Peterson keeps the faith for Lotus
Monte Carlo, May 26th
With no unofficial practising being possible on the Monte Carlo street circuit, there were three sessions made available to the twenty-eight aspirants for the twentyfive positions on the starting grid. Everyone turned up for the Thursday afternoon practice period, ready and raring to go, with spare cars at the ready. Since last year the kerbstones on the apex of the Casino Square and the Mirabeau hairpin had been filled in with concrete to form a bevelled edge over which everyone was certain to put their inside wheels. In the past a lot of expensive damage has been done to alloy wheel rims, due to drivers brushing the kerbs, but this year it was going to be the suspension systems that were going to get a bashing.
The John Player Team Lotus realised that they would not get any development work done on the tight little street circuit, so entered Peterson and Ickx with the Lotus 72 cars they raced last year, with the Lotus 76-JPS/ 10 as a standby with Ickx’s number on it. It did not take Ickx very long to decide that the 72 was the best bet, while Peterson never deviated from his 72.
Tyrrell had two happy young drivers in 007 models, neither of them showing the slightest interest in trying the spare car, which was last year’s 006/2, it standing to one side and looking a bit tatty compared to the 1974 cars. Another tean-p that had a spare car that neither driver wanted was the Brabham team, for Reutemann was in BT44/3, von Opel in BT44/2 and the car that Pilette drove in Belgium, BT42/3, was the spare as BT44/1 had not been repaired since Reutemann crashed it in practice in Belgium.
There were five McLaren M23 cars in the pit road, with M23/1 and M23/7 for Hailwood, and M23/4, M23/5 and M23/6 for Fittipaldi and Hulme, the first of their cars being the spare one. The Ferrari team were ringing the changes on their set of 1974 cars, this time using 014 and 015, for Regazzoni and Lauda, respectively, with 010 as reserve. The Shadow team of Jarier and Redman were using the two cars they raced in Belgium, and there was a brand new car in the pits, but it was never used. Likewise, Graham Hill’s Lola team had their third car with them, with Hill’s number on it, but it was never called upon to be used.
On the other hand, Surtees had his usual three cars with him, for Pace and Mass, and as the meeting developed he could have done with more than one spare car. Williams had only one entry for this race, so Merzario had both the Iso-Marlboro sponsored cars at his disposal. While practice was in progress a brand new BRM was being finished off in the paddock garage, this being the second of the P201 series, similar in most respects to the car raced by Beltoise but having the front brakes mounted “outboard” on the wheel hubs. This is only a temporary measure and all the fittings were there for the “inboard” layout. The other regular runners all had to make do with only one car, and consequently had to be careful about bouncing off the guardrails. Amon had his pale blue car somewhat revised, with the front brakes mounted “outboard” on the wheel hubs, and the side radiators replaced by a single one across the nose, with a new fairing over the nose. In fact, he tried two different fairings during practice.
As expected it was Lauda who set the pace, and not surprisingly Beltoise was right be hind him, for the little Frenchman is quite good at scratching round slow corners. At one point these two found themselves on the same part of the circuit and Lauda pressed the BRM really hard until he got past. Having done so he was busy showing Beltoise the way when he overcooked it on the wiggly piece of road along the harbour front and bounced off the guard-rail on the left and cannoned into the rail on the right, which caused the right front wheel of the Ferrari to be pushed back well and truly into the monccoque. End of practice for Lauda. The Ferrari team were not unduly perturbed and planned to set up the “muletto” number 010 with all Lauda’s suspension settings and so forth and have him back in business by next morning. As he was still fastest in the first session they did not even reprimand him, telling him not to worry when he chastised himself for his recklessness. While 010 was being prepared for him a call to Maranello got another complete car up to Monaco as a standby, this being 012 which he had driven in Belgium. Jochen Mass had a rear upright break on his Surtees, so he was glad of the spare car, and Hulme had a gearbox shaft break, which stranded him out on the circuit. Redman bounced off a guard-rail and bent the right rear suspension of his Shadow shortly before the end of practice, and a lot of nose fairings were getting rubbed away underneath as drivers braked heavily on the downhill sections of the town circuit. Gearboxes were also getting a hard time, especially the lower gears, as drivers called for maxi mum acceleration out of the hairpin before the pits.
As is usual the first practice session did not produce any startling times, for everyone was having to play themselves in to the circuit, not having driven on it for 12 months, while a number of drivers had never been round it before, and some of these were still wondering which way they were going when practice finished.
The next session was on Friday morning, starting at 8.55 a.m., and conditions were excellent, as they had been the day before, though now the air was cooler and the scene began to get sorted out. Lauda was in the spare Ferrari, 010, set up to his requirements, and was once again setting the pace, though this time he had Peterson challenging him, the Swede putting all he knew into his driving, these two getting into a very select bracket of 1 min. 26 sec., well below the existing lap record, and also well below Stewart’s best practice time in 1973 which was 1 min. 27.5 sec., the lap record standing to Fittipaldi at 1 min. 28.1 sec. in last year’s race, the first on the altered circuit, with the “mickey mouse” section along the harbour front by the swimming pool. This sort of pace by the Austrian and the Swedish driver left everyone a bit breathless and almost overshadowed the excellent times put up by the Tyrrell lads, Scheckter and Depaillier, both of them recording 1 min. 27.1 sec. Regazzoni equalled Stewart’s 1973 time, but Beltoise could not match the pace. At the back of the field there was quite a large group trying not to be last, or even two from last, for the slowest three were not going to be able to start the race. Stuck lost a lot of practice time when his works March, now half orange and half green, broke a drive-shaft, but even so he got below 1 min. 30 sec. which was clearly going to be the minimum to aim at. Shortly after this practice session finished a drizzle of rain began which dampened everyone’s ardour and made all the boats in the harbour look a bit bedraggled, but fortunately it did not last long and soon all was sunshine and gaiety again.
On Saturday afternoon the final practice began, in which the all-important front row of two cars had to be decided, and the three Slowest cars were going to be eliminated. BRM had their new P201/02 out for a brief test by Beltoise, and Lauda gave the newly arrived spare Ferrari a short run, but concentrated on the “muletto” for the serious business of pole position. His time from the day before of 1 min. 26.3 sec. was still the best, and Peterson did another 1 min. 26.8 sec., as he had done the day before, but Regazzoni pulled one out of the bag and clocked 1 min. 26.6 sec., to notch fastest time of the day, and second position on the grid. Try as he would Peterson could not match the Ferrari times, though he was the only Cosworth-powered runner to get below 1 min. 27.0 sec. The Ferraris are not only producing adequate horsepower, but they have a wide power spread and can get the power down on the road, in spite of what some people think. Lotus had brought along a special Cosworth engine with modified inlets, exhaust pipes and camshafts, which was claimed to give a much faster torque curve, at the expense of some 20 b.h.p. loss at the top end. On paper it seemed a good idea, but Ickx tried it without much enthusiasm. Transmissions were still suffering, Pescarolo coasting to a stop with a broken drive-shaft shortly after practice began, while later on Hunt had the gearbox on the Hesketh break, and Ickx had similar trouble on his Lotus 72. The Lotus 76 lost all its fuel pressure, so the Belgian driver sat and watched for a lot of the afternoon. The Surtees team took the Team Shambles Trophy away from Lotus with a flourish during the afternoon, for Pace went skating along behind the pits in a shower of bits when a universal joint broke on the left-hand drive-shaft, and shortly afterwards Mass was equally spectacular when his right rear hub carrier broke. Both cars were dragged off the circuit and dumped near the pits exit, a sad and sorry sight, enough to make John Surtees throw himself in the harbour. Hill’s Lola died in the tunnel with fuel starvation, and Schenken came walking back, the Trojan having petered out undramatically.
Poor Amon was thinking of joining Surtees in the harbour, for his new car was once more in trouble, with bearings turning in their housings in the hubs, and Pescarolo joined the disgruntled ones, being next to slowest, whereas he is used to being next to fastest with the Matra-Simca sports car. Hailwood was a bit confused, having driven both his cars throughout the practices and ending up with identical times in them, even though the new one was supposed to be better. What he found was that the old car was easier to drive at his fastest time of 1 min. 28.1 sec., though the reason escaped him. Scheckter was impressing and pleasing Ken Tyrrell, doing another good 1 min. 27.2 sec., and Depaillier was quite happy.
While the tail-end of the grid was being sorted out the problem was assisted by Amon withdrawing his car and Surtees withdrawing the entry for Mass. Amon’s team went off to do some more detail design work and Surtees decided that he did not have enough spare parts to do a proper repair on his second car, and Mass was not exactly displeased for he was getting tired of his car collapsing in a heap under him. These two withdrawals let Edwards into the list with the second Lola, and Pescarolo with the third BRM, which he described uncompromisingly as a “garbage car”. All this left von Opel as the only really frustrated driver, though he was quite philosophical about it, admitting freely that he just was not fast enough.
On Sunday morning there was a short session of practice which was untimed, for doing final adjustments, and during this the engine in Depaillier’s Tyrrell went off song and would not pull over 8,000 r.p.m., so it was promptly whipped out and a new one installed, the race not being due to start until 3.30 p.m. As the cars left the paddock to drive round to the pits Reutemann’s Brabham would not go into gear, the clutch withdrawal race having seized, so while everyone else went off to sit in the sun and watch the off-duty film stars, off-duty drivers, and on-duty Royalty parade around the pits and starting area, the Brabham mechanics split the transmission from the engine and fitted a new mechanism, joining the social scene in the pits in plenty of time. Ferrari had their new spare car, 012, under a sheet, as did the Tyrrell team with 006/2, both cars being race-prepared in case of emer gency. Both Lotus drivers were in last year’s cars, Peterson in 72/R8 and Ickx in 72/R5, the latter once more taking part in a race after having been pensioned-off for Chapman’s own personal museum. The Belgian driver was using the special fast-torque-curve engine, deciding it put less strain on the transmission even if it was no faster. Fittipaldi’s McLaren was in long wheelbase form, with the top rear radius arms anchored on the cylinder heads, this geometry giving anti squat when accelerating, thus keeping the nose level, whereas Hulme had his car set up with the radius rods anchored on the mono coque, as originally designed, he not minding the back sinking and nose rising when accelerating; his car was also using the long wheelbase spacer between the engine and gearbox. Hailwood was using the older of his two cars, with a medium-length wheelbase, and the Yardley management were smiling contentedly at seeing their car ahead of the two Texaco-Marlboro ones on the grid. A-for-effort certainly went to Jarier, who had his Shadow on the third row of the grid, and also to Brambilla who was up amongst some quite well-known names.
After Prince Rainier and his Princess had opened the circuit officially and the coursecars had circulated, the racers went off on a warm-up lap. While they had gone it was interesting to reflect that as long ago as 1936 Prince Rainier had been involved in the racing at Monaco, for in that year the “voiturette” race, the equivalent of the Formula Three race today, was for the Prince Rainier Cup. Thanks to his enthusiasm for racing in his Principality the Grand Prix takes place every year, and he and Princess Grace always watch from the Royal Box, unfortunately not the best place for seeing the action, and they always present the cup to the winner. When the twenty-five contestants returned from their warm-up lap they lined up on the dummy-grid, all that is except Depaillier who shot into the pits with petrol pouring from his fuel-injection metering-unit. There was no time for repairs and poor Depaillier was bundled into the spare car, that had not been used throughout practice, and while it was warmed up he was wheeled to the back of the grid, the start being delayed just long enough for him to join in. It was a bitter blow for the little Frenchman and the Tyrrell team, for the two Tyrrell drivers were all set for a good race from their positions of fourth and fifth fastest times.
It was Regazzoni who led up the hill from the start, with Lauda, Jarier, Peterson and Reutemann in hot pursuit. As the mid-field runners raced up the hill Hulme somehow got himself out of the “crocodile” and nobody seemed disposed to let him back in again, with the result that his McLaren tangled wheels with the BRM of Beltoise. The McLaren was left stuffed into the guard-rail while Beltoise carried on with his right rear suspension broken. This coming together caused a chain-reaction among those following with Brambilla running the nose of his March under the back of Merzario’s car, which rammed Redman’s Shadow and punted h into Pace’s Surtees. Schenken managed to stop in time to avoid all this and was promptly rammed by Schuppan in the Ensign, while Ickx knocked his front fins awry as he skated through the traffic. When the dust settled Hulme’s McLaren was unmovable on the left of the road, and the cars of Pace, Merzario and Redman were dragged through a gap in the barriers. Schenken got as far as the sea-front before he realised he was losing oil from a broken cooler, and Behoise and Brambille dragged themselves back to the pits to retire. while Schinsean also got back and after having the nose patched up he rejoined the race.
Out in front, in the important part of the race, Regazzoni and Lauda were leading Jarier and Peterson, with Reutemann, Scheckter, Hunt and Hailwood following; then there was a long gap in which the “crashers” should have been, before Fittipaldi arrived, leading the remains of the field, the Brazilian not being at his best due to fighting off attacks of flu. The multiple crash had not affected the race itself, for those that were out to win were well out in front and could look forward to a good race with less “traffic” about. Although it was a Ferrari 1-2, it was the wrong way round, for Lauda would have dearly liked to have got by his team-mate because on lap three he had Peterson fight up his exhaust pipes, the Swede having nipped by Jarier. These four were pulling away from the rest, and Jarier’s brio was being appreciated by everyone, while a little way back Hai’wood got past Hunt and set about catching Scheckter. While the leading four were establishing the pace drivers came walking back from the first lap crash, Merzario, Redman, Hulme and Pace getting rounds of applause from the crowd. As the leaders finished the sixth lap Peterson clipped a barrier with a rear wheel, as he headed into the final hairpin, and promptly spun, Jarier, Scheckter and Hailwood going by while the Lotus was going backwards.
Just as Peterson was sorting himself out Reutemann arrived and ran over the front of the Lotus, breaking the rear suspension of his Brabham. The Lotus withstood the shock and Peterson charged off in sixth place, leaving a very disgruntled Reutemann to retire. It was quite clear that Regazzoni was holding up Lauda, and in consequence allowing Jarier to keep up with them, while a little way back Peterson was pressing hard on HaiIwood and Scheckter, trying to regain his place up with the leaders. Schuppan lost control a the Ensign on the cement dust that had been spread over the oil dropped by Schenken, and he spun into the guardrail at the corner leading into the Casino Square, and no sooner had his car been dragged into a gap in the barriers than Hailwood arrived and did the same thing, his bent McLaren being pushed down the slot with the Ensign. Crashes were still the order of the day among the lesser lights, for Stuck had tangled with Hunt, the Hesketh suffering a damaged right rear wheel rim, while the March was launched into the air to come crashing down on the pavement and skate helplessly down the footpath towards the Mirabeau hairpin and crash into the guardrail, while Hunt continued on his way. Migault had sailed into the Saint Devote corner with his right front brake locked on solid, and on that same lap he went straight on at the chicane smashing the front of the BRM.
With the race barely under way there were only thirteen cars left running, but the leading group were still racing hard and untroubled by slower cars. At nineteen laps Peterson got past Scheckter, just as the leading trio were lapping Pescarolo. The two Ferraris nipped by with no trouble, but Jarier got baulked going into Saint Devote and lost a lot of ground, shaking his fist at Pescarolo as he passed him up the hill 10 the Casino. Peterson went through the corner on full noise, and gained a lot of ground on the Shadow as he went up the hill. As Regazzoni was finishing his twenty-first lap in the lead he goofed at the final hairpin and spun, letting Lauda, Jarier, Peterson and Scheckter go by, joining in again behind them in fifth place. Lauda now had a clear run and quickly pulled away from Jarier, who had Peterson’s Lotus right under the tail of his Shadow, but not for long, for on lap twenty-five the Swede was by and had his sights set on the fleeing Lauda. At twentyeight laps there was a bare three seconds between the Ferrari and the Lotus, and Lauda looked anything but confident, for Peterson was in terrific form and his sheer determination could be heard coming out of the exhaust pipes of his Cosworth engine. Almost unnoticed Hunt retired with a broken drive-shaft on the left side of his Hesketh, and Icks was called into his pit as a piece of a rear wheel rim had been found in the road, While the wheel was changed, a new nose was fitted, to replace the tattered looking one that was falling apart, and he rejoined the race at the back. of the depleted field. At thirty laps Peterson had the Ferrari well in view, and although he was driving hard, he was gaining too rapidly for the well-being of the Ferrari. Sure enough on lap thirty-one the crispness had gone from the Ferrari exhaust note, and on the next lap the Lotus was right alongside as the Ferrari engine began to die with ignition trouble. While Peterson swept on into a commanding lead poor Lauda came to rest on the “mickey mouse” section of the circuit, the ignition system failing completely. While this had been happening Jarier was having problems, inadvertently switching off the ignition as he twirled the steering wheel, so that Scheckter caught and passed him. The South African was driving a good steady and hard race, so once by the Shadow there was no hope of Jailer regaining his position. A rather deflated Regazzoni was dropping hack, but safely in fourth place, while a long way back the ill-at-case Fittipaldi was being badly embarrassed by John Watson in the Hexagon Brabham BT42, the Irishman really enjoying himself and trying on all sides to pass the works McLaren.
By half-distance, which was 39 laps, there were only ten cars left running, for Ickx had quietly disappeared when his special Cosworth engine destroyed itself, and at the back of the field the two additions to the grid, Edwards and Pescarolo were having a merry little race. Graham Hill had yet to be lapped, and was in seventh place, and Depaillier was earning himself a medal for trying, holding eighth place in the unpractised Tyrrell 006/2. It was now all over as far as excitement was concerned, Peterson driving smoothly and regularly, reeling off the laps completely unchallenged. Scheckter continued in a firm second place, followed by Jarier and Regazzoni, while Watson was still trying to get by Fittipaldi, the rather unwell Brazilian wishing the troublesome Irishman would go away. To add to the ex-World Champion’s troubles Peterson lapped him on lap 59, whereupon he woke up and began to drive harder, keeping up with his old teammate. It was all rather pointless, but no doubt boosted up his ego. Depaillier felt his Tyrrell beginning to handle in a peculiar manner and stopping at the pits it was discovered that a wheel nut was coming loose. After having it tightened he rejoined the race, but was now completely last, a position that he really did not deserve.
When Peterson finished his seventy-eighth lap and received the chequered flag he was overjoyed, as were Team Lotus, who were beginning to wonder what had happened to their habit of winning races. Scheckter gave the Tyrrell team a most worthy second place, well run and sound, though not a fighting second, and Jarier was the blue-eyed “new-boy” for his courageous battle in the opening stages, and a good third place. Poor Regazzoni was a dissatisfied fourth, conscious of having thrown the race away by spinning, Fittipaldi was an uninspiring fifth and John Watson a deserved sixth, while the Lola team were happy to have both their cars finish in good order, though Edwards had a deflating rear tyre towards the end.—D.S.J.
32nd Monaco Grand Prix – Formula One-78 laps—Monte Carlo
3.278 kilometres per lap – 255.084 kilometres – Very Warm
1st: R. Peterson (Lotus 72/R8) 1hr. 58min. 03.7sec. – 129.540 k.p.h.
2nd: J. Scheckter (Tyrrell 007/1) 1hr. 58min. 32.5sec.
3rd: J-P. Jarrier (Shadow DN3/2A) 1hr. 58min. 52.6sec.
4th: G. Regazzoni (Ferrari 312B3/014) 1hr. 59min. 06.8sec.
5th: E. Fittipaldi (McLaren M23/5) 1 lap behind
6th: J. Watson (Brabham BT42/2) 1 lap behind
7th: G. Hill (Lola T370/HU2) 2 laps behind
8th: G. Edwards (Lola T370/HU1) 3 laps behind
9th: P. Depaillier (Tyrrell 006/2) 4 laps behind
Fastest Lap: R. Peterson (Lotus 72/R8) 1 min. 27.9sec. – 134.252 k.p.h.