Notes on the cars at Nivelles

The Tecno Formula One car made its first public appearance at the Belgian race and though it is technically considered to be car number one, it was in its third or fourth guise. The first car, built last year, was a hastily contrived space-frame with pannier fuel tanks on outriggers and this gave way to a neater layout semi-monocoque construction of a tubular frame covered with aluminium rands, similar to the Ferrari method of construction. The original car had two radiators mounted at the front and on the 1972 version these were side-mounted by the cockpit, with ducts over them, but by the time the car got to Nivelles these had given way to a single very wide radiator at the front with external water pipes running along the sides of the cockpit. Throughout all this the heart of the car remained the flat-12-cylinder Pederzani engine, with twin camshafts on each bank and the accessories such as ignition and fuel pump driven from the centre of the crankshaft and mounted on the top of the crankcase. The engine is a very clean looking unit and forms the rear half of the chassis, being attached to the rear of the cockpit by fifteen bolts. A Hewland gearbox is mounted at the back, and suspension back and front is orthodox by wishbones with coil-spring damper units at the front, and radius rods, lower wishbone and single top strut at the rear, again using coil-spring damper units. The engine has a bore and stroke of 80.98 mm. x 48.46 mm. giving a capacity of 2,995 c.c. and is said to develop 400 b.h.p. at 11,000 r.p.m. using Lucas fuel-injection into the inlet ports, above the throttle slides. This first competitive car was built for Nanni Galli, the second one being built with more room in the cockpit for Derek Bell. With the backing of Martini-Rossi the car is finished in Italian red with the blue and red stripes of the Martini International Club along the sides.

Of the rest of the teams it was a bit of a toss-up as to who was the most disorganised, March or BRM, both teams appearing to he going backwards as fast as everyone else would like to be going forwards. There were five variations of March Formula One cars in the paddock, three under the wing of the factory and two with the Frank Williams team, with Ron Tauranac helping out. Despairing of making the Alfa Romeo gearbox internals work satisfactorily, Robin Herd had converted Peterson’s car 721X/2 to a conventional Hewland gearbox stuck out the back, leaving the Cosworth V8 engine in the same place and filling in the gap with a large tubular aluminium casting through which runs a splined shaft taking the drive from the clutch to the gearbox. At the same time the rear suspension layout had been converted back to the normal 721 layout with the coil-spring damper units mounted outboard. This experiment could be called a B-version of the 721X, and was not a brand new car numbered 721X/3 as the weekly comics suggested at OuIton Park. The other works March, driven by Lauda, was the normal 721X layout, with central gearbox and inboard suspension units. Beuttler had the neat little 721G based on Formula Two components that has yet to show its true potential, while the Williams team had their usual smart pair of dark blue cars, Pescarolo with the 721 model and Carlos Pace with the updated 711 model that is almost identical to the 721, with the smooth drooping nose cowling. So the March construction game read 711, 721, 721X, 721XB and 721G and one hoped that one of the variations would be the right one for the new Nivelles circuit.

The BRM team also had five cars, not so varied as March, but nonetheless heading the wrong way. There were no 1972 cars, the first P180 being in bits and the second P180 having had a mild accident at OuIton Park. Beltoise and Gethin were driving the P160 models they had at Monaco, and both happy with them, while Ganley, had the P160 that WiseII had driven at Monaco; Marko had P160/05 and the “new-boy” Schuppan had P153B/06 another hybrid made from the front half of a 1970 car and the rear half of a 1971 car. In spite of what the BRM hierarchy said at the beginning of the year about each driver having one car and sticking to it, even if he bent it or broke it, when Gethin had an accident on the first day of practice, the “juniors” all had to pass their cars up the line. This meant that Gethin took P160/05 from Marko, who in turn took P153/06 from Schuppan, and as there was no spare car the “new-boy” became a spectator for the rest of the weekend.

The Tyrrell team were not their usual organised selves as Stewart was feeling poorly and was giving the race a miss, so that his usual car number 003 was sitting in the pits covered over with a sheet and Cevert had his own car number 002 with 004 as a training car. The rest of the teams were well organised, Ferrari, Lotus and McLaren each having three cars for their pairs of drivers, Ferrari having No. 5, No. 6 and No. 8 in their 312B2 series, Lotus having R5, R6 and R7 in their 72D series and McLaren having M19C/1, M19A/1 and M19A/2. The Surtees trio of Schenken, Hailwood and de Adamich had their usual cars, 006, 005 and 004, respectively, in the side-radiator TS9B series, and the Brabham team also had a trio of entries, Hill with the first of the 1972 cars BT37/1, Wilson Fittipaldi with last year’s car BT34/1 and Carlos Reutemann rejoining the team after recovering from his Formula Two accident at Easter, with a brand new car, BT37/2. Single entries were from Matra, with MS120C/06 for Amon and the Eifelland March 721 from the German caravan firm for Stommelen. — D. S. J.