June was quite a month for users of engines other than Cosworth, Ford or a combination of the two. It all started, of course, with BRM’s win in the Belgian Grand Prix, and one week later, while a Porsche 917 was at last being taken to a Le Mans victory, another German car was winning at Hockenheim. That car was one of BMW’s Formula Two machines, from a factory whose ability to make fine road cars is unquestioned, but which has been right out of luck in the F2 stakes ever since it got involved in F2 back in 1967.
No one would suggest that the BMW victory presages a series of like results, especially at Hockenheim, where slipstreaming is the order of the day, in spite of two high-speed chicanes which have just been built there. Credit is certainly due to BMW’s driver, Hubert Hahne, who has proved himself to be a daring character, determined to be in front on as many laps as possible when the leaders are closely bunched. He can look with satisfaction, though, on a result which gave him revenge on Brian Hart, who had beaten him by a hair’s breadth in the same race in 1969, and who on this occasion was within inches of the BMW’s rear wheel. During the race, Hart had intelligently remained at the back of the bunch and only made his challenge for the lead in the last couple of laps.
Having said that, and remarked with pleasure on this just reward for BMW’s vast expenditure of money on the formula in the past three and a half seasons, the first two races of the month were far more representative of current F2 standings.
Both events were held during the Spring Bank Holiday, the first at Zolder in Belgium and the second at London’s Crystal Palace circuit, on the following day. Several teams decided that with a bit of good planning and hard transporter driving they could fit in both races. This they proved, only to be reminded more forcibly than ever before than even good reliable racing cars like current F2 machines require more than a change of gear ratios and a polish before they are capable of winning races. The results in fact show that nobody who was at Zolder managed to finish higher than sixth at Crystal Palace.
No better example of this could be provided than by referring to the fortunes of Jochen Rindt. He decided to take part in both meetings, and by using a light aeroplane as transport actually managed to practise both in London and Belgium on Saturday. He convincingly won the Zolder event after being led in the second of the two heats by a very determined Derek Bell.
Rindt was in even better form in London the following morning, winning his qualifying heat and putting himself on the front row of the grid for the final of the Alcoa Britain Trophy. On each side were Jackie Stewart and Clay Regazzoni, both of whom were concentrating on this race alone.
Rindt reached the first corner in front of Regazzoni, Stewart holding third, and for half a dozen laps the three of them raced round the difficult circuit with little more than daylight between them. When Rindt started to draw away, Stewart found that his path was impeded by Regazzoni, who for a while had brief glimpses of the World Champion’s fist being waved. Stewart cannily dropped back perceptibly in order to rush past the Tecno, which had minor gearbox trouble following the breakage of an engine mounting in its heat. Two laps later, before we had an opportunity to judge whether or not Stewart would make up the four seconds he had lost on Rindt, the green Lotus came to a halt with a broken battery stay which pulled out a terminal post. Stewart went on to win, with Regazzoni a fine second.
There were other lessons learned in Formula Two during May and June. One of the more significant and interesting ones is that South Americans are again making their mark on European motor racing. Brazil’s Emerson Fittipaldi, who was third at Crystal Palace in spite of an incident in which he unwittingly but firmly pushed another car off the track, has exhibited a very professional outlook with his works-supported and beautifully-prepared Lotus 69. He tests often, and in this respect has an advantage over the works team, for which Graham Hill is now racing in support of Rindt. Better things are already in hand for Fittipaldi.
The other South American who has attracted attention is Argentinian Carlos Reutemann, whose white and yellow Brabham is seen to be sideways more often than not. Reutemann started his season badly by hitting Rindt on the first lap at Hockenheim, but at the second meeting there he shared the front row with Fittipaldi and proved extremely fast, if somewhat impetuous. – M. G. D.