Formula Two review
Jarier scores maximum points
Ford fight back
Two opening rounds of the European Formula Two Championship at Mallory Park and Hockenheim were crushing victories for the combination of a March chassis, a BMW engine and the promising, if somewhat impetuous, Frenchman Jean-Pierre Jarier. The two subsequent rounds of this important competition have both shaped up as further honours for Jarier but, unfortunately, at Thruxton on Easter Monday he was eliminated by a starting line shunt while, the following week at the Nurburgring, he led from the front row of the grid only to spin off into the Armco barrier in the rain when holding a substantial lead. These two misfortunes, plus several other changes of fortunes, brought victory to Henri Pescarolo's Motul Rondel at Thruxton and Rein WiseII's GRD in Germany.
The Thruxton Easter meeting has been a popular one for several years now and, at one time, this used to be the first Formula Two meeting of the year. There was a tremendous turn-out of cars for this British round with two full heats and a final to keep the audience on their toes. Practice was held in constantly varying conditions and so the times were somewhat misleading, although it was obvious that the March-BMWs were not showing the superiority of the earlier meetings.
The first heat developed into a battle between Jarier and Carlos Pace's Surtees TS15 with Hart/Ford power. But on lap 7 of this 27 lapper both the leaders suddenly disappeared into the pits at the same time. Jarier had simply knocked off his ignition and was soon back in the race only to spin twice at the chicane, while Pace was in tyre trouble and had to make a change. This left Patrick Depailler's Hart powered Elf 2 in the lead with Jacques Coulon's private Filipinetti March-BMW second. That was the way they finished. Third, fourth and fifth after a private battle were the Rondel MotuIs of Pescarolo, Scheckter and Wolleck, the South African seeming particularly unhappy with the handling of his car.
Heat two looked as if it belonged to Roger Williamson, the former Formula Three Champion, now with a Wheatcroft Racing GRD F2. He led from pole position but soon started to come under pressure from Jochen Mass' Surtees TS14. But he was induced to overshoot at the chicane and he dropped to seventh place. Mass' new lead was far from secure with Jean-Pierre Be!toise in the second works March-BMW pushing him hard. The private car of another of last year's top F3 men, Colin Vandervell, had moved up well passing the likes of Tim Schenken and Mike Hailwood into third place but was leaving a tell tale oil screen behind it. Then Mass' engine blew up so its was BeItoise first and Vandervell second with Williamson now shaping to pass Vandervell. This he did and promptly both the March-BMWs retired Beltoise was a broken camshaft and Vandervell with falling oil pressure. Thus Williamson won, well ahead of Schenken with Peter Gethin's Chevron third and Jabouille fourth in the Elf.
The 50 lap final started in chaos as Schenken's car jumped out of gear just as everyone else surged forward and the net result was the elimination of the Australian as well as Jarier, Wilson Fittipaldi in the works Brabham, Jabouille and Scott. In the lead it was Williamson again in the GRD, followed by three Frenchmen—Coulon, Depailler and Pescarolo. Coulon, who is managed by Mike Parkes, soon started to attack Williamson and he was in the lead by lap three. Williamson unfortunately picked up a nail in a tyre after about ten laps and had to make a pit stop and Coulon seemed to be walking off with the race, particularly after Depailler stopped with a broken battery terminal. Scheckter was now second. Just before half distance however the Filipinetti March-BMW suddenly stopped with an ignition failure.
Now the race was anyone's with a nose to tail four car bunch led by Gerry Birrell's Chevron and with three MotuIs behind but with Mike Beuttler coming up quickly from behind in his March-BMW. Of this bunch Scheckter was the first to go after a damaged front tyre put him off. Gradually Beuttler fought his way ahead of the two remaining MotuIs of Wolleck and Pescarolo and now had only Birrell to pass. Birrell was not giving up easily and with only two laps remaining Beuttler made a desperate bid for victory at the chicane and the two tangled. While sorting themselves out Henri Pescarolo, Jochen Mass (who had caught up quickly in the closing stages) and Bob Wolleck drove round the confusion and on to the chequered flag. Beuttler untangled himself to finish fourth ahead of a very angry Birrell. But this wasn't the final order, for Mass was promptly disqualified for using a car other than the one in which he had qualified for the final (he borrowed Hailwood's) while later Beuttler was also exlcuded for his tactics but he has appealed against the decision. So the final order was Pescarolo, Wolleck, Birrell then Dave Morgan's Chevron.
A week later those teams still with engines and cars in one piece were off to the Nuüburgring for one of the most established fixtures on the calendar—the Eifelrennen. March looked in a strong position again with their drivers first and second fastest. An amazing pole position went to Hans Joachim Stuck Jnr, son of the former German Grand Prix winner, in only his fifth single-seater drive. Stuck lapped in 7 min. 30.5 sec., while Jarier was just one-fifth of a second behind while Depailler completed the front row two seconds slower. Jochen Mass, who won the race last year, was fourth fastest in his Surtees.
Jarier took the immediate lead while Mass, who many had expected to challenge him, retired at the end of the first lap and Depailler was third ahead of Stuck. In the pouring rain Jarier continued to increase his lead on lap two until he suddenly lost it at the Dottinger Hohe and hit the Armco. So now it was Depailler leading ahead of Stuck but the former Lotus Grand Prix driver Reine Wisell was going particularly well in his Swedish sponsored GRD. On lap six a Stuck spin moved him up to second place and the track was now starting to dry. Driving with the form we perhaps haven't seen for a couple of years now, Wisell started to challenge Depailler. On lap eight he took the lead and Schenken also followed through, demoting the Frenchman to third position. That was the order at the finish with Wisell scoring his second ever F2 win. Stuck had a drive shaft break on the last lap and was thus deprived of a certain fourth place, which went to Derek Bell's works Surtees while the best March-BMW was that of Italian Vittorio Brambilla. Depailler still notched up nine championship points so is now only three points short of championship leader Jarier
A win for Cevert
The delightful Pau circuit in Southern France, which offers Monaco-type round-the-houses racing for the Formula Two brigade, was back in business again on May 6th. Every year there seems to be talk of it being the last Pau and after the 1972 race it really did look as if the racing in this Pyrenean town was over. Fortunately the city fathers found some money to pay for the safety work necessary and Pau seems assured for a few years to come at least.
A large and representative field turned up, the most notable absentees being Team Surtees. However, Francois Cevert had forsaken Spa to take the wheel of one of the John Coombs-run Alpine-based Elf 2s and he is probably very glad he did so. For it was Francois who scored an excellent victory in the final after finishing second in his heat to team-mate Patrick Depailler.
The pair ran one-two for much of the final, Cevert moving into the lead before Depailler's car suddenly ground to a halt when the electrics shorted out. Thus Cevert went on to victory, his first in Formula Two since the days he drove for Tecno.
After problems in his heat, Jean-Pierre Jarier came through from the back of the grid in his works March-BMW to finish second overall and pick up the nine valuable non-graded championship points to put himself well back in the lead of the competition. March F2 team-mate Jean-Pierre Beltoise was again out of luck, this time a pit stop with a broken wire to the fuel pump delaying his progress. Tim Schenken finished third in his Motul Rondel while Mike Beuttler brought his private March-BMW into fourth place ahead of the other two Motuls of Bob Wolleck and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud. Another March-BMW that went well was that of Italian Vittorio Brambilla. He drove an excellent race in the rain to win his heat on Saturday, ahead of Roger Williamson's GRD and Gerry Birrell's Chevron, but retired from the final because of an oil leak. Williamson was another delayed in the final and after a pit stop he finished seventh.
During practice the French officials decided, after consultation with the CSI, that the Cosworth FVD engine, as used by several teams, was not homologated for Formula Two racing although it has been used with success earlier in the year. Fortunately other engines were available to those teams who had FVDs fitted. Another interesting point is the fact that the winning car, the Elf 2, is based upon an Alpine Formula Three chassis, beefed up and powered by a Hart BDA. The chassis is the last space frame to be at all competitive in top class single-seater motor racing.—A.R.M.