restrict the power output to somewhere around the old Formula Three engine. It is strange that while almost every other form of racing has an FIA Championship, that Formula Three is completely ignored by the ruling body in so far as official recognition is concerned.
Another important change starting this year concerns Formula 5000, which up to now has been restricted to non-graded drivers and mostly to National events. It is now allowed for graded drivers to take part in Formula 5000 events or to drive them in combined races, such as the International Trophy at Silverstone or the Gold Cup at Oulton Park. This should enliven things considerably, with drivers like Surtees in one of his own 5-litre cars, or Hulme in a 5-litre McLaren, while some of the top drivers competing in Formula 5000 races could raise the status of this category and give the regular competitors something to aim for.