The chaos of 1973 wouldn’t be repeated at Silverstone’s next British GP, surely..?
Writer Peter Higham
Run 40 years ago this July, the 1975 British Grand Prix featured one of the most bizarre finishes in Formula 1 history. That race ended with the 19 classified finishers either in Silverstone’s barriers or pitting on the last lap that counted. Run in changeable conditions throughout, a rainstorm swept in from the south of the circuit just as Emerson Fittipaldi’s leading McLaren M23 started the 56th of a scheduled 67 laps.
With the track awash from Stowe to Club, all but six of the remaining cars were sent aquaplaning out of the race. Emmo made it through the deluge and pitted for wet tyres at the end of the lap. The reigning world champion completed one more cautious circuit before seeing the inevitable red flags. Amid the confusion, organisers declared the result after 56 laps, effectively meaning that Fittipaldi had won his last such race while in the pits.
These events sparked controversy after a couple of drivers suffered facial cuts when hit on the helmet by the wooden poles that supported the catch-fencing, which was meant to slow a crashing car. Some wreckage was launched into the crowd in one accident and catch-fencing was eventually replaced when found to be unsafe.
Even without the chaotic final laps, this had been a memorable race, with eight lead changes between seven drivers. Each could claim with some justification that this could have been their day.
But then the British summer wreaked its havoc…