Notes on the cars at Zolder and Jarama
With two Grand Prix events appearing in one issue of Motor Sport [And, hopefully, a brief report on the Swedish Grand Prix.—Ed.] and little change on the mechanical scene it is sufficient to note the cars used at the two races collectively.
At Zolder BT46/4 was used by Lauda, but only covered a few yards in the race as it was barged into by Scheckter in the Wolf and ended up against the guard-rail with the left-side suspensions damaged. It was repaired and taken to Jarama where it was used by Watson to finish fifth. At Zolder Watson had used BT46/3 but during the race he had a wild spin and bounced over the track edge, damaging the bottom of the engine, which caused his retirement. Back at the factory it was discovered that the monocoque was also badly damaged so it was put to one side. A brand new car was completed in time for Spain and Lauda drove this one, BT46/6, until the engine broke in the race. At both meetings BT46/5 was the team spare, but was not needed. None of the cars were using the carbon-fibre brakes.
Between races an experimental car which was fitted with radiators on top of the engine instead of in the nose of the car, was tried out in secret at Brands Hatch. At the rear was a very large fan that sucked air through the radiators and expelled it behind the car and the Brabham word was that the merely assisted cooling. However, it 1 appeared to draw out all the air around the engine, and under the car and there were plastic skirts all round the lower edge of the car, rubbing on the ground, so that the fat was creating a low-pressure area under the car, which had the effect of drawing the car down onto the ground, thus increasing the loading on the tyres and improving the adhesion. This car appeared again in a tyre- testing session at Brands Hatch following the Spanish GP and there is some discussion' to whether the system constitutes a moving aerodynamic device, contrary to the regulations.
The original BT46, which appeared on test last year, had surface radiators along flanks of the monocoque, but these did n work properly and a revision to wide radiators in the nose of the car was made. Clearly Gordon Murray is not satisfied with nose-mounted radiators, but the tria section of the monocoque prevents him folio ing the Lotus and Ferrari layout of ducted radiators in the side-pods. The experimental Brabham BT46 with the sucker-fan mustn be confused with the new car which has I on test at the Alfa Romeo test-track at Bolocco, between Milan and Turin. Known as the “Alfa-Alfa” to distinguish it from the Brabham-Alfa, this is an entirely new cat designed and built by Alfa Romeo themselves, and has the stamp of the Alfa Romeo sports car about its general shape. It is not really expected to race before next year, 1 though Vittorio Brambilla has been doing the test-driving it is not clear at the moment who is expecting to race it.
The Tyrrell drivers retained the cars the, used at Monaco for the Belgian event, Pironi in 008/4 and Depailler in 008/3, the team spare was a brand new car that was in effect a complete rebuild of Pironi’s original car 008/2. He crashed it in South America and though it was repaired adequately the monocoque was permanently bent. When the team returned home from S. Africa car was completely dismantled, some of the parts being used to build up 008/4. A complete new monocoque was built for 008/2 and it became a “second-generation” car, number 008/2-2, acting as the team spare in Belgium. The original 008, the number one car, is now a test-vehicle and was at Zolder on its way from Anderstorp in Sweden to Paul Ricardin France, and the team’s facilities were used to change the gearbox ratios and final drive, before the test-truck continued on its way south.
In the Belgian race Pironi in 008/4 was launched in the air during the start-li melee, and the car landed heavily and awkwardly, twisting the monocoque and bending the suspension. With different handling characteristics on left-hand bends to those on right-hand bends, Pironi drove as well as he could and finished sixth. When the cat was returned home to the factory it was found that there was an enormous weight difference on the two front wheels, of more than 90 lb. As set up when being built the weight difference is around half-a-pound! The monocoque was so twisted it was scrapped and a “second- generation” car was built up using the parts that were undamaged, to create 008/4-2. In Spain this car became the team spare.
For the Spanish race Pironi used 008/2-2 and Depailler used 008/3, and both cars had repositioned oil-coolers at the rear. Previously they have been mounted upright on top of the monocoque sides, in front of the rear wheels and angled slightly into the wind. Now they were lying flat, with ducting around them, one on each side, and there were wind deflectors on the sides of the engine cowling.
The third version of the Lotus 79 took part in its first Grand Prix in Belgium and Andretti won with ease. This was 79/2, which had first appeared, albeit briefly, at the International Trophy at Silverstone. After the accident there it not only had a major rebuild, but underwent a lot of re-designing around the back-end, principally to fit a Hewland gearbox in place of the Lotus-Getrag gearbox. In this revised form 79/2 appeared in practice at Monaco, but was not raced. After winning the Belgian race it was handed over to the Lotus number two driver, Ronnie Peterson, while Mario Andretti had a brand new car, number 79/3. In Spain they finished 1-2 in the order 79/3 and 79/2. Last year’s cars were on hand at both the Belgian and Spanish races, with 78/3 acting as Andretti’s spare car, though not being used, and Peterson finished second in Belgium with 78/2. In Spain he did not need to use 78/2. The other two Lotus 78 cars that were built, the long- wheelbase prototype car 78/1 and the last to be built 78/4 have both been sold to the Rebaque family, and no doubt there would be plenty of customers for the now obsolete team cars, 78/2 and 78/3.
Some new front brake discs were tried on Hunt’s regular McLaren, number M26/4 in the Belgian GP, but the starting line accident eliminated the car within a few yards. These new discs, by Lockheed, had many more radial slots cast in them, to aid the cooling air centrifuging from the hub. In the accident the car was not badly damaged and Hunt was driving it again in Spain during practice when it collided with Villota’s spinning McLaren M23/7. This time the right-front corner was demolished the accident tearing a great gash in the corner of the monocoque. This meant that Hunt had to drive the spare car in the Spanish race, M26/3. At Zolder Tambay was on the sick-list with an injured ankle so could not drive and his car M26/5 was not used at all. He raced with it in Spain but spun off into the loose sand at the edge of the track and could not restart.
At Monaco it was announced that a third works McLaren would be entered in some races for the Italian Formula Two star, Bruno Giacomelli. His first outing was the Belgian GP and he had a brand new car, number M26/7, specially tailored to fit his small dumpy stature, with the seat mounted well forward. With a prior Formula Two engagement he was not entered for the Spanish race, so M26/7 stayed at home. Brett Lunger continues to run his McLaren M26/6, with his earlier car M23/11 as a stand-by, and Villota appeared in Spain with the two cars he has been running in British club racing. The one he had the accident with Hunt in was originally a one-off Formula 5000 McLaren, designated M25/1, but after having a Cos- worth DFV installed and being converted to Formula One specification it took the number M23/7. His spare car was M23/6, but he failed to qualify for the race.
The 1977 Penske PC4 cars which were modified into 1978 ATS cars by Robin Herd of March Engineering lack any sort of serious development programme, but continue to be entered everywhere with a singular lack of success. After Monaco Jean-Pierre Jarier left the team and his place was taken by a relatively unknown Italian Formula Two driver, one Alberto Colombo. He took over HS1/1, while Jochen Mass continued with HS1/2, and at Zolder Mass had an accident in the last practice session. As Colombo had not qualified for the race Mass took HS1/1 for the Belgian GP and subsequently decided to stay with it in Spain, Colombo taking HS1/2 and once again not qualifying.
The Scuderia Ferrari arrived at Zolder with three cars, 035 for Reutemann, 034 for Villeneuve and 033 as the spare. During practice Reutemann tried the spare car and preferred it, so used it for the race. In Spain he continued to use 033 and it was with this car that he had his spectacular crash, when a hub shaft sheared. Villeneuve continued to use 034 and the spare car was the latest T3, number 035.
While Ralph Bellamy is in Sao Paulo designing and building a new car for Emerson Fittipaldi, the team continue to use F5A/2 and F5A/3, their up-rated 1977 designs, which Caliri and Bellamy have modified along Lotus 78 lines, with radiators in the side pods, full length skirts, adjustable rear roll-bar, oil tank between the engine and gearbox and chisel- nose with canard fins. In Belgium and Spain Fittipaldi raced F5A/3, though he did not get far at Zolder, being hit up the back in the starting line fracas. In Spain F5A/2 was fitted with a locked differential (remember the excitement last year when it was suggested that Andretti was using one on the Lotus 78 ?) but it did not take Fittipaldi many laps to discover he didn’t like the feel of a solid rear axle.
The turbocharged V6 Renault engine seems to be getting more reliable and is finishing races, but not yet without pit stops. It certainly has good top speed and is quite good on a clear track where Jean-Pierre Jabouille can take corners in his own method, the pick-up out of corners not being good. In race-traffic it is a different story, and the “yellow-peril” is embarrassing to the mid- field runners who want to corner faster, but can’t match its speed on the straights. The team continue to ring the changes on 02 and 03, both being designated officially as Type RS01. The exhaust side of the turbocharger unit continues to give trouble with overheating, and also caused trouble for the inboard rear brakes at Zolder; also the V6 Renault- Gordini engine breaks things internally during practice. At Zolder Jabouille raced 03 and at Jarama he raced 02.
The two DN9 Shadow cars, 1A for Stuck and 4A-2 for Regazzoni, seem to be suffering from lack of a test-programme as well as engine unreliability. With no spare car a broken engine in practice means the driver has to miss a lot of practice time. After Regazzoni’s accident in the pre-race warm-up at Monaco his car had to be rebuilt around a new monocoque, which would have become the team’s spare car, so DN9/4A became a “second-generation” car. DN9/3A, which was delivered to the American Interscope team in California for the Long Beach race has not been seen at either Zolder or Jarama.
John Surtees got on top of some of his problems by the Belgian race and both the new TS20 cars were raceworthy, except that Keegan did not qualify. Brambilla continues to use TS20/01 and Keegan TS20/02 and in Spain not only did they both qualify but they both ran non-stop throughout the race. Team Surtees has not had it so good for a long time.
The new Wolf WR5, which Colin Chapman cheekily described as being “. . . not bad, nearly as good as a Lotus 78”, is now the team’s mainstay, Jody Scheckter being very happy with it. It was too new and untried at Monaco, so was not raced, but at Zolder and Jarama it was used all the time, the spare car WR1 being taken along in case of emergency, but not being used at all. WR5 is a car that encourages the air to go underneath it, in order to create a down-force by reason of creating a depression under the side-pods, like Lotus did last year with the model 78. but not like they are doing this year with the 79.
At Zolder Scheckter barged into Lauda’s Brabham at the start and bent the suspension and later in the race he spun off the track and creased the monocoque, so that before Spain the monocoque had to be unriveted and fitted with new panels. Not the prettiest of cars, the Wolf WR5 is functional, and seems to be making progress, the old series even in 1978 form already looking obsolete.
The single-car Ensign team, with Jackie Ickx driving for them, struggle along with their 1977 cars, using MN06 and MN08, the latter being the one raced by Tambay last year for Teddy Yip. At Zolder MN06 was raced and at Jarama MN08 was used.
The new Ligier-Matra JS9/01 which appeared at Monaco was not taken to Zolder as the team were having second-thoughts about the enormous rear aerofoil that blended into the bodywork. In consequence Laffite raced the interim car JS7/JS9/01 in Belgium, bending the back suspension and denting the side of the monocoque in his accident with Reutemann on the last lap. This car has a large alloy spacer between the engine and gearbox, giving a long wheelbase, which Laffite finds easier to handle. The spare car in Belgium was JS7/03 in short-wheelbase form, without the large spacer. In Spain the JS9/01 re-appeared with a JS7 type rear aerofoil arrangement, and Laffite drove it into a good third place. The spare car in Spain was the interim car JS7/JS9/01.
In Belgium Alan Jones had a lurid accident in FW06/002 during the Saturday morning test-session, due to brake trouble, and before Spain all the components were fitted to a new monocoque, to create FW06/002-2. The damaged monocoque was taken apart and rebuilt as a stand-by unit. The car used in the race in Belgium was FW06/001, and this became the spare car for Spain, the rebuilt one being used in the race.
The new car that first appeared at Monaco and which Patrese crashed in practice was rebuilt around a new monocoque and appeared at Zolder as a new car, designated FA1/3-2, using the monocoque which had been destined for a fourth car. Patrese drove this car, while Stommelen had FA1/2 and the original car FA1/1 was the team spare. In the race Stommelen crashed and wrecked FA 1/2, but before Spain a fourth car was completed and this appeared new at Jarama where Patrese drove it, FA1/4. In consequence Stommelen took over FA1/3-2 and the original car FA1/1 remained as the spare .— D.S.J.