Jarama Aftermath

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When the dust and paper had settled and the noise had abated a quiet wander round the grandstands, pits and paddock, was most interesting. The spectators were out on the motorway heading back to Madrid and in the far distance you could hear the screech of tyres and the thumps and bangs as numerous small nose-to-tail accidents kept happening, for somehow the Spaniards do not seem to look very far ahead. In the Press Room behind the main grandstand ticker-tape machines were sending out stories and results all over the World, typewriters were clacking away as journalists wrote their powerful prose, the foreign press all excited about the smooth performance of the Brazilian driver, the British press trying to explain why Stewart had not won, and long distance telephone calls were being made in French, English, German, Italian and Spanish and I was happy not to be a telephone operator just at that moment. Passing through the empty tunnel to emerge into the paddock all was relatively quiet, two March mechanics were sound asleep in the cab of the March transporter, looking very uncomfortable but blissfully out of this world and catching up on some hard-earned rest. Lauda’s car had had all the gearbox internals removed and Peterson’s car had had its engine removed and both components were packed up in an estate car and were on their way back to England.

A very top level conference had taken place in the cab of the BRM transporter for the team had scored an impressive five out of five: five cars started and five cars retired, from crashes, engine trouble and gearbox trouble. The only improvement they could make would be to enter five cars and non-start five cars. Their sponsors, the Marlboro cigarette firm may not have won the race but they certainly won the battle for giving away stickers for the circuit was nearly knee-deep in them. Some of the overworked Bourne mechanics were removing the engine/gearbox units from the P160 cars of Beltoise and Ganly, while others were struggling to manhandle Wisell’s bent car up the ramps into the shiny new Leyland transporter that seems to have everything except a power-winch for loading the ears. Wisell’s car had been bent at both ends, the front wheels being badly splayed out and the right rear suspension being pushed all out of line, so it was not an easy job to load. A happy band of Firestone fitters were stacking up tyres, whistling contentedly with a 1-2-3 placing under their belt and at the other end of the paddock the Goodyear team were wondering what went wrong. Contractors were stacking crates of empty beer bottles onto lorries, television and radio people were winding in miles of cable and the last spectators’ cars were disappearing over the horizon to join the crashes on the motorway. At long last nobody wanted to see a pass before you went through a door or a gateway, everywhere was peace and quiet and the victors were back in Madrid preparing themselves for the official prize presentation at the headquarters of the Royal Automobile Club, and the losers were planning to do better next time.

Next morning the sun was shining in true Spanish style and I made another visit to the paddock. Beltoise was circulating in the second of the P180 Cars, adjustments being made to the suspension to improve the tyre characteristics, and hopefully the car’s handling. The Lotus mechanics were quietly cleaning their two cars, which had finished in perfect condition, apart from 72/R5 running out of petrol, and the Surtees mechanics were taking their cars apart and checking the suspensions. The March team had not started re-assembly and the McLaren team had dismantled Hulme’s gearbox and removed the remains of the offending roller-race and were saving the blackened pinion and shaft to present to Mike Hewland when they returned to England. With the Monaco Grand Prix due two weeks after the Spanish race, BRM, Lotus, McLaren, March and Surtees were all staying at Jarama to overhaul their cars and prepare them for the Monaco race and at the end of the week they would start the long trek up through Spain and across Southern France to the crowded little principality. Some would go due north through San Sebastian into France, others would set off north-east through Barcelona and Perpignan, but whatever route they took they would he meeting up again in Monte Carlo. The Sunday following the Spanish race there was a F2 race due at Pau, not far from the Spanish border at the San Sebastian end, and the March mechanics were planning to turn up in their best Sunday clothes and sit on their transporter and watch the others work. The other teams, Ferrari, Matra and Tyrrell had packed up and gone, while the Williams cars and the Brabham cars had been flown back to Gatwick as they had been flown out to the race. Leaving the teams at work on preparation for the next race I set off, reflecting that it had been a good race, free from strife or serious incident and a lot of lessons had probably been learned and there had been some significant happenings that may well fit neatly into the pattern of the future, or they may just have been momentary incidents, which will pass. The Lotus 72 is still a sound design and the Cosworth V8 is still the engine to beat, providing it is in the right chassis and driven by the right driver. The ballyhoo of sponsorship is trying hard to turn the Grand Prix circuit into a fairground with performing seals, or monkeys, or racing drivers, but fortunately when you start up a 450 horsepower pure racing engine the Ballyhoo and Bullshit get blown away. From a distance you would have thought that BRM had three P180 cars in the paddock, but closer inspection revealed that the third one was a Marlboro advertising phoney, made of plywood and fibreglass! Pity they didn’t spend the money on a power-winch for the new transporter.

As I motored along I recalled Emerson Fittipaldi saying after the Watkins Glen USA Grand Prix in 1970, his first race with the Lotus 72, that he had not found it difficult to qualify about half-way up the starting grid. He said that what was going to be very difficult and a lot of hard work was to get from there to the front row of the grid. He seems to have done a lot of honest hard work in a very short space of time. For me the result of the race was quite simple, it was Lotus, Ferrari, Ferrari, Surtees; it could just have easily been Ferrari, Lotus Tyrrell, BRM, but if I am to be brain-washed by the advertising and public-relations world I should have to start thinking in terms of a result which might have read John Player Special, Marlboro, Yardley, Brooke-Bond Oxo, STP-Oil Treatment and Politoys. Such a results list would never convince me we were talking about motor racing, it sounds more like the profits list in the Financial Times; and what about such firms as Lockheed, Girling, Lucas, Champion, Motorcraft, Firestone, Goodyear, Armstrong, Koni, and all the others that help to cause racing cars to be built and to help them go. A Ferrari is a Ferrari and always will be, just as Chapman will always design Lotus cars.

One bright spot on the scene was the McLaren pit, both in practice and the race, for everyone was smartly turned out in orange shirts and blue trousers and the whole set-up always looked immaculate from the cars to the mechanics’ tool-boxes. A rival team opined that they jolly well ought to look smart as one of their sponsors had “bought them a stock of 145 pairs of new blue trousers”. — D. S. J.