1973 Swedish Grand Prix race report

Denny Hulme driving for McLaren at the 1973 Swedish Grand Prix.

Denny Hulme took his frist win of the season driving for McLaren

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A nice clean race

Anderstorp, Sweden, 7une 17th

There are some people who think that Grand Prix racing should be made more uniform than it is and bemoan the fact that all circuits do not have aircraft landing strips and motels incorporated in their design. Fortunately, Europe is not uniform in everything and each country still possesses some variation, so that although the cast for a Grand Prix does not vary much from race to race, the surroundings still do. With Scandinavia now joining in the Grand Prix circus we had the extremes in contrast by going from the Grand Prix round the streets of Monte Carlo, uphill and downhill between the hotels, houses, shops and restaurants, to the flat, arid waste on which the Swedes have built the Scandinavian Raceway on the edge of the little country town of Anderstorp, though from the circuit there is not a house to be seen, just sandy scrub and distant pine trees. The circuit is absolutely flat, incorporating the Anderstorp airfield runway in the main straight, with the rest of the 4.018-kilometre circuit twisting and turning in a series of uniform right-angle corners and hairpins, with the start and finish and the timekeepers at one end of the wiggly bit and the pits and paddock at the other end. This came about because the CSI inspected the circuit in 1968, when it was built, and would not sanction the start line being on the short straight where the pits were, demanding that it should be on the longer straight on the other side of the circuit. By this time the vast tarmac paddock had been laid and the pits built, so the race “control centre” was set up remote from the “nerve centre” and it seemed to work.

The “cast” that journeyed to Sweden by boat, plane and road was little changed from Monaco, except for some non-starters, these being Merzario in the second Ferrari, de Adamich with the third Brabham, Amon with the Tecno, Galli who withdrew from further active participation on the eve of the race, and von Opel, there being no sign of the Ensign once again.

Of the regulars Team Lotus were back to full strength with two cars each for Fittipaldi and Peterson, Ferrari had his two B3 cars for Ickx, Team Tyrrell their three cars 005, 006 and 006/2 with the first number in wedge-nose, side-radiator form, as tried briefly at Zolder, the McLaren team had their three M23 cars for Hulme and Revson, the Ecclestone Brabham team their two BT42 models for Reutemann and Wilson Fittipaldi, with a brand new BT42 in the transporter, though it was not used. The BRM team were reduced to three cars after Beltoise crashed his at Monaco, the line-up being Regazzoni P160/07, Beltoise P160/01 and Lauda P160/08. The UOP-Shadow team had built another new car, for Follmer this time, his Monaco car being reduced to scrap, and Team Surtees had the three cars they took to Monaco, the spare car being for Pace. With the loss of Nanni Galli the Williams team had a spare car for Ganley, and both cars had been converted to a single front radiator layout instead of the two radiators, one on each side just behind the front wheels, as originally built. The March force comprised Jarier with the works car, Beuttler with the stock-broker’s car, with a new oil radiator layout at the back, and Reine WiseII with the car Purley had used at Monaco, it being rebuilt with new body panels and painted bright yellow like the Beuttler car. Graham Hill completed the list with his Shadow, rebuilt and strengthened since Monaco.


Ronnie Peterson driving for Lotus at the 1973 Swedish Grand Prix

Ronnie Peterson took his fourth pole of the season for Lotus

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In total there were four practice sessions and presumably the constructors were being paid sufficient money, for there were no boycotts or complaints of “too much practice”, and the practice took place over Friday and Saturday before race day. It was held in early morning and late afternoon on the first day and early morning and lunch-time on the second day, with breaks during each session if any cars became derelict round the circuit and needed collecting, and there were quite a number of them. Considering it was all supposed to be practice time the troubles were rather more abundant than was reasonable. The UOP-Shadow team started the ball rolling on Friday morning when Oliver’s Cosworth engine, just back from an expensive Cosworth rebuild, blew up before he even left the pit lane, and Follmer crashed his brand new car into the catch fence at the end of the pit straight and crinkled the monocoque, this being DN1/5A. Wilson Fittipaldi barely completed a lap before the engine in his Brabham sheered its oil-pump drive, which ruined the bearings and put him out for the rest of the morning. However, not everyone was in trouble, and Cevert was in flying form, sliding round the constant-radius hairpins very prettily and making fastest time, hotly pursued by Peterson, who was naturally the star and hero of his own Grand Prix event, the first to be held in Sweden.

For the second practice Cevert took over the modified Tyrrell and appeared to like it as much as the standard one, and improved on his morning time with it, but Peterson was getting into the groove and made fastest time in 72/R6 and second fastest time in his spare car, 72/R8, so that one could say in all truth that he dominated practice, everyone else trying to keep up. Among those who were keeping up well was Reutemann, his Brabham being in fourth place, just behind Cevert’s Tyrrell. Once again FoIlmer kept the ball rolling, setting off in his Shadow which had been straightened out as best as could be done in the paddock. and promptly going off into the sand again, this time without further damage. Oliver and Wilson Fittipaldi joined in now, both with new engines in their cars, and Jarier dropped out of the running when the crown-wheel and pinion broke in the Hewland gearbox on his March, while Revson’s McLaren wrecked its gearbox.

On Saturday very few people made much improvement as the circuit seemed to be getting polished and slippery, and it had never had such high speeds or hard use before. Trouble and crashes continued unabated, however, Pace bending his Surtees when the left-rear wheel broke off, leaving only the bolted centre on the hub, and Regazzoni walked back to the pits when his BRM engine blew up. Beuttler got all crossed up coming into the pit straight, and bent the front of his March on the barriers, and Fittipaldi had a rear hub carrier break on his spare Lotus. Frank Williams let the Danish F5000 driver Tom Belso have a go in GaIli’s !so-Marlboro, and Cevert and Stewart improved their times in the standard Tyrrell cars. Ickx was making steady progress with the lone Ferrari, the spare car not being used, but somehow the small Ferrari effort looked a bit lost and lonely. In the final session Stewart decided to try the modified Tyrrell, in view of the speed Cevert had done with it. So the pedals were all altered so that the little Scot could drive it. After a mere handful of laps he returned to his normal car and the experimental one was put away, there not being time to reset everything back for the long-legged Cevert, so the Frenchman continued in his standard Tyrrell. In the Lotus team there were some minor panics when first Fittipaldi stopped out on the straight in his spare car, the temporarily repaired rear end having given way again, and then Peterson was reported to be in trouble in his spare car, but it proved to be merely a shortage of petrol. As practice drew to a close Ganley spun off into the sand and got everything clogged up, necessitating an engine change and general dismantling to get rid of all the sand. Belso had another brief try in the spare Williams car and fewer people still made any improvement to their times, even though they were all flogging round to the bitter end. The timekeepers were using a clever computer to produce results and it was programmed merely to remember and record each cars best lap and to discard any slower ones, so that it threw away all the times that showed no improvement on the “remembered” time, which left us with only the cumulative best time for each driver, along with the cumulative number of laps each driver had completed. Stewart being top of the list with a total of 74 laps in 006/2 Tyrrell, whilst Wisell ran him close with a total of 71 laps. The race distance was to be 80 laps, and most drivers managed to complete over half a race during the two days, while Peterson did 32 laps in Lotus R6 and 42 laps in Lotus R8.


The 1973 Swedish Grand Prix gets underway as the cars leave the grid

The cars pull away at the start of the race

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While the weather had been good during the two days of practice it was really superb on race day and a crowd of 55,000 packed the Raceway, one of the largest crowds at any sporting event ever held in Sweden, and Prince Bertil was a keen spectator, honouring the event with his Royal presence. At 9 a.m. on Sunday morning there was a short test session, particularly useful for those teams who had been rebuilding cars or installing new engines, but it produced further troubles, for Ganley had the throttles stick open and crashed IR/01, which he had intended to race, and there was a panic to get IR/02 ready, while Fittipaldi had oil leaking out of the rear main bearing seal on his new Cosworth engine, so the back end had to be stripped off and a new seal fitted.

A national Formula Three race and a saloon-car race filled in the morning and then the Grand Prix cars were wheeled out to the pits to prepare for a 1.30 p.m. start. The scheme was that the cars should do warm-up lap and then take up their “dummy-grid” positions in front of the pits and when everyone was ready they would set off in formation round the circuit to the starting line. By 1.50 p.m. nothing had happened for GPDA said there were too many photographers on the edge of the track, the organisers then said they were in a dangerous place anyway, and the GPDA (in the shape of President Hulme) said that where the organisers wanted the photographers to go was even more dangerous. Eventually a compromise was reached and the warm-up lap took place, during which Wisell put the brakes on and his hired March broke the left lower front wishbone mounting, and he returned to the paddock with the wheel at funny angle. The remaining twenty cars left without him, and Peterson in Lotus 72/R6 led them round to the start, where they all paused briefly and were then off with a shattering roar. Eighteen of them got round the first corner, headed by Peterson and Fittipaldi, while Graham Hill got his Shadow on the dirt and the throttle slides got all jammed up. He got going later but was then plagued with electrical troubles. As the nineteen cars roared round the first lap it was the two black and gold Lotus cars leading the two blue Tyrrell cars, followed by Reutemann and Hulme. On the second lap Wilson Fittipaldi got crossed-up at the second hairpin and went off into the rough and wrecked the nose and radiators of his Brabham. Then it all settled down, with lap times two to three seconds slower than in practice, but the leaders going as fast as they could with full petrol tanks and the circuit in race-day condition. Peterson led Fittipaldi by a short distance, while Cevert passed Stewart and led his team leader in pursuit of the Lotus pair, and Hulme passed Reutemann and tailed the two blue Tyrrells. There was nobody else in the race, even though the rest were racing, and the order behind the pace-setters was Ickx (Ferrari), Revson (McLaren), Hailwood (Surtees), Beltoise (BRM), Pace (Surtees), Ganley (Williams), Lauda (BRM), Jarier (March), Oliver (Shadow), Follmer (Shadow), Regazzoni (BRM) and Beuttler (March). Apart from Beuttler passing Regazzoni, the BRM having tyre troubles which ruined its handling, and Oliver passing Jarier, nothing much happened for a while and they all went round and round.

At 15 laps Beltoise stopped at the pits in response to a signal for his mechanics could see oil leaking from the tank; a rivet holding a baffle had broken, so the hole was bunged-up with a Pop-rivet and the Frenchman was on his way again. Monotony now settled in as the two Lotus cars led the two Tyrrell cars, with the McLaren right behind them, all their Cosworth engines giving equal power and all their Goodyear tyres providing equal grip. Reutemann’s car was vibrating badly and he could not keep up and the two Surtees drivers were very unhappy with their Firestone tyres, while Follmer’s Shadow was handling like a camel, still being a bit out of line after its practice accidents.

Ronnie Peterson leads Lotus team-mate Emerson Fittipaldi

Peterson leads Fittipaldi

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On lap 33 the monotony was relieved slightly when Stewart felt he had followed his team-mate long enough, and went by into third place, this move being prompted by the fact that they were about to lap some of the faster tail-enders, and Cevert is not too good in fast traffic. Sure enough Stewart pulled away and began to reduce the gap to the Lotus pair, who were still circulating more or less nose-to-tail. While this was happening Hulme was having a small private drama, for his throttles stuck open and he hastily switched off the ignition, coasting along still in gear; tentatively he switched on again, expecting the engine to fire again on full throttle, but nothing happened! Then he realised the throttles had shut themselves again, and pressing the accelerator he found everything was normal, so took up the chase once more, having lost about 15 sec.

Stewart closed up steadily on the Lotus pair, and at 41 laps he was right behind them, but there was nothing else he could do, and complete stalemate set in as the three cars circulated nose-to-tail, each driver waiting for the others to make a mistake or for some mechanical thing to go wrong. Meanwhile Cevert was dropping back, having lost his inspiration, and Hulme was closing up on him pretty rapidly. The rest of the runners were trailing along, being lapped one by one, except for Reutemann, Ickx and Revson.

By 55 laps Hulme was up with Cevert and the leading trio were unchanged, it being difficult to see how it was going to change. Pace had stopped for more tyres and was now lapped. Hailwood had given up the unequal struggle. Oliver retired when his Shadow broke the inner mounting of the lower right rear wishbone, letting the wheel lean in drunkenly, and at 58 laps Beltoise pulled off on to the side of the track when his BRM engine blew up.

The leading trio lapped Revson and then it was Cevert’s turn to lap the American’s McLaren, and in the scrabble he somehow got held up and HuIme went by both of them, into fourth place! It was a neat bit of team work by the two McLaren drivers, which was more than Cevert could cope with. Ickx was lapped with ease, the Ferrari having been pretty uninspiring all weekend, and then Lauda ran low on fuel and had to stop for more, one of his tank breather flap-valves playing up and letting petrol out as well as vapour. He was in a lowly tenth place at the time, and a few laps later Ganley also stopped for petrol, losing ninth place, as his mixture control had slackened off and gone to full rich, ruining the consumption.

With eleven laps to go Fittipaldi began to drop back from Peterson as his brakes began to weaken, due to oil from the gearbox getting on the rear discs. This baulked Stewart for a moment, but then he was by and into second place, while Hulme passed the slowing Lotus and took third place on lap 70. On the next lap Fittipaldi had lost all contact with the leaders and continued by using the gearbox to slow the car, but Cevert was catching him fast, and took fourth place on lap 73, and on the next lap Reutemann was past the Lotus. Being low on oil and being overstressed when slowing the car the gearbox was beginning to break up and Fittipaldi was struggling desperately to keep going to the finish. Meanwhile his team-mate was in trouble for his left rear tyre was losing pressure and going soft, making it very difficult on right-hand bends, as Fittipaldi suffered in Barcelona.

Denny Hulme (McLaren) and Ronnie Peterson (Lotus) celebrate on the podium.

Winner Hulme lifts Peterson’s arm in a gracious move to indicate the latter’s worthiness as a winner after he finished a close second

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Stewart was now doing all he could to get by, but Peterson had his foot hard in and his elbows well out, and at 76 laps there was stalemate again, with Peterson desperately racing to the finish, Stewart trying to find a way by and Hulme right behind the pair of them. Fittipaldi’s gearbox finally gave up the ghost and he stopped near the finishing line, and then Stewart suddenly slowed right up and Hulme went by. The short links, or straps, that transmit the drive between the left rear brake disc and the gearbox hub had broken up, just as they had done on a front brake at Barcelona. Hulme was now right on Peterson’s tail and the Lotus’ tyre was now really soft and there was nothing the Swede could do to stop the healthy McLaren forcing by on the very last lap. Stewart was passed by Cevert and Reutemann and was very lucky to finish.—D.S.J.
Swedish Swirls

The UOP-Shadow team took the Team Shambles Trophy away from Team Surtees.


We wonder if Regazzoni is beginning to think that money isn’t the be-all and end-all of joining a team.


The Marlboro PR gang really went into action to get Tom Belso into the spare Williams lso-Marlboro. Seems the money was the wrong colour, shape, or size or something as the attempt fizzled out.


The Tyrrell team may have described Stewart’s trouble as a brake problem, but it looked suspiciously like a design failure.


Suggestions that Follmer’s next car is going to be built with a “crinkle” in the monocoque are untrue.


If the professional photographers failed to take any photographs of Hulme winning the race it would be poetic justice after his pre-race belly-aching.


Swedish Grand Prix – Formula One – 80 laps – Scandinavian Raceway, Anderstorp –

4.018 kilometres per lap – 321.44 kilometres—Very warm
1st: D. Hulme (McLaren M23/1) ….. 1 hr. 56 min. 46.049 sec. – 165.200 k.p.h.

2nd: R. Peterson (Lotus 72/R6) ….. 1 hr. 56 min. 50.088 sec.

3rd: F. Cevert (Tyrrell 006) ….. 1 hr. 57 min. 00.716 sec.

4th: C. Reutemann (Brabham BT42/3) ….. 1 hr. 57 min. 04.117 sec.

5th: J. Stewart (Tyrrell 006/2) ….. 1 hr. 57 min. 12.047 sec.

6th: J. Ickx (Ferrari 312 B3/010) ….. 79 laps

7th: P. Revson (McLaren M23/2) ….. 79 laps

8th: M. Beuttler (March 721G/2) ….. 78 laps

9th: G. Regazzoni (BRM P160/07) ….. 77 laps

10th: C. Pace (Surtees TS14A/03) ….. 77 laps

11th: H. Ganley (Williams IR-02) ….. 77 laps

12th: E. Fittipaldi (Lotus 72/R7) ….. 76 laps – not running at finish

13th: N. Lauda (BRM P160/08) ….. 75 laps

14th: G. Follmer (Shadow DN1/5A) ….. 74 laps

Fastest lap: D. Hulme (McLaren M23/1) in 1 min. 26.146 sec. – 165.2 k.p.h. (new record).

Retirements: R. Wisell (March 731/1), on warm-lap, collapsed front suspension; W. Fittipaldi (Brabham BT42/2), on lap 2, went off road; G. Hill (ShadowDN1/3A), on lap 18, electrical trouble; J-P. Jarier (March 721G/2), on lap 38, broken accelerator cable; M. Hailwood (Surtees TS14A/04), on lap 42, tyre troubles; J. Oliver (Shadow DN1/04A), on lap 52, collapsed rear suspension; J-P. Beltoise (BRM P160/01), on lap 58, engine broke; E. Fittipaldi (Lotus 72/R7), on lap 77, broken gearbox.

21 starters – 14 finishers