At Francorchamps three entirely new Formula 1 cars appeared in public for the first time and took part in the Belgian Grand Prix. These were the B.R.P., the Scirocco and the long-awaited A.T.S. Such are the fortunes of racing that none of them finished the race, for various minor reasons, but they did actually start their competition career in the Belgian Grand Prix.
The B.R.P. car is a product of the British Racing Partnership, who until now have been racing Lotus 24 cars, fitted with V8 B.R.M. engines. At the end of last season, when the United Dominions Trust Hire Purchase company withdrew their support from racing the team that B.R.P. had been running for them, the two instigators of B.R.P., Ken Gregory and Alfred Moss were more or less forced to keep all the personnel and material and continue to race under their own banner. With no new Lotus chassis in the offing for 1963 they set to and decided to make their own chassis, being assured of the latest fuel-injection B.R.M. engines, and Colotti gearboxes. Taking one of their Lotus 24 cars as a pattern, the B.R.P. chief mechanic Tony Robinson, and his workers, schemed out a “monocoque” chassis using Lotus 24 suspension units, wishbones, radius rods, pick-up points, etc., carefully measuring all the Lotus angles and dimensions and transferring them to their mock-up in wood and aluminium.
With a minimum of drawing office work they built an aluminium and steel construction of rivetted box-section units similar to the Lotus 25 works cars, but with detail alterations to suit their own requirements. The B.R.M. V8 engine and 5-speed Colotti gearbox were installed and the nose cowling and engine covers were on Lotus lines, while all the suspension, brakes, drive shafts, etc., were of standard Lotus racing components. Dunlop peg-drive alloy wheels with knock-off hub nuts were fitted and at a casual glance the chassis/body unit could have been taken for a Lotus 25 “monocoque”, except for a different layout of rivetted joints and a slightly heavier resultant unit as gauges of aluminium sheet were not cut down to the minimum as on the Lotus. However, the completed B.R.P. chassis worked out lighter than the tubular space-frame Lotus 24 and stiffer in all directions as well as simpler.
A typical Lotus-like reclining driving position is used with a neat seat forming a cover over the floor-mounted battery and fuel pipes, while the gear change gate for the 5-speed gearbox is mounted on the right with the lever horizontal as on the Gilby-B.R.M. For a car built from a practical angle rather than a theoretical one the result turned out very successfully and provided B.R.P. with a vehicle of their own, dependent entirely on their own resources rather than having to wait for action from a rival team. The decision to use Lotus 24 suspension and steering geometry was to avoid the delay of working these problems out from basic principles with limited resources, only to arrive at similar answers in the end.
Another car built in a similar manner but from Cooper inspiration, was the Scirocco, inspired by Tony Settember with the backing of Hugh Powell. These two Americans started in Formula 1 racing by joining forces with Paul Emery to race and develop the Emeryson-Climax and then they took over the Emeryson project completely and Settember raced one last year. Planning to progress into the V8 Coventry-Climax category they realised that to sort out the Emeryson and install the V8 was going to be as much work as starting from scratch, and then the temporary cessation of Coventry-Climax and the uncertainty of the engine question caused them to buy B.R.M. V8 engines as a better proposition, and to build a complete car on their own.
The chassis is a fairly orthodox tubular space-frame although particular attention has been paid to the strength around the area of the cockpit. Inevitably in a fully-triangulated space-frame the driving compartment must be the weakest point, so the Scirocco has tubes running fore and aft from the crash bar behind the driver’s head, the forward ones literally running past his ears, over his shoulders to the scuttle structure. The sides of the cockpit are boxed in by steel sheet to form fuel tanks and at the same time add stiffness to the centre section. Suspension at front and back follows conventional standards of today, utilising wishbones, radius arms and coil spring/shock-absorber units and disc brakes are fitted to all hubs and cast electron wheels are used. A V8 B.R.M. engine with Lucas fuel injection is mounted behind the driver and coupled directly to a 6-speed Colotti gearbox and the bodywork, finished in the white and blue racing colours of America, covers all the mechanism and has very high cockpit sides. The intention is to run a team of two cars with Settember and Burgess as drivers, and the first car made its debut in the Belgian Grand Prix.
Last year a number of employees left the Ferrari factory and set up in opposition and formed a company called Automobile, Turismo e Sport, or A.T.S. for short, and engineer Carlo Chiti began the design of a Grand Prix car. In December the first car was shown to the Press and during the past winter it has been undergoing testing and a second one built ready for the 1963 season, while drivers Phil Hill and Giancarlo Baghetti were signed up for the year. After entering for a number of races and failing to appear, the A.T.S. finally arrived at Francorchamps for the Belgian Grand Prix with two cars. They looked as though they had been very hastily prepared with a minimum of equipment and by Grand Prix standards were almost amateurish in their finish and appearance. The chassis is a tubular space-frame with the cockpit section reinforced by sheet steel fuel tanks being welded to the tube members, as on the Scirocco, and suspension back and front is independent by wishbones, the coil springs at the front being mounted inboard and operated by a rocker arm from the top wishbone member. At the rear the coil springs are outboard and inclined towards the centre of the car.
The engine is a 90° V8 with 4 o.h.c., of 1 1/2 litres, using Weber carburetters and Lucas transistor ignition, and cylinder heads and blocks are heavily finned as if the engine is air cooled, but in fact it has conventional water cooling. A special arrangement of 6-speed Colotti gearbox is used, whereby the gearbox is between the engine and the final drive unit, as on the Ferraris, but not having such a compact gearbox as the Maranello cars, these new cars from Bologna have the engine fairly far forward and in consequence the driving position is rather upright. Disc brakes are naturally used, with Dunlop knock-off pin-drive wheels, and the rear discs are mounted inboard, the drive-shafts to the wheels having rubber universal joints at their outer ends. Behind the axle is the dry sump oil tank and behind that is an oil radiator. In the nose of the car is the water radiator, a large 12-volt battery and the rack and pinion steering box with telescopic damper, all being ahead of the driver’s feet. Behind the driver’s head is a tall crash bar and to this are welded bracing tubes that run back to the rear of the chassis, criss-crossing over the engine; this structure having been welded on at the last moment after the engine was installed!
The bodywork, in a grubby looking red colour, is primitive in the extreme and the general standard of workmanship takes one back to early 500 c.c. F.3 days, reminiscent of many car builders who are no longer in business. However, the engines sounded first class and it was obvious that the chassis design has not been finished, so maybe by their next appearance they will be more finished. After all, some of our present-day leading Grand Prix cars started life as pretty rough and ready “back-yard specials.”—D. S. J.