THE FRENCH GRAND PRIX NOTES ON
THERE was hardly a doubt during the I period of practising before this year’s race that victory would go to one of the two German teams. Mercedes made no great effort to go fast, but we were informed by Mr. Neubauer before the start of the race that Caracciola had put in a spell of practising a fortnight before the race, and had equalled his best lap speed of last year, when there were no obstacles on the course. Fagioli was considered the probable winner because of his greater skill in cornering, “Caratsch’s” strength lying more in his skill in watching and finally wearing out his rivals.
In the Auto-Union camp things were less cheerful, the sparking plugs were giving considerable trouble under the triple handicap of unsuitable fuel, the hot weather, and for some unexplained reason, an excess of oil in one bank of cylinders.
A new recruit to the Auto-Union camp is Rosemeyer, a young man who showed his mettle in the Avus races by finishing only a second behind Caracciola. He found the track very rough, but remarked that it was bad only for the cars, the drivers feeling very little motion on the most uneven surfaces.
The process of weighing in was conducted with great solemnity on the Saturday afternoon before the race, the weigh-bridge man adjusting his machine to hair-breadth accuracy, while the onlookers waited over an hour for the Mercedes-Benzes to arrive. All three cars got through with just a kilogramme to spare, and then it was the turn of Zehender with his Maserati. 783 kilogrammes—the driver could not believe his ears ! The same car had been passed by other clubs so it must have swelled a bit in the sun, as some wag said. Seat linings and other things were torn out in an effort to get down the weight, but to no effect.
struggle. The Mercedes-Benz held the lead laps then the Alfa regained first position.
engines now give between 350 and 370 h.p. A vaned air-cleaner is fitted to the intake, which of course projects through the radiator. The Auto-Unions also remain fundamentally the same, but 5.6-litre engines developing about soo h.p. were fitted to two
of them. The rear springing has been altered, and torsion bars parallel with the chassis and carried in the frame tubes have been substituted for the transverse leaf spring. The exhaust pipes were cut off level with the body, and the little scoops for the air-intakes have been removed. The steering wheels are detachable, and are locked on the splines by depressing a quick-action catch.
Mercedes and Auto-Union’s were both fitted with colossal rear tyres, measuring nine inches across the tread, and those on the Auto-Union looking like mill-wheels alongside the slender bodies.
The Alfas definitely had larger engines, and in the French press it was announced that their capacity was 3.8-litres. We were however assured by Signor Jano, the designer, that the exact size was 3,450 c.c., and that they were just further enlargements of the famous 2.6-litre Monoposto engine. Dubonnet front springing is used, and the brakes are hydraulically operated brakes, the hydraulic piston being placed outside the drums, and moving the shoes through familiar Alfa-Romeo lever mechanism. ReversPd quarter-elliptics are used at the rear, with hydraulic and friction shock-asborbers.
The brake-drums on these cars were built up integral with the wheels. This allows the brakes to be inspected and if necessary changed during the course of a race.
The two Maseratis were the six-cylinder ears one of which ran at Monte Carlo, and so do not require further description. The two French cars, the Sefac and the Bugatti were of considerable technical interest. The front wheels of the Sefac are independently suspended, the stub axles being mounted on sliding blocks steadied by long radius rods from the centre of the chassis, the weight of the car being carried on coil springs. Coil springs are also used at the
rear, but the rear axle is of normal construction. The brakes are operated by cable. The engine consists of two blocks of four, mounted side-by-side on a common crank-case. The crank-shafts are geared together, and rotate in the opposite directions, and the drive is taken from the near-side one through the gear-box to the back axle bevels, which of course arc carried at one side of the back axle. At the rear end of the other block of cylinders is the supercharger, which has two rotors, one with five and one with seven vanes, similar to the type used on the old Salmsons. Two carburetters are used
The capacity is 2,750 c.c., there are two cam-shafts for each of the blocks, and the head is of bronze.
Workmen were busy making last-minute adjustments on the 3.8-litre Bugatti when we went to see it, and there was not much time to inspect it. The engine looked almost identical with the ” 3.3’s,” but an enormous ribbed blower similar to those employed on the 4.9-litre cars was used with the carburetters underneath, and a vertical induction pipe leading into a ” semi-downdraught ” induction pipe. An intriguing-looking ribbed oil-cooler sprouted out of the scuttle on the way to the oil tank fitted beside the driver. The chassis was similar in most respects to that used on the 3.3-litre cars, with a
more upswept front axle and slightly altered front brakes. The radiator had
been increased in size and was fitted with a cowling. The second stage in the Nuvolrzri-Caracciola by a narrow margin in the fifth and sixth
Finally a consultation, and it was decided to pass it, the weight being furnished officially as 750 kilogrammes. The Auto-Unions with the big engines weighed 746 kilogrammes and that of Rosemeyer 748. Lightest of all were the two
Alfa-Romeos which weighed only 733 kilogrammes, practically the same as last year. The Sefac passed through quite comfortably, and so did the Bugatti.
This was of course the ” 3.3 ” which had been used for practising. The 3.8-litre did not turn up until nearly midnight, but the officials were in readiness, and checked it over in the same way as the other cars. Now as to the various cars entered. The Mercedes-Benzes were externally identical
with the cars used this season and last, and are fitted with 3.9-litre engines. The cornpression has, however, been raised and the